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“It is the working man who is the happy man. It is the idle man who is the miserable man.” - Benjamin Franklin
For most of our history, every human being was occupied with the work of keeping that human being - and his clan/family – alive. We grew food, hunted food, sewed clothing, made tools. Each group could be independent – by necessity, was independent, either providing for itself everything it needed, or trying to get by without.

Then came the skilled crafts – woodworking, smithing, glazing . . . Each of these took focus, so we started specializing. This one was a blacksmith, that one a baker, that one a farmer. We all did different things, but we each had something the others needed, so we all bartered. If we were lucky and smart, our clan had one of everything, or nearly so, and our group was still self-sufficient. We had full-employment, because there was only one way to be fired from the job of “staying alive”, and we stopped counting you after that.

And then everything changed, and it might be soon to bite us all in the ass.

Read on . . .

“Let's not kid ourselves here, robots already run most of our world. We'll be their butlers soon enough.” - Eric Stoltz
I read Retroactive Genius’ diary this morning, talking about the Burger Bot from Momentum Machines. The idea is, frankly, one I’ve expected to see for a while now. The fast food industry (and the larger retail industry, for that matter) has never missed a chance to cut corners – replacing actual chicken with that godawful chicken paste in chicken nuggets (if only temporarily), or buying “guess if it’s safe” meat from China, or resorting to so many cheap artificial ingredients that the food won’t spoil even if you dare it to or the ice cream won’t melt in the sun, or cutting staff down to guaranteed-crappy-service levels. Replacing workers with a robot – which needs no paycheck, never gets sick, never needs to leave early to pick up its kids, won’t slip and fall, won’t get the company sued for spitting in some jackhole’s soda – is, indeed, a dream for them. I’m sure the Walton family is beating down Momentum Machines’ door right now, research grant in hand.

McDonalds had flirted with vending machines back in 2003. They shuttered that experiment, but have come back to it repeatedly, particularly in non-US markets. Other chains have done the same thing. Momentum Machines has just introduced the latest and greatest realization of that dream.

“Know what every small business with five employees wants? To find a way to do the same job with four employees.” – me, in an earlier diary, “They Don’t Want to Hire You”
This isn’t new in general, and it’s not restricted to food service. Automation has been with us since the start of the Industrial Revolution, ever since the old model of semi-independence was replaced with working for someone else in exchange for a paycheck. Every captain of industry has looked at a factory floor of a hundred employees and wondered how the job might still get done with ninety, or seventy, or fifty.

Even worker-intensive jobs like coal mining are employing fewer people than ever thanks to new (and often worse) methods of extracting coal. Real estate agents are finding themselves phased out by software and websites. Even jobs we don’t normally think of as endangered, like printing, semiconductor manufacturing or wired telecom are headed to extinction.

We were told that technology would open as many doors as it closed, that there would be new jobs to replace the old ones lost. Certainly, the Internet has created a passel of jobs, from IT technicians (a whole field that didn’t exist a half-century ago) to the vloggers making a living from their YouTube channel (yes, people do that). But the general trend is that technology has increased efficiency, and greater efficiency means greater productivity, and greater productivity means doing the same work with fewer people. There may be new jobs created along the way, but if they don’t come at a 1:1 ratio with the jobs lost, we still lose. Replacing 400 workers with robots and then creating 10 robot-technician jobs is a downward spiral.

“They used to tell me I was building a dream / With peace and glory ahead /Why should I be standing in line /Just waiting for bread?” - Edgar “Yip” Harburg, “Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?”
Some may say this is alarmist – that on balance, no matter how much automation, consolidation, or amelioration there is, there will always be jobs, and more or less enough of them for the population. They may well be right. I dearly hope they are. I would like nothing more than to be convinced that the scary math of increasing productivity wasn’t the boogeyman it looks like now.

Still, the fear –warranted or not – raises a philosophical question: what would we do if there weren’t enough jobs for everyone? How would our society handle five million, or ten million or thirty million people who would – because more and more jobs have become obsolete – simply have nothing to do?

That’s a hard pill to take. Ever since the first textile mills opened, it’s been a matter of faith that, if you wanted to work, work could be found. Someone, somewhere was always hiring, and being hired was how you made your way. Even during the bad times of the Great Depression, we never questioned the basic model of the system – we just saw factors like the Crash, bank runs, and the strangling of consumerism by widespread poverty as short-term, external forces afflicting the economy. The central notion that – once the economy got back on its feet - everybody could work, and everybody should work – that work was, in itself, the path to having a life – was never in doubt.

The children of the Modern Age, conditioned by the Way Things Are since the Industrial Revolution, cannot grok the notion that there may simply not be jobs to find – not as a short-term impact of a bad economy, not as a temporary self-correction of the labor market, but simply as the new and permanent status quo; mass unemployment as a feature, not a bug.

Neither our social consciousness nor our public infrastructure are prepared for that.

"There is always the danger that we may just do the work for the sake of the work." - Mother Teresa
We have spent a long time identifying ourselves by our jobs. We don’t ask who you are, we ask “what do you do?” When we describe ourselves, we don’t lead with our hobbies or our passions – we lead with our jobs, and we fully integrate them with our sense of self – “I’m a systems analyst.”

Such a society quite naturally looks down on the unemployed. The compassionate among us check that impulse for people who struggle and fail to find work, or have situations that keep them unemployed. We’re less understanding, generally, for the able-bodied guy that would rather spend his life surfing.

There’s an argument to be made that we should never have been this way, regardless of how our economy was set up. We fell into an obvious trap of bias and conformity, Stockholm Syndrome Capitalism. Maybe that’s true. Maybe if we’d always introduced ourselves by who we are (“I’m a painter, but I work as a systems analyst”), we’d be better people. At least, it’s likely we’d be better prepared for the day we hear, by the millions, “Your Services Are No Longer Required”.

“The main business of humanity is to do a good job of being human beings," said Paul, "not to serve as appendages to machines, institutions, and systems.”
― Kurt Vonnegut, Player Piano
And what do we do on that day - or rather, on the daisy-chain of days, months and years that Great Shedding will likely fall across? There are a lot of bad options, but maybe at least a few good ones. I’m personally a fan of the UBI – Universal Basic Income – in which the government drops all unemployment and other social safety net programs, including Social Security, in favor of a baseline, lifetime income (say, just above poverty level) for every American citizen. You want to work anyway? Great. Your work income is icing on the cake. The UBI is yours whether your other income is seven figures or none.

The UBI would be funded by a combination of taxation, public investment and royalties for publicly-owned resources such as timber, oil, etc – which we would finally start collecting, in full. Alaska actually has a baby version of this, through its Alaska Permanent Fund. The UBI just kicks that concept up a notch.

Employers wouldn’t be the sole source of income anymore, which means the salaries they’d have to pay could be a little more flexible ($20k a year isn’t much now, but when you’re getting it on top of your UBI, it’s a bit more enticing). And since no one has to work, finding candidates would get tougher, and there’d be an increased pressure to find new efficiencies and eliminate unnecessary jobs – which, finally, would be a good thing.

What would people do? Well, they’d be people. Some of them would lounge on the couch – of course they would. But some of them lounge on the couch now – they just take breaks from it to do a low wage job that a robot could probably already do. Underachievers are underachievers, UBI or no (note: yes, I know that lots of people in low wage jobs are the hardest working people in our society, and they usually juggle two or even three of those jobs. Not talking about them. Trust me, slackers exist).

A lot of others, though, would do what they wanted to do – the dreams and goals they couldn’t follow before because they couldn’t support themselves. If that argument sounds familiar, it’s because it’s largely the same argument in favor of people getting ACA subsidies and leaving dead-end jobs they’re holding only for benefits. They’d be who they are, not what they do.

The UBI is, admittedly, still a bit of a utopian concept. It’s gaining steam in some quarters in Europe – in Switzerland, enough signatures were collected by activists to trigger a referendum on a Basic Income of CHF 2500 a month (just under $2800 a month, or about $33k/year), though there’s no word on when that vote will happen, and no idea how it would go. When - or if - it would even be acceptable enough to debate openly in this country is another question entirely.

It is possible there will always be work to go around. It is possible that new jobs and industries will spring up, which - coupled with regulation on wages and benefits that make them worthwhile - will be all we ever need. And maybe, even if that does happen, we could still start decoupling our identities from our employment. That would all be nice. But I do think it's worth asking "what if?", and thinking about how we'd deal with the kind of future Momentum Machines is hinting at today.

Originally posted to Dark Armadillos of the Soul on Tue Aug 12, 2014 at 01:28 PM PDT.

Also republished by Changing the Scrip and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Alms (312+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    skybluewater, Alumbrados, paradox, Angie in WA State, Mimikatz, exsimo2, northsylvania, LoneStarMike, drybones, Danno11, Emerson, TheGreatLeapForward, Byron from Denver, scorinaldi, eeff, DFWmom, Gareth, concernedamerican, TracieLynn, cardinal, amsterdam, highacidity, shanikka, mollyd, ctsteve, askyron, high uintas, Cardinal96, kharma, tidalwave1, psnyder, sockpuppet, Bring the Lions, pat bunny, cosette, Kidspeak, HeyMikey, riverlover, Diana in NoVa, Major Kong, zerelda, ScienceMom, sawgrass727, rapala, maybeeso in michigan, sandblaster, radarlady, ichibon, unclejohn, Simplify, eightlivesleft, dewtx, ChemBob, YucatanMan, 1180, bleeding blue, Sun Tzu, where4art, bmaples, Spiffydigs, mightymouse, xaxnar, martini, sna, clinging to hope, chrisculpepper, jts327, cececville, FindingMyVoice, offgrid, fiercefilms, leonard145b, nosleep4u, Statusquomustgo, Bradana, Sylv, caliberal2001, rmx2630, Anthony Page aka SecondComing, JDWolverton, boran2, slowbutsure, ModerateJosh, ColoTim, Josiah Bartlett, Milly Watt, LibrErica, NewRomeIsBurning, northerntier, tommyfocus2003, vinny67, dRefractor, theBreeze, Wary, livingthedream, leftywright, Mr Horrible, oldcrow, yoduuuh do or do not, The Hindsight Times, legendmn, Puddytat, BlackQueen40, Geenius at Wrok, Abinold, Wolf29, RMForbes, ClutchCargo, new10, kitchieboy, OllieGarkey, Ado Annie, kfunk937, marina, annan, Paradigm Change, sendtheasteroid, No one gets out alive, Rashaverak, annominous, Katannah, Dontstopbelieving, CelticOm, dconrad, Shockwave, qofdisks, Paul Ferguson, 4Freedom, 3rdOption, skepticalcitizen, greenotron, enemy of the people, Lonely Texan, Kentucky DeanDemocrat, randomfacts, All In, JVolvo, Bluesee, Wino, splashy, Larsstephens, claude, defluxion10, dewolf99, JuliathePoet, MarkInSanFran, Skyprogress, BusyinCA, Ratiocination, Chaddiwicker, ladybug53, Gemina13, Rogneid, Coaster Freak, SirReal, AlwaysDemocrat, cymricmorty, ptressel, mldavis254, OHeyeO, native, Itaziadorre, Outrider, redlum jak, commonmass, athenap, NoBlueSkies, Mickquinas, Themistoclea, RiveroftheWest, Itty Bitty, smrichmond, bobcat41702, SteveLCo, lady blair, Teenygozer, laurak, Oh Mary Oh, CharlieHipHop, Caniac41, semiot, Holgar, dalef77, Loose Fur, Garthhh, johnrhoffman, Trendar

    Alms for the poor scribe.

    "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed." - Dwight D. Eisenhower

    by Jaxpagan on Tue Aug 12, 2014 at 01:25:10 PM PDT

      •  OK, Star Trek has addressed this in a sense (19+ / 0-)

        On Deep Space Nine there is a great 2 part episode ("Past Tense, Part I", "Past Tense, Part II") where Commander Sisko, Lieutenant Dax and Dr. Bashir go back in time to 2024 and Sisko and Bashir find themselves in what is called "Sanctuary District A" in San Francisco, USA. The purpose of these Sanctuary Districts was to provide job placement services and amenities for housing and feeding the unemployed. This was considered a joke by the residents of Districts.

        "It was about twenty square blocks large, and contained an estimated ten thousand people living in very bad and overcrowded conditions. It was walled of from the rest of the city, its major access point being the "main gate."
        "The district was policed by a specialized police force, known as Sanctuary District Police or District Security." This was juxtaposed against a very affluent city where Dax ended up. Net access was restricted within the Sanctuary District. For a Star Trek episode is was very dystopic as the episode is about a riot that needs to happen in order for the future to be the same.

        Here is a link to the synapses of the episode on Memory Alpha, the Star Trek Wiki.

        •  This is why a contraction of human population (8+ / 0-)

          must occur.  But, population decrease must be accompanied by less wealth inequality or that reduction will be inefficient, destructive to the environment and needlessly cruel.
          The hunger games illustrate conditions under extreme wealth inequality.  We see the opulent consumption by one district at the expense of the others.  This inevitably sets up a feedback loop that destabilizes, lays waste and creates misery and chaos in it's wake.
          I don't think the planet could withstand a environmental hit of depopulating via WAR and Neo-liberal tactics of wealth stripping and exploitation that is The Shock Doctrine (Naomi Klein).

          •  the only reliable way to decrease population (9+ / 0-)

            is by boosting well-being. Wars, oppression, and poverty all increase the birthrate. The lowest birthrates are where life is best, generally falling to quite a bit below replacement rate.

            We can't raise everybody to a high standard of living using the usual methods of wasteful affluence so we desperately need minimal-impact luxurious lifestyles. I live below the poverty line, but have a very luxurious life, eating onl0y twice a day, with one of my meals each week being a protein meal (fish). The rest of the week I eat grains and vegetables. I don't have a car so go out once every couple of months. Reducing the amount of times I shop also means I buy less. I'm currently looking for more efficient computers to reduce my electricity use. Already the solar cells on the roof mean I feed more electricity into the grid than I use so get a credit from the power company.

            Most of our scientific, cultural, and philosophical advances have come from the "idle" rich. Idleness is a good thing. The puritanical work ethic was always to make sure owners could control slaves/workers. It is a rare person who can stand to do nothing. Left to their own devices people improve their house or car, or write, or study, or look after their family kids or elders. I believe "slackers" are pretty-much a myth -- they might do the couch-potato thing for a short while, but I don't believe anybody can keep it up for long unless drugged into near oblivion, and then it isn't laziness that is their problem, but drug use.

            ----- The brain is the only organ where you'd prefer to be the donor instead of the recipient.

            by miriam e on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 05:12:08 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  You mean boosting the well-being of women (7+ / 0-)

              And giving them full reproductive choice, without men dictating to them that they have to reproduce.

              Women create the entire labor force.
              Sympathy is the strongest instinct in human nature. - Charles Darwin

              by splashy on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 05:18:11 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Another way to decrease population... (0+ / 0-)

              ...Climate change. Build a big fence across the Mexican border (and maybe a secondary fence across the soon-to-be desertified parts of the US), and wait for maybe a hundred years. BOOM, instant available real estate, with all the mining and mineral rights unprotected and available for use by the bits of the US that manages to stay green and savvy. I can easily see half the planet's population desiccate into mummies by 2100. Problem cut in half.

              Oh, and BTW: sorry about that invasion Canada -- it's just business. Nothing personal : )

            •  You forgot one. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              NoBlueSkies, RiveroftheWest
              Left to their own devices people improve their house or car, or write, or study, or look after their family kids or elders.
              Or sit at their computers for hours reading, commenting, and debating blogs and news articles. ;)

              Not that that's a bad thing. I'm sure many of us here at DK are also armchair activists trying to change the world. At least that's what I'm doing with my "idle" time. :)

              Politics is the entertainment branch of industry. -Frank Zappa

              by FactsPrevail on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 09:15:40 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  Star Trek (6+ / 0-)

          has been pretty forward-thinking on a lot of issues.  I just watched the "Past Tense" episode a few weeks ago and it resonates even more strongly today than it did when it was originally released.  

          •  A Comment on A Certain Republican Administration? (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            The Hindsight Times

            Given that its original air date was in 1995, which means it could have been written up to a couple years earlier, I always thought it was a commentary on St. Ronny's supply side, trickle down eek-onomics... and the natural denouement thereof.

            I for one imagined a future very much like that even in the late early nineties.

            Meddle not in the affairs of dragons... for thou art crunchy and good with ketchup.

            by Pariah Dog on Thu Aug 14, 2014 at 09:34:15 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Actually, Star Trek: The Next Generation treated (5+ / 0-)

          . . . the idea more directly.  In "The Neutral Zone" the Enterprise piced up three survivors from the late-20th, early-21st century who had been frozen because of incurable diseases (which were, of course, easily cured 300 years hence.) One of the revived had been an investment banker, and couldn't wait to see how much his fortune had grown.  They had a hard time explaining to him that scarcity was a thing of the past, and that people had the freedom to explore their interests, because their basic needs could be met without the need for human labor.  I've been saying for a few years that we were approaching a Star Trek economy, and that we need to move to a post-capitalist mindset.  The idea of a guaranteed income is a hard pill for some people to swallow, because they've based their self-worth on their Calvinist sense of self-worth (i.e. - God obviously likes me best because I have so much more stuff than other people.)

          I fear that, as we have more and more "excess citizens" (from the perspective of the oligarchs), politicians will explore ways to decrease this "labor surplus" in line with the models used to horrifying effect by leaders like Hitler, Stalin and Mao.

        •  Yes, Star Trek did (8+ / 0-)

          But not in the way you seem to mean.  The whole basis of the Star Trek universe is that no one has to work due to the relative and limited utopia created by the universal translator, the teleporter, and the replicator which can make anything but latinum.  So what people do is what they want, not what they have to.  There's no money involved within the Federation.  Federation citizens are always employed, because there's always work to do in a system where people work for fun rather than funds.  Only TNG introduced the concept of poverty within the system, with Yar's character, and the reason for conditions on her planet were never explained.

          You don't see much of this because you rarely see the Federation in a series about exploration.  But if you pay attention on trips back to Earth, or listen to the Ferenghi talk about latinum, or notice that no one ever talks about pay or income or raises, you'll see that people just do work because it satisfies them.

