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wonderpup

Should We Limit Technology To Protect Jobs?

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There is a very strong view that everyone who can work should work- this is seen a moral imperative of the highest order. Yet it's also widely believed that we must never impede the progress of technological change- this too is seen as a vital issue.

Clearly these two imperatives are not always compatible- for every gain in efficiency there is a reduction in need for labor- and in many cases the primary USP of a given innovation is it's labor saving application.

So I suppose my question is this- of the two imperatives which is the most important?

If we were forced to choose as a society between limiting the introduction of labor saving technology and preserving jobs which should have the priority. After all we could- in theory- create a large number of jobs by imposing limits on the use of IT or automation.

Another question is this- if we decide that innovation is more important than the jobs it replaces what is the status of those who may end up unemployed as a result- should they be punished and humiliated for their situation? If not how do we maintain the value of work among the rest of the population whose labor is still vital to the economy?

The present solution to this problem seems to be to create a kind of faux employment where the lack of full time jobs is obscured by the use of devices such as zero hours, part time and temporary workers- but in reality most of these people are not viable without state support since their incomes are too low to live on.

In any case as things progress it seems likely that we will find it increasingly difficult to find genuine productive work for people to do, and increasingly expensive to prop up their precarious lifestyles with state handouts.

So who in the end pays the social cost of all this labor saving technology- should it be the government or should it be those companies whose bottom lines are increased by their lower wage bills?

Do those whose ability to earn a living wage has been eroded have any rights at all in this situation?- or are they in effect to become chattels of the state, to be put to work at the times. places and occupations that the state decides via an expanded Workfare arrangement.

And if it should be the case that many of these people will likely never work again is it acceptable that the rest of their lives will be spent in a form of indentured servitude whereby their labor is utilized by the state but they are paid well below market rates for that labor?

Edited by wonderpup

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You are taking a luddite view of the world. Unless you are thinking of moving to or starting your own Amish community you are unlikely to get much traction.

We are in a global market place and you're free to start up a company and decide how to use technology and employ people. If you make the business work, good on you, if you are really successful then your competition will start copying your business model.

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You can't limit technology and I don't know what the solution is to enforced idleness, but you don't need to be idle. Even if unemployed at home there are thousands of video's on Youtube where you can learn to do stuff.

Over 150 years they were having the same discussions, the Luddites which were violently suppressed. Skilled weavers were reduced to impoverishment due to the factory/automated system. However more people ended up finding work in the mills but it was much lower grade and less fulfilling.

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The History of every major Galactic Civilization tends to pass through three distinct and recognizable phases, those of Survival, Inquiry and Sophistication, otherwise known as the How, Why, and Where phases. For instance, the first phase is characterized by the question 'How can we eat?' the second by the question 'Why do we eat?' and the third by the question 'Where shall we have lunch?

Douglas Adams

In other words we're moving more and more to a service economy and the OP is redundant - both conditions may be met

Edited by Si1

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In a fair society you would cater for both. The UK is the leading centre for F1 which like it or loath the sport is probably as high tech as you can get and I guess most of the employees are the best in their field eg Adrian Newey. Yesterday saw a Remploy factory close with 2,000 disabled workers lose their jobs. Two people apparently have found new positions. Remploy never made a profit but did make useful products and provided a meaningful life for the people employed using basic manual labour. My guess is that the vast majority of the ex-Remploy workers will never work again and suffer from depression etc. F1 and high tech can make money and companies like Remploy never will but in the past we as a society felt a need to provide work for all even if they needed a sudsidy. Now we have a new society and any social awareness has basically gone and we will have a situation where the 'clever' will be employed and can demand higher pay and the not so 'clever' will be ground down or given workfare. It seems that we have regressed to a Victorian society with the rich and clever having some control of their lives with the rest being pushed around by the state; workfare and zero hours.

Was remploy not effectively a workfare scheme?

Edited by Si1

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Why do you keep posting the same thing over and over again with minor variations?

Sommat to do init

The question contains an implicit assumption that is false, namely that advancing technology removes jobs.

Its a peculiar habit this starting with incorrect assumptions and then applying pseudo logic to somehow stagger to predetermined conclusions. To insert an incorrect initial assumption into the thread title is impressive at least.

I will now hear how it is 'self evident' that the incorrect initial assumption is in fact true, and at this point I pre-empt any further entanglement with irrational babble by drawing my sole contribution to a close.

On you go. :P

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. My guess is that the cost to society (financial and morally) will be much higher now the ex-Remploy people are on the scrap heap watching daytime TV rather than actually producing something ..

As I understand it the subsidy is being reused to promote and subsidise disable workers integrated into normal workplaces

The intention of this is that it will benefit a greater number of the disabled for the same subsidy

Sorry that's O.T.

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Sommat to do init

The question contains an implicit assumption that is false, namely that advancing technology removes jobs.

