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Technology and Unemployment

douglas

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Good Afternoon,
I'm interested in what my fellow DP'ers think about the effects of Technology on Unemployment. With respect to the Luddite Fallacy, Technological unemployment - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia , it's long been thought that technology increases employment, or atleast has no direct effect on unemployment. But, since the digital age, it seems that Neo-Luddism seems to have some validity. Essentially, previous technological advances led to more physical goods, which required more labor to process. But, new technological advances are decreasing the physical component of productivity, so there's less physical labor required due to that productivity. This is my take on neo-luddism; technological advances used to be periodic enough that the market could absorb the change by allowing for a smooth transition from one industry to the other. But, recent technology is advancing at such an accelerated rate, industries are just collapsing. That, coupled with the replacement of many goods and services with digital equivalents, has led to a reversal of the Luddite Fallacy.

Belief in Luddism as a Fallacy has been an economic axiom since the 19th century, so there are plenty of economic text books that completely say I'm wrong. I feel that doesn't do Neo-Luddism justice, though, since we've only been embracing the digital age for 2 generations or so. Is it time to switch our thinking and acknowledge that automation IS leading to unemployment?

As a believer in the theories of Utopian Socialism, I have always believed against the Luddite Fallacy; I believe that low-skill jobs are quickly dying out because of automation and it will lead to an economic collapse. But, I'm realizing that this is more of a controversial issue than I thought. So, what are you're thoughts on this topic; Does modern technology in capitalism lead to unemployment or new jobs?

Thank you.
 

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It depends on whether you are speaking globally or about the US I think. The labor market is increasingly becoming globalized when it comes to manufacturing. The problem with technology is that any jobs created are not likely to be in the same places where the jobs they destroy are located. I heard somewhere about a business in Asia that makes small electric motors. That is all they do. They have basically cornered the market. Most every device that has a small motor in it has a motor that originates from this one business. There are arguments for and against this kind of concentration of production, but it nonetheless exists.
 

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As a believer in the theories of Utopian Socialism, I have always believed against the Luddite Fallacy; I believe that low-skill jobs are quickly dying out because of automation and it will lead to an economic collapse. But, I'm realizing that this is more of a controversial issue than I thought. So, what are you're thoughts on this topic; Does modern technology in capitalism lead to unemployment or new jobs?
Thank you.
Classifying yourself as a "believer" leads me to believe you're making such claims based on belief, and not reason. More like a religion than a science. Believe, believe, believe, it's all over your post. Strange that you believe in something that has no evidence, utopian socialism, and reject the luddite fallacy which is based on years of evidence.
 

Sisyphus

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Good Afternoon,
I'm interested in what my fellow DP'ers think about the effects of Technology on Unemployment. With respect to the Luddite Fallacy, Technological unemployment - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia , it's long been thought that technology increases employment, or atleast has no direct effect on unemployment. But, since the digital age, it seems that Neo-Luddism seems to have some validity. Essentially, previous technological advances led to more physical goods, which required more labor to process. But, new technological advances are decreasing the physical component of productivity, so there's less physical labor required due to that productivity. This is my take on neo-luddism; technological advances used to be periodic enough that the market could absorb the change by allowing for a smooth transition from one industry to the other. But, recent technology is advancing at such an accelerated rate, industries are just collapsing. That, coupled with the replacement of many goods and services with digital equivalents, has led to a reversal of the Luddite Fallacy.

Belief in Luddism as a Fallacy has been an economic axiom since the 19th century, so there are plenty of economic text books that completely say I'm wrong. I feel that doesn't do Neo-Luddism justice, though, since we've only been embracing the digital age for 2 generations or so. Is it time to switch our thinking and acknowledge that automation IS leading to unemployment?

As a believer in the theories of Utopian Socialism, I have always believed against the Luddite Fallacy; I believe that low-skill jobs are quickly dying out because of automation and it will lead to an economic collapse. But, I'm realizing that this is more of a controversial issue than I thought. So, what are you're thoughts on this topic; Does modern technology in capitalism lead to unemployment or new jobs?