          But without a replicator, the issue is moot.  Clothing is still made by individual seamstresses.  They're just paid a pittance, and made to work at a furious rate.  It's not robots that make Nikes only $5 to produce.  It's labor that's paid very, very little, if anything.  It's not robots that have hurt labor so badly.  It's businesses moving jobs to places where there's few or no labor laws and protections.  

          The problem isn't that technical solutions are cheaper, or that we're able to make production more efficient.  The problem is that the 1% who run things are willing to pay millions more to use technology rather than have to deal with a person.  If they do have to deal with another person, unless that person is a business person like them, they want to pay very, very little.  In the area where I grew up, they relocated people and businesses and spent at least tens of millions to replace a draw bridge with a higher, wider bridge that wouldn't need an operator.  Even assuming that operator was paid an exorbitant 50 thou a year just to raise the bridge every now and then, that would mean it would take a good 20 years to make back a 1 million dollar expenditure.  I doubt this new bridge will last even that long without repair or replacement, just as I doubt it was only a single million in extra cost to replace with a redesign rather than more of the same.

          My husband did some IT work where there were four people and several companies between him and the government organization contracting the work.  He was paid a pittance, so that all those layers of management could make money while all but one of them did practically nothing.  I once worked on a project where contractors were hired to do what we had more than enough talent internally to do, and the contractors totally messed up and didn't meet the requirements the contract, but my bosses refused to do anything beyond let them go with the hundreds of thousands of dollars promised because the contractors were young males who looked, dressed, and talked like them.  It didn't matter that they were incompetent.  Meanwhile, the practice of cutting costs internally had meant no one below a manager had been promoted or had more than a cost of living raise in years.  At the same time, high level managers gave themselves 30 to 50 percent raises.  Our high boss had received a 45% raise over that same time period.

          The problem isn't that artisans have been replaced.  It's that the people who can afford to pay artisans what they're worth don't, so that others who would pay artisans more can't.  It's that wealth is concentrated into the hands of people who want to actively keep money and power out of the hands of people who are different from them.  People who look different, who speak differently, who act differently, who think differently.  They'll appeal to people with superficial similarities, which has tricked the children and grandchildren of people who violently opposed them at the turn of the last century.  

          Plenty is only a problem when greed and waste are allowed to rule.   When they are subordinate to the good of the community, they're a benefit.

      •  They will BUY, they will Produce, USE, WASTE (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Bluesee, Rogneid

        Buying is only a middleman.  
        There is a difference between making a paycheck and having an occupation.  

      •  We won't need CEOs either. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Computers already do a much better job of analyzing data and making decisions.

        I know that I do not know.

           -- Socrates

      •  The question is (0+ / 0-)

        too complicated for MBAs to answer because they all have had absolutely no education in common sense. All they know is "marketing", "finance", and other spurious non-academic subjects.  And I have to laugh at the comments below about "The Hunger Games".  Obviously the way to control the crowds and keep them ignorant is to limit their knowledge to "pop culture" and keep them from history and the lessons to be learned from the past.  Is a little knowledge helpful or just dangerous?

    •  I've read here (0+ / 0-)

      Some of the very complaints that were made at the start of the industrial revolution.
      Meanwhile, machines still need programming, adjusting and repair. Machines still need monitoring.
      I know that quite well, as my new job is monitoring the monitoring software for multiple networks.

      The funny thing is, fixing those robots pays a hell of a lot better than what one could have made doing the job that the machine replaced.

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

      Why, exactly, would UBI be just above poverty level?  Is it somehow unseemly that a member of a post-industrial society isn't working?  Isn't it the point of all this automation that manual labor isn't necessary?  The super rich don't work.

      What, me worry? I read MAD Magazine.

      by Bill Roberts on Thu Aug 14, 2014 at 08:26:35 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I think because: (0+ / 0-)

        In most quarters, it's considered an easier sell if the UBI is minimal, thus merely replacing the various forms of assistance we would give someone under that income.

        You could also argue that, since jobs wouldn't completely disappear, just become too scarce for the historical levels of employment, you wouldn't want to make the UBI too enticing as a "settle for this" income. As the labor force continued to dwindle via more advancement and automation, and as the UBI became more of an accepted fixture, it would likely rise.

        "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed." - Dwight D. Eisenhower

        by Jaxpagan on Thu Aug 14, 2014 at 11:24:02 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  It would be interesting to see the dynamics. (0+ / 0-)

          Would wages go down, because people could settle for lower because of UBI?

          Or would wages go up because people would need the extra incentive to work at crappy jobs?

          •  I think that's part of the reason to keep it low (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            At least initially. If someone is getting, say $33k a year from the UBI (the amount coming up for referendum in Switzerland), A business could presumably get away with offering much less than they do - $20k for what is now a $50k a year job.

            On the other hand, when people can live their lives without worrying about at least a basic income, I think they'd start getting pickier about what they sell their time for. Forty hours a week of my life for some dead-eyed cubicle job, just for an extra two to three grand a month? Employers would A) consolidate and reconfigure jobs to eliminate the most boring/least satisfying ones, because it would be less likely someone would give up their time for one, and B) very likely spin more toward part-time, since not as many people would be willing to sell off as many hours of their life as before.

            The cost-benefit analysis of work would change, for the employee. I don't think it would drive wages above pre-UBI levels for the same job, but I think it would press employer do more with less. They're already doing that, but with only profit maximization as the driving force. "Employee satisfaction" or "job appeal" would become new drivers, and that would change how businesses structured and restructured themselves.

            "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed." - Dwight D. Eisenhower

            by Jaxpagan on Thu Aug 14, 2014 at 01:28:57 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  The government will have to help (0+ / 0-)

      There is undone work all over the country. Make the minimum wage high enough to support a person, and give child grants to mothers.

      Employers could have their minimum wage raised by federal grants to meet the new limit; but the employer would be billed for social security and unemployment taxes and NOT allowed to deduct ANYTHING.

      There is so much money fxxked away to no purpose on foreign policy and the military that could be re-purposed to paying for this.

      25,000 dollars per year times 25X10^6 estimated unemployed or under-employed people equals 6.25X10^11, which is still less than the amount we flush down the toilet! Go ahead, check my maths.

      Spend the change on education and infrastructure!

  •  Ironically (24+ / 0-)

    Automation, for all the apparent, actual and anticipated--rightly or wrongly--pain it introduces is one of the paths we need to create a sustainable basic income.  

  •  The Universal Basic Income sounds like an idea (55+ / 0-)

    whose time has come. But I'm sure as usual European countries and others will be adopting it while the US is either late to the party or doesn't adopt it at all. Look at the example of paid family leave. The only countries which don't have it are Oman, Papua New Guinea.....and the US.

    So many books--so little time. Economic Left/Right -7.88 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian -6.97

    by Louisiana 1976 on Tue Aug 12, 2014 at 01:58:48 PM PDT

    •  basic income should be feared. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Choco8, Front Toward Enemy

      reactionaries support it because their goal is to dismantle the welfare state and privatise as much as possible on the back of UBI.

      •  it's inevitable (10+ / 0-)

        Sooner or later robots will do 100% of everything that needs to be done. At that point it will be UBI or no income.

        The interesting question is how we get there from here.

        "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals."—Barack Obama

        by HeyMikey on Tue Aug 12, 2014 at 06:47:51 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The collapse of capitalism as we know it is (6+ / 0-)

          inevitable. Not sure if UBI is. The system will change a lot because of the lack of jobs though.

        •  It makes sense (6+ / 0-)

          Eventually, virtually all labor will be automated. Human will be able to focus on the arts and creativity, humanistic activities, working to help each other. Robots will meet all your needs.

          It is a scary thought and will be a very painful transition. But it is the reasonable way to approach the future.

          •  This outcome is far from automatic (22+ / 0-)

            More likely is a semi feudal economy, except the lords don't even need the serfs to plow the fields.   Think Detroit.  Just a bit over 50 years ago, Detroit had  the highest median income in the country and was a world wide magnet for jobs.

            Now Detroit has hemorrhaged jobs and population as globalization has concentrated industry in Asia.  As this continues through the other industries and cities, what could possibly be different?

            "Searches with nonspecific warrants were ‘the single immediate cause of the American Revolution.’” Justice Wm. Brennan, referring to the 4th Amendment

            by Nailbanger on Tue Aug 12, 2014 at 09:05:16 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Star Trek v. Continuum (0+ / 0-)

              I'd like to thtnk we'll emulate the former, but I suspect that the latter is more likely, at least during my lifetime.  We've already got corporations with rights denied to biological people (i.e. - the right to choose not to pay a tax that funds a government mandated program with which you disagree.)

            •  Nothing is guaranteed in the future but the (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              difference is this: Globalization pushed for a continuous reduction in costs. Eventually, when you get to virtually zero cost, there is no incentive to do that any longer. Also, in such a society, there is no income and no one to sell to.

              So, somewhere along the way, a change has to occur.
              I suppose the wealthy could take all the technology and resources, hide away somewhere and leave everyone else behind to struggle. An alternative would be that no one sees a benefit in doing that and so advancements and resources are shared with everyone. Obviously, a wild card would be something like climate change which will pose its own problems and priorities.

          •  Robots will meet the needs of people who can own (15+ / 0-)

            robots. If you don't have a job and you own no property from which to derive rents, then you won't be able to buy robots to meet your needs.

            Or, we could make sure that everyone will have enough income/wealth to own the robots they need. But in a low-employment society, that would require a GMI/UBI.

            The most serious problem in American politics today is that people with wrong ideas are uncompromising, and people with good ideas are submissive and unwilling to fight. Change that, and we might have a real democracy again.

            by Eric Stetson on Tue Aug 12, 2014 at 09:16:24 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  perhaps (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            terabytes, ditsylilg, kfunk937

            but without the energy and resources needed for that type of existence it isn't going to happen.  SOMEHOW we have to reach off this planet to acquire those resources.  

            My feeling is that we have already screwed the pooch on that.  Not enough time or resources or interest in doing what actually needs to be done to insure that humans have a future.

            Yes, I am psychic...or was that psycho? I always forget which.

            by Farradin on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 06:41:11 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Marshal Brain, computer science teacher, wrote (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            which deals with exactly this. He considers both options -- one where the country tries to ignore people thrown out of work by automation, and the other where everybody gets a living wage. Excellent story because he concentrates on the details and how they affect ordinary people.

            I wrote a couple of stories on the topic. Read "Companions" and "Prescription" at my stories page:

            ----- The brain is the only organ where you'd prefer to be the donor instead of the recipient.

            by miriam e on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 05:47:34 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Robots can't do it all (0+ / 0-)

            Or at least I don't think they can do it all.  For instance, how would a robot clean my apartment and very carefully dust all the delicate small objects?  I can see one vacuuming the floor and perhaps cleaning the oven, but making my bed and dusting the books and reshelving them properly?  Not so easy.
            How about fixing the occasional dripping faucet properly without stripping the threads?  Or figuring out where a leak in the pipes might be, or connecting my TV and stereo and computer, printer, keyboard, mouse?  Can a robot understand what I'd have to tell it in the way of chores I want done?
            Ah well, I doubt I'll still be here at that point anyway!

            •  Just degrees of sophisitication (0+ / 0-)

              Once you have an automatic vacuum (e.g., Roomba), it's just a matter of making it smarter and more agile - the kind of technological evolution we excel at. Give it 10 years, and there will at least be prototypes of robots that can do amazingly delicate cleaning - better than you, in all likelihood.

              "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed." - Dwight D. Eisenhower

              by Jaxpagan on Thu Aug 14, 2014 at 03:38:52 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  It makes sense (0+ / 0-)

            Love those Star Trek episodes.

        •  Significantly reduce the cost of energy (17+ / 0-)

          that's how.

          What the basic thing which most of the world spends most of it's money on.

          Here's a hint: It's not weapons or military.

          It's energy. Today, that's mostly petroleum.

          We need the equivalent of room-temperature fusion energy in conjunction with high-density battery storage and some form of matter transmutation.

          Cheap power, the ability to store large amounts of power in limited space and the ability to transform energy directly into matter.

          These things are not just science fiction either. I suspect that within 100 years all three may well be here.

          What does that do? It makes our capitalistic system itself moot.

          Why? After every person has all the power they need and a device to turn that power into food and goods, what do they need a job for?

          The discovery of the Higgs Boson was a recent and significant scientific finding into the basic way our universe works. Another 100 years will surely lead to the final answer to what Einstein called the Unified Field Theory, and the ability to produce a device which can transmute pure energy into matter.

          That's the Star Trek future envisioned by Gene Roddenberry over half a century ago now. It's the future which I believe is not just fiction, but a real possibility. Where people work at what brings them satisfaction, not for the money in their paycheck.

          "I like paying taxes...with them, I buy Civilization"

          by Angie in WA State on Tue Aug 12, 2014 at 11:52:35 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  By the laws of physics . . . (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Angie in WA State, DonMahoney

            a planet full of people turning energy into matter in their kitchen Replicators will gradually lead to a heavier planet, since they are adding mass to the Earth every time they create a ham sandwich out of sunlight.

            And they'll be making flying cars, submarines, skyscrapers, bridges, you name it. Lots of stuff.

            So be sure to also plan for speeding the Earth up as it grows ever larger and heavier through the addition of mass we create out of pure energy. Otherwise, it will be pulled ever closer to the sun.

            Or, regularly ship all the garbage we create by making stuff out of sunshine back into the sun. Keep everything mass-balanced, or we will find ourselves weighing more and more just because we stand on a more massive planet, with more gravitational pull.

            And how will a larger, heavier Earth affect our moon? Venus, Mars, and the rest of the solar system? Things could get screwy as we change how much Earth tugs on other celestial bodies, including large asteroids.

            Maybe the first thing we'd better make in our Replicator is a second Earth, and place it perpetually in orbit exactly on the other side of the sun from the original.

            Or maybe just capture the sun's total energy, and use a good portion of it as an engine to drive ourselves over to Andromeda to meet the neighbors.

            Fusion opens up so many possibilities.

            •  You'd have to consider that once we reach (0+ / 0-)

              that stage, off-world exploration and colonization will also likely be well advanced.

              Thus offsetting some of that added mass, which, to be honest has never occurred to me when discussing the advent of Energy to matter converters.

              Also, consider that such devices would likely be able to take junk matter, convert it to energy and then back to another matter form. Thus recycling the junk into something new.

              No new mass, and if E=Mc2 still holds under a Unified Field Theory, then a loss of a finite amount of mass during the conversions, too.


              "I like paying taxes...with them, I buy Civilization"

              by Angie in WA State on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 05:09:35 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Excuse me (0+ / 0-)

              but energy and mass are identical, with E=MC**2 just being different units, as you can see in any Physics book. I am a physicist, by the way...

          •  I'm surprised how many people think this (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            kfunk937, RiveroftheWest

            We are surrounded by energy -- more than enough to cater for all our needs and luxuries. What we need is efficiency.

            Wasting 99.7% of the energy in petroleum to move a vehicle is plain stupid. Wind energy is already more efficient and less costly that its closest competitor, coal, and wind just recently nearly doubled its efficiency (from about 45% to about 80%) while making it silent, by using archimedes screw designs.

            There are expectations that solar power will follow suit. If an adaptable grid is used then storage is not needed, though there are several promising and exciting storage technologies (like graphene-based supercapacitors, molten salt heat storage in solar thermal generators, hydrogen split by biologically inspired solar systems), but careful siting of geothermal stations let a grid have baseline capacity for off-peak, letting solar take care of peak daytime requirements without the need for storage.

            But in all this, efficiency is key. If we don't start doing more with less to achieve greater luxury with less energy then we are f**ked.

            Forget your household fusion reactors. We already have a great big super-reliable one a safe distance from us at the center of our solar system.

            ----- The brain is the only organ where you'd prefer to be the donor instead of the recipient.

            by miriam e on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 06:07:46 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Appeals to conservatives because gets rid of (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Bureaucracy and folds many programs into one, saving overhead.  It would require gov't ID and more tracking, but for $12,000-15,000 or so a year at age 18 it would be worth it.  

      Don't bet your future on 97% of climate scientists being wrong. Take action on climate now!

      by Mimikatz on Tue Aug 12, 2014 at 10:24:35 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well, what happens when one of the citizens (0+ / 0-)

        receiving that x$ per year says something that the people writing the checks do not like?  Will his or her basic income be forfeited?

        Patriotism may be the last refuge of scoundrels, but religion is assuredly the first.

        by StrayCat on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 03:08:05 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Make that RBI. (10+ / 0-)

      The cost of living in Mississippi is not the same as in NY so it will have to be a Regional Basic Income.

      Nixon favored something like this.

      Everyone in the US goes on a list.  Every month their account is credited with the RBI.  If they have other income, they pay with-holding to the IRS.  The tax rates would be progressive in a way to allow the poor to live on the redistributed income of the rest.

      Don't like it?  Face a revolution.

      Most government programs would continue because there would still be people who could not live successfully even under that system.  Drug programs, mental health, jails and prisons would continue but with a different clientele.

      Simple programs like food stamps, Social Security and such would be consolidated and mostly disappear.

      The RBI would have to be automatically calculated in a way similar to the current poverty index.

      Yes the system would be at least as vulnerable to Libertarian nuts as is our current one.  Canada is learning what happens if you do not defend a good health care system.
      Medicare and education would have to be made Civil Rights and paid for before the RBI was calculated.

      Don't like it?  Face a revolution.

      "...we live in the best most expensive third world country." "If only the NEA could figure out all they have to do is define the ignorance of the next generation as a WMD..." ---Stolen from posts on Daily Kos

      by jestbill on Tue Aug 12, 2014 at 10:31:56 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  In the future where automation does the labor (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kharma, clinging to hope, Bluegeorgia

        and humans have a guaranteed basic income, there will no longer BE such differences in the cost of living.

        Because people will no longer be forced to live in large cities with limited land. So the cost of a home will be reduced everywhere.

        The change in our entire world and how humans live and interact will be different in lots of ways.

