Open post from the commentariat.

Stogy asked:

Here’s a question for Rich or Blameme, Hal, Alex, CM or anyone else that wants to take it on. I’m really interested to know.

There is a widespread belief that our current employment model is about to come to an end, that about 50% of existing jobs will likely come to an end in the next few decades, and while there are likely to be some new jobs resulting from that process, this won’t nearly be enough to offset the imbalance.

How do you think society should deal with this, remembering that:

Will there be a lot of people who are “surplus” to global capitalism,
How do we keep incentive in society when money no longer works as it has until now?
If people are not engaged in production, then who will pay the wages, and how will people be able to buy anything? What will keep markets afloat?
What will happen to society if there will be a lot of people with nothing to do; people (particularly young men) with nothing to do is very likely to lead to violence, revolution, war (this is one reason given for the civil war in Syria, following a ten year drought leading to high unemployment in the cities).

So how should society cope? Should there be a basic minimum wage, paid by the government, to ensure there is a limit on consumption and that no-one starves? Or a kind of social Darwinism, leading to impoverishment and perhaps death for many?

Or do you think that this will not happen at all?

(Sorry if there are typos – need to post this and run!)

Actually this is a great topic, and while I am certain I know where what Stogy (and most of the left) leans on this issue, as well as the fact that their preferred solution again relies on something unsustainable, will lead us (complete societal collapse a-la USSR, with all the dark things that followed), I still think we should have this discussion.

Don’t say never did anything for you Stogy!

Comments are closed.

  1. Hal_10000

    I think this is going to be one of the biggest challenge of the next half century.  I’m not entirely convinced it’s going to happen.  But we should start thinking about it.

    A lot of people have talked about a universal basic income.  But the more I think about that, the less I like it.  People don’t just need money. People need to feel useful.  If you look at the discontent in this country, it’s not about money or poverty or anything like that.  it’s about jobs.  It’s about having a purpose.  It’s about feeling like you’re contributing to society.  My fear of the UBI is that will create generations of people who never work, who feel like they have no place in society and turn to drugs/crime.

    Matt Yglesias suggested one thing to help towns that are hurting because of closing factories — relocate government agencies there.  I think this a great idea.  In the age of the internet, there is absolutely no reason for all our federal agencies to crowd into the richest part of the country.

    I think streamlining regulation and making it easier for businesses to start (and fail) would be a big part, although a lot of that needs to happen on the local and state level.  Make it easy as pie for people to start the next uber.  Get rid of silly licensing schemes.  Make it possible to open a business with a single form and run them with minimal paperwork.

    It’s hard. But it’s not impossible. At one point, almost all Americans were farmers.  We transitioned to manufacturing and services.  Hopefully, we can transition again.

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  2. West Virginia Rebel

    Education and industry have not kept up with technology. Schools in particular are still relying on things like shop classes using methods that are decades old. There will still be skilled labor jobs that need humans, or where humans will be preferred because machines, even AIs, won’t have the human instincts required, so not everybody will be out of work, but competition for those jobs will be fierce.

    Some sort of income or at least a form of job insurance may be necessary at least in the short term for most people. There are simply too many people and there won’t be enough jobs to go around.

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  3. richtaylor365

    Hasn’t “current employment models” ebbed and flowed, started and stopped, since like people started working? Don’t current employment models change constantly every few decades? Since societies change, technologies advance, labor becomes more efficient, and those industries that can’t compete or become antiquated die off (the natural order of things) societies (and the people in them) that can best adapt to change and innovation will prosper over those that can’t (or don’t).

    I think streamlining regulation and making it easier for businesses to start (and fail) would be a big part, although a lot of that needs to happen on the local and state level.  Make it easy as pie for people to start the next uber.  Get rid of silly licensing schemes.  Make it possible to open a business with a single form and run them with minimal paperwork.

    All good stuff, but it’s even more than that. It starts with fostering a work ethic in the home, children learning by the example of their parents that there is value and worth in good honest work, that even doing a job you don’t like is necessary if that is all there is available (for now).

    Of course there should be a minimum wage, even a 2 tiered minimum wage accounting for teenagers and on the job training. But the minimum wage, like welfare, should be viewed as temporary only, not a permanent position.

    Reminding folks about the American Dream, that determination and hard work can open many doors and provide prosperity for millions.

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  4. InsipiD

    The idea that people will no longer have productive reasons to work and make money because nothing is worth them paying for is so silly that it’s not worth discussing.  If the economic explosion caused by the last 23 years of internet growth doesn’t demonstrate how the world adapts and creates new worth, I don’t know what could.  It’s an excuse to suggest good ol’ income redistribution to the lazy.

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  5. AlexInCT *

    The idea that people will no longer have productive reasons to work and make money because nothing is worth them paying for is so silly that it’s not worth discussing. 

    This.

    How are the class warfare types going to explain away the fact that those that are smart and capable enough to be employed will get and have more, while the masses see their buying power dwindle? Or is the idea to follow the old Soviet model where all labor (or lack there of) gets paid the same? Because that worked so well for them…

    Look up the discussion of the worth of the labor of Turd polisher vs that of a Medical Doctor for a clue.

    If the economic explosion caused by the last 23 years of internet growth doesn’t demonstrate how the world adapts and creates new worth, I don’t know what could. 

    You are missing the point. There are people that have an agenda and they certainly don’t want anything as mundane and gauche as reality getting in the way of creating socialist heaven on earth.

    My father once told me that the worst thing you could do to a human was to rob them of the dignity of being able to earn a living and thus, of having some degree of autonomy or self determination. Becoming beholden on others for a basic subsistence, while appealing to a lot of people, for whatever reason, is a recipe for disaster. Just look at blue model US urban areas, and especially those where minorities are a significant portion of the population, for a clue (Detroit, Baltimore, Chicago, Washington D.C, and so on).

    And have no doubt that the people pushing this basic pay thing, have and will make sure that it comes with strings attached to it. Conform or else…

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