Thank you.
I think it'll replace mundane and repetitive tasks, producing many of the products we buy with greater consistency/quality at lower prices due to lower cost-to-produce. Meanwhile, it eliminates some jobs and creates others. And more importantly, it's unstoppable and thus is what it is. So rave of whine, it'll continue to plod along.
 

douglas

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Classifying yourself as a "believer" leads me to believe you're making such claims based on belief, and not reason. More like a religion than a science. Believe, believe, believe, it's all over your post. Strange that you believe in something that has no evidence, utopian socialism, and reject the luddite fallacy which is based on years of evidence.
All economic theories are based on belief, they're theories because you can't prove them. You can't "prove" that capitalism is better than socialism, because that's just a theory. So, yes I fully admit that it's a belief rather than a fact, just like all economic theories. What "evidence" could I show you for a society that doesn't exist yet? I BELIEVE that Utopian Socialism is the best way to do the most good, because of the problems I see in capitalism. I want people to criticize my proposal, so that we can fix the problems while it's still on paper. But, I posit that just because Socialism has failed over Capitalism doesn't make it "wrong", it just means we implemented Socialism wrong. Look at any invention or social movement; they all have had numerous false starts and failed attempts. So, I'm not telling you that Socialism is better, I'm asking you how to make it work. But, that's a tangent; the question I asked was just about Neo-Luddism and technological unemployment. (Maybe we should make a Socialist Utopia thread?)

My problem with the Luddite Fallacy is that we're assuming that it's true. That's bad science, you should never just accept a theory as an absolute fact. My question is about the digital technological advances; the advances that the Luddites criticized have been relatively similar for the first century since their theory was deemed a fallacy. More and more jobs are going to industries that don't actually create a physical product, and I'm proposing that this is leading to a reversal of the Luddite Fallacy. Part of my question is whether or not we should accept the first century or so of evidence for the Luddite Fallacy, since that technology just increased physical production and ours seems to be going towards a different direction.

Here's a graph of what I mean;
Untitled.jpg
Maybe we could use these letters to help debate. (For example, I'd be a 'D')
 

douglas

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I think it'll replace mundane and repetitive tasks, producing many of the products we buy with greater consistency/quality at lower prices due to lower cost-to-produce. Meanwhile, it eliminates some jobs and creates others. And more importantly, it's unstoppable and thus is what it is. So rave of whine, it'll continue to plod along.
Although I agree for the most part, the issue is whether it creates more jobs than it eliminates. Although you're right in saying that our raving and whining won't stop it from just going about it's own way, it's not unstoppable. A rock dropped off the side of a cliff will continue to pick up speed as it falls, until it hits the bottom and shatters.
 

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Although I agree for the most part, the issue is whether it create more jobs than it eliminates. Although you're right in saying that our raving and whining won't stop it from just going about it's own way, it's not unstoppable. A rock dropped off the side of a cliff will continue to pick up speed as it falls, until it hits the bottom and shatters.
From an academic standpoint, perhaps. But it's happening and will happen; and nothing we can do will stop it, nor should we if we want to be a leader, globally; and not hide behind a Chinese Wall and let the world beyond far surpass us. Get real.

And we can easily create jobs at any time, if we had half a brain: tax and spend (spend collectively); raise the median income (spend individually). That's the life blood of a consumer economy; plus jobs scale to demand and little else. Create any product you wish; it's whether there are customers for it that will determine the level of reward your effort will yield. Triple your effort in Sierra Leone, and your reward will be virtually nill. So we have to create an environment that can drive us to near full employment, by funding needed government programs and working to drive wages higher, with wage minimums, tougher overtime pay laws, and other things we can to raise the value of the market sufficient to creating needed jobs.

Scapegoating tech is merely a lame diversion from the real problem of low wages, and reduced per capita consumption.
 

