Great news! Misfit economies are booming worldwide!
If politicians can allow growing space to new initiatives now in the shadow, the entire economy will benefit tremendously.
Examples are available in abundance. AirB&B grew out of unlicensed rental rooms for tourists, and today broke the hegemony of the mammoth hotel industry. Zipcar is redefining the automobile, and Uber the taxi and car hire industry. Netflix utilized the porno streaming technology developed by hackers in Amsterdam. The illegal music sharing Napster grew into Spotify and Hulu.
About 30 years ago, offshore financial centers in the Caribbean grew out of a shady multinational tax management and structuring business into a huge trust service industry. Off shore gambling, quickly marked by conservative legislators as illicit, spun into a global Internet gaming industry. Thanks to the silly and blind politicians, the billion-dollar business simply packed up and moved from the Caribbean to Malta and Cypress.
Even the narco industry offers new great potentials, according to Moises Naim (Foreign Policy). Drug dealing organizations have moved from hierarchical to decentralized networks, away from godfathers as controlling leaders and towards loosely linked agents and cells, which makes them ideally suitable for any high value product handling worldwide.
With a dropout rate of about 50% for 14 year-old school children, the misfits in our society are growing as rapidly as the fits. Remedial courses are not going to pull the misfits back into the regular economy; the misfits simply created their own world, mostly in the shadow economy, far away legitimacy.
Reactionary governments are wrestling with the dilemma, often choosing muscle power, hoping they can arrest and imprison their way out of the new reality. Concerned parents call for more traditional education with strict discipline, boot camps, like they remember from the “good old days.” No matter how disappointing and bitter the conclusions may be, none of these remedies work.
Kids dropout of school mostly because the old industrial revolution format of warehousing children, sorted in age groups, and that does not work any longer. Children are far more developed and independent than 100 years ago. The outdated system does not allow for development of their creative and innovative spirits, it only breeds compliance. Un-schooling and un-college has worked wonders for many.
The challenge for successful governments is to embrace the new opportunities, to work inside the new reality, to give up the divide between fits and misfits, the regular and shadow economy. Policing a society is not the same as creative government and management for growth. Embracing innovations means allowing incubators to grow them, stimulus to nurture them, and support systems the cheer them on. Relaxing rules and regulations, abolishing union straight jackets, and changing the rigid mentalities of the past.
By Jacob Gelt Dekker
Opinion Columnist Curaçao Chronicle