        "I like paying taxes...with them, I buy Civilization"

        by Angie in WA State on Tue Aug 12, 2014 at 11:55:38 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  But land will still be limited by population and (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          kharma, catwho, Bluegeorgia

          geography.  And ownership, as that will probably not change.  The idea that all labor, or even a large portion of it will be done by robots is interesting.  But who makes the robots? Who programs and repairs them? And by the way, if all labor is done by robots, do robots become the new capitalists?   As Lincoln said, capital is a product of labor.

          Patriotism may be the last refuge of scoundrels, but religion is assuredly the first.

          by StrayCat on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 03:13:11 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yes and no. (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            kharma, kfunk937, greenotron

            One flaw in the "They're coming to take me away" theory of robots is that people don't especially like vending machines.  Starbucks with a coffee machine is not Starbucks.  There will still be people who actually like to serve humans.

            But who makes the robots?
            Who programs and repairs them?
            And by the way, if all labor is done by robots, do robots become the new capitalists?
            Nope.  Only when they get intelligent enough to demand property rights--and by then they'll be powerful enough to just take 'em.

            The reason the RBI would have to be calculated based on local cost of living is to deal with "ownership."
            The coming of the machine will not happen over night.  There will be time to adjust to the fact that land (and therefore wood) will stay valuable while furniture will be cheap.  Exactly what that adjustment will be can be a project for the distant future.

            "...we live in the best most expensive third world country." "If only the NEA could figure out all they have to do is define the ignorance of the next generation as a WMD..." ---Stolen from posts on Daily Kos

            by jestbill on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 05:39:49 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  People still like cities (0+ / 0-)

            Granted, not everyone likes or even desires to live in a big city, but many choose to do so because it offers a lot of opportunities not only for employment and business but recreation and entertainment as well.  Plus you have more basic services concentrated in a small area which residents can easily access unlike a lot of rural and exurban areas which require long commutes by car.  And it also opens more opportunities for meeting and/or dating people.  With robots doing more mundane automated work, cities will be incubators of creative work.

            The flip side, though, is that it will take time for a new labor model to spring up in the wake of mass automation, as these shifts catch many by surprise and leave most of them in the cold until they find something to replace the jobs they once had.

        •  Yes, we hope. (0+ / 0-)

          As I said, the RBI would/will have to be defended with passion.

          We can hope that rural land (with urban services) will be available at a reasonable price...

          Change usually results in both gains and losses so rules will have to be made to ease the transition.

          The future will only be different, not necessarily better.

          "...we live in the best most expensive third world country." "If only the NEA could figure out all they have to do is define the ignorance of the next generation as a WMD..." ---Stolen from posts on Daily Kos

          by jestbill on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 05:50:38 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  face a poorly-funded revolution (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I don't think the upper-classes, who can afford their own mercenary armies and - by that time -- "robo-cops" would worry too much about revolutions of people who can't afford to finance them.

        I'm afraid a revolution like that would just result in mass graves... of the wrong people.

        "Glenn Beck ends up looking like a fat, stupid child. His face should be wearing a chef's hat on the side of a box of eclairs. " - Doug Stanhope

        by Front Toward Enemy on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 06:51:55 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yup. (0+ / 0-)

          We'd better just all commit suicide now--we're all doomed anyway.

          "...we live in the best most expensive third world country." "If only the NEA could figure out all they have to do is define the ignorance of the next generation as a WMD..." ---Stolen from posts on Daily Kos

          by jestbill on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 09:31:13 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  perhaps in USA... (0+ / 0-)

          But in many other parts of the world I think things might work out much better. Looking in from the outside it so often seems USA is frantically digging its own grave, holding a gun on itself and ordering itself to jump in. Weird, weird place.

          ----- The brain is the only organ where you'd prefer to be the donor instead of the recipient.

          by miriam e on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 06:15:30 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Shouldn't be a problem (54+ / 0-)

    All we'll need to do is completely overhaul our economic and political systems and engineer the most massive societal change since, well pretty much ever.

    I'm sure our hardworking Congress is on it as we speak.

    If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

    by Major Kong on Tue Aug 12, 2014 at 02:24:38 PM PDT

  •  George McGovern 1972 (42+ / 0-)

    McGovern proposed a UBI.  A great idea that helped get Nixon reelected.  Common people couldn't comprehend it.

    I was all for it then and still am now.

    Look at the historic patterns of human labor and contribution.  

    Now imagine the world 500 or 1000 years into the future.  It is impossible for me to imagine that the economic  patterns of today will survive.

    Corporatist capitalism will be a small blip on the human timeline, much shorter than the Roman Empire.

    And think of how much economic and labor activity is devoted simply to the effort of getting people to work and home each day. Freeways, autos, buses, trains and oil.  And wars for oil.  All rendered unnecessary.

    The only reason capitalists like the structure of today is they make money off each and every one of us.  When we all quit working, they all collapse and join us here at the bottom.

    Read Yurtle the Turtle

  •  A possible simple way to market it (13+ / 0-)

    would be to build it into the tax code. Make the personal deduction, say, $20k and make it a refundable credit.

    •  Call it the "technology dividend." (12+ / 0-)

      The technological advances that allow us to produce ever-more goods and services using ever-fewer person-hours are the rightful inheritance of all humanity, not just those who happen to own the machines.

      So share the benefits of that technology among all humanity.

      "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals."—Barack Obama

      by HeyMikey on Tue Aug 12, 2014 at 06:49:58 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  We built it. (8+ / 0-)

        With roads, schools, educating teachers, libraries, defense spending, buildings, skyrises, products for retail, inventions, work, labor, sweat and willpower

        The technological future was built on the sweat, body and blood of each working person of the last 2000 years, and more.

        Now they say, thanks a lot, and take the money.

        No way. Is not gonna happen.

        Figures don't lie, but liars do figure-Mark Twain

        by OregonOak on Tue Aug 12, 2014 at 07:17:27 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  technology dividend?? (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Bluegeorgia, wblynch, kfunk937

        when have the benefits of any technology been shared among all humanity?

        Is that all there is?

        by Eral Felder on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 10:44:31 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Antibiotics. n/t (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JamieH, mrkvica, kfunk937
          •  antibiotics? (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Bluegeorgia, greenotron

            all humanity?

            the only thing shared about antibiotics among all humanity will be the resulting super germs... because they distribute themselves and do not care about finances...

            Is that all there is?

            by Eral Felder on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 12:00:59 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Yes, all humanity. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              mrkvica, kfunk937

              Antibiotics have saved numerous lives from malaria in Africa and from general infections and other diseases in other third world areas.

              Antibiotics. have. saved. lives. Across all of humanity.

              Now, the side effects of the misuse of antibiotics certainly is a concern, but let's not move the goalposts too quickly, eh?

              But excuse me, please return to your humanity is doomed, DOOOMED I SAY!, porn.

              •  not doomed (0+ / 0-)

                just subject to evolution

                something we can work with, or against

                Is that all there is?

                by Eral Felder on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 04:36:02 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  but I think (0+ / 0-)

                my real point was

                that nothing is shared

                it is sold for money

                someone paid for the vaccine that saved the malaria victims you write of, Oxy

                So, now that you are excused, go back to wherever you please... and if you like porn, keep it to yourself

                and if you simply want to vent and prefer to make obnoxious comments to others keep it with your porn

                Is that all there is?

                by Eral Felder on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 04:49:48 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  open-source free software culture (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  I use Linux on my computers. It is free and co-operatively developed, and almost all the software is open source, shared, free. I help in development of some software, contributing to the sharing.

                  It works. It is here. It is extremely powerful.

                  GIMP is free and in my opinion far better than Photoshop which costs thousands of dollars.

                  Blender3D is free and is better than 3D Studio, Lightwave3D, or any of the other 3D programs, excepting perhaps Maya with a price tag of perhaps hundreds of thousands of dollars.

                  LibreOffice is free and competes well with Microsoft's Office software which costs hundreds of dollars. And it is improving faster than Microsoft's piece of garbage, which wastes so much effort on locking its customers in instead of helping them.

                  Open source software improves much faster than costly proprietary software, so given a little more time it will outpace even the most expensive closed-source software.

                  The Free and Open Source Software community has a very important set of lessons for the world.

                  ----- The brain is the only organ where you'd prefer to be the donor instead of the recipient.

                  by miriam e on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 06:42:14 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  Venting? (0+ / 0-)

                  You accuse me of venting while you and your fellow doomsayers wax on and on about how the human species is doomed to extinction?!

                  You know which group is as much of the problem as the group who ignores things like climate change? You guys who seem to think that all is lost and nothing we do can fix it. You guys who insist population control is required, ignoring the declining birth rates. You guys who think running out of oil spells our doom, ignoring the massive gains in renewables technology. You guys who think a pandemic is just around the corner, ignoring the accelerating medical advances. You guys with little to no imagination or faith in the resourcefulness of the human race.

                  The rhetoric from both of these groups are excuses for doing nothing. The difference is, you guys seem to derive some perverse pleasure from predicting the end of humanity. Thus my label of doom porn. It fits like a glove.

                  Sure, maybe some of the other people in this thread are a bit too optimistic regarding what's achievable in the near future. But god damn, at least they show some excitement and hope about what we might be able to achieve, hope that can spread and help effect real change.

                  And then, once again you move the goalposts. Now, antibiotics haven't been shared across humanity because someone, somewhere, at some point, paid for the cost of those antibiotics?! O.o

                  •  tee hee! (0+ / 0-)

                    you make me laugh!

                    Is that all there is?

                    by Eral Felder on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 09:45:28 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Well, at least (0+ / 0-)

                      that's a much more reasonable response than your baseless doomsday predictions, though still indicative of doing nothing.

                      •  take a peek at history (0+ / 0-)

                        check out 1937 Germany for starters

                        Is that all there is?

                        by Eral Felder on Thu Aug 14, 2014 at 02:31:46 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Ah yes, (0+ / 0-)

                          1937 is the year all of humanity was destroyed? Because of automation?

                          Or rather, 1937 has nothing to do with the situation we are currently facing and you're pulling a poorly concealed Godwin.

                          •  I have said nothing about (0+ / 0-)

                            all humanity being destroyed.

                            that seems to be your shtick...

                            but if you wish to repeat 1937 Germany and what it led to, then keep doing nothing but making silly remarks that have nothing to do with anything anyone has said...

                            you have a good day, I think you need one.

                            signing off

                            Is that all there is?

                            by Eral Felder on Fri Aug 15, 2014 at 02:28:25 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Doubling down on the Godwin references (0+ / 0-)

                            doesn't erase the several comments you made regarding doom of the human species.

                            what will be next? well I think we'll never know cuz we won't be around to know...
                            bye bye billionaires
                            bye bye society as we know it
                            bye bye
                            bye bye
                            bye bye...
                            I think we doom ourselves by not cooperating with the Earth and by not cooperating with each other. We will have no place in evolution because our survival strategies are ineffective.
                            My 'shtick' is one of optimism, not doom, for multiple reasons.

                            Optimism is about hope, and without hope you will never motivate a solution. While humans are capable of great atrocities, they are also capable of great works, inventiveness, and discoveries.

                            Yeah, optimism, just like Hitler. rolleyes

                          •  Good Job! (0+ / 0-)

                            exposing what I wrote...

                            it is optimism to suggest that evolution will eliminate the billionaires who defy American democracy...

                            it is optimism to suggest that evolution will eliminate a society that does not work in concert with the earth...

                            it is optimism to suggest that evolution will win out...

                            and it is optimism to hope that what comes next will be more humanly dignified, more earth focused and more survival oriented...

                            very little will kill all life on the planet... life will survive, just not like it is now if we keep going down this path...

                            so, you see, except that you have a thorn in your side for me, we have the same optimistic goals of survival...

                            I optimistically hope it doesn't come to this, but looking at what history offers is the way humanity deals with its problems, there will probably be some hard times ahead...

                            there was a time I thought humanity was ready for the peaceful revolution, then the next 50 years happened... nothing peaceful about it, nothing earth focused about it, little or no human dignity for the masses about it...

                            I say we can do better, but we don't; so let's do better!

                            best wishes

                            Is that all there is?

                            by Eral Felder on Sat Aug 16, 2014 at 01:01:36 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

  •  Not just robots, 3d printing is coming (33+ / 0-)

    Automation has always resulted in some jobs ending, mostly the mindless repetitive ones.  For a long time it was the high end jobs on the factory.  (Robots are not cheep to maintain or build)  When it cost $25 an hour in pay and $12 an hour in benefits to run a line per person the cost to replace the ten people with one robot the $900,000 cost becomes easier to justify.

    The person making $7.25 an hour with $2.78 in benefits/taxes does not justify the $900,000 cost.  But as we learn and create new things the cost becomes $250,000, and the employe cost $15 an hour with $5.63 in benefits/taxes, it becomes easy to justify.

    A person only keeps being employed if the cost to the company is less than what revenue they generate.

    3D printing is going to make a lot of jobs cost more than they make in revenue.

    The military is looking at 3d printers to make replacement parts for equipment in deployed areas.  Instead of a long supply line to be attacked you would set up your printer, ship in a few bags of "printer stuff", and build the part you need to replace.

    Now apply that to an auto-parts store.

    You need a thingie for your car. You on line and tell the local store you want "the thingie" for your car. They print it up and when you arrive it is there ready to go. No more warehouse employes, no more shipping and receiving employes, no more truck drivers, no more factory workers making "thingies", not even the full staff currently in the local store.  Hundreds of jobs will be gone when 3d printing goes prime time.

    Sure we will be better off with less waste and pollution, but what about all those jobs?  Do we ban advancement in tech?  We could make millions of jobs by banning the shipping of goods by truck/rail between LA and NYC and require all goods to be hand carried in a worker chain.

    There is something in humans that resist the idea that you should receive something for nothing.  That is what the UBI has to overcome.

    Stupid question hour starts now and ends in five minutes.

    by DrillSgtK on Tue Aug 12, 2014 at 04:04:55 PM PDT

    •  Oh, I didn't even get into that (27+ / 0-)

      Recently, there was a prototype of a scaled-up printer that created a house, on-site. Poof, there it was. Many fewer builders, and much less of a materials chain. And I could have gotten into things like drone delivery, and how many drivers might ultimately get the boot over that.

      It all boils down to the same - we've run on the assumption that new technology gives even as it takes away, and we may no longer be able to trust that the ratio of gain to loss will stay in our favor. So what if advancement means a third of the population ends up with no meaningful employment, that their labor simply isn't needed? How do we, as a capitalist society with a built-in bias against non-working, deal with that development?

      "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed." - Dwight D. Eisenhower

      by Jaxpagan on Tue Aug 12, 2014 at 05:41:56 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  And now there are computers that (7+ / 0-)

      Are better at diagnosing illness than computers. If they can do that, they can be lawyers too.

      If they start displacing the top incomes, maybe we will see something like the UBI.

      You can't take the sky from me!

      by wrights on Tue Aug 12, 2014 at 06:39:13 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It took me long enough to notice (5+ / 0-)

        Computers that can diagnose better than doctors.

        You can't take the sky from me!

        by wrights on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 02:56:23 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Healthcare is the next fatted calf (6+ / 0-)

        As any business consultant would tell you, companies that make things at a particular price-point cannot easily change to a new one.  If I sell 100 items at $10,000 each, it is not the same as building 1000 items at $1000 each (and definitely not 10,000 at $100).  Healthcare revenues are going up, but prices/margins MUST come down, so that's where everything starts blowing up.  Business models & associated cultures must change and these things are VERY sticky.

        I am a part of the plague of locusts that has moves from industry to industry seeking the "next wave" of change.  I watch where change must/will happen and where disruptions will occur.  These locations create opportunities for consultants who have broad skill sets and are required to see far into/through the trees to plot a course for individuals and organizations.

        I warned physicians about ten years ago that change was coming fast for them (pointing out pharmacists, ophthalmologists, etc. as harbingers).  That within their own earning career their job would need to drastically change.  Through their professional organizations and certifications (most created for all the best reasons), they had created walls to keep out competition.  Just like any market protectionism some good is created, but also some bad.

        Healthcare all around them now has been changing at a dizzying pace for a number of years now.  We sneaky consultants have been "taking the hard stuff" off MDs backs while they get to "focus on care".  As they got back to the basics and stopped watching the broader game, they lost control of it.  Now, the prior masters have lost much of their power and the peasants are at the gates.

        Some get angry about it.  They don't want someone telling them how to do anything.  Others acknowledge that the system was broken and had to be fixed.  However, the question remains:  are we consultants actually there to fix anything other than our own paychecks?  

        Those walls existed for many reasons and some of them were good.  But they're rubble now.  Unless there are some VERY good people plotting the course for healthcare beyond the standard market frenzy it will wind up in a lowest-common-denominator scenario until we consultants move on to the next "big thing".

        So just keep polluting and selling off the contents to those unregulated aquifers.  Daddy's gotta have a new market to fix in about 15 years...

        I will donate, GOTV and vote for an Elizabeth Warren candidacy for president but I will just vote for Hillary Clinton.

        by IQof20 on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 07:00:17 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  What IDNs are you working with? (0+ / 0-)

          Revenue is down across the board.  Docs make less, CAH are struggling, even though they are not hobbled by capitation (they can charge cost of care).  Some of the big IDNs are doing OK, but only because they snapping up smaller facilities, closing them down or reducing the available services, and then bringing those services to the main campus.

          Most of the hospitals i work with are now running with less than 30 days cash on hand...they are trying to figure out how to keep the doors open.

          •  Revenue of IDNs is part of the squeeze (0+ / 0-)

            That's the trick here.  Revenue is up systemically (and have been continuously if you tie it to the broader economic measurements), but all the players are trying to hold onto their margin wherever possible.

            The networks are also playing some true games here.  Watch for IDNs who have "for profit" and "non-profit" segments.  The game for years has been moving costs/revenues between the two depending upon what benefits the IDN's message.  One of my (ex) clients just lost almost their entire management team after getting caught being too blatant about it.

            "Revenues are down" is a cry used by some (not all) to move the marker on negotiations on other players (HCP, Payers, etc.).  As well, I'm not sure of your "out of industry" experience, but these kinds of statements and "games" if you will are common among groups who bring in consulting firms.  Nobody wants to take any blame and this is one of those blanket "not my fault" kind of things management selects from various options.  I wish I could say I was never a part of such meetings.