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All economic theories are based on belief, they're theories because you can't prove them. You can't "prove" that capitalism is better than socialism, because that's just a theory. So, yes I fully admit that it's a belief rather than a fact, just like all economic theories.
Oh I don't mean belief in the theory itself, that's really moot. I mean belief in what the application of that theory in reality leads to. You have admitted socialism tested has failed. Yet capitalism apparently has been a resounding, ongoing, growing success. That you believe the one that has failed (or even has not yet been tested), is therefore best, is what's the issue. Notice that even if you think it hasn't been tested, the claim that it's better is still absurd because it still lacks reasonable evidence. That's not a reasoned belief. A reasoned belief is that socialism fails when implemented, and capitalism thrives. You may have moral or ethical objections to capitalism, but in every case contrasted to the socialist experiments, it's not even close, it's crazy that I'd even have to point that out.

What "evidence" could I show you for a society that doesn't exist yet? I BELIEVE that Utopian Socialism is the best way to do the most good, because of the problems I see in capitalism.
You are very eloquently justifying my own position (welcome to DP and nice to have a "discussion" with you by the way).
Exactly, if you can't provide evidence for it, no matter the reason, then you should not be sold on claiming it's better!
Second, if your only justification for X, is your perceived problems of Y, that's exactly how you get into this mess of pushing for socialism, because you are NOT comparing capitalism flaws to the flaws in socialism. As it turns out, the socialist flaws are catastrophic (historically), or non-existent, depending on how you try and argue it. In EITHER case, it doesn't demonstrate anything better over capitalism....



the question I asked was just about Neo-Luddism and technological unemployment. (Maybe we should make a Socialist Utopia thread?)My problem with the Luddite Fallacy is that we're assuming that it's true. That's bad science, you should never just accept a theory as an absolute fact. My question is about the digital technological advances; the advances that the Luddites criticized have been relatively similar for the first century since their theory was deemed a fallacy. More and more jobs are going to industries that don't actually create a physical product, and I'm proposing that this is leading to a reversal of the Luddite Fallacy. Part of my question is whether or not we should accept the first century or so of evidence for the Luddite Fallacy, since that technology just increased physical production and ours seems to be going towards a different direction.
Who is assuming this though? And what actions are taken on this "assumption"? I'm not sure I can get past that. And who is "accepting it as absolute fact"? The evidence it would take to trump something that has a long established history of evidence in its favor, would likely need to be of either an extraordinarily high standard (like a math proof or some outrageously ironclad study with no real opposition), or it would also need to have an equally long history of evidence to support it should change.

This isn't really about the Luddite fallacy in that regard, it's really about your own perception of these concepts and these perceived problems. We could replace Luddite Fallacy with nearly any other similar concept in any field, and I think your reasoning would be weak for the same reasons.

This sort of reasoning also has the stigma of appearing prophetic rather than reasoned. I mean, each decade the labor folks are harping on it, and each decade it's demonstrated to be wrong. So just keep moving it up, 2000, why not 2040, why not 2100? You do understand that no no really, it's THIS decade that it's wrong! Honestly! I have no EVIDENCE this is the case, but if coincidentally we do lose jobs, I can then claim "see there! I was right! I knew it all along! Listen to me!."

Your unverified issues with capitalism do not magically become evidence for opposing the Luddite Fallacy. Despite how much you have faith in it.
 

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The Luddite Fallacy is based on the assumption that demand is unlimited. I suspect that's not totally true.

First off, there are only so many cars, houses, tvs that we can utilize at a time. If demand was unlimited, the super rich would litterally own thousands of cars, houses, and tvs. The reason that they don't spend every penny that they have is because demand is not unlimited. Eventually, we will get to the point where demand for physical items has been virtually all filled.

Second, as populations get richer, they tend to plateau in population. We are already seeing this in many countries. Without our population growing infinately, and with the knowledge that not everyone wishes to spend every dime that they get, demand can not be unlimited.

Thirdly, one of the things that we demand is leisure time. Although there are certainly lots of work-a-holics, and spend-a-holics, most of us enjoy time that we don't spend working, and desire more leisure time. Probably 98% of our population, if offered the choice between two identical jobs with identical compensation, would accept the one that requires the lesser number of work hours.

