Granted, the title question is quite open ended - thus impossible to "do justice" in any single post. Just the same, I occasionally need to try! By time use capacity, I am referring to knowledge use systems which allow local residents to experiment with focused time use patterns, at community wide levels. Doing so would bring services within reach of the communities which need them. This would also reduce dependencies on regions where so many have migrated to compensate for educational costs. To a degree, this long term challenge could be approached as community wide games, where vital aspects of work and education become completely integrated across skill levels.
Even so, the resulting activities would have real world effects, i.e. which go well beyond optimizing low or "substandard" population densities. Over time the results of these efforts would not be "make believe", at all. Presently, governments focus on "improving" areas by preparing residents to migrate to other areas or else replacing local residents with more "successful" residents: a questionable approach at best. Positive change can also occur from the inside out. However, sustainable economic methods of decentralization need to be utilized, in order for that to happen.
Time spent in coordination across all local groups, would result in both new service provisions and product formations (separate from time) which otherwise could not have been organized. What's more, recording these structures can provide ways to build upon them in the future. These systems would include everything from individualized activity sets, to the larger aspirations that citizens hold. Democracy is always possible, where services are understood within a contained and sustainable capacity. Democracies mostly fail when the economic relationships between services and production start to break down. These systems would help to make the mutual relationship clear, once again.
This would bring order and new meaning to ongoing focused endeavor, which otherwise isn't possible to measure or reimburse. Much of this activity could replace the hollowed out areas of middle skill work. What's more, recognition of these activities involves some of the happiness factors which have been problematic for economic thought. It's easier to take note of the decisions we feel good about, when we can each use our economic time in equal measure for individual and community goals.
Not only could skills arbitrage systems bring the unemployed and underemployed back into the marketplace; doing so would eventually bring confidence back to Main Streets which have yet to participate in the fledgling recovery. Even so, these suggestions are focused on long term potential, and much about the short term remains confusing.
After all, Main Street knows that something is still missing. There is too much false confidence and reasoning that the U.S. economy is returning to normal, on the part of both political parties and many at the Fed. Just the same, not everyone at the Fed is as sanguine about the economy as Charles Plosser. In a recent speech, NY Fed president William Dudley noted the absence of new middle skill jobs, and the fact that some regions had scarcely overcome the effects of the Great Recession.
One reason it is difficult to move past the recent economic upheaval: the wrong reasoning has been pressed on the public, by interest groups which have little desire to change their methodologies. Presently, few are even convinced that monetary policy exists to back the economic activity of individuals. All anyone can see in connection with monetary policy is political posturing and the machinations of finance. Time use systems would serve as an apt reminder that monetary policy is about the aggregate activity of individuals - not governments and however many loans get served up in a specific time period.
Another important rationale for equal time use: otherwise there are few places for individuals to pursue their own aspirations or innovations, without subordinating those interpretations to that of others. Granted, at the outset it would not always be easy to match one's interests with others, but as communities create original knowledge use patterns, it will become easier for like minded individuals to seek one another out. In the past, it has been necessary to do so through the agglomeration effects of the city. Just the same, the digital realm can assist knowledge use communities to move past this limitation.
Equal time use capacity especially matters for the recreation of community, which otherwise has few ways to intersect the purpose and intent of those who live in close proximity to one another. Economies of scale - alongside technological gains - long ago reduced the agglomeration effects which could be achieved in rural areas. Still, the paradox remains that rural regions are not only still needed, these places are also refreshing for the soul. Many of us who grew up with a love of both city and country, often found it difficult to choose.
By finding ways to interact within true time capacity, new agglomeration effects would be possible in lower population densities. Regions without access to the high value skills sets of exclusive education, could still thrive. This would make it possible for those who have a special affinity for rural regions to remain here and yet still be successful. It's an option which particularly matters, for those who don't like having to leave family behind for the totality of their working lives.
One of the primary reasons for equal time use capacity: this provides an understandable template for the use of robots in more humane ways - not just in city environments, but also in rural environments. Only consider what rural group investments in robotics might look like - particularly in colder climates where houses have steep pitched roofs. How about robotic chimney sweeps, for those days when the rooftop is too frozen to scramble about? What's more, these kinds of locally useful robotic investments could be available to all locals, who seek to augment their income beyond a time use base.
This post needs a stopping point, for I could go on all day! Equal time use capacity could restore trust, by providing meaningful interaction among people who otherwise would have no reason to interact with one another. Granted, not all interactions would be enlightening, but social calendaring would allow individuals to once again discover the places they have common ground. Also, meaningful economic interaction would allow knowledge use to once again percolate from the bottom up, into the larger society. Such knowledge and skills use systems would go a long way to alleviate needless polarization and isolation, which has occurred in recent decades.