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Fifty years ago the vast majority of US retail food services were locally owned business that were often family operations. The 1960s saw the beginning of the national fast food franchise chain pioneered by McDonalds. Today a wide array of such outlets dominates the industry. Much of their success has come from bringing the techniques of assembly line operation to food production. The food materials are all processed in centralized factories and shipped frozen to the outlets. The minimal process of final cooking and assembly is decidedly unskilled labor. That has made it feasible to run service outlets with part time workers who are paid minimum wage. There is likely only one management employee for the whole thing. Such workers can already be easily replaced.

The is now a nationwide movement underway to conduct running guerrilla strikes demanding $15/hr as a minimum wage for food workers. Rather than a total work stoppage, they are doing limited short term strikes and protest demonstrations. It is unclear if they are having success at obtaining wage increases yet or not.

Business financed think tanks are raising the threat of automation that could entirely eliminate the jobs of most of the striking workers. The Employment Policies Institute is running this full page ad in The Wall Street Journal.  

Unfortunately for the workers attempting to build a union, this is a more serious threat than just the rhetoric of political spin. The corporations that put the mom and pop restaurants out of business have the deep pockets to invest in new technology.  Here's an example of technology that is supposedly ready to launch a chain of automated burger joints.

Fast Food Robot Builds The Perfect Burger

San Francisco-based robotics startup, Momentum Machines aims to revolutionize the fast food industry with an automated burger machine. While preparing for the launch of their new restaurant chain, they don’t have to worry about potential chefs because they plan to start the world’s first “smart restaurant” chain where all cooking is done entirely by robots. The company proudly boasts on its product page: “Our alpha machine replaces all of the hamburger line cooks in a restaurant. It does everything employees can do except better.”
We see various forms of automation coming to retail industries. Cashiers are being replaced by fully automated checkout stands. Retail has been an employment refuge because it is an industry that can't be outsourced to Asia. More and more they are selling products that have been manufactured there, but the middle vendor can't be eliminated.

This is a never ending struggle. Upward pressure on wages makes investment in new technology more cost effective. Technology that eliminates jobs adds more desperate workers to the pool of the unemployed willing to work for whatever they can get. I would be nice to have some rosy predictions for how this is all going to get resolved, but I don't have any.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Which is why I NEVER use the self checkout at (8+ / 0-)

    supermarkets and big boxes.


    I'll wait in line for a half hour or more, I don't care.

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Sat Sep 21, 2013 at 10:35:14 AM PDT

  •  Interesting point. nt (0+ / 0-)

    It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

    by karmsy on Sat Sep 21, 2013 at 10:43:58 AM PDT

  •  They are missing one module (4+ / 0-)

    There should be a garbage disposal/composter at the end of the line to perfect the end user experience.

    I'm sure a cleverly designed robot can ingest, digest and emit the remains of those burgers faster, more efficiently and more consistently than any human, and at fast food prices!

  •  Futurism always makes me think (6+ / 0-)

    of this Zen Koan

    There's a little boy and on his 14th birthday he gets a horse and everybody in the village says, "how wonderful. The boy got a horse" And the Zen master says, "we shall see." Two years later, the boy falls off the horse, breaks his leg, and everyone in the village says, "How terrible." And the Zen master says, "We shall see." Then, a war breaks out and all the young men have to go off and fight... except the boy can't because his leg is all messed up and everybody in the village says, "How wonderful."  The Zen master says, "We shall see."

    He who would trade liberty for security deserves great customer service.

    by Publius2008 on Sat Sep 21, 2013 at 10:57:33 AM PDT

  •  I'd seen one diary (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nirbama, serendipityisabitch

    on the subject of labor automation that struck me as a bit half-baked and alarmist, probably it was even by this diarist.

    But I'm tipping and recommending this one for discussion that will ensue in the comments, and I don't mean people being cutesy.

    It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

    by karmsy on Sat Sep 21, 2013 at 10:58:46 AM PDT

    •  What I am trying to focus on is a process. (9+ / 0-)

      Clearly the technology for increased automation already exist. It becomes an economic equation of when labor costs make investing in it a cost beneficial decision. It definitely imposes a constraint on union aspirations. I am not saying that unionization is a hopeless case, but it is complicated.