Certainly one of the largest issues that will be facing mankind during the next few hundred years will be how to distribute the fruits of our technology so that everyone has a livable income, and finding a way to maximize the quality of life for the vast majority of us. Sure, there will always be some jobs, but I believe that as technology continues to advance, we will ultimately be able to produce virtually everything that everyone wants, with so few workers that there will not be enough 40 hr/wk jobs that every family can have one.

So we will have to restructure our income system, in some form or another. We could either continue to expand our welfare state, and eventually get to the point where we have just a few workers working full time, who pay huge amounts of taxes so that everyone else can sponge off of them, or we will have masses of extreme poverty and income disparity that is inconcievable, or we will live in a society similar to the Jetsons, where every family only had one worker, and in the Jetsons family George was the worker and worked 3 hours a day, one day a week. I find the third option the most appealing.
 

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You have admitted socialism tested has failed. Yet capitalism apparently has been a resounding, ongoing, growing success. That you believe the one that has failed (or even has not yet been tested), is therefore best, is what's the issue. Notice that even if you think it hasn't been tested, the claim that it's better is still absurd because it still lacks reasonable evidence. That's not a reasoned belief. A reasoned belief is that socialism fails when implemented, and capitalism thrives. You may have moral or ethical objections to capitalism, but in every case contrasted to the socialist experiments, it's not even close, it's crazy that I'd even have to point that out.
Historically, socialism has been a great failure, we definitely agree on that. My issue is highlighted above; it's failed as implemented. Every previous attempt was essentially just countrywide slavery with a dictatorship; everybody works, nobody benefits. Socialist Utopia shares little with that other than the first part of its name. In a Utopia, Nobody works, and everbody benefits (excepting the necessity of volunteerism). I don't think it's unreasonable to separate my idea completely from historical socialism; the previous attempts shouldn't be used as evidence against Socialism, and certaingly not Utopian Socialism, which isn't the same thing. There's a stigma around the word "socialism" and I wish I could separate my proposal from it (I think I'll try to just call it "Utopianism" from now on). But, I do question the stigma; most people would be horribly upset if we took away their Social Security, or Medicaid/Medicare, or toll-free roads. We don't have a laissez-faire capitalism, we've already implemented some socialist ideas.


You are very eloquently justifying my own position (welcome to DP and nice to have a "discussion" with you by the way).
Exactly, if you can't provide evidence for it, no matter the reason, then you should not be sold on claiming it's better!
Second, if your only justification for X, is your perceived problems of Y, that's exactly how you get into this mess of pushing for socialism, because you are NOT comparing capitalism flaws to the flaws in socialism. As it turns out, the socialist flaws are catastrophic (historically), or non-existent, depending on how you try and argue it. In EITHER case, it doesn't demonstrate anything better over capitalism....
Thank you for the discussion, I appreciate your ideas. I'm hoping for constructive criticism, not a forum of yes-men, so I think I'm in the right place. I'm not claiming that my idea is better, I just think it could be. Philosophically, I can not accept that our current system is perfect. When it comes to my justification for supporting Utopianism, I agree that it's not fair to just use the failings of Capitalism as a reason to support a different system. It's the Gambler's Fallacy; If I crack a rock open, and there's nothing inside, it doesn't mean the next rock must have gold in it.


Who is assuming this though? And what actions are taken on this "assumption"? I'm not sure I can get past that. And who is "accepting it as absolute fact"? The evidence it would take to trump something that has a long established history of evidence in its favor, would likely need to be of either an extraordinarily high standard (like a math proof or some outrageously ironclad study with no real opposition), or it would also need to have an equally long history of evidence to support it should change.

This isn't really about the Luddite fallacy in that regard, it's really about your own perception of these concepts and these perceived problems. We could replace Luddite Fallacy with nearly any other similar concept in any field, and I think your reasoning would be weak for the same reasons.
I feel that most people who are for the free-market or laissez-faire capitalism are accepting these kind of theories. I've never seen any mathematical proof for or against the Luddite Fallacy. But, the evidence for a theory doesn't make it true; we thought the earth was the center of the universe for thousands of years. It could be some minute flaw in the way we interpreted the previous data that makes our theory entirely invalid. Part of the reason I started this thread was to see if anyone had evidence I didn't know about. I fully acknowledge that most economists are NOT going to agree with me.

