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Thread: Technological Unemployment

  1. #1 Technological Unemployment 
    Forum Cosmic Wizard icewendigo's Avatar
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    So there are people that dont think technological unemployment is a reality.

    Lets establish the fact that new jobs are created by technology, new types of jobs, Im not saying that is not the case, and certainly its good and provides people with a greater array of activities.
    I'll also reiterate that I favor as much tech and automation as possible, and do not consider technology to be a problem, on the contrary, it highlights what is in my opinion
    the systemic problems of our archaic socio-economic system which uses money, hierarchy and secrecy, though in this case the way we use money and
    rely on a wage for it is the part that is highlighted as problematic.

    So tech creates new types of jobs. But, does it create unemployment?
    For tech to, not create unemployment, it would have to create as much or more jobs than it replaces.
    Does it? More than it replaces? Really?
    It appears to me, that a new technology of automation can create jobs over time, but make obsolete a Huge number of (now useless) jobs extremely rapidly.
    That is like being told you will get extra oxygen, after you are deprived of oxygen for 25 minutes, you would not agree to this because you would be dead.
    If jobs, viable jobs that generate "money" (which can nonetheless be totally, utterly, completely useless for society btw) are created gradually, and job loses take effect rapidly on a massive scale, you will have unemployment, for a time(with potential disastrous consequences because not only do these people rely on working to get the products and services society CAN produce anyway, but other people also rely on THEM to buy stuff, which can lead to a situation where the products are stagnating and available, from house, to food, to anything, while people are deprived because they are no longer needed to provide these products and services).

    You think there's no unemployment now? That the economy is tanking? Just imagine that useless jobs are eliminated by the millions and that jobs that can be automated would be, you think the economy is in a recession (or depression) now? Imagine if the millions of