    •  How can you say it's alarmist? (5+ / 0-)

      The diarist's argument is strong. Job loss to automation is already happening and has been well covered.

      Enhancing the incentive to automate will speed the process up. Or, worse, create an incentive to automate when there was none before.

      The irony is that the people who will suffer the most are precisely who well-intentioned people are trying to help.

      •  Oh, Y2K was "a serious threat," too, as I recall. (3+ / 0-)

        Then midnight broke on New Year's Eve, 1999. And absolutely nothing happened. We all woke up the next morning. Same as in the other countries that had not done any "preparation" (we'd spent bazillions here, "getting ready")

        Pardon my sneer :)

        I've tipped and rec'd this diary, obviously. I believe this matter is worth discussing. But I don't believe automation of the labor force will necessarily spell Armageddon for the labor movement.

        It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

        by karmsy on Sat Sep 21, 2013 at 12:20:10 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Not a reality-based argument. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Despite having been shown concrete evidence, you cling to a position for which you are unable to justify.

          Are there any facts or evidence that you're not mentioning?

          •  OK, be all fanatical :) (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            serendipityisabitch, chuckvw

            A lot of people harbor the delusion that theirs is the "lone Clarion call" the masses won't heed because they are hopelessly "in denial." Fanatics of one kind and another command a following around here, sure enough.

            But, unless "fanatical" ideas are picked up by those willing to do more balanced and credible analysis--and that does happen from time to time--most of us tune them out.

            It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

            by karmsy on Sat Sep 21, 2013 at 07:08:21 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  The labor movement (8+ / 0-)

          has essentially been on life support for the past 30 years or so. Union membership in the private sector is now down to 9%. It is under heavy attack in the public sector. It faces opposition from political, economic and technological forces. Automation does not stand as its only problem, but it is certainly already adding to the problems and seems likely to continue to do so.

        •  No, Y2K was not "a serious threat". (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          coffeetalk, karmsy

          Not for those with a bit of technical background. But it was an excellent opportunity for snake oil salesmen to profit from the gullible.

          •  Thank you. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Hard thing to say, actually. Nobody likes being played for a fool.

            In a sense, the topic of this diary doesn't compare well to Y2K. Automation, a lot of it, is still in the future. We don't know how it will affect society and the labor market, but it seems a reasonable conjecture that it will have an impact. Let's have a conversation about it.

            But let's keep in mind it's impossible to predict the future. Some people (cf this thread) are getting awfully worked-up over what is still, after all, merely a possibility.

            A lot of snake-oil salesmen profited, handsomely, from Y2K. Because people were flat-out gullible. They bought the most extreme, alarmist scenarios, hook, line, and sinker.

            And today nobody wants to talk about it today.

            It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

            by karmsy on Sat Sep 21, 2013 at 07:19:55 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  It's only a matter of time, though. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              Whether it's 10, 50, or 100+ years in the future, the need for human labor and mindpower will be drastically decreased. Perhaps even eliminated.

              What's worth talking about now is what to do with excess human capacity. We have learned from auto plants and steel mills and textile factories that many, if not most, human functions are replaceable.

              But what do we do when it only takes 10% or 1% of humans to accomplish remaining tasks? Are the 90% or 99% to sit idle? Be euthanized? Given make-work?

      •  Automation has both positive and negative (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Richard Lyon, limpidglass, nirbama, Utahrd

        impacts on textile and other industries. Automation has saved some textile companies, but the automation has greatly reduced the amount of labor needed to produce the product and workers in the updated plants typically only make around $15 per hour.

        U.S. Textile Plants Return, With Floors Largely Empty of People

        After years of decline, one of the hardest hit industries in the United States might be making a comeback. But while textile manufacturing might return to the Carolinas, the jobs probably will not.Poh Si Teng/The New York Times

        The only trouble with retirement is...I never get a day off!

        by Mr Robert on Sat Sep 21, 2013 at 12:49:26 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  What negative impact on the industry? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          The textile industry faded in the U.S. because they moved overseas. Because of labor costs. It had nothing to do with automation.