This sort of reasoning also has the stigma of appearing prophetic rather than reasoned. I mean, each decade the labor folks are harping on it, and each decade it's demonstrated to be wrong. So just keep moving it up, 2000, why not 2040, why not 2100? You do understand that no no really, it's THIS decade that it's wrong! Honestly! I have no EVIDENCE this is the case, but if coincidentally we do lose jobs, I can then claim "see there! I was right! I knew it all along! Listen to me!."
I know that I can sound like a doomsday preacher. The issue is the same as belief for global warming; most scientists/ecologists believe in it, but it's the same sort of logic. We've never actually had a global climate shift due to humanity, does that mean the theory has no evidence? I plan on doing a small study on some of the failures of socialistic and capitalistic societies and see what sort of pattern based evidence I can come up with. I hope people understand that I don't actually think capitalism will fail any time soon; I'm just wary of people that think there's always going to be enough of everything.

Your unverified issues with capitalism do not magically become evidence for opposing the Luddite Fallacy. Despite how much you have faith in it.
I blame modern capitalism for unemployment (something that doesn't happen in socialism, communism, or utopianism), squandering resources, and creating a consumerism cycle. There are ways to fix it in capitalism, don't get me wrong, I just don't trust these fixes to last. An alternative to Utopianism that I've proposed before is just more transparency. For example, if we had every company post data on how many jobs they've made or lost and some index of how "green" they are, we could use capitalism to force unethical businesses out of the market. But, I feel that modern capitalism has a great incentive for companies to exploit their workers, the environment, and their country.
 

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Historically, socialism has been a great failure, we definitely agree on that. My issue is highlighted above; it's failed as implemented. Every previous attempt was essentially just countrywide slavery with a dictatorship; everybody works, nobody benefits. Socialist Utopia shares little with that other than the first part of its name. In a Utopia, Nobody works, and everbody benefits (excepting the necessity of volunteerism). I don't think it's unreasonable to separate my idea completely from historical socialism; the previous attempts shouldn't be used as evidence against Socialism, and certaingly not Utopian Socialism, which isn't the same thing. There's a stigma around the word "socialism" and I wish I could separate my proposal from it (I think I'll try to just call it "Utopianism" from now on). But, I do question the stigma; most people would be horribly upset if we took away their Social Security, or Medicaid/Medicare, or toll-free roads. We don't have a laissez-faire capitalism, we've already implemented some socialist ideas.




Thank you for the discussion, I appreciate your ideas. I'm hoping for constructive criticism, not a forum of yes-men, so I think I'm in the right place. I'm not claiming that my idea is better, I just think it could be. Philosophically, I can not accept that our current system is perfect. When it comes to my justification for supporting Utopianism, I agree that it's not fair to just use the failings of Capitalism as a reason to support a different system. It's the Gambler's Fallacy; If I crack a rock open, and there's nothing inside, it doesn't mean the next rock must have gold in it.




I feel that most people who are for the free-market or laissez-faire capitalism are accepting these kind of theories. I've never seen any mathematical proof for or against the Luddite Fallacy. But, the evidence for a theory doesn't make it true; we thought the earth was the center of the universe for thousands of years. It could be some minute flaw in the way we interpreted the previous data that makes our theory entirely invalid. Part of the reason I started this thread was to see if anyone had evidence I didn't know about. I fully acknowledge that most economists are NOT going to agree with me.



I know that I can sound like a doomsday preacher. The issue is the same as belief for global warming; most scientists/ecologists believe in it, but it's the same sort of logic. We've never actually had a global climate shift due to humanity, does that mean the theory has no evidence? I plan on doing a small study on some of the failures of socialistic and capitalistic societies and see what sort of pattern based evidence I can come up with. I hope people understand that I don't actually think capitalism will fail any time soon; I'm just wary of people that think there's always going to be enough of everything.



