With respect to the economic applications of this engineering level of explanation, I think it would be helpful to determine whether certain social elements are parasitic or predatory. We’ve had to go into debt or into financing, because some decades ago corporations decided not to pay most of their employees enough money for them to be able to buy enough products to keep the economy growing. Wages stagnated for the majority while income and wealth skyrocketed only for the richest ten percent (and especially for the richest one percent). So to keep buying things and making it seem like the economy’s healthy and growing, we’ve had to borrow from banks to afford to buy cars, houses, and so on.
One reason the majority of workers aren’t paid enough to be financially independent, without their having to borrow most of what they need for the middle class lifestyle is that the majority are no longer worth much in purely economic terms. Due to globalization and automation, many of our jobs can be performed by wage slaves in impoverished countries or by machines. There are far fewer good jobs than there are eager and qualified applicants, so we have the race to the bottom. Workers are willing to work for less and less and now we have the gig economy, with little stability or dignity for the average worker.
Corporations pay less because we’re worth less, because many of our jobs are undignified and pointless, because a machine could do them better.
I agree with the point made at the end of the article, which I highlighted. We’re the ones that need to be saved, not the planet, which means we need to change our mindset. Neoliberalism, which reduces all values to instrumental, economic ones is the opposite of the mindset we need. Neoliberalism is like the engineer’s viewpoint in that each is blind to the philosophical question of what our ultimate values and goals should be.
If we think in terms only of efficient or functioning systems, we have no reason to worry about the decline of the middle class, since machines really can do many of our jobs better than we can. So the people who formerly occupied those jobs will live in squalor or starve to death, but that would be fine because the system as a whole may work better with machines performing most tasks. Notice how the insanity of such a system is invisible from the neoliberal or engineer’s perspective. And notice who benefits spectacularly from such a narrow-minded, neoliberal system: the parasitic, predatory, richest one percent who have most of the world’s wealth.
We seem to have been conned big time and need to wake up.