Future of Work- The Treaty of San Francisco (2/3): Gavin Newsom on California’s Potential to Model the Future of Work

When it comes to modeling the future of work, California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom believes his state has a long way to go. California may be leading in low-carbon initiatives and immigration policy, Newsom says, but it’s “not leaning into the issue that will define the conversation over the next decade in a potent and problematic way.” Newsom attributes this, at least in part, to the fact that talking about disruption and job loss is not particularly conducive to electoral success. Institutional structures typically don’t reward disruption, Newsom points out. Politicians are creatures of incentive, and there’s no real incentive for engaging in this conversation. Newsom doesn’t see this problem getting better anytime soon, considering that California’s population is getting older, which means it’s going to become more risk-adverse, not less.

Newsom says he’s all for piloting universal basic income (UBI) programs, but emphasizes that he’s not willing to submit it as the answer to our problems. “We’re the tip of the spear of innovation, but not the tip of the spear in terms of response,” says Newsom. He admits that he worries about California’s educational system being able to respond to the shifting nature of work on a large enough scale.  It’s not just educators that need to adapt quickly—tech companies needs to acknowledge the rapidly growing backlash and do something about it, Newsom argues, and government needs to focus less on situational conversations and more on long-term sustainable conversations. We have to redesign our system, says Newsom, because we can’t afford the one we have. Despite the myriad challenges, the lieutenant governor is optimistic. “Unequivocally, absolutely, the best is yet to come in California,” says Newsom.