I blame modern capitalism for unemployment (something that doesn't happen in socialism, communism, or utopianism), squandering resources, and creating a consumerism cycle. There are ways to fix it in capitalism, don't get me wrong, I just don't trust these fixes to last. An alternative to Utopianism that I've proposed before is just more transparency. For example, if we had every company post data on how many jobs they've made or lost and some index of how "green" they are, we could use capitalism to force unethical businesses out of the market. But, I feel that modern capitalism has a great incentive for companies to exploit their workers, the environment, and their country.
I'm a huge supporter of capitalism, although I do recognize that it has it's flaws. I think that we can correct these flaws with government intervention (laws, sensible taxation policies, some limited socialism/socialistic policies, worker/consumer protections, etc.), and have a form of capitalism that can last forever. We're not far from it right now, we just need to chunk the bad, and replace it with policies that work in today's world, and likely different policies in the future.
 

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I'm a huge supporter of capitalism, although I do recognize that it has it's flaws. I think that we can correct these flaws with government intervention (laws, sensible taxation policies, some limited socialism/socialistic policies, worker/consumer protections, etc.), and have a form of capitalism that can last forever. We're not far from it right now, we just need to chunk the bad, and replace it with policies that work in today's world, and likely different policies in the future.
I think it'll last for as long as we make it last. The problem with removing the bad parts is that they are the parts that have so much control over our government; The lobbying groups and stuff like that. I don't "hate" capitalism and think we can make it work better. If capitalism was regulated in a way that ensured universal prosperity, it'd be great. My problem with it is things like high CEO/Executive pay, resource wars, and unemployment; those sort of things are validated by capitalism. It seems that profit has replaced morality; a company is "good" because it's profitable. I have absolutely no problem with the most basic idea of paying people to work or using money as a measure of debt.

Socialism doesn't say that you can't pay people for capitalistic work. They just limit what money can buy; money can only buy services or goods, not capital, raw resources, or land (these are typically owned by the state). I see this as a way to limiting the super rich and exploitative corporations. In a properly implemented form of socialism, resources and land are distributed based on need. One of the flaws of Socialism is in determining that need, one of the reasons I think we need to go further towards Utopianism. In Utopianism, we'd use computers to determine need, which cuts alot of the corruption out of the equation. The main flaw of both Socialism and Capitalism is that it depends on humans to distribute wealth and determine what is "fair", along with outright corruption such as bribery and theft by those in power.
 

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My problem with it is things like high CEO/Executive pay, resource wars, and unemployment; those sort of things are validated by capitalism. It seems that profit has replaced morality; a company is "good" because it's profitable.
So then why toss out capitalism, when those things that you mentioned can be fixed much easier than bringing in more socialism? I actually agree with you about those things, and all of those issues that you mentioned can be resolved with tax policy.

What I am saying is that if we don't have the political willpower to correct specific issues, we surely don't have the political willpower to totally revamp our entire economic system.
 

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So then why toss out capitalism, when those things that you mentioned can be fixed much easier than bringing in more socialism? I actually agree with you about those things, and all of those issues that you mentioned can be resolved with tax policy.

What I am saying is that if we don't have the political willpower to correct specific issues, we surely don't have the political willpower to totally revamp our entire economic system.
promise people bread and circuses...err I mean free cable.....free stuff works wonders
 

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As a computer programmer, I'm convinced that technology is killing jobs. I've personally developed programs that eliminated scores (at least) of jobs and they didn't create jobs in some other area.
 

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As a computer programmer, I'm convinced that technology is killing jobs. I've personally developed programs that eliminated scores (at least) of jobs and they didn't create jobs in some other area.
. Absolutely

But in theory (assuming that increases in productivity improve everyone's life), what you did was to free people from the need to work (as much). Now if we could only figure out how to provide those people with an income adequate enough that they can afford to purchase the fruits of our aggregate productivity.
 

