24/7 Wall Street published a list of America’s ten fastest-growing jobs over the last decade. They are: (10) Skin Care Specialists; (9) Personal Care Aides; (8) Personal Financial Advisors; (7) Coaches and Scouts; (6) Human Resources Specialists; (5) Massage Therapists; (4) Interpreters and Translators; (3) Music Directors and Composers; (2) Petroleum Engineers; (1) Service Unit Operators, Oil, Gas and Mining. There are lots of ways to interpret this list – the authors point to an aging population and “non-conventional” fuel sources. But what jumped out at me was the absence of any jobs focused on building communities, or on building much of anything, really. Instead, I see a people absorbed with taking care of ourselves, both physically and financially, while becoming increasingly oblivious to – and dependent on – extractive energy policies that threaten the health of the earth, which is the ultimate source of our own well-being. I was heartened by the presence of composers as evidence that we still value the creative arts, until I read that one “factor driving job growth for this occupation is the expected greater need for original music scores or transcriptions used in commercials.” We need translators because globalization has exposed our weakness in other languages, a weakness we exacerbate by insisting that good Americans only speak English.
Reading this less-than-robust list, I kept thinking of the decline of Rome, destroyed by the self-indulgence of a people no longer involved in their own governance. And that music, I wondered? Could it be the sound of Nero fiddling?