          Most striking, labor costs — the reason all these companies fled in the first place — aren’t that much higher than overseas because the factories that survived the outsourcing wave have largely turned to automation and are employing far fewer workers.
          This is clear evidence to support the diarist's point.
          •  Automation is helping to bring it back (0+ / 0-)

            to the USA. The problem is that Automation is also limiting the number of people employed in the post-automation industry and that's a negative. Got it?

            The only trouble with retirement is...I never get a day off!

            by Mr Robert on Sat Sep 21, 2013 at 04:59:38 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  This is why the push to $15 an hour (8+ / 0-)

    is a double-edged sword.  On the one hand, a big increase in wages would certainly help those who still have a job.

    On the other hand, such a big increase means that investments in automation become more financially attractive, meaning that fewer people will have jobs.  

    I think automation in fast food restaurants is going to begin more with self-serve ordering.  A few places have this already.  You punch in your order at a kiosk and then go to a station to pay and get your food. That's a cheaper way to replace workers.  

    And whoever is the first to have a phone app where you can order and pay by credit card, then swing by and pick up your food, is going to make a zillion dollars.  

    I don't think small increases in wages for fast food workers - say, to $8.50 or $9 -- are going to significantly speed up that process.  But BIG increases -- like doubling the cost of labor -- clearly will make more expensive things like "robots" preparing food more financially attractive.  

  •  In 15 years, those robots will perform surgery... (6+ / 0-)

    with more precision and skill than the best surgeons alive today.

    And people will look at traditional surgery as an alarming proposition----why let some guy(or gal) fumble around in your chest, cutting veins and severing nerves when you can have it done by a robot?

    There's almost no job that can't be done better by a machine.
    I hope someone in academia and/or gov't is thinking about the long-term consequences of this.

  •  Workers and unions are already disadvantaged (5+ / 0-)

    because they have almost no effective representation in government. The people for whom robotizing the production of big macs seems like a good idea  do have very effective representation.

    Workers faced armed opposition in the Twenties and Thirties. Polite hearings before Senate subcommittees likely won't pull us out of this death spiral today.

    There's a twofold problem with robotization, which I agree that we are seeing stirrings of outside manufacturing:

    First, and most obviously, robots don't consume perishable consumables and services. There are studies around that suggest paying a livable wage would only add pennies to the cost of a burger, and the additional pay would go directly back into the economy. The cost of refitting franchised fast food stores would be enormous. Hardly worth it. A hollow threat, IMO, to frighten people who are already in marginal living situations.

    Second, long term there are not remotely enough IT/programming jobs to replace the losses. Telling the masses of people that the problem stems from their lack of skills is a cynical lie. Even white collar jobs in academe, law, engineering an medicine are in danger.

    So... over the longer term, there will either be a paradigm shift - the end of consumer capitalism - or the land will be laid waste. Likely it will be the latter before the former, because that's how we roll...

    There's none so blind as those that will not see. --Jonathan Swift

    by chuckvw on Sat Sep 21, 2013 at 12:39:02 PM PDT

    •  My view is that we are approaching (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      chuckvw, limpidglass, nirbama, Sparhawk

      a basic shift in industrial society as it has existed for the past two centuries. Consumer capitalism is going to be replaced by something else.

    •  Your two points are in total contradiction. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Point 1: Just a hollow threat -- too expensive.
      Point 2: It's a real threat, everyone should worry.

    •  plus, not mentioned, is that every one (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      chuckvw, kurt

      of those robot food handling  machines will have to be cleaned daily, if not more often, as all those ingredients fester in their slots,  and food-handling cleanliness criteria are stringent, with good reason.

      I imagine these machines,  if ever actually produced,  will work economically in a limited market,  say like Times Square, where tourists will try it once  for the novelty of it, never to return.   But it seems too fraught with difficulties to be a commercial success and replace human fast-food cooks.