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. Absolutely

But in theory (assuming that increases in productivity improve everyone's life), what you did was to free people from the need to work (as much). Now if we could only figure out how to provide those people with an income adequate enough that they can afford to purchase the fruits of our aggregate productivity.
IMO, I freed the employer from having to employ so many people. In some cases, I freed their staff's time so they could concentrate on more productive endeavors, but in many cases, it just eliminated employees.

IMO, the loss of entry level jobs, in numbers sufficient to employ the people who are first entering the work force, will produce political pressure that forces the govt to take a more active role in employment.
 

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So then why toss out capitalism, when those things that you mentioned can be fixed much easier than bringing in more socialism? I actually agree with you about those things, and all of those issues that you mentioned can be resolved with tax policy.

What I am saying is that if we don't have the political willpower to correct specific issues, we surely don't have the political willpower to totally revamp our entire economic system.
I agree on both points. I'm not necessarily saying that we should toss out capitalism, since it would be easier to just fix the corruption than to change the system. But, there are some problems of modern capitalism that seem to arise from the system itself, not the way people are exploiting the system. For example, automation is a boon for Utopianism; each job lost is another person who doesn't need to work, it implies more prosperity. In capitalism, automation makes one man rich while it makes 100 men poor. Although our average quality of life has been increasing with capitalism, this isn't necessarily because of capitalism itself. If we could get the same benefits without making people work mundane jobs, it would be the ultimate increase in quality of life. I can't, for the life of me, understand how making a couple million Americans work at Walmart and McDonalds is a "good" thing for society.

It's companies like Walmart and other big box outlets, essentially middlemen, that I question for a different reason. They don't actually create resources, energy, refine goods, or perform a high-skilled service. They just buy things in bulk and then sell it in smaller amounts, for profit. From a resources standpoint, that profit shouldn't exist; the total amount of resources is the same, but total profit is higher, so GDP is higher. Could this be another source of inflation?

I really do think we can make capitalism work, it's been doing great for thousands of years, but that doesn't make it the best solution to our problems. I really don't know if Utopianism will ever work or if capitalism isn't the best solution possible, but I think it's worth a discussion. If we could find more evidence for or against either idea, we'd have a better idea of what the problems are and how to solve them.
 

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I agree on both points. I'm not necessarily saying that we should toss out capitalism, since it would be easier to just fix the corruption than to change the system. But, there are some problems of modern capitalism that seem to arise from the system itself, not the way people are exploiting the system. For example, automation is a boon for Utopianism; each job lost is another person who doesn't need to work, it implies more prosperity. In capitalism, automation makes one man rich while it makes 100 men poor. Although our average quality of life has been increasing with capitalism, this isn't necessarily because of capitalism itself. If we could get the same benefits without making people work mundane jobs, it would be the ultimate increase in quality of life. I can't, for the life of me, understand how making a couple million Americans work at Walmart and McDonalds is a "good" thing for society.
Working at Walmart and McDonalds isn't really a terrible lot in life though. I personally worked at McDonalds while I was in college, it's far more interesting and intellectually stimulating that most manufacturing production line jobs. It's not the work that is the issue - it's the compensation. Anyhow, even Walmart and McDonalds will need fewer employees in the future. Automated checkout systems, automated buggy pushing machines, automatic drink filling robots and self service areas are all resulting in fewer employees at these two companies. The McDonalds that I pass on my way to work litterally has a robot that picks up drink cups, places it under the dispenses and fills it to about three quarters full, waits a few seconds to the suds goes down and then tops it off. All the workers do is hand you the drink.

I imagine that very soon you will be able to place your order on a touch screen and pay, without ever having to speak to a real human being. I'm talking no need for cashiers at all.

It's companies like Walmart and other big box outlets, essentially middlemen, that I question for a different reason. They don't actually create resources, energy, refine goods, or perform a high-skilled service. They just buy things in bulk and then sell it in smaller amounts, for profit. From a resources standpoint, that profit shouldn't exist; the total amount of resources is the same, but total profit is higher, so GDP is higher. Could this be another source of inflation?
Retail markups are much lower than they used to be, and we have had middlemen for hundreds of years, so I really don't think that it has any thing to do with inflation. Retailers serve a very valuable function in society by creating a marketplace where you can shop for many of your needs in just one location, and they earn most every penny of what they make. Can you imagine how difficult your life would be if you had to personally seek out the manufacturer of every different product you purchase, and arrange for shipment of one can of beans, one tshirt, a coffee maker, and 36 other unique items that are in your Walmart buggy?

