Being middle aged, chubby, bearded and male has had one big advantage. I have joined a club of similar types who have all found some success in the old world but who now profoundly reject it. But this group are more than misanthropes - most of them are very perceptive as well. Here is a gem that came in this morning:
Except for embellished versions of goods and services that were available up to the late 1980s there's nothing any longer to motivate the modest status aspirations of the masses -- which up until then were kept sweet and pacific. Unless they rotate their kitchen, bathroom and garden make-overs faster than ever which, maybe, a quarter of the population may still be able to do in the coming years, there's fat little else to acquire -- to be able to say "I've arrived!" -- "Here I am. I've joined the middle-classes now".
Consumerism as we've known it in the Western world has gone for good now.
It is going to take at least another generation or two before politicians realize this (if indeed they'll have a meaningful role at all in future times -- we'll probably be run by the civil servants, just like the Chinese). Meanwhile, where is status to be found if it's not in the goods we buy?
Well, I'll tell you. Status is to be found by means of much more ancient attributes than merely possessing gewgaws. It will be by skill, ability, integrity and reputation within the many specialized niches which are now so characteristic of this increasingly complex world.
It's going to require a totally new attitude to education. Instead of education being about "expanding one's mind" as those romantic pseudo-intellectuals have been telling us -- and has held sway -- for the past 50 years, it's going to have to be by educating children to levels of specific skills that enable them to get a job in this new complicated world.
Once they have a job and have some status in society then, by all means, it's highly desirable for them expand their minds if they want to. And the best way to do that is for the state to get out of education as fast as possible and let parents' aspirations decide what sorts of schools they want their children to go to.
This itself would take two or three generations before it works its way round to actually upgrading the formative culture within the majority of homes, but why should adults not be given the freedom to choose quality -- as it emerges sooner or later in everything else they buy? What makes education so different from choosing a dentist or hairdresser or buying a flat-screen TV?