      When I ran a grill at a McDucks. almost fifty years ago I could fry up 48 patties in four minutes and do the garnish while they were cooking, long before computers entered the picture.  And handle specials as well.  Sometimes we did that for hours on end when the rush would keep on coming.

      don't always believe what you think

      by claude on Sat Sep 21, 2013 at 04:58:28 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Technology will eventually eliminate the need (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Richard Lyon, Justanothernyer

    for most labor, perhaps even the need for most social interaction. If there's life after death, I'd enjoy coming back to see how that works out...

    There's none so blind as those that will not see. --Jonathan Swift

    by chuckvw on Sat Sep 21, 2013 at 12:49:07 PM PDT

  •  this is where having the government guarantee (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Richard Lyon, chuckvw, TiaRachel

    a basic income for all, and also a job for everyone who wants it will come in handy.

    To compete with the government, private companies will have to hire workers at a wage at least as high as the government is paying. Otherwise, their workers will simply quit and take up a job with the government.

    Thus the wage of the lowest-paying government job will effectively serve as a lower bound for wages overall. Same with other benefits (vacation time, parental leave, etc.)

    You will still have a minimum wage law and other laws mandating worker benefits. But they will be far easier to enforce with a government job guarantee, because market pressures will now force private employers to comply with the law, or risk losing necessary personnel to the public sector.

    What happens right now is the exact reverse of this. The 1% deliberately shrink government, forcing down government salaries, so they can hire public employees for peanuts (witness US soldiers in Iraq quitting and working for Blackwater at two or three times the salary). So why not make the dynamic work the other way, by increasing government salaries (and the number of government jobs)?

    The role of unions will change because the meaning of work will change. First the idea that you can have a career doing a single fixed job is dead. In the past you could make a living for thirty years manufacturing one kind of rivet, for instance. That's no longer the case. So unions will increasingly provide other services to their members, such as training for transitioning into different kinds of work.

    Under a government guarantee of full employment, unions will not have to worry about ensuring the job security of their members, because everyone who wants a job will have one. They will be free to deal with other issues, like quality of the work environment, safety, benefits, professional standards, etc.

    Strikes will be more effective because striking workers will be able to continue receiving the basic income even when they're not working, and if they really want, they can quit and take a government job. So they can continue a strike for much longer than before. It will be very difficult to hire scabs because there won't be a horde of desperate unemployed.

    In such a scenario, public sector unions will become even more important because of the government's increased role in job creation. They will play a key part in ensuring that the benefits in government jobs are at a satisfactory level and that standards for safety, etc. in their profession are enforced, and so on. That will in turn put pressure indirectly on private industry to provide good working conditions for their employees, making it easier for private sector unions to negotiate with their management.

    "In America, the law is king." --Thomas Paine

    by limpidglass on Sat Sep 21, 2013 at 01:09:08 PM PDT

    •  The New Jerusalem (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Initially, we will have to refuse to pay rent...

      There's none so blind as those that will not see. --Jonathan Swift

      by chuckvw on Sat Sep 21, 2013 at 01:29:55 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I think the system will collapse of its own accord (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        chuckvw, serendipityisabitch

        the 1%'s paradise is unstable. If you want to funnel all the gains of automation to the top, if you want, say, ten thousand people to control 50% of the world's real wealth and resources, then you have to be prepared for massive, massive upheaval and constant, high-intensity class warfare. To hold on to those kinds of gains, to maintain the security system needed to control so many billions and keep them all pacified, divided, and ignorant, requires tremendous resources and constant vigilance. I don't think it can be done with 6.8 billion people around.

        Nietzsche said "if one wants slaves, one is a fool if one educates them to be masters." In our society, too many have been educated to be masters; despite the liquidation of the middle class there are still too many who have skills and education and who retain a desire to be more than serfs. The Internet has been damaged and abused but is still a very powerful tool for communication, education, and uniting resistance to the plutocracy.

        Then too, things could take a much darker turn. One way to look at the Nazis' Final Solution is as a supply-side attempt to deal with the unemployment problem of the Great Depression: just get rid of the unemployed. If your labor stock is too big, if it's costing you too much to maintain it, then just liquidate it.

        Austerity is no more than a slower and more mild version of this.