I really do think we can make capitalism work, it's been doing great for thousands of years, but that doesn't make it the best solution to our problems. I really don't know if Utopianism will ever work or if capitalism isn't the best solution possible, but I think it's worth a discussion. If we could find more evidence for or against either idea, we'd have a better idea of what the problems are and how to solve them.
Absolutely.
 

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it's my opinion that we're in the fist stages of a post labor economy. i'm not arguing that we should ditch technology, though. it's a sticky situation. right now, we can address it by building / revamping infrastructure and by redesigning our energy model. much of that is going to be public money, though, and it's going to be a big fight. if it continues long term, we simply aren't going to be able to keep people on the standard 40 hr week.

what can we do when that happens? i'd say free training for the jobs that we actually still need people to work is a good first step.
 

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it's my opinion that we're in the fist stages of a post labor economy. i'm not arguing that we should ditch technology, though. it's a sticky situation. right now, we can address it by building / revamping infrastructure and by redesigning our energy model. much of that is going to be public money, though, and it's going to be a big fight. if it continues long term, we simply aren't going to be able to keep people on the standard 40 hr week.

what can we do when that happens? i'd say free training for the jobs that we actually still need people to work is a good first step.
Yea, there are are series of steps that we can take that are logical, and create enough jobs that all families can have at least one.

At this stage, probably all we need to do is to increase demand, so tax cuts on lower incomes seem to be the logical step. I really can't see why anyone would object to that, on the right or the left, but for some reason, conservatives tend to think that only the rich need tax cuts.

But the next logical step might be something like time and a half for all hours worked over 35, then 30, then 25, etc.

Then possibly making our income tax system even more progressive than what we really need right now. Like no taxes on incomes up to the median income (GDP/workers = $125k), and then a flat tax on income above that level, as low as necessary to have a balanced budget.
 

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Yea, there are are series of steps that we can take that are logical, and create enough jobs that all families can have at least one.

At this stage, probably all we need to do is to increase demand, so tax cuts on lower incomes seem to be the logical step. I really can't see why anyone would object to that, on the right or the left, but for some reason, conservatives tend to think that only the rich need tax cuts.

But the next logical step might be something like time and a half for all hours worked over 35, then 30, then 25, etc.

Then possibly making our income tax system even more progressive than what we really need right now. Like no taxes on incomes up to the median income (GDP/workers = $125k), and then a flat tax on income above that level, as low as necessary to have a balanced budget.
The reason I oppose it is because they are too many ways for the wealthiest to avoid/defer taxes that are never addressed by just hiking up rates because it create a feel good illusion so all your plan does is balloon the debt.
 

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The reason I oppose it is because they are too many ways for the wealthiest to avoid/defer taxes that are never addressed by just hiking up rates because it create a feel good illusion so all your plan does is balloon the debt.
Then we close those ways. Just keep on making up excuses why we shouldn't cut taxes on the worker/consumer class.
 

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Then we close those ways. Just keep on making up excuses why we shouldn't cut taxes on the worker/consumer class.
Because it will bankrupt us faster is not an excuse. It is reality. One that you continue to deny.
 

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This kind of sums up my opinion on the matter:

One argument says that this time is different because soon robots will be able to do everything a human does. But it’s misguided to assume we can forecast what humans “will do.” What that statement really means is, “In the future, robots will do everything humans do today.” But what exactly it is that humans will do in the future is anyone’s guess—and few, if any, have ever successfully predicted it.

Robots Will Do Everything You Do Now Only Better
Who knows? Maybe one day production will be so cheap everything will be free or close to it and people can just sit around and **** all the time, or just pick a few cucumbers from their garden to sell when they need to replace a TV.
 
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