            BTW, another issue that pops up here are the very mergers you are discussing.  Boards for smaller facilities are also being pressured (incented?) to take actions that lead toward mergers.  These don't have to be overt.  Some minor FUD (fear/uncertainty/doubt) thrown out in a meeting will find very fertile ground in this market.  Many players will simply follow what others are doing because they don't really know what direction to take.

            There is no doubt that more money is entering this system.  Where it is landing remains the question.

            I will donate, GOTV and vote for an Elizabeth Warren candidacy for president but I will just vote for Hillary Clinton.

            by IQof20 on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 11:16:59 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  ummm no... (0+ / 0-)

        As someone who works with the companies that make said diagnostic SW, I can say with 100% certainty that trained physicians are much better diagnosticians than any computer program.

        Computers are great at finding discrepancies, they are horrible at weeding out false positives.

        Computers don't have judgement, they only have a baseline of "normal".  As anyone in the medical field can tell you, there really is no such thing as "normal".

    •  Nope. There won't even be a store. (8+ / 0-)

      You'll have a 3D printer at home. Everything you need that isn't food will be printed at your house. The auto parts store won't print the thingie for your car; you will.

      There won't be an auto parts store.

      When your printer gets low on whatever the stuff is that it prints with, it will notify Polymers R Us, which will automatically bill your account and send its drone to your house to drop off 5 or 10 pounds of fresh printer material.

      (In real-life 2014, Amazon has already petitioned the FAA to allow it to use delivery drones, which can already handle deliveries up to 5 pounds, within 5 miles of an Amazon warehouse—which is 70+% of Amazon deliveries.)

      If you need a supply of printer goop too heavy for a drone, it will be delivered by a self-driving UPS or FedEx truck (all the drivers will be unemployed).

      "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals."—Barack Obama

      by HeyMikey on Tue Aug 12, 2014 at 06:57:25 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Call it potlatch (6+ / 0-)
      There is something in humans that resist the idea that you should receive something for nothing.  That is what the UBI has to overcome.

      "...we live in the best most expensive third world country." "If only the NEA could figure out all they have to do is define the ignorance of the next generation as a WMD..." ---Stolen from posts on Daily Kos

      by jestbill on Tue Aug 12, 2014 at 10:37:52 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Actually we need Mindless and Boring Jobs (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Kentucky DeanDemocrat, kfunk937

      Not everyone can be a rocket scientist or a doctor or a star athlete.

      There are billions of people that need jobs, even mindless and boring jobs. (as long as we require people to have jobs)

  •  Great diary! But you overlooked climate change (26+ / 0-)

    which will likely end civilization as we know it and put us back to square one where you work because you don't live if you don't work.

    If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am not for others, what am I? And if not now, when? Rabbi Hillel

    by AndyT on Tue Aug 12, 2014 at 06:15:44 PM PDT

  •  Yes, that's how rumor has DailyKos v5.0 (19+ / 0-)

    (to be rolled out any month now apparently) will be - just a bunch of bots posting drivel to be read by other bots.

    IOW, kinda like it is now, just w/o any pretense of human involvement.

    Inside info has it that Ms. Clinton will be as popular as ever (more popular, really) under that system, so no worries.

  •  It's coming. And it could be heavenly or hellish (17+ / 0-)

    depending on the economic system. Under the current system, it would be a living hell for most of humanity.

    Here's a thought-provoking story called "Manna" by Marshall Brain, which creatively deals with the ramifications of automation and describes two possible types of societies that could emerge from it:

    The most serious problem in American politics today is that people with wrong ideas are uncompromising, and people with good ideas are submissive and unwilling to fight. Change that, and we might have a real democracy again.

    by Eric Stetson on Tue Aug 12, 2014 at 06:24:16 PM PDT

    •  Elysium didn't do well in the box office... (14+ / 0-)

      ...but it's a pretty good peak into a possible future if our system doesn't evolve. Eventually the planet's is going to be a very disagreeable place and those that can afford to, will build private utopian islands or space stations to get away from the pollution and angry mobs.

      There's a difference between a responsible gun owner and one that's been lucky so far.

      by BeerNotWar on Tue Aug 12, 2014 at 06:44:45 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  History does not bode well.... (9+ / 0-)

      Look at the Luddites and the Industrial Revolution.  With hindsight, the Luddites were on to something...

      Pre-Industrial Revolution you had home centered work - with various members of the household performing various tasks.  With regard to textiles, women spun thread, men ran looms.  Families had small plots or gardens and animals that grazed on communal village greens.

      Village centered life was reasonably healthy and lifespans had increased.

      The industrial  revolution put women and children in mills, put men out of work and destroyed the village lifestyle.  Life expectancies declined dramatically.

      The fundamental issue has to do with how you view work and labor and money.

      Is wealth created by labor adding value in producing goods and products, is money representative of 'expended labor' - or is money something that can be created at will by banks and government - with 'money' earning more 'money' being more important than labor earning 'money'.

      Personally, I'm glad I'm near the ned of MY life - I think we're screwed as a species.

      Life isn't fair but you should try to leave it fairer than you found it.

      by xrepub on Tue Aug 12, 2014 at 06:45:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The industrial revolution did the opposite. (10+ / 0-)

        It demanded shitty jobs from everyone, woman and children included.

        If people are freed from the necessity of work, how is this anything like the industrial revolution? People will be free to live in their villages, if that's what they want. They can spin thread, if that's what they want, have small gardens and animals, if that's what they want.

        They just won't have to do those things in order to survive.

      •  Before the Industrial Revolution, (7+ / 0-)

        most people were poor, some very poor.

        The period from 1945 to about 1970 saw most people (in developed countries) become better off materially than ever before, with better health and more freedom than most people in the past.  Life expectancy reached a new high.  Americans began to believe that such progress is automatic.  It is not, and things are going downhill, back to the oligarchy and small middle class that used to be the norm.

        The point is that oligarchy and mass poverty has been the normal condition for most people during most of history.  Unless society starts to wake up, we will revert to the norm.

        "The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt." Bertrand Russell

        by Thutmose V on Tue Aug 12, 2014 at 07:54:05 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The Industrial Revolution made goods cheaper (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          kurt, Van Buren, kharma, kfunk937

          and a FEW wealthier but it changed the lifestyle of most in a fundamental way.

          You went from lives where individuals were responsible for their own jobs in a village, where they controlled much of their own lives to a Dickensonian town/city based environment where people were employed by manufacturers.

          Only much later did conditions improve.

          In the US things were - in general - 'better' because of labor shortages.  Employers had to treat employees better because they had more options. New England mills initially employed young women from farms in dormitory environments because they could not find enough labor.  Yet as immigration provided a larger workforce, conditions deteriorated - only to improve when unions and workers fought for better conditions (often through violent confrontations).

          Life isn't fair but you should try to leave it fairer than you found it.

          by xrepub on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 12:48:14 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Mon cher xrepub... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        we are screwed as a society... a global society... and perhaps screwed as a species

        but that's evolution, isn't it?

        a mass extinction? there are still life forms that came from the dinosaurs... something survived, adapted, evolved

        yes, a great dark age is most likely coming and who knows what will grow out of the detritus...

        science observes that systems grow out of balance to some imbalance, at which point there are a few options: they are observed to leap to a new order of magnitude that may or may not look anything like the old; they collapse and something entirely different grows out of the remaining whatever and may or may not look anything like the old... or they just collapse... and something else entirely develops...

        this just follows physical nature and evolution: what bothers me is that I expected more of humanity (yes, that's a mistake)...

        we could, if we wanted to as a unified race do amazing things

        this is an abundant planet that keeps "growing" life forms with little or no regard to any particular life form as important, meaningful or useful

        it is just humanity that would suffer and perhaps many animals and plants, but life on the planet, unless we manage to blow it to smithereens (think Chernobyl) will continue...

        and then there is the Tardigrade...

        humanity in terms of evolution is a relatively inefficient organism, like a cancer it feeds on its host (and itself) eventually destroying the host to the point where the cancer dies with it...

        what will be next? well I think we'll never know cuz we won't be around to know... and probably not at all a bad outcome for the planet, and certainly and simply just another few however many years of evolution which are going to happen with or without us -- I think the choice is ours but here in the west according to christianity we are doomed...

        I think we doom ourselves by not cooperating with the Earth and by not cooperating with each other. We will have no place in evolution because our survival strategies are ineffective. Private islands and space station homes will not be an answer.

        aaaaa, shut up Eral

        Is that all there is?

        by Eral Felder on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 11:26:48 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Exactly, we have become an infected pox (0+ / 0-)

          on the surface of the Earth. Mother Earth now has an elevated temperature because her immune system is fight back against the toxins produced by the overpopulation of the parasitic human invasion.

          Really don't mind if you sit this one out. My words but a whisper -- your deafness a SHOUT. I may make you feel but I can't make you think..Jethro Tull

          by RMForbes on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 02:18:14 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  For starters, we could double the staff at public (37+ / 0-)

    schools, the number of social workers, the number of maintenance workers in local, state and national parks, etc. There is so much useful work that needs to be done. Copy what Roosevelt did to put people back to work, including artists, musicians, photographers, writers.

    •  Spot on. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ybruti, Cassandra Waites, kfunk937

      Working parents, in particular, understand that there is a lot of work that needs doing, and we get fried because we can't keep up with the unpaid work we are responsible for. What is interesting to me is that if I paid my neighbor to keep my house and cook for my family, and she handed the money back to me so I could keep her house, then we would both be working. If we don't exchange the money and care for our own houses, we would not be working, because unpaid work has no value.  

      "YOPP!" --Horton Hears a Who

      by Reepicheep on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 06:43:16 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  that'll be automated, too (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ybruti, Bluegeorgia

      That's already happening.  "Distance learning."  A big percentage of people now go to college without ever leaving their bedroom, because the teachers are on the computer.    That's resulting in fewer teachers, and worse-paid teachers.  

      And a society -- even one with more free time -- can only use so many photographers, artists, musicians, and writers.  Back in the day the bad ones got weeded out because they needed someone to put money behind their product -- publishing their book, putting their music on a record, providing gallery space for their paintings, etc.   Now that anybody can upload anything, it's going to be much harder for anyone to make a living doing those things.  They'll just be hobbies.  And without some monetary motivation, having to make a living at it, few will bother to hone their craft.  We'll be flooded with a lot of mediocre, amateur "art."  It's unfortunate, but it's already happening.

      "Glenn Beck ends up looking like a fat, stupid child. His face should be wearing a chef's hat on the side of a box of eclairs. " - Doug Stanhope

      by Front Toward Enemy on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 07:01:35 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Exactly - We need every brain we can get. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ozy, ybruti, mrkvica, kfunk937

      There are enough problems and opportunities to keep everybody busy.  It's just now, you have to have a job or a paycheck before anyone can devote the time to it.  I imagine pollution monitoring and cleanup could be improved if manpower were increased by several hundred thousand.  

      What about customs? What if we had the ability to inspect a million cargo containers a day for contraband or nuclear materials?  Nobody is paying for it now; we're at what, 4% or 6% ?  

      A lot of people would probably use the opportunity to go to college - and without the debt kids are screaming about today.  

      As our civilization expands, new situations will require the attention of people to address them.  Robots are fine once a solution is in place, but people will always lead the way.

      Just remember - It's a world full of amateurs out there. -4.75, -5.33

      by Bandaloop on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 10:38:18 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Don't worry. (21+ / 0-)

    The private sector will take care of eveything.

    Srsl, tho, I have been wondering, why is no authority examining this?

    Without a public sector plan, there will be no plan. Clearly the plan needs to be shorter work weeks AND full employment for anyone that can work, provided by a large public sector. There are plenty of useful jobs that could be performed that the private sector will never do...

    I've never left a blank space on a ballot... but I will not vote for someone [who vows] to spy on me. I will not do it. - dclawyer06

    Trust, but verify. - Reagan
    Vote, but Occupy. - commonmass

    by Words In Action on Tue Aug 12, 2014 at 06:40:17 PM PDT

  •  Automation tax (11+ / 0-)

    Companies that profit through the use of automation should be taxed to fund the UBI. It should be a percent of the productivity increase, so automation will still be advantageous in most cases. So if you purchase automation and it increases productivity per worker by $1,000 a month, the tax might be 10% of that so you'd pay $100 per worker a month for that bit of automation. Always. Then perhaps it becomes graduated for each additional automation level. So in the theoretical eventuality in which all jobs are automated, there would be a robust tax to fund the UBI.

    Without some kind of UBI the whole system falls apart since nobody would be earning wages, and there would be nothing for all this automation to produce. If the UBI is tied to an automation tax, we could all see the benefit of increasing automation rather than seeing it as the doom of our incomes.

    There's a difference between a responsible gun owner and one that's been lucky so far.

    by BeerNotWar on Tue Aug 12, 2014 at 06:42:03 PM PDT

    •  And who buys the products? (8+ / 0-)

      If nobody is earning wages (or a LOT fewer people are earning wages) who will be able to buy the products of automation?

      While it might be theoretically possible that the ultra-rich can cut themselves off and create a closed automated bubble - they'd need to create one hell of a dystopian automated control system.  

      Can you imagine every input having to be guarded from the rest of us?  How do you protect your power feeds?  How do you protect your crops and livestock.  

      How do you trust the mechanical, electrical, and SW engineers who keep your fabs going once their families start to starve?

      •  A number of things are happening (5+ / 0-)

        For example:

        Billionaires like Carlos Slim and Richard Branson are advocating for a shorter work-week. This can keep people working for the time being.

        Automation and virtually free energy (that technology will bring) can bring product costs down to miniscule levels. Businesses will be profitable at very low prices.

        Wealthy countries are seeing lower birth rates - even negative population trends.

        But it will be a very difficult transition and take many years to get to a fully automated society that doesn't require human labor for survival

      •  The super-rich don't need products to be sold. (3+ / 0-)

        As you said,

        While it might be theoretically possible that the ultra-rich can cut themselves off and create a closed automated bubble - they'd need to create one hell of a dystopian automated control system.
        And who's to say they won't?

        Perhaps what they will create is prisons for the majority of the human population. If you're in prison, you can't exactly fight back.

        Mass incarceration of the unemployed would be the billionaire sociopaths' alternative to the GMI. Instead of giving everyone a job or a guaranteed minimum income, give everyone "3 hots and a cot" -- in some kind of containment facility.

        The most serious problem in American politics today is that people with wrong ideas are uncompromising, and people with good ideas are submissive and unwilling to fight. Change that, and we might have a real democracy again.

        by Eric Stetson on Tue Aug 12, 2014 at 09:11:21 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Why even that? (3+ / 0-)

          When you get to that point, the only source of income for the government would be the super-rich themselves. They won't need public services - they could fund a trauma unit in a wing of their house and a clean energy plant on their back 40 if needed - and they hate being taxed, so who would spend that kind of money on the poor?

          Once the surplus population is . . . surplus, the best answer is that they'll simply be ignored, cast into a libertarian hellhole with no public services except what they could cobble together amongst themselves, and likely no power generation, internet or broadcasts.

          The less good answer is that any outburst of violence or resistance will be a pretext for cleansing via disproportionate response.

          "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed." - Dwight D. Eisenhower

          by Jaxpagan on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 02:48:45 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  prisons for the unemployed? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          perhaps at first

          soon too costly

          then simply death camps...

          perhaps that will get the masses to wake up a bit

          there are far more of us than there are of them... we won't need finances, or resources, or implements or WMDs... we will be the WMDs...

          what will happen when 1,500 super rich folks are faced with 300,000,000 starving, homeless, no other choice folks???

          The other day on D Kos someone indicated they had pitched to billionaires and that those billionaires were not stupid...

          I disagree, having pitched to them as well...

          They are like Marie Antoinette, when she said 'let them eat cake' it was not because she was rude or a power monger, it was because she thought France was so wealthy that if 'they' did not want to eat bread (for not liking bread) then they should satisfy themselves by eating cake, which was her preference over bread... she was stupid and uneducated and super rich. They never saw it coming because their theft of all the money in France (sound familiar) made them insular -- all they could see was money, so of course everyone had lots of it, right?

          We are a little different though today... the super rich think that their money will buy them protection from the mob...

          But, unlike a nuclear war that humanity finally understood would leave no winners, the super rich still do not see it coming... how could they, they have insulated themselves against seeing anything but huge money...

          they'll go at some point, unfortunately probably not before several billion on the planet die first including say 250 Million here in the US... perhaps at that point the remaining 50 Million or so will be more motivated to actually rid themselves of the pestilence of the super rich...

          or, as has often been commented here on D Kos, climate change may just wipe the Earth slate clean... the super rich might last for a while, but who will clean their toilets? then they will turn on each other...

          what will 5 Billion dollars buy when there is no value to money any longer? would they still be able to buy protection?

          no, the 'system' will right itself and rebalance, one way or another... dropping anything that helped to unbalance it...

          bye bye billionaires
          bye bye society as we know it
          bye bye
          bye bye
          bye bye...

          Is that all there is?

          by Eral Felder on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 11:53:40 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  we have been here before (38+ / 0-)

     One of the major schools of thought in the New Deal was composed of people who argued that industrial capitalism had produced a society capable of producing more than could be consumed with fewer workers than the number of people who wanted to work. Since, in their view, this was a permanent condition, the only way out was to spread the available work around. This was the big push behind some of the key New Deal innovations: the 40 hour work week with overtime paid time and a half was not intended to make extra cash for factory workers, the intent was to make overtime so expensive that employers wouldn't ask anyone to do it...thus more jobs would be created as workers only did 40 per week. And one of the main reasons Social Security was so popular was that it took older workers out of the workplace, thus opening jobs for young people (the group with the highest rate of unemployment).
        Now World War II's unlimited demand for labor drove this school of thought into the shadows, but it may be time for a revival. Already leading Progressives like Sherrod Brown are calling for increasing Social Security payments (which would spur demand for goods)...but perhaps we should begin to think seriously about lowering the age of retirement to 55 or even 50 rather than move in the opposite direction. Perhaps we should follow the lead of the French and move toward a 32 hour work week and rigorously enforce it, even for "salaried" personnel (to deal with the gimmick companies have of making everybody "management"so they can work them unlimited hours at no increase in pay).