Its a peculiar habit this starting with incorrect assumptions and then applying pseudo logic to somehow stagger to predetermined conclusions. To insert an incorrect initial assumption into the thread title is impressive at least.

I will now hear how it is 'self evident' that the incorrect initial assumption is in fact true, and at this point I pre-empt any further entanglement with irrational babble by drawing my sole contribution to a close.

On you go. :P

[strawman]

So in other words you want to kill the poor?

[/strawman]

Edited by Si1

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In a fair society you would cater for both. The UK is the leading centre for F1 which like it or loath the sport is probably as high tech as you can get and I guess most of the employees are the best in their field eg Adrian Newey. Yesterday saw a Remploy factory close with 2,000 disabled workers lose their jobs. Two people apparently have found new positions. Remploy never made a profit but did make useful products and provided a meaningful life for the people employed using basic manual labour. My guess is that the vast majority of the ex-Remploy workers will never work again and suffer from depression etc. F1 and high tech can make money and companies like Remploy never will but in the past we as a society felt a need to provide work for all even if they needed a sudsidy. Now we have a new society and any social awareness has basically gone and we will have a situation where the 'clever' will be employed and can demand higher pay and the not so 'clever' will be ground down or given workfare. It seems that we have regressed to a Victorian society with the rich and clever having some control of their lives with the rest being pushed around by the state; workfare and zero hours.

Does F1 make money? For Bernie Ecclestone alone, maybe.

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[strawman]

So in other words you want to kill the poor?

[/strawman]

You have it back-to-front. Debt comes first then technology is created to utilise it productively. The measure of success in this enterprise is what we call 'progress' and when this fails we get insolvency, ruin and extinction.

http://www.telegraph...of-Britain.html

Harsh truths about the decline of Britain

All the indicators of progress are heading in the wrong direction, and time is running out

It has become something of a cliché that the next generation is the first in history likely to be less well off than its parents. The same thing is said in all periods of prolonged economic pessimism, only to be proved spectacularly wrong. However dark it gets, somehow or other, the march of progress always reasserts itself. Yet nothing is ever guaranteed, and there may be more reasons for such declinist thinking in Britain today than at any stage in the last century. From the cost of living to standards of health and education, virtually all the measures by which we track economic progress are going sharply into reverse.

Our nation stands on the cusp of potentially catastrophic relative decline, with perhaps one last chance, measured only in years, to turn things around. Growth has returned, but it won't be sustained without urgent action to arrest myriad failings in our midst.

Exhibit A: living standards. Analysis released by the Office for National Statistics this week shows that disposable income as a whole has risen somewhat since the start of the crisis – but this is entirely accounted for by population growth, lower interest rates and higher employment. Real income per household is going backwards, and is now no higher than it was 10 years ago. Already, this appears to be the longest peacetime hiatus in living standards of the modern age.

Exhibit B: more and more of our income is absorbed by basic essentials. Down the ages, we have had to spend ever less of our time and income keeping body and soul together. This has given us more time for leisure, and more money for discretionary spending, creating a virtuous circle of economic growth.

The ONS analysis shows that we are now going the other way. The amount of our income accounted for by “essentials” – housing, water, sewerage, energy bills and fuel – has risen over a decade from 19.9 per cent to 27.3 per cent. Once food is taken into account, the numbers are more striking still. Cumulative inflation as measured by the Consumer Prices Index – the yardstick used by the Bank of England – has been roughly 30 per cent. Yet the Tullett Prebon Essentials Index – which takes in most of the necessities of modern living – has gone up by more than 60 per cent. Consumers’ discretionary spending has been eroded even more severely than that fall in disposable income suggests.

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No, but we need to limit population growth to avoid armageddon. Trouble is there doesn't appear to be a system in place to encourage this so it's never discussed.

If the SHTF i'm the man if you want to go all out, was totally ruthless at populous on the Amiga and AOE II on the PC circa 2000 multi-link, total annihilation.:huh:

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Clearly these two imperatives are not always compatible- for every gain in efficiency there is a reduction in need for labor- and in many cases the primary USP of a given innovation is it's labor saving application.

Yes. And this is how we make progress. Were it not for that gain in efficiency and corresponding reduction in need for labour, we'd all be in the fields for 16 hours a day growing enough food to feed our immediate families, and ever so often slapping another layer of mud on the hut.

The development of technology reduces the need for labour, which in turn frees up that labour to do other things, less necessary things - be they high-tech, artistic, whimsical - in turn, some of these things become automated, which frees up the labour to do other things.

There's nearly limitless possibility in what people can do, even the disabled or the not-very-bright can do a very great many things - the challenge is finding which of them somebody else is prepared to pay you to do. Failing finding any such thing, you're back where you started: there's always demand for labour in the fields (hence levels of low-skilled immigration). It's a wonderful circle. Trying to cut it off, to haul the ladder up behind you, will only result in it unravelling completely and devastating us all.