        If you view the Final Solution as the product of some kind of monstrous, demonic evil unique to the Germans of the 1930s, then you can comfort yourself with the belief that it's a one-off, never to happen again.

        If on the other hand, you view the Final Solution as an economic phenomenon, then you understand that it can and will happen again, if the economic logic is compelling enough. Except this time it will be on a much bigger scale because there is no more Lebensraum to expand into and there are a lot more people on the planet.

        So this is one way the problem of surplus unemployed can be dealt with. And such a thing might well come to pass.

        Of course, in the US we responded to the Great Depression with a demand-side solution to the unemployment problem, the New Deal: create demand for work, create jobs.

        What I have proposed is more or less to do on a systematic and permanent basis what the New Deal did only haphazardly and  temporarily. That's what gives me hope that we could find a way out of this that doesn't involve eliminating a quarter of the world's population.

        "In America, the law is king." --Thomas Paine

        by limpidglass on Sat Sep 21, 2013 at 02:02:09 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  This seems unsustainable? (0+ / 0-)

      What happens when the government payroll grows as large as its tax base?

  •  There is more to the picture (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bush Bites

    While automation reduces the need for low-skilled labor, it dramatically increases the need for engineers, installers, programmers and highly skilled maintenance personnel.  Such people are paid dramatically more than unskilled labor and tend to be unionized trades.  Automated systems suffer wear and breakdown the same as any other machine and the level of technical expertise at the design and installation level is high.

    •  That is true. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Justanothernyer, Sparhawk

      But when low-skilled positions go away, we still have low-skilled workers, just no jobs for them. They have literally been priced out of the market by, ironically, the very policies that were intended to help them.

    •  I don't know that it dramatically increases (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Justanothernyer, chuckvw, Sparhawk

      the number of high tech jobs. Automation technology is highly leveraged. A small design team can produce something that can be mass produced on an automated assembly line.

      The present reality is that we are already turning out of large surplus of well educated people. The competition for the design jobs will continue to be fierce.

      •  Robots fabricating robots (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Richard Lyon, kurt

        robots programming the fabricators and designing the fabricated... Just a matter of time.

        The challenges of the future, IMO, will be conceptual and social, not so much technological... barring something unanticipated, which cannot ever be ruled out.

        There's none so blind as those that will not see. --Jonathan Swift

        by chuckvw on Sat Sep 21, 2013 at 03:34:22 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  In a previous life (0+ / 0-)

        I designed and programmed PLC systems.  You actually assume incorrectly.  Stuff does not "just work".  Design, installation and maintenance IS labor intensive, and it requires highly skilled technicians.  Things break--all the time.  Would you expect to never have maintenance performed on your car?  Do you expect your dishwasher to run forever?  Imagine a laundromat with 150 washers and dryers.  Do you expect them all to work without maintenance or breakdowns?  A factory floor is no different, skilled techs are in high demand and there is no "maintenance robot" except in science fiction.  A program can assist with diagnosis, but in the end a technician is required to determine the actual fault and make the repairs.

  •  Increasing wages in the fast food industry (0+ / 0-)

    to $15 an hour is not likely to happen anyway.  

    But the cost of automation continues to fall and more and more jobs will be automatable.  

    As has been the case in the past jobs will become obsolete and be replaced with new jobs.

    The key difference is that machines will also be able to do the new jobs very rapidly.

  •  Industry Structure Leans Against Automation (0+ / 0-)

    For the time being, the fast food industry's financial structure leans against the prospect of widespread automation, except for a limited slice of the market.  Only the stores which are corporate owned and operated would be capable of installing the automation necessary to replace most of the staff.  The industry relies heavily on the franchise system to achieve its reach and desired profitability, but that means it also relies on franchisees who can afford to buy into their network.  Adding the need for automation would substantially increase the cost of franchise ownership, thereby restricting the corporation's ability to extend its service area.  Corporate could offer sweetened financing deals to franchisees, but that would simply make the situation less attractive to a prospective franchisee and really lock them into a particular relationship.  Of course, some fast food corporations might decide to go with totally prepared food which would require merely "re-thermalizing" for "presentation" to customers, but that would only increase the swirl in the product quality down the drain even faster than it's been going.