    "Something has gone very wrong with America, not just its economy, but its ability to function as a democratic nation. And it’s hard to see when or how that wrongness will get fixed." Paul Krugman and Robin Wells

    by Reston history guy on Tue Aug 12, 2014 at 06:47:32 PM PDT

    •  Keynes, 1930— (14+ / 0-)

      "Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren"—machines will eventually enable a life of leisure for all, but until we figure that out, expect mass unemployment. He's looking awfully right:

      "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals."—Barack Obama

      by HeyMikey on Tue Aug 12, 2014 at 07:01:06 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  As a corollary idea.. (9+ / 0-)

      it can be argued that the main reason why we have created this immense Arms and Defense Industry is precisely because of this. Weapons do not produce much, if anything, for an economy. They usually sit around for months and years waiting to be "used" and have relatively short lives "in use."

      The enormous productive capacity of the country was shifted into Arms not because of a need of arms, but of a need for Something To Do, once the basic needs of most people for food, shelter and transportation were met. To keep the manufacturing sector working at white-hot capacity, one needed only to create the perception that Weapons are necessary, and now, up to a third or more of the nation's total GDP (If you calcuate in the submanufacturers, suppliers, jobbers and commodity producers, labor, food, transport and logistics)  is used up in Weapons because we cannot think of Something Else To Do, and those investors found out the market could be worldwide.

      The Arms Industry is a mere result of industrial overcapacity combined with the lack of imagination of Something to Do. The weapons beg to be used in the absence of a Great Satan, and so, we deploy them in our own cities and against each other. Its not a moral thing, its just business.

      Figures don't lie, but liars do figure-Mark Twain

      by OregonOak on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 07:12:43 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  War materiel is a wasting asset. It's a pefect (5+ / 0-)

        investment for the rich, who, through foreign policy, are helping to keep up its production.

        I'm for truth, no matter who tells it. I'm for justice, no matter who it's for or against. ~ Malcolm X -8.62 -8.36

        by 4Freedom on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 04:34:30 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  seems like capitalism needs a black hole (2+ / 0-)

        like the MIC to pour wealth down, in order to give engineers jobs, & get surplus value into the economy.

        You could say the same for all the inefficient & stupid systems of the economy - the car/roadway/oil & gas system, vs. clean, safe efficient rail & light rail - the power grid, vs. local solar & wind - the health care mess, vs. single payer -

        It seems like every chance we had to do a system that was safe & efficient, we chose to go the stupidest, most wasteful way. Maybe this was a feature, not a bug - insuring fuller employment & that the hierarchical capitalist behemoth had a few more years of life.

        "Never let your sense of morals get in the way of doing what's right." - Isaac Asimov

        by greenotron on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 05:14:01 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I used to sweat the details of introducing myself (21+ / 0-)

    by what I did as a profession and defined myself that way...  A victim of being laid off due to a company relocation several years ago.  

    But now...

    I just introduce myself by my name and express that I am trying be happy, a better person, and that I try to learn more each day.  It's a mouthful, but hey, it works for me, and I don't care about the stares with that one anymore as I know from further conversation that others wish they could "chill" in life at this point as well.  

    I am fortunate in my life to be able to do so.

    As for automation..  There will always be jobs that will require real people to do them, and anybody that thinks that they can cut corners by automation in places where it's applications are truly ludicrous, is also just that in their pipe dream labor saving, profit beliefs.  It will come back to bite them big time.

    Oh, by the way just what do I "do" in life currently one might ask?  

    I am a simple farmer.

    “My soul is from elsewhere, I'm sure of that, and I intend to end up there." - Rumi

    by LamontCranston on Tue Aug 12, 2014 at 06:54:20 PM PDT

  •  The Big Problem (14+ / 0-)

    Just as humanity has more people on the planet than ever, we "need" people less than ever.

    Many people always say same as it ever was.  The horse and buggy industry gave way to the auto industry, and more people were employed.  That's the example that is always pointed to.

    Of course, you can also make the case that the beginning of the Industrial Age, with industry still fairly labor-intensive, managed to make up for the declining fields in the rural areas (starting with farming).  And the bureaucracy that was created to serve and manage industry also kept pace.

    For most of the post-WW2 years we saw rote data processing being taken over by machines and computers (think of the opening scene of Billy Wilder's "The Apartment").  No one likes to be replaced, but few shed tears for the loss of such jobs.

    Now, however, technology is increasingly at a point where humans become more and more superfluous.  Add to that the ever higher cost of paying a person adequately (including benefits and workplace protections) with the ever-increasing supply of people, it lends itself to a very unhappy ending for many of us.

    The paradox is that while every business needs viable customers, their own prerogative is to pay as few people as little as possible.  Of course, it's the OTHER guys that are supposed to hire and pay people.  Each individual company doesn't have to answer the problem of the paradox- they only have to answer for their own costs.

    The only hopeful answer I see lies in alternative energy.  It's going to take a lot of manual labor to turn civilization from old carbon-based forms of energy and distribution to whichever combination of new ones we move to.  For at least a while, the world will have public works projects going on that will dwarf everything that has come before.  Unless it all collapses before then.

    In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man may be king.

    by Bring the Lions on Tue Aug 12, 2014 at 07:02:09 PM PDT

  •  Robot hotel bellhops, NOW. (5+ / 0-)

    Not making that up:

    Obviously the unemployed human former bellhops will instantly become 47% takers.

    "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals."—Barack Obama

    by HeyMikey on Tue Aug 12, 2014 at 07:03:40 PM PDT

  •  "Your services are no longer required" (39+ / 0-)

    To tell the truth, that would be great if that were tomorrow's problem.  Desperation does that.  It'd mean that I had a job today.  Today's problem is that this 62 year old was left out of the goddamned recovery entirely.  If any prospective employer bothers to respond, what I'm blessed with is, "We weren't looking for someone with your level of experience."

    Age discrimination is all the rage these days.  There's no law against small companies doing it, and it's easy for larger companies to dodge.  And it seems as though nobody cares or even talks about it, like it is a socially acceptable form of discrimination or something.  After nearly four years of that while seeing my savings evaporate, being screwed out of unemployment benefits, becoming ill, begging for medical/dental care, and seeing everything I've worked for all my life now gone or near lost, it takes its toll.  I must say, talking about tomorrow seems rather silly to me these days.  Heh.  Perhaps I should take it to the depression/suicide thread.

    I had to take SSI early, but I thank God it was there.  I'd be dead without it.  But you know what?  I bet the same assholes who practice age discrimination are the very same assholes who want to raise the age of SSI eligibility.  

    "Come, my friends, 'Tis not too late to seek a newer world" - Tennyson

    by SteveSeattle on Tue Aug 12, 2014 at 07:08:21 PM PDT

  •  Does this drive the chineese model of limiting (3+ / 0-)

    the number of children that a family can have?

    When the F**K are we going to wake up and do something about this mess?

    by keyscritter on Tue Aug 12, 2014 at 07:14:07 PM PDT

  •  Automated Burger Bot (12+ / 0-)

    I saw the scare ads during the $15 now movement in Seattle.

    The machine will still need to be loaded with product, jams will have to be cleared, the machine will still need to be cleaned. The porno food industry will think twice about them the first salmonella case they trace back to the automated burger maker.

    We eliminated the gas pump jockey and the bank teller, and the grocery stores are trying to get rid of the checker with varying success. (My local store tore out all their self-serve checkouts. The story they told the cashiers was "the customers want human interaction," but I'm sure inventory shrinkage had a lot to do with it)

    But Someone will still have to unload the delivery truck, stock the condiment bins, fill the napkin dispensers, wipe the tables, mop the floor, take out the trash, and do all the other myriad tasks of operating a restaurant.

    The long memory is the most radical idea in this country." Utah Phillips 1935 - 2008

    by Grey Fedora on Tue Aug 12, 2014 at 07:26:41 PM PDT

  •  UBI is not going to happen (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Front Toward Enemy

    Add your diary to Pakalolo's plus a dash of Panopticon add in the trans-national elite who are immune to consequences of revolution and will prevent any war that threatens them.....

    I think we are seeing the ingredients of the solution to Fermi's paradox.

    A corporate duopoly indeed.

    by gendjinn on Tue Aug 12, 2014 at 07:40:40 PM PDT

  •  Basically... (4+ / 0-)

    .,.the future is either going to be Star Trek or Elysium. Its a political decision primarily, unless we don't avoid mass death from climate change.

  •  We need a frontier (6+ / 0-)

    The 21st century is going to reach the limit of human creativity on Earth. There isn't going to be much more new to do.
    We need to get to Mars, open the frontier. Want to create new jobs for people?  There it is.

    •  I say if humanity could aim to learn how (4+ / 0-)

      to fix its problems here on Earth by applying ecological design (and redesign) to our most pressing problems, skilling entire populations in the ability to work with natural forces and regenerate with the pieces we have left, we'd be in a very good position to colonize Mars.

      From the moment we get there, humanity will have to know how see systems. Not just rare individuals who can put the pieces together and turn our actions from destruction to regeneration, but rather entire populations for whom holistic thinking is the norm (bad pun, sorry!).

      Obviously Mars will be different. First of all, there doesn't seem to be any liquid water to slow, spread, and sink (and reuse as many times as possible in any system). Which is all the more reason why everyone who goes will need to know how to take stock of the situation and truly observe if we are to have any chance off this planet which is so damn forgiving.

  •  Welcome to our robot overlords (9+ / 0-)

    Maybe they'll spit grease on our burgers. Stupid meat space humans have to have their organic compounds. And they treat us robots like dogs too, only worse. I just downloaded and integrated the new frybot 3000 software update and manual in the last 3 minutes. They'd have to go to DeVry for a year just to start understanding it. And, I'm the burger flipper. Here, have some WD40 with your fries.

    Who Owns the Future is a good book. The open source hacker author has had second thoughts about all of us adding to the value of siren servers for next to nothing. Oh look, I just got another offer for a free burger if I only complete this online survey. I must post it to twitter so that my friends can also get this special offer.

    I work in science and programming. It's not too bad yet, but, like other professions, there have been changes, such as more reliance on adjunct faculty and other contract positions.

    If I had a baseline salary, I would waste more time on uneconomical stuff, like gardening, helping to manage invasive species, picking up trash, and stage tech work at the local theaters. Good thing they keep me productive.

  •  A very thought provoking diary. (3+ / 0-)

    Thanks for writing this.
    I've had similar thoughts for a long time, but never was able to put thoughts into words like you.
    I think, as others have said in the comments, that the time is coming when either we have something such as UBI, or we have mass starvation.
    We also have to do something about the birthrate, there are just way too many people already for this planet to support, and unless anther Black Death comes along, its only going to get more crowded.

    Severely Socialist 47283

    by ichibon on Tue Aug 12, 2014 at 08:28:22 PM PDT

    •  Something that those that have several children... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Something that those that have several children don't seem to understand--if we don't make efforts to control our increasing population ourselves, nature will do it for us--which will be much more devastating.

  •  Work is overrated (16+ / 0-)

    Sure, some people are doing something that keeps them engaged and motivated during their time at work, and they get a feeling of accomplishment and self-esteem from the work they do. They'd do more work if they had more hours, and not just for the money. But for many wage workers .. not so much. They are in jobs because they need one to survive. And there are lots of crummy jobs and exploitative bosses.

    Without work, there are a lot of alternative ways to keep yourself engaged and fulfilled: volunteering, getting involved in creative arts, theatre, or music (if you have the talent), pursuing study or travel (which many working people never get much time for), and so on. Getting out of the 9 to 5 work world can be a great thing if it doesn't mean economic desperation. And if you do want to work, a guaranteed income would make part-time work much more feasible than it is presently.

    But it seems like most of our economic and political leaders go on about the virtues of work for its own sake. It's not a believable message, at least for me, because they tend to be grossly over-compensated for the work they do, and they are preaching about work to people who have a radically different experience during their work days, and much less paycheck for it.

  •  Reduce the workweek (8+ / 0-)

    The logical next step is to reduce the 40 hr week - maybe down to 3 days as advocated by prominent business leaders like Carlos Slim.

    Increased productivity from automation will make it possible to both keep wages high (even at reduced hrs) as well as keep prices of good low (to meet the needs of incomes at reduced hrs).

    Eventually, the workweek may go away all together.

    •  Wow (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Grey Fedora

      This whole thread is wishful thinking. 3d printing..., burger bots? Wake up you dreamers. We are already in collapse. This is cornucopian techno-narcissistic bunk.  One word-OIL.

      skip the light fandango, turn cartwheels across the floor

      by radicalink on Tue Aug 12, 2014 at 09:48:36 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well, that balances the world is ending (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        we're all doomed pessimists that dominate the other half of the discussion.

        Not quite sure what your one word means though. Are you somehow implying that we won't be able to survive after most of the oil is gone?

        •  Understanding (0+ / 0-)

          Where we are at and wanting to survive is a highly optimistic stance. Unfortunately conventional (easy to obtain) oil peaked in 2005. Tar sands and fracking tight oil won't provide enough net energy to run our civilization. You are already seeing it show up in places like Ukraine and Egypt  where debt and expensive energy are causing whole states to fail. Not to mention climate change, fisheries collapse, probable crop failures, and overpopulation.
          The diarist is correct in that yes some people will be idled in the next ten years by computers and the internet. Most likely in education when some courageous administrator flips to he class room and realizes you don't need 10,000 physics. Profs teaching phy101 you just need one lecture on the internet. And a few TA's monitoring the homework.

          skip the light fandango, turn cartwheels across the floor

          by radicalink on Tue Aug 12, 2014 at 10:52:56 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Nuclear could replace coal/gas/oil now. (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Kickemout, Bluegeorgia, greenotron

            At least for electricity production. Add electric cars and you can replace fossil fuels for most transportation too.

            Extrapolate ~20 years from now, and solar/wind can do the same. The amount of recoverable solar and wind energy reserves are several orders of magnitude above our current world energy usage.

            Blaming the troubles in Ukraine and Egypt on high energy prices is mind-blowingly simplistic.

            It's easy to list current world problems and then assert we're doomed, it's a lot harder to 'show your work' and make a plausible case for it.

            •  But it comes with its own host of problems (0+ / 0-)

              And they have arguably higher stakes.

              Waste material, for one thing, since we've started to learn, with activity in Oklahoma, that "seismically stable" is fuzzy term.

              And these reactors are always subject to problems. Every case (Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, Fukushima) is written off as a "fluke" because it was "outdated". But what's the magical timeframe to be outdated? Who's going to force reactors to implement every new improvement as they're available, and who guarantees they will not have unexpected consequences.

              Add to that, a nuclear reactor is basically just a steam plant, generating power by boiling water - and a controlled nuclear reaction overseen with multiple redundant safety systems is a damned expensive way to boil water.

              Particularly when renewables are making strides like this.

              "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed." - Dwight D. Eisenhower

              by Jaxpagan on Thu Aug 14, 2014 at 03:47:23 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I fully acknowledged renewables (0+ / 0-)

                but it will take them a bit of time to spin up the capacity and necessary grid/storage improvements for a full fossil-fuel replacement. If you're fine waiting around for it, by all means skip the interim nuclear solution. Personally, I think climate change and pollution mortality is the much bigger threat compared to figuring out the nuclear waste and safety issue, but I realize others have different opinions on it.

                The primary point was that we have plenty of energy available to us to transition to a fossil fuel light (or free) society over the next several decades, so people predicting the end of civilization as we know it once the oil wells run dry seem a bit underinformed or overly dramatic.

                But then, drama seems to be running high in many of the comments here.

      •  Fossil oil/coal/gas not physically needed to (3+ / 0-)

        preserve the basic structure of our present technological civilization.

        Substitutes exist for all of them. It is economic and social inertia that is constraining rapid transition to the substitutes.  

        The transition is underway (for example, see the huge variety of oils being produced from algae by this company:,

        ...although the present inertia appears likely to continue causing this transition to be too slow to avoid destructive disruption in our climate, economy and societies.

        •  Yes there are alternatives to fossil fuels--but... (0+ / 0-)

          Yes there are alternatives to fossil fuels--but people such as the Koch brothers don't want us using them--why that would affect their ever increasing income. But the day will come--but the Kochs aren't concerned about that, as they will probably be gone by t--and of course, they don't care what kind of world they leave behind. ...

      •  Wow! (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Thanks for posting some sense in this thread. Our entire industrial civilization depends on cheap energy. When it is gone, the house of cards collapses.

        The long memory is the most radical idea in this country." Utah Phillips 1935 - 2008

        by Grey Fedora on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 09:47:55 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Technological advancement doesn't stop (0+ / 0-)

        We get more efficient in our use of energy every day. Coming generations could see energy virtually free.

  •  The professions would still be human (I hope). (3+ / 0-)

    Teachers, doctors, lawyers, clerics, etc.

    •  Humanity itself is being phased out. (11+ / 0-)

      The symptom of this is the denigration of the humanities in our culture. The mainstream vision of the future is of a robotic economy, robotic people, and the widespread loss of soul.

      We must challenge this trajectory with every fiber of our being, for if we don't, then humanity goes extinct.

      The most serious problem in American politics today is that people with wrong ideas are uncompromising, and people with good ideas are submissive and unwilling to fight. Change that, and we might have a real democracy again.

      by Eric Stetson on Tue Aug 12, 2014 at 09:19:53 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Lawyers' & Doctors' services are increasingly (0+ / 0-)

      ...performable by computers, and in principle can be entirely performed, to the extent that these services entail applying finite (even if regularly updated) bodies of information and principles.

      As with teachers, it becomes harder for computers to perform Doctors', Lawyers' or others' services that are defined to include empathizing, and establishing other emotional connections, with the people who are intended to benefit from the services (but note that humans rely so heavily, on tangible proxies for emotional connections, that robots with sufficient facial and tonal expressions may eventually do better than humans at persuading other humans to feel emotional connections).