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Was remploy not effectively a workfare scheme?

Not at all. They were proper jobs. I had some dealings with a local Remploy factory making circuit boards selling home and abroad. Useful work, giving a sense of worth, community and value. As usual an organisation top-heavy with management and associated costs. Some factories continue with private (government supported investment). I imagine these sites might be worth quite a bit.

As for the OP, the problem is a mind-set that doesn't allow less work and more leisure on the back of these technologically-driven productivity advances. Old thinking and too many demands on the taxpayer. Decades ago technology would lead to the leisure society, which doesn't fit with the #hardworkingpeople meme.

Citizens income. An assault on living costs and liberating people to find worthy work has to happen at some point as technology makes us less needed.

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You have it back-to-front. Debt comes first then technology is created to utilise it productively.

No I have it the right way found, and I don't particularly disagree with this isolated sentence if yours

Without a token of exchange ie money , there could be no or little division of labour

And paper money is by definition a form of debt

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Not at all. They were proper jobs. I had some dealings with a local Remploy factory making circuit boards selling home and abroad. Useful work, giving a sense of worth, community and value. As usual an organisation top-heavy with management and associated costs. Some factories continue with private (government supported investment). I imagine these sites might be worth quite a bit.

As for the OP, the problem is a mind-set that doesn't allow less work and more leisure on the back of these technologically-driven productivity advances. Old thinking and too many demands on the taxpayer. Decades ago technology would lead to the leisure society, which doesn't fit with the #hardworkingpeople meme.

Citizens income. An assault on living costs and liberating people to find worthy work has to happen at some point as technology makes us less needed.

The technology will benefit those that own the means of production.

The unemployed will benefit only to the limited extent that they can buy the produce.

Without capital, the unemployed will find it hard to embark on new ventures.

Technology will make the rich richer.

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The technology will benefit those that own the means of production.

And, in the future, the 'means of production' will be in your home, not a massive factory.

Leftyism is an absurd, industrial-era anachronism in an era of cheap computers and 3D printers.

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Among the most viable of all economic delusions is the belief that machines... create unemployment.

Every day each of us in his own capacity [tries] to reduce the effort it requires to accomplish a given result. Every employer... seeks constantly to gain his results more economically and efficiently. Every intelligent workman tries to cut down the effort necessary to accomplish his assigned job. The technophobes, if they were logical and consistent, would have to dismiss all this progress and ingenuity as not only useless but vicious.'

Suppose a clothing manufacturer... installs [machines to make overcoats] and drops half his labor force. This looks at first glance like a clear loss of employment. But the machine itself required labor to make it [though] still a net loss of employment [even if] usually only in the long run. [in due course] the clothing manufacturer has more profits than before. The manufacturer must use these extra profits in at least one of three ways... (1) he will use the extra profits to expand... (2) he will invest... in some other industry; or (3) he will spend the extra profits on increasing his own consumption. Whichever... will increase employment.

But the matter does not [end there]. [C]ompetition and production will... force down the price of overcoats. The savings [will] be passed along to... the consumers.

This will mean either more overcoats are sold over all (increasing employment in that industry again), or the consumers will spend less of their money on overcoats over all, giving them more money to spend on other goods and services.

t is a misconception to think of the function... of machines as primarily one of creating jobs. The real result... is to increase production, to raise the standard of living, to increase economic welfare.

It is no trick to employ everybody... in the most primitive economy. Full employment--very full employment; long, weary, back-breaking employment--is characteristic of precisely the nations that are most retarded industrially. Where full employment already exists, new machines, inventions and discoveries cannot--until there has been time for an increase in population--bring more employment. They are likely to bring more unemployment (but... I am speaking of voluntary and not involuntary unemployment) because people can now afford to work fewer hours, while children and the over-aged no longer need to work.

I'll leave it as an exercise to the reader to guess who I'm quoting. :)

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Would you mind awfully if I introduced the concept of the Citizens' Income at this juncture?

I know what you mean. I'm a supporter, but I'd hate to see it hijack another thread. Nevertheless, it's the best solution to a post-full-employment society.

The alternatives are either:

  • Perpetual growth, not out of necessity, but because the system allows nothing else

  • An underclass paid a pittance to perform menial tasks for the rich

The endgame of either of the above scenarios is not pretty.

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High tech areas of the economy are awash with unfilled positions, unfortunately almost no-one under 35 who has been educated in Britain in primary and secondary education has any chance of getting one of these jobs as the education system has failed them, they have at best knowledge but no understanding, and that knowledge has generally been forgotten as they learnt in a modular way. Luckily there are still enough international applicants to keep things moving, but if UKIP got there way high tech industries would be starved of new talent.

Edited by admann

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