    "Love the Truth, defend the Truth, speak the Truth, and hear the Truth" - Jan Hus, d.1415 CE

    by PrahaPartizan on Sat Sep 21, 2013 at 05:02:44 PM PDT

    •  The cost of automation is rapidly declining. n/t (0+ / 0-)
      •  But Simply Saying It Doesn't Make It So (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Bush Bites, chuckvw

        But the cost is relative.  It might be cheap for one situation, such as that related to producing a consumer production good where the products come out of a limited number of facilities around the globe all controlled by a well-financed corporation.  Cheap might mean something else to a franchisee whose finances are totally different.  That's especially true when most of the various stores are of different size and fitting, which means that all of that automation needs to be specially designed and engineered for each and every store.  The relative costs change when a business is looking at four plants to cover the globe versus four to supply a mid-sized town.

        "Love the Truth, defend the Truth, speak the Truth, and hear the Truth" - Jan Hus, d.1415 CE

        by PrahaPartizan on Sat Sep 21, 2013 at 05:27:14 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Seems like low income people eat their crap. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TiaRachel, trkingmomoe, kurt

    What are they going to do when the low income people don't have jobs?

  •  Just tipped and recced, as much for the quality (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Richard Lyon, kurt

    of the Comments as for the diary. You have done an incredible job maintaining the side of the Perilous Robot, without once that I saw falling into the Demonic Robot stance. My sincere congratulations.

    It is a problem. It does have to be considered fully, and a number of factors need to be brought in to that consideration that most people simply haven't seen as relevant up to this point. A good chunk of what you describe will probably be inevitable, and we need to be thinking about alternate paradigms for setting worth in our society besides the ability to hold a job. Totally revamping the basis for our economics wouldn't hurt, either.

    It's going to be an interesting road for the next fifty years or so. Has been for the last fifty, too. New solutions, new problems. Thanks.

    At least half the future I've been expecting hasn't gotten here yet. Sigh.... (Yes, there's gender bias in my name; no, I wasn't thinking about it when I signed up. My apologies.)

    by serendipityisabitch on Sat Sep 21, 2013 at 07:54:52 PM PDT

  •  I would rather cook for myself. (0+ / 0-)

    You forget the consumer in this discussion.  Process food is just not all that attractive. The fast food needs customers.  If they don't want to employ people then who will buy the low quality food.  Before WWI eating out was only for special occasions and travel.  People ate at home and entertained at home.  It was after WWII that people started eating out on a regular basis. Now you can buy frozen meals to keep on hand for quick fast meal that is less expensive then eating fast foods out.

    When I am out shopping I enjoy service.  I expect service and like to see a person that I can talk too.  Humans are social.  Eating is part of being social.  Who wants to wait on a sandwich in front of a small conveyor with a little glass door.  Historically we tried automats and they didn't catch on,  Even fast food customers wants a little ambience with their meals and some friendly service.

    They can build it but will people come?  Will home prepared foods end up being preferred?  I agree with some of the comments that robotics will have a limited roll in food service in certain markets.  

  •  Employment-based society (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Richard Lyon

    itself tends to collapse under the stresses of ,odernization and automation.  Outside of small technical and managerial elites, future prospects are of continuing instability as the failure of neoliberalism in the absence of any accepted alternative accelerates.

    It's time to start thinking of the shape of society where a job is not the norm.  In a world where the productive capacity of many, if not most Americans is unnecessary and unsought there needs to be a new social consensus about who we are and why we're here, if most of us are utterly disposable in our productive capability.

    Clap On, Clap Off, The Clapper!

    by ActivistGuy on Sun Sep 22, 2013 at 01:24:23 AM PDT

  •  just for discussions sake..... (0+ / 0-)

    there was a short science fiction story that looked at the automation problem the solution was  only individuals could own a robot (one per person) and corporations could only lease them from their owners to be used in the factories or other locations i thought it was a rather elegant solution

    O world,no world,but mass of public wrongs,confused and filled with murder and misdeeds

    by Brian B on Sun Sep 22, 2013 at 03:14:16 AM PDT

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