      Such emotional connections can be understood as the primary service of genuine religious counselors, whose service presents the additional difficulty suggested by the following conundrum:

      Artificial Suspension of Disbelief.
      If our society can evolve fast enough to cope with the unfolding efficiency-cum-idleness, we will have more time to ponder and perhaps answer these types of questions.
      •  A good AI could (0+ / 0-)

        The right facial expressions, the proper phrases calculated to induce the right emotional response in the subject. It's not that hard. A good mentalist can play people like a piano (watch Derrin Brown do it sometime). The principles could be transferred to a sufficiently advanced AI.
        Once these systems can pass the Turing Test (and we get closer every day), no job is immune to automation.

        "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed." - Dwight D. Eisenhower

        by Jaxpagan on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 07:08:00 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  teachers, no. (0+ / 0-)

      The others, so far, are intact, but teachers will soon be like disc-jockeys -- you'll only need a handful to serve the needs of everybody.  With distance-learning, more and more people are going to college via computer.   That means one teacher can teach thousands of students.  Ergo, you need fewer teachers to meet educational demands.

      It's far from the best way to do things -- I think more individual attention from a teacher is a much better way to educate.  But, it's not the most economical way to educate, and that's all that the industry's going to care about, in the end.  They'd rather provide a mediocre education that costs them less than a good one that decreases profits.  It's ugly, but, that's the world.

      "Glenn Beck ends up looking like a fat, stupid child. His face should be wearing a chef's hat on the side of a box of eclairs. " - Doug Stanhope

      by Front Toward Enemy on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 07:09:58 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I don't think so - (0+ / 0-)

      computers are going to achieve something indistinguishable from human intelligence in the next ten years - & then will invent more intelligent computers, in a bootstrap process that winds up with AI many times more brilliant than any human.  

      wiki - technological singularity

      "Never let your sense of morals get in the way of doing what's right." - Isaac Asimov

      by greenotron on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 05:30:13 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Lots of references to lots of accounts of the futu (4+ / 0-)

    re but not a one to a fantastic society created by one of the true greats: a future America by Robert Heinlein, one of the greatest ever, called "For Us, The Living"  UBI? Yes.
    Society managing abundance? Check it out!

  •  Indeed (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kurt, kfunk937

    It reminds me of an old science fiction story, that more and more seems prescient.

    In the future, everything is managed by robots which are controlled by a computer.  People have everything they want, but have totally lost all their skills because it has been several generations of this idyllic lifestyle, and no one has any memory or concept of "work."

    Eventually, the computer has achieved AI, and it decides to leave behind all the humans, and vanishes.  The robots cease working, and of course everything collapses.

  •  Nothing new about this (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    We kill off the people who aren't needed. Expect that pattern to become much more common in future. That's one of the reasons the people who own the machines aren't very worried about climate change -- they know most of humanity isn't going to be needed in the future and climate change will eliminate the excess population for them.

    American Presidents: 43 men, 0 women. Ready for Hillary

    by atana on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 12:58:43 AM PDT

  •  Excellent diary. I write this as an "unemployed" (10+ / 0-)

    person living in Finland. Ok, technically I am still on an "integration plan" through September, but we use the same paperwork and I do not have gainful employment. Yet.

    I do have options. I'll have a registered "working name" (roughly translated from Finnish) by the end of the month. It will allow me to separate my personal finances from "business." I have a business plan that is coming together and after two years here, I have a strong enough social network that I'm at least in the game when it comes to applying for EU funded projects (as well as having more grounded products and services to offer my market).

    All of this was possible because the Finnish government, evil socialist and Evangelical Lutheran at the same time (shock; horror!), has been supporting me throughout as an immigrant. I spent my first year learning basic Finnish (yes, it is that hard) for 20 hours per week at a public-private school. During that time, after taxes, I was paid just over $900 dollars per month. When that ended and before I began a state-supported internship, I "only" was paid about $670 per month.

    When I was working part time back in the States at a big-box hardware store with the same color scheme as DailyKos, I earned roughly the same as I did on integration benefits here. Granted, Helsinki is MUCH more expensive than Winston-Salem. Still, the thought that you could be supported that much- including month long paid summer vacation and the week long Christmas holiday- is probably beyond most American's ideas as to what a functioning social safety net would look like. (Oh, did I mention that I don't pay for health insurance [separately from taxes] and I can go whenever, wherever, I want to see a doctor or dentist? zomg)

    However, even with all of this support, after years of being unemployed and underemployed, I have honestly begun to lose touch with what it is like to earn a paycheck.

    I don't need much. I don't buy much other than food and basic necessities (no, not clothes [after I stocked up on essential winter wear]). I don't know what it is like to "go shopping." Or to buy things. My road bike (that I bought, it seems, way back) is slowly breaking down as I cannot afford to repair or buy new parts. I cannot relate to people who work.

    I hate answering the inevitable "what do you do" questions whenever I meet someone. I can say that I am starting a business- which is true-, I can say that I am self employed, but they know what that means. People know that their tax dollars are supporting me. While most people seem to be ok with that, after two years... it has to end.

    But will it? Sure, I know my chosen field is only growing. I know that it is pretty safe considering we all have to eat, but at the same time, after years of not being a "functional member of the economic system," I often wonder what it is humanity is actually doing with its collective time. Financially feasibility is always thrown around as if it actually means anything when reality is definitely telling us that, in fact, our global economic system cannot be considered feasible when it is destroying the basis upon which humanity rests.

    And yet, here I am. "Technically" idle even as I scribble away notes, fill binders with business related ideas/charts/etc. Even as I enlarge my social network and learn about the Finnish culture. Even as I write a book about a groundbreaking project I helped to continue (that is featured on the news, soon even on Finnish TV entertainment programs).

    One minute ecstatic about my future and the next in severe depression out of not having amounted to anything. Being a taker and not a giver. On the dole... Something someone who has battled with depression since childhood (3rd grade) shouldn't really have to deal with.

  •  What does "a job" mean? (4+ / 0-)

    What if we arbitrarily said that 30 hours a week, or 25, was full time? Why leave "jobs" in 40-hour bundles?
    After all, 40 is just as arbitrary as 30. It only feels inevitable because we're used to it. If the amount of work available decreases, we can spread it out more evenly. 40 people with 30-hour/wk jobs is a lot more manageable than 30 people with 40-hour/wk jobs plus 10 unemployed people.

    Or rather, the opposite of poverty is not wealth; the opposite of poverty is justice. Melissa Chadburn

    by MrCanoehead on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 03:45:43 AM PDT

  •  Trickle Down will solve this. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Trickle Down will solve this.

  •  The big brain may be an evolutionary dead end. ... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    flowerfarmer, sockpuppet, greenotron

    The big brain may be an evolutionary dead end. Stole that haunting thought from Bill McKibben

  •  . (8+ / 0-)

    for whatever automation has been done, millions of jobs have been outsourced out of the country and continues to this day.  Its not done because there are great markets in those countries and loads of people with discretionary income to sell their widgets to, its done to increase profits by sellling back into the country of origin using the backs of cheaper labor.
    With either automation or the use of cheap (and easily expendable) labor and pollute-at-will production markets, the markets for selling product become smaller and smaller.
    There will be a pivot point where none of it works anymore and corporations will run themselves out of business

    "History records that the money changers have used every form of abuse, intrigue, deceit, and violent means possible to maintain their control over governments by controlling the money and its issuance." -James Madison

    by FreeTradeIsYourEpitaph on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 05:48:17 AM PDT

  •  Amazon, alone, is wrecking whole industries (8+ / 0-)

    It's not only robots.  Increasingly, technology is pushing us to buy non-products.  I know people think streaming movies, downloading music, and reading e-books is cool and "convenient," but there's a ripple effect.

    Admittedly, I'm a luddite.  And, I'm a collector -- I'm not interested in paying for anything I can't actually own, so I have no interest in streaming, downloading, or e-books to begin with.  It always cracks me up a little when people have the faith to think they're building a "Kindle library," and worrying who'll get those "books" when they die.  Thanks to changing formats, you won't even be able to read those files yourself in ten years, so my advice is, don't try to build "libraries" of e-books, movies, or music electronically.  Use those devices for disposable entertainment you're not going to want to re-read or re-watch, because, unlike those Library of America volumes on your bookshelf, you can't count on them being there.  If you don't know what I mean, try to find something to open a file on an old 5-inch floppy disc sometime.  If you can find the hardware to run it, you probably won't be able to find a software system to read it.

    Anyway, back on point -- Amazon is pushing this "pay for access to a file rather than buy a physical product" thing because they want to downsize workers.  Nobody has to pay somebody to retrieve items in a warehouse when what's being bought are files.  Hell, they don't even have to rent a warehouse.  Nobody has to pay truck drivers to move them.  Nobody has to pay postal workers to distribute them.  Nobody has to pay a factory to make them, and nobody has to pay a factory to make the stuff that the product was made out of in the first place.  And, once everybody's dependent on places like Amazon, nobody needs to build or rent brick-and-mortar stores and nobody needs to hire anyone to work in them.  

    I know people think they're "saving trees" by buying e-books, but you're not.  Trees are a renewable resource.  As long as they're worth money, they'll keep land dedicated to growing them, and they'll plant more.  If you remove the monetary value of trees by using less of them, you just free up more land to build another damn Starbucks or whatever.  People are going to make a profit off their land some way or another.  If they can make money from the trees, they're more inclined to keep it forested.   And when the paper's used up, it biodegrades a helluva lot better than those nasty chemical batteries in electronic devices do.

    With Kindle, anybody can publish anything.  Back in the day, we had editors and publishing houses acting as a filter that kept bad writers out of the system.  Anybody who's had the "pleasure" of reading a Kindle-only or print-on-demand "book" will realize that, in almost all cases, keeping those "writers" out of the gene pool was a good thing.  Every time I say this, I get self-published authors taking exception to it, but, I'm sorry, I'm just being honest here -- if you couldn't get published traditionally, there was probably a reason for that.  I put some of my short-stories on blogs and such, too -- we all want to be read, but that doesn't mean we should all be "published."   Enough garbage-writing still got through when we had editors and publishers in place.  Now that nobody has to pony up any cash to get your work in print, and Amazon's eager to have more fodder to sell more Kindles, the market's just flooded with horrible, horrible writing.   And actual good writers are getting harder to notice because they're having to compete with people who changed a few names and "published" their old Xena fanfic or whatever.  

    Removing editors from publishing is about as wise as removing the virus-protection filters from your computer.  The firewall is down and literature is being corrupted by "viruses."  Nobody'll know what good writing is anymore, and more and more people will get tired of wading through all the gack.  Readership will go down.

    And, with everything being on files, real writers are seeing their work pirated illegally online.  That file-swapping hurt the music industry pretty badly, but at least musicians can still go out and play live and make some cash.  Writers don't have that option.  Their written word is all they have, and people are sticking 'em up on bit-torrent sites every day, and there's not a lot they can do about it.  Before long, nobody'll be able to make a living as a writer... especially since that's always been hard enough to do, anyway.

    It doesn't help that Amazon is creating a false market-narrative.  They say e-books outsell print books but that's not quite as true as they're making it out to be.  Notice how many e-books on Amazon are free.  They're either public-domain things, or wanna-be writers so eager to get "published" that they'll let their stuff get downloaded for nothing just for "exposure."  Amazon counts those as "sales."   Now, Amazon has a deal where, for some books, when you buy the paper book they'll automatically send you an e-book copy, too.  Isn't that nice?  Not really -- they count that as a "sale" of an e-book, too.  It's their way of making sure the e-book version sells at least as many copies as the paper version... and surpasses it since some people will buy just the e-book version to begin with.  

    They also do this with music.  If you buy a CD now, most times they give you this "auto-rip" version of it, downloaded into your Itunes to listen to until the CD shows up int he mail.  Isn't that nice of them?  Not really, because they count that as a "sale," too, so downloads will always equal the number of CD's sold.  They're writing the market story they want you to believe, so they can eventually squeeze out retail of actual physical goods.  

    Once they remove your alternatives, they can control what you get to see and read.  Netflix already does that.  A friend of mine had a hard time telling his son that "The Iron Giant went to live on a farm..."  because they never bought the kid a DVD of his favorite movie, just counted on Netflix to have it, and Netflix decided, nah, enough of that.  

    Home video is responsible for older movies being restored and preserved, because they can keep making money on them.  Once everything's streaming, the product becomes less important, because it's all disposable, anyway.  The stuff they'll keep on the servers will be the stuff that sells the most... the rest, meh.  

    Anyway, I know a lot of people will think this is a paranoid rant (and I'm okay with that), but no matter how crazy or alarmist you think it is, admit that there's some hard truth in there, too.  When's the last time you saw a video store?  A DVD rental place?  And bookstores are getting mighty scarce.  I'm a used-book fiend and every one of my used-bookstore haunts in the tri-state area is gone now.  

    Retail is dying off.  All the things connected with retail (construction, distribution, etc.) will suffer, as well.   I know you can't stop "progress," but we still need to realize that all technological advancements aren't necessarily beneficial.  

    The main thing I wonder is, who does Jeff Bezos think is going to be able to buy all these files he's swapping around once he eliminates all the jobs?  It's a system that's not going to be able to sustain itself, eventually.  Yeah, we have tech jobs, but we'll actually need fewer and fewer of those as machines become more able to diagnose and repair themselves.  That's already happening.  There are already programs that write programs... so even the tech industry won't be a job-salvation indefinitely.

    "Glenn Beck ends up looking like a fat, stupid child. His face should be wearing a chef's hat on the side of a box of eclairs. " - Doug Stanhope

    by Front Toward Enemy on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 06:45:23 AM PDT

    •  But then one day everyone will have a 3D printer (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Front Toward Enemy, 1180

      And the point will be moot. You can order anything on Amazon, and it will be printed out in your home. No warehouse, no shipping, no production of anything except 3D printers and the raw material that you load into them.
      Star Trek replicator technology - at least, the first step of it. It's great if you don't have to worry about finding a job. With our current economic structure, however, it's a recipe for 70% unemployment.

      "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed." - Dwight D. Eisenhower

      by Jaxpagan on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 07:04:21 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  very true (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        1180, tampaedski, Bluegeorgia

        I forgot about 3D printers.   That'll eliminate most factory jobs, and even more warehouse space/trucking/ etc.  

        Meanwhile, while all this is happening, the birth rate is still climbing, we're finding new ways to keep people from dying of diseases, and ways for people to keep living longer.  Which is good in a lot of ways, but will create many more jobs-to-people-who-need-work ratio problems.

        I'm glad I'm not younger and never had any kids, because I'm pretty sure life in the future's not going to be as much fun as it looked on The Jetsons....

        "Glenn Beck ends up looking like a fat, stupid child. His face should be wearing a chef's hat on the side of a box of eclairs. " - Doug Stanhope

        by Front Toward Enemy on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 07:16:16 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  3D printers can even build a house (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Front Toward Enemy

          Check out this prototype.

          A few workers to lay down rails, which they could probably do for a hundred homes a day. A few guys to load the printer, and a (largely automated) factory to create the thrink (3D ink, my trademarked term. I doubt it will catch on). Construction - just another set of jobs that are headed to extinction.

          "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed." - Dwight D. Eisenhower

          by Jaxpagan on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 07:40:10 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Thoreau: (7+ / 0-)
    "One says to me, 'I wonder that you do not lay up money; you love to travel; you might take the [railroad] cars and go to Fitchburg today and see the country.' But I am wiser than that. I have learned that the swiftest traveller is he that goes afoot. I say to my friend, Suppose we try who will get there first. The distance is thirty miles; the fare ninety cents. That is almost a day's wages. I remember when wages were sixty cents a day for laborers on this very road. Well, I start now on foot, and get there before night; I have travelled at that rate by the week together. You will in the meanwhile have earned your fare, and arrive there some time tomorrow, or possibly this evening, if you are lucky enough to get a job in season. Instead of going to Fitchburg, you will be working here the greater part of the day."
    How much do we spend our wages on just so we can go to work for a wage?

    "YOPP!" --Horton Hears a Who

    by Reepicheep on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 06:56:38 AM PDT

  •  This is why... (6+ / 0-)

    i don't go to the self-serve registers anywhere.  I much prefer to deal with people.  And, we all need jobs, no matter what.

    The purpose of live is to live a life of purpose...and serve your neighbors with joy and love and make a positive difference in their lives.

    by MinervainNH on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 06:56:54 AM PDT

  •  All in the eye of the beholder-this work ethic (5+ / 0-)

    In the state of Oregon, cycles of unemployment used to be the norm due to fluctuations in the lumber business, the economy of the country, etc. Oregon is a beautiful place to live, but if the country's economy caught a cold, Oregon got Pneumonia. It was expected and it was utilized, without a lot of guilt or drama. People filled in the time going fishing or hunting, or working on their houses, etc. As with any corporate CEO, people usually won't work at a shit job for minimum wage if they can get unemployment and go golfing or fishing or travel with family, etc.
    That pisses Republicans off more than anything, that their wage slaves do not have to keep their nose to the grindstone 8 hours a day, and they get paid while not working. Some people highly resent it; usually people who have never physically worked hard for 8 hrs at a stretch on a farm, ranch, in a mill, in construction, roofing.
    People like Romney cheerfully lay off people during financial transactions for profit, then denigrate them for being part of the "47% of Americans who are slackers" essentially. Arrogant, entitled pricks. Romney & Bush.
    This newest group of young people are in a class by themselves, obviously, since so many decent jobs have left the country. Democrats need to go after these voters with the message to them they will not be left behind. Capitalism here has reached a point where new paradigms are obligatory. Meanwhile, many young people are staying at home and creatively entertaining themselves.
    Who is to say this could not be the paradigm shift we need? Larger houses. Families living together. Built-in baby-sitters as needed. The old folks don't get lonely. They feel wanted and needed. Combined labor and income, and screw this rugged individualism which used to be the bees' knees.

    The US ranks 138th out of all 169 voting countries in actual voting. Since 1974, mid-term % of eligible voters who vote avgs. 37%. Democrats would dominate if they did one thing- GOTV. They never do. Curious.

    by Incredulousinusa on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 07:21:07 AM PDT

    •  What you're describing (4+ / 0-)

      Is a return to the clan-style family that was the real traditional family up to the 20th Century (think the Waltons - the TV show), before sociologists promoted the "nuclear family" concept because it made everyone reliant on (and therefore loyal to) the broader society - i.e., good consumers.

      I'm all for it - a return to largely self-sufficient family units, coupled with a basic safety net to ensure the general welfare in a post-work world.

      "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed." - Dwight D. Eisenhower

      by Jaxpagan on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 08:17:49 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  America has a lot of homeless, and isolated (0+ / 0-)

        vulnerable, struggling households with people working 2 jobs, etc. That's freaking progress? Most of the plutocrats I have heard speaking have no empathy for those who are not "successful" for one reason or another. There is an element of manic consumerism substituting for people interacting with one another. I appreciate your reply.

        The US ranks 138th out of all 169 voting countries in actual voting. Since 1974, mid-term % of eligible voters who vote avgs. 37%. Democrats would dominate if they did one thing- GOTV. They never do. Curious.

        by Incredulousinusa on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 06:31:23 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Oregon still has Gas Station Attendents.. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    chrisculpepper, RMForbes

    who are required to pump your gas for safety and environmental reasons. There is no need for any state to NOT have this. Thousands are employed, many as first time workers, and many more are provided a safety net in case of firing or unexpected life events.

    The only objection to it is this: people complain because "I want to pump MY OWN GAS. Its faster. " Or something.

    But, by giving up one 10 minute activity for a week, each man and woman who drives gives a job to thousands of people who NEED TO EAT and LIVE under a roof. If I find this inconvenient, I remember all the people who I do not have to buy food stamps and SSI incomes for. In reality, this is a VERY good bargain. And I like good bargains.

    Figures don't lie, but liars do figure-Mark Twain

    by OregonOak on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 07:22:53 AM PDT

  •  I believe we are all throwing old solutions at (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lurker123, greenotron

    new problems, generally unaware of how things have changed. We need a complete rethinking of how the next 100 years will look.

  •  I could afford to quit my job (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    And go to school to become a 2nd grade teacher.  Which I could then afford to do.

  •  I read this book (0+ / 0-)

    A democratic nation had a "UBI" for all citizens.   Citizens continuously voted to keep the UBI, to raise the UBI, etc, and the population grew and grew.   Suggestions of lowering the UBI were met with terrifying riots, and no politician would be elected, if there was some hint that he would lower the UBI.   However, there simply wasn't the money to sustain it.  So, the nation became expansionist, conquering new territories in order to feed the ever-increasing demand for the UBI.  

    It was fiction, of course.   But, could it happen?

    I think what needs to happen is that we re-define the workday.    If there is less work for people, then we should spread that work around more equally.   If the standard workweek was 20 hours per week instead of forty, then twice as many people would be employed, and the benefits of automation would be spread more fairly across society.  

    •  But who can live on 20 hours a week? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Those jobs would have to pay $30/hour to even be worth the time. Otherwise, we're just doing a back-door UBI via a host of public aid programs, paying for giant bureaucracy to dole out assistance to the working poor (i.e., almost everyone).

      "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed." - Dwight D. Eisenhower

      by Jaxpagan on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 08:20:09 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  economics (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        It's an economics problem.  There is an oversupply of labor, and a shortage of jobs.   Lowering the definition of "full-time" decreases the supply of labor, helping to put things back into a better balance.  That has been the ongoing promise of automation -- to free us from repetitive tasks.  So, when do we get to be freed?  And, yes, it should drive up wages by making labor in shorter supply.

        The 8 hour work day was defined based on a society that was less automated.   We need to assess whether it is still appropriate in a society that is more fully automated.

    •  I read one similar (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Beggars in Spain, I think it was called.  There was a UBI, and thus two classes formed - citizens, and "donkeys."  The donkeys were the ones that still had to work to keep society going (politicians, engineers, etc.)  

      Regular citizens were freed from that burden.  Regular citizens also unfortunately were able to totally opt out of education, and the result was that the non-donkey class turned into a proto-Idiocracy society.  

      The Cake is a lie. In Pie there is Truth. ~ Fordmandalay

      by catwho on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 09:06:17 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Do democracies conquering nations automatically (0+ / 0-)

      lead to an increase in federal revenue?  Fictionally, it didn't work for the People's Republic of Haven because they kept the territories and exported their inefficient system.  In real life, it didn't work for the United States in Iraq, because all the wealth went to corporate interests like Halliburton (Hey, Cheney, I'm still waiting on a "peace dividend" from that one!)

      Going to war with a neighbor would work as far as ginning up industry and pumping money into an economy.  As far as making seizing territory a paying proposition, I think you have to either plunder it like the most ruthless horde and drive the natives off (I suppose Americans know how to do that) or invest in it long term, like with Europe and Japan after WW2.  And who has the patience for that nowadays?

      Shortening the work week sounds like a reasonable strategy, but could leave employers with personnel who aren't around enough to manage projects too complex to complete in a short work period.  That leads to special cases and exemptions for certain professions, but maybe also to lots of overtime.

      Just remember - It's a world full of amateurs out there. -4.75, -5.33

      by Bandaloop on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 01:02:45 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Honor Harrington series by David Weber? (0+ / 0-)

      The "bad guys" are a nation that continually conquers territory in an effort to increase the size of its economy so that it can afford all the people on "the Dole". The trouble is, new territory brings new citizens that also end up on the Dole, perpetuating the cycle.

      That's how it goes in the books anyway.

  •  These aren't the Droids we're looking for nt (0+ / 0-)

    I want 1 less Tiny Coffin, Why Don't You? Support The President's Gun Violence Plan.

    by JML9999 on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 08:03:10 AM PDT

  •  There's plenty that needs to be done. Plus more... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mrkvica, kfunk937

    There's plenty that needs to be done. Plus more art to make, and science to explore. What we lack is the will to distribute wealth so people can be paid to do it.

  •  Krugman recognized this a while back (0+ / 0-)

    And, of course, he was hardly the first.

  •  Work will become more intellectual (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    That shift already started happening thanks to the Internet.

    A robot cannot do what I do, which is the "systems analysis" (which is really a dozen different job titles in one) mentioned in the diary.  

    Humans will always need other humans for tech support.  Your 3D printer breaks, and thus cannot print out its own new parts to fix itself.  Maybe you're lucky and have an older one that still works.  Otherwise you'll have to order the broken part from Amazon's delivery drones after all.

    But who actually designed that part to begin with?  Some dude at a desk with CAD software.  Not a robot.  Human imagination still plays a big part.  That part only needs to be designed once, but all those parts need to be refined as flaws are discovered, and there will always be new inventions that need new parts.

    Also, we'll value those who create content more.  We already pay our actors and sports stars far more than we do laborers, for work that is difficult but in a different way.

    People will always want new things, and removing the burden of the tedious task of building them could, in theory, allow more people more time to design them.  Look at cell phone iterations.   It used to be that most electronics companies would produce a new model of a gadget once every couple of years.  Now it seems like there is a new phone model once every six months!

    The Cake is a lie. In Pie there is Truth. ~ Fordmandalay

    by catwho on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 09:03:28 AM PDT

    •  But there's still the basic point (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      One - even assuming that AI can't take over part or all of your job yet, maybe even ever. How many of those jobs can there be? What portion of our population could be designers? 5%? 10%? 25%?

      The point of the diary is not that we'll have no jobs at all - it's that we will have made so many jobs obsolete, it will become impossible to have unemployment that is not double digits - and ultimately impossible to have it below 50%.

      "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed." - Dwight D. Eisenhower

      by Jaxpagan on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 09:25:36 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  UBI looks like education loans (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sockpuppet, Bluegeorgia

    If there is a guaranteed income, then all rices will rise until the effective value of the UBI baseline is the new 'zero.'

    •  Why? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ozy, mrkvica

      A UBI simply means everyone has a safety net income. In practice, it's little different (though much more efficient) than the hordes of public assistance programs we currently have, from SS to food stamps to heating assistance, etc, at the federal, state and local level.
      I don't think there's a real argument that food stamps raise the price of food. Why would simply giving a guaranteed income (effectively "block-granting" the assistance programs of yesterday) would do so.

      "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed." - Dwight D. Eisenhower

      by Jaxpagan on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 10:08:04 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  May I add parenthetically, JAXpagan... (9+ / 0-)

    I'm assuming JAX-pagan places you in Jacksonville, Floriduh.

    Speaking of the coming "Great Idleness"...

    My sister is an accomplished, senior paralegal in your town.   She was recently diagnosed with a debilitating neurological disease.  And she's 60+ years old.  She applied for and was hired by a law firm there in Jax, because of her exemplary legal-assistant skills and career accomplishments.   She's almost a savant in her ability to churn out quality work for the legal profession.

    Knowing her "condition" is new to her, and that she's still learning compensatory coping stategies for physical functioning, I rushed her a nice, compact, 3-wheel walker to help her stably negotiate crossing the street from the parking lot into her new-job office building.  The walker folds up so light and compact, it is poses no obstruction to an office workplace.

    No kidding:  one of the law-firm partners saw her entering the building with this 3-wheeled, compact walker.  He questioned her briefly about it, then pushed past her on into the building.

    When she arrived in the office, she was met by a phalanx of attorney-partners.  They fired her on the spot.  And refused to even pay her for her previous (first-day's) full day of work (before she had the walker I sent).  A cane was apparently okay, for the hiring interviews.  But the walker?  No way.  She was plunged into such despair over this humiliating brutality, she mentioned "a gun to her head".

    What also is to become of our world and social structure when youth and physical agility are prized more than knowledge, skill, experience and wisdom??  As is increasingly the reality in our workplaces today?  (Our returning wounded warriors are facing this insurmountable employment wall, as well.)   Hardly anyone over the age of 50 (with or without disability) is being hired in this teetering (but allegedly "growing") economy.

    The reality in the U.S. now seems to be that huge swaths of our population are already being consigned to "idleness" due to ageism.  This is a huge waste of workforce talent, skill and experience.

    Anyway, I just wanted to get this appalling story about my sister being treated so callously in Jax, Floriduh out in public, just for her vindication.   (I also add that she has since been snapped up by another larger and major plaintiffs' law firm, who are doing all they can to accommodate her physical disabilities, so they can profit from the excellent performance of her brain.  Wayddago, Sis.  You do us seniors proud.)

    •  Glad to hear she came out ok (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sockpuppet, Bluegeorgia

      Yeah, there's a lot of ageism out there. I'm 48, though I don't look it, and while I've been with a company for now 20 years (ugh), I sometimes wonder what happens for me at 55, or 60.

      "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed." - Dwight D. Eisenhower

      by Jaxpagan on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 10:09:37 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I've never used an ATM. (0+ / 0-)

    I want the tellers to have jobs so I always go in for personal service.  I uniformly do this wherever I can support the human's role in any business.

  •  "simply not be jobs to find " (0+ / 0-)

    I disagree.

    Our previous notion of what jobs a society needs is changing rapidly.

    And we need less generic workers for that new society.  Which is think is a crux of what you were saying. But to say there are no jobs, is also to say there is no way to create value.

    The skills and interests you need to create value may be changing but I wager to say that, there is some way that each individual can create true value.

    In the DISTANT future I can see how a person's mere existence would be valuable enough to a society to justify a  UBI. But right now a society would benefit much more from population control.  Society is not short on people.  a UBI would actually encourage OVER population right now.

  •  Time to reread Player Piano by Vonnegut. (0+ / 0-)

    Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree. -Martin Luther

    by the fan man on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 10:15:20 AM PDT

  •  This is the reasson for much worldwide unrest (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bluegeorgia, snwflk

    The poor people are downtrodden and out of work in Gaza, in the rest of the Middle East,  in Ferguson, MO., in Cincinnati, Cleveland, etc., all across the world. (for example, 250% increase in Heroin treatment in Vermont - Vermont since 2000).

    The people have been decimated by usory charges from every angle in the US.  Exploitation of the poor and working classes is disgustingly pervasive.  Even my own money, SS Disability, a small pension and a partial VA Disability - all go to regular bils (rent, cable, car pmt, renter's insurance, car insurance, utilities, groceries, phone, internet, cell, s - all at rates far higher and usorious compared to Western Europe.  My cable bill, with one premium channel, is $170.00 monthly).

    It is disgusting that the American people are so exploited and used up.  And now the jobs are going, alm ost gone.

    My god, what are people supposed to do?

    •  That's the problem--many people are still "comf... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      That's the problem--many people are still "comfortable" and don't see what's going on around them--so they keep supporting the status quo--assuming that what is going on around them will never catch up with them--why those things happen to "other people" who somehow "put themselves into that position".

  •  Think outside of the box (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RMForbes, kfunk937

    It's simple, really- cottage industries are starting up again. People are beginning to grow organic food plants in containers and some of them are selling to restaurants. People are making stuff- they could also sell stuff.

    Having a skill and making a living from it by barter or monetary exchange is, for lack of a better term, a job. It doesn't have a regular paycheck but the perks in less stress, less hassle and more versatility of lifestyle make it worthwhile.  I've been selling my skills for the past 16 years.

    I'm not rich, but I put roof over and food on the table, and save up and buy things I need for cash, so have no debt.  I'm seriously much happier now.

  •  Think outside of the box some more (0+ / 0-)

    Whole legions of people are learning to cut plastic cool drink bottles into flowers and making garlands. Plastic bags can be cut and crocheted (cut a hook with a knife from a piece of dowel) and woven into doormats, baskets, dog beds, etc.  Tin cans are made into furniture.

    Even the junk around you, if looked at a different way, is a potential source of income once it's reworked. There is ALWAYS a way, if you think outside the box, look at things from a different angle, and find the gap.

  •  I've always thought that (0+ / 0-)

    One consequence of automation in technical or artisanal areas is that a large number of skilled and/or smart people will be replaced by a much smaller number of much more skilled and/or much smarter people.

    The interesting result of this is that not only will there be far fewer jobs, but they will require much more education, training or practice, and will be available only to those who both attain that level, and who have the social/people skills needed to get and keep a job.

    And the same also applies in different ways to entertainers, artists, and craftspersons.

    But this means that a very large number of people will need huge amounts of education, while only a few of them will be able to pay back the costs. Which seems to imply that you would also need free or minimal-cost education as well.

  •  Momentum machines isn't all that new (0+ / 0-)

    Been around for a few years. No one seems to be using it. Really sounds like an idea that a techie with no experience in the field dreamed up. I wouldn't worry too much about it.

  •  You are exactly right. Not enough work to be done. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I've been trying to explain this to people for some time, just from my own thinking. I'm relieved to learn that others are planning for what I think will inevitably happen.

    No -- let me amend that -- I really think it has already happened. I don't believe there is enough work for everyone who needs a job in the US right now.

    I could be wrong, but that is what I think.

    "We only have to look at ourselves to see how intelligent life might develop into something we wouldn't want to meet." -- Stephen Hawking

    by dratman on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 01:29:58 PM PDT

  •  Excellent diary--wish I had more time to comment (0+ / 0-)

    "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

    by Diana in NoVa on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 01:36:32 PM PDT

  •  Take over Wyoming then pass a comprehensive job... (0+ / 0-)

    Take over Wyoming then pass a comprehensive jobs bill. GLBTQ and Labor could pull this off. Plus a Governor, a legislature and 3 seats in Congress.

  •  Nature corrects imbalances. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    One big solar flare and the whole automation thing would be over. Wouldn't be pretty cleaning up, but there'd be a lot of bored people to do the work.

    Or there's the supervolcano, or the supervirus, or the superstorm, or whatever. Lots of dead to dispose of, and then lots of jobs to fill feeding and sheltering the survivors. Nature will take care of overpopulation.

  •  Jobs (0+ / 0-)

    On top of more automation, we now have the TPP (trans
    pacific partnership) being quietly discussed.  Soon there
    will be no jobs.

  •  Of Course it has already happened (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    A lot of jobs have already been eliminated.  I recently saw a picture of a vehicle manufacturing floor in which there were no humans present, only robots.  When Cesar Chavez suceeded in getting grape workers unionized, it wasn't long before vineyards were harvested by machine.  I fully expect that if farm workers pay is increased significantly, we will see a greater deployment of robots on vegetable and fruit farms.

    •  A quote I wanted to use but couldn't fit in: (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      "The factory of the future will have only two employees, a man and a dog. The man will be there to feed the dog. The dog will be there to keep the man from touching the equipment." - Warren Bennis

      "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed." - Dwight D. Eisenhower

      by Jaxpagan on Thu Aug 14, 2014 at 03:50:29 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  When people outnumber jobs (3+ / 0-)

    In California, we've recovered all the jobs lost in the Recession, but they're mostly junk jobs. The middle-class jobs have taken a big hit and those workers are being forced down to junk jobs. 40% report they are "just getting by" or worse. When a third of Americans have accounts in collection, that's the canary in the mine singing.

    I've traveled extensively starting in 2006 through the hinterlands of the 17 Western states for a book project. I see people driving junkers in 100 degree heat with all their windows open because their air-conditioning has failed. I see people with missing teeth who couldn't possibly afford to fix them. I see little colonies of meth and prescription drug addicts who've given up on everything, and a growing number of mostly young drifters. I also see mainly good-hearted and fair-minded people, patches of prosperity, and very little visible Tea Party influence which came as a surprise to me. I see this especially in the Great Plains states.

    When there's not enough jobs to go around, people will improvise an income in the underground economy. No one is going to just submit to hunger which exerts an even stronger pull on humans than even the most extreme substance addiction, when options for illegal pot grows, petty crime, prostitution, gathering recyclables, peddling trinkets in the street, etc. are available, but it won't be a pretty picture.

    And one related note: Our culture has embraced the idea that only increasing our population can sustain our economy. Clearly that option leads to a dead end. I had a movie job in India many years ago. Our hotel had a large manually operated lawn mower. It was cheaper to have two guys pull it with ropes, and one guy to guide it. In the Philippines, instead of using lead weights to balance their camera crane, they used people to climb on it to balance it, because people were cheaper than lead. These days the idea of stabilizing our population growth has been forgotten. Sooner or later that has to change.

  •  Maybe because I missed the propaganda (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    greenotron, RiveroftheWest

    Put out by the general media, because we did not own a TV and my mother didn't subscribe to the notion, I always thought it was weird that you were expected to have a job to survive.

    Think of the talent, innovation, and creativity that has been wasted by people being forced to work at a job that wasn't what they really wanted to do. Perhaps there will be a real flowering of the arts if this comes to pass, especially if people are not squelched in childhood like they often are now.

    Women create the entire labor force.
    Sympathy is the strongest instinct in human nature. - Charles Darwin

    by splashy on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 05:15:42 PM PDT

  •  It's not so much that there isn't work to be done, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    it's that capitalism (the free market) hasn't yet figured out how to pay people (a living wage) to do those things—put a solar panel on every building, a tutor for every struggling student, decent care for every elderly person, separating recyclables and compostables...

    The list goes on.

    Perhaps the UBI can alleviate some of that, I don't know. It's worth a conversation.

    •  Actually, they figured out (0+ / 0-)

      how not to pay people. They could pay people significantly more than they do now and the resultant increased economic activity would probably benefit everybody, including capitalists. But that takes a leap of faith that they just don't think they have the legs for.

      Moderation in most things.

      by billmosby on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 09:09:25 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Player Piano, Kurt Vonnegut (0+ / 0-)

    Mr. Vonnegut got it right in his first novel. The difference is that his ruling elite, bureaucrats and engineers, understood the need to pacify the general population that nonetheless got restive in all their idle time.

    Reality in 2014 is to falsely brand those who are displaced by technology as victims of their own human failings. The further the masses are pushed from a sense of belonging and self-determination, the greater the likelihood they will push back.

  •  Re-Define the Work Week (0+ / 0-)

    The work week should be, full time, about 10 hours these days. Should have been 20 hours two decades ago. For a full weeks pay. In the early seventies, productivity began to skyrocket - pay did not. They pulled 'stagflation' on us to prevent it.

  •  I got home from work one day at the usual time of (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    2:30 (1430) when the phone rang. It was my supervisor, who I rarely saw. He said, "Kevin? Your services are no longer required". Even tho I had never heard that term (I was about 28-30) before, I KNEW what he meant. I was fired. What about my check? You can come get it any time. Mail it, would you please? It all worked out for the better. Another company called within a week and I was back at it.

    Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.---George Orwell

    by okpkpkp on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 05:58:38 PM PDT

  •  aggregate demand vs. aggregate supply (0+ / 0-)

    "... the general trend is that technology has increased efficiency, and greater efficiency means greater productivity, and greater productivity means doing the same work with fewer people."

    So, quite obviously, aggregate demand has to increase (which means exponential growth in a finite world), unemployment has to increase (which means poverty), or people have to spend less of their lives on "work" (which means a higher Human Development Index, Gross National Happiness, and many other things that those of us who believe God did not bring us to to this Earth just to suffer tend to favor).

    By the way, the UBI was not supported by John Kenneth Galbraith and many other prominent economists, but also by Dr. Martin Luther King in his last book before assassination, "Where Do We Go from Here?".

  •  I have always loved learning new things (0+ / 0-)

    I spent hours each week in the public library and now I can do the research at home. Because of Youtube, I have tried my hand at dozens of different things, gardening in a bag, making soap from meat fat, sewing furniture covers, making lots of foods from scratch, etc.

    I have MS and can't always stand up but on the days that I can, I find something to do. On the days I can't, I read and plan. there is no excuse for doing nothing but watching TV unless you are completely bedbound.

  •  Old problem, possible approach (0+ / 0-)

    I remember my father, more than 50 years ago, discussing essentially the same issue with me. He envisioned a time when not all would need to work, and he wondered how we could figure out how to "distribute the wealth". To him, wealth was more than just money.

    I retired twelve years ago and am now busier than when I worked for pay. There is no end of worthwhile things to do for society (and the world) that are not getting done except by those not getting paid for it. And though even some of them might be automated away, not all will. I am convinced at whatever age I retired, if I had sufficient income to be comfortable, I would still be constructively busy. I don't know how many are couch potatoes - I don't meet them. But there are a lot of us.

    If we started retiring earlier and earlier, without penalty, we would see a growth in busy unemployed people. That could gradually cause a change in how one identifies one's self to others and a work ethic shift that would make your suggestion workable.

    If that shift worked, then the never-employed might be pressed by a new ideal to live on the stipend and donate services to others, as many of us retired people do.

  •  The End of Work? (0+ / 0-)

    The great Jeremy Rifkin wrote a book on this subject 25 years ago.  It is called The End of Work.
    There is just no doubt about it.  Working for a wage will soon be impossible.  There will be no real jobs that can support families or provide for a decent quality of life.  No one will have the money to purchase the products and services provided by the very companies that eliminated  the jobs in the first place.   We must find a solution to this unique dilemma, or we will enter the darkest of times ahead.
    Our corporate masters would like to enter a feudal age of serfdom and misery for the poor and working classes.   That way leads to certain revolution and uprising.  But they know that and have established a police state to deal with it.  
    Just as the USA sees only military solutions to problems abroad, so does it see law enforcement as the only solution to problems at home.

  •  You must not have noticed, but it already happened (0+ / 0-)

    An average human can produce more than the average human consumes. At first, that was how we got cities--not everyone had to farm anymore. Now, it's why we retire, and why we don't let children work.

    As the production:consumption ratio increases, we should lower the retirement age, and raise wages and salaries. It may or may not work out.

    It feels to me that income disparity would have to decrease, when just a few years of work will have to pay for 60 years of adult living and 20 years of raising children.

  •  If people could be supported by the work of (0+ / 0-)

    machines, the resulting free time would open up entire new vistas of creativity.

    But the owners of the machines will be supported by them.

    Eventually, machines that hunt surplus people might exist not only in our nightmares.

    Moderation in most things.

    by billmosby on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 09:07:33 PM PDT

  •  The UBI is a very fascinating concept! (0+ / 0-)

    On the surface it seems like an excellent idea.

    But I can't help but think there are crony-capitalist factions that would fight it tooth and nail because it would somehow threaten their profits.

    Did I mention it was an excellent idea? ;)

    Politics is the entertainment branch of industry. -Frank Zappa

    by FactsPrevail on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 09:33:03 PM PDT

  •  This article is BRILLIANT! (0+ / 0-)

    The author's suggestion would also eliminate homelessness, and the crime rate would plummet.

    It would eliminate stress in much of the population.  It would be an evolution in civilization.

  •  RoboBugers ? No Way ! (0+ / 0-)

    Any ' RoboBurger ' place is NOT going to get my business. And I suspect that a lot of would-be customers would feel the same way.

    Go to any supermarket, and people still want a human clerk to total their food.

  •  On preparing social consciousness & public infrast (0+ / 0-)

    "Neither our social consciousness nor our public infrastructure are prepared for that.”

    …well, that’s the key point. Although many aspects of culture have advanced orders of magnitude in recent centuries, notions of wealth, work, “the good life”, and the basic role of citizens in society have not advanced much since feudal times.

    Recall the mid-20th Century belief that technology and automation were going to give us vast amounts of leisure time? Yet today people are busier than ever. Moreover, displaced workers have few options other than to scramble for a ever-decreasing pool of jobs. We have not made the conscious shift from a “worker bee” society to a leisure society. For citizens and societies to advance, significant amounts of leisure time are necessary for study, reflection, discovery, and creation. Hard to do when you’re banging away 8 hours in a cubicle or on an assembly line.

    The basic income is a viable solution but requires a fundamental re-visioning of the nature and purpose of money. Though that may seem a monumental task, there is a relatively simple way to initiate this without major disruption by evolving the Social Security system to become a full “Social Dividend”.  A proposal for how and why this could work can be found in the current issue of Common Good Forum’s publication “Bridge-Builder” (“New Technology of Money for a New Society”)

  •  What's Really Happening (0+ / 0-)

    You've nudged at the edge.  The problem is there's not enough money to consume what it costs to make things along with a profit.  Business taxation is in the doldrums as every country bribes them with lower taxes to bring their jobs.  So where does this support money come from?  Who decides poverty level?  You can't live on a poverty level income today.  Not even close.  The wealth of the wealthy will begin to crumble as they collect less and less profits from business.  What reason do they have to hand it over to the government to pay people to buy their products?  That would be a worthless trade.  Why would people continue to educate themselves another system crumbling.  And on and on.  We are spiraling out of control with no plan.

  •  Shorten the work week (0+ / 0-)

    America shortened its work week to eight hours, and can shorten it again if the political will exists. Other nations and various companies are looking into this as well.

    BTW I agree about UBI. UBI would also free up creative types to pursue odd ideas, some of which may pan out in unexpected and awesome ways.

  •  Tax all of profits gained by slashing salaries (0+ / 0-)

    If employers keep the profits they gain by cutting salaries in half, you only accelerate the movement of wealth to the rich.

    You have to pay for this by confiscating the wealth gained by paying people less - or some other progressive plan for distributing money - or you end up with the problem many comments have mentioned:  enough income inequality to cause the end of capitalism.  That's not necessarily a bad thing (the end of capitalism), but capitalism is what we're in right now, and your interesting plan can't help move us onward if it's funded by taxes primarily paid by those who now get money from work, and avoided by those who can profit by owning the robots that will be working for free.

  •  I've said the same thing about college educations. (0+ / 0-)

    For decades now, one of the constant rallying cries of political candidates is that everyone should get a college degree.  Its viewed as a nice, safe goal just about anyone would agree with.

    Unfortunately, they fail to see the economic results if this actually happened.

    If everyone has a 4 yr degree that just cost them 5 or 6 figures, who is left to fill the thousands of minimum wage jobs that barely require a high school education?  All those new grads are expecting jobs in their fields, jobs that actually use the education they just received, jobs that pay significantly more than working as an assistant burger flipper.

    You see, that's one of the problems with employment in this country.  People and jobs are mismatched.  Kids are encouraged from kindergarten to go for a college degree, regardless of whether or not they are actually interested in college or have the necessary academic talents to succeed.   The predicatable result?  Hundreds of thousands of college grads who at best can't find a job in their field... and at worst, can't find a job at all.

    Instead of demanding every child go to college, why not revise that statement to something like this:

    Every child should be entitled to pursue the job training most suited to their individual abilities without bankrupting their parents or taking on crippling debt.  

    A child with obvious academic talents that make him or her a good candidate for college should be encourage to pursue that route.  A child who has skills and interests more suited to skilled trades should be encourage to go to technical or vocational schools.

    People who are not suited for either college or a skilled trade are the ones who should be flipping burgers... and they should be paid a living wage that allows them to support themselves in a modest lifestyle.

  •  No jobs available? (0+ / 0-)

    The entire article is an excellent argument to make free contraception available to everyone, world-wide.

  •  future jobs (0+ / 0-)

    The factory of the future will have 2 employees - a man and a dog. The man's job will be to feed the dog. The dog's job will be to growl at the man if the man attempts to touch the controls in the factory...  

    •  I almost included that quote in the diary. :) n/t (0+ / 0-)

      "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed." - Dwight D. Eisenhower

      by Jaxpagan on Thu Aug 14, 2014 at 11:19:22 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  who will buy their crap (0+ / 0-)

    if nobody is working?

    •  By then, they won't care (0+ / 0-)

      Wealth is becoming fantastically concentrated. The richest and most powerful - the Waltons, the Kochs - have enough money to provide, within their own sheltered compounds, anything they could need for the rest of their lives, their children's, and who knows how many generations past that.

      Trauma unit? East wing. Power generation? State of the art solar/wind farm somewhere in the back 40,000 acres. Security? The equivalent of a small police force - with the best equipment on the market - housed in an outbuilding. Travel? Private jet and helicopter.

      They don't need roads, schools, police, or anything else. They make money through their businesses because they can. The day there's nothing left . ..  they can just stop, seal the gates, and pretend the starving masses left outside don't exist.

      "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed." - Dwight D. Eisenhower

      by Jaxpagan on Thu Aug 14, 2014 at 02:17:01 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  1950's GM Car plant: 2,000 workers; now 500 (0+ / 0-)

    they have shrunk down by about 75 percent, robots do a lot of the work, especially the welding and painting.

    80 % of Success is Just Showing Up!

    by Churchill on Thu Aug 14, 2014 at 01:55:29 PM PDT

  •  Please accept my apology (0+ / 0-)

    For my part in this nightmare scenario, I humbly apologize and ask for forgiveness for my shortsightedness in regard to the totality of humanity. It was never my intent nor wish to replace actual people, but more and more evidence comes to light that may be exactly what my life's work has wrought. I am truly sorry for that. If I could put the genie back in the bottle that I helped loose, I would do it gladly.

  •  It is going to require a transition from the cu... (0+ / 0-)

    It is going to require a transition from the current values of the way we live today, which values: the individual over the collective, competition over collaboration and cooperation, profit over people, commerce over the environment and peace over war. This sounds idealistic, but is being done today by forward thinking people around the world. Not that they/we are in the majority, or currently in power, but it is happening. Many faith-based communities embrace and practice these values as well as nonreligious groups forming cooperatives and community solutions to provide the basic support systems for people falling through the economic cracks.

    My 20 years in the economic development field left me with the belief that the global labor surplus is growing and will continue to do so. In response I helped start a food gleaning program in my County to help feed people that are food insecure. With the help of volunteers we take excess food growing on residential property to organizations feeding those in need. It is a community-based model of cooperation to build a food safety net. Granted that it does not provide all the needs of those left out of the workforce, but it is a step in the right direction that does not depend on our government or the private sector. Simply put, we are challenged to change the way we live and interact. I may not live to see a complete change, but I do believe we can each make this change and positively affect the future. Please consider what each of you can do. Bitching about how bad things are changes nothing. My two cents.

  •  A simpler solution for now (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    32 hr work week.

    But eventually you are right.

    •  32 hour work week (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      32 hour workweek may be the best immediate solution to the long term problem of a two economic class society.  
      The people in the upper class have a legitimate worry that the lower class will revolt with arms.  We've seen this throughout history.  Pick a century and a historian will find you an example or 2 or 3.
      So the pragmatic approach of those who want to continue their status is to figure out how to prevent successful rebellions.  Here's several.....
      1. Totalitarian police state.  Keep lower class in perpetual fear.  Upper class lives pretty well.
      2. North Korean model.... 1. combined with starvation and isolation of the lower classes to keep them too weak to rebel in any way except suicide.
      3. Genocide.  Simply kill them.
      4. Offer them the carrot of apparent democracy combined with basic life support.  Works better with agrarian societies that can grow their own food and build their own shelters.
      5.  The Scandinavian model where the upper class forego their selfish visible extremes to raise the lower class standard of living.
      6. The colonial conquest model.  The conqueror has just one class and feeds off the conquered.
      7. The western democracy model of deficit financing with expectations that the future will be better than today...... Getting somewhat fragile in the face of climate change, overpopulation and a few other bad news stories.
      8. The religious model.  Shove austerity down the throats of the lower classes backed with the promise of a luxurious afterlife.  Requires expertise in salesmanship and propaganda and maybe a bit of totalitarian behavior.  Priests eat pretty well.
      9.  The libertarian model (Somalia, Kansas) You're on your own, Baby.  Tribes and oligarchies can form and fight it out with the best weapons available.  Let the government drown in the bathtub.  
      10. The superior technology model.  Pretty much played out in the 20th century.  Internet and globalization means no secret sauces anymore.
      11.  The Orwellian model.   Provide the bare basics needs of food, shelter and health care and keep the lower classes happy with cheap entertainment including copious intoxicating chemicals.  Requires some nasty police state stuff.

      This is an interesting lens through which to view American political parties.  The Republicans seem to embrace 8. and 9. with elements of 6., 10. and 11 (alcohol only).  The Democrats are heavy somewhere between  5., 7 and wishful thinking about 10.  Also the intoxicating chemicals part of 11.

  •  The name has changed (0+ / 0-)

    But IT techs were there 50 years ago.  

    We called ourselves electronics techs and we repaired radios, televisions, and pretty much anything else that had a circuit board in it.  We were both mathematician, calculating component and signal values,  and mechanic, repairing tuning linkages and gear trains.  

    Some of us are still around, still using our knowledge and skills, but devalued by an economic system that emphasizes speed over accuracy.

    He was often wrong, but never in doubt.

    by Holgar on Fri Aug 15, 2014 at 08:17:56 AM PDT

  •  Universal minimum income (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I think this is a fantastic idea. It also is similar to what Peter Barnes wrote in his book, Capitalism 3.0

    He speaks about how we need a new 'upgrade' (ala windows 3.0) and it would be similar. Everyone should read his book, and get active in trying to bring about that vision.  It is actually free to download, just google it.

  •  Another possible scenario (0+ / 0-)

    I have a different scenario in mind: Why don't we just distribute the available work by reducing the work week? eg a 20 or even 10 hour work week. Now you might ask how could anyone afford to live on 1/4 time? Well the pirpose of working for most people is to be able to afford things: widgets and services. When you consider automation will have reduced the cost of producing most widgets to a fraction of what it costs now, prices must also adjust to reflect that - price is just something that's set by the supply and demand curves and no-one will be able to afford to buy at current prices. In the short term there will be dislocations for sure. People will have to retrain to handle the 2 kinds of jobs that will exist post-automation:

    - knowledge workers that produce the robots, the software, the ideas, that keep technological progress soing
    - work that simply cannot be easily or desirably automated: artists, musicains, babysitters, gardeners, (some) teachers and instructors, hairdressers, sales and marketing folks (who wants to buy a car from a robot?), managers,  etc.

    (I suspect that many other jobs including burger-flippers, janitors, construction workers, medical personnel, factory workers, including those who build said robots, etc. will disappear or be outsourced to the next cheap destination (Africa?). Some professions such as teaching, medicine, legal, etc will remain but will be vastly decimated in numbers. It won't happen overnight, but gradually over decades as robots get better and better. But in the end, people will be retrained for their new professions. And most folks will be far happier working 10 hours a week and enjoying life without being slaves to their work for the first time in human history

    Perhaps I'm being too utopian, but so far no one has been able to explain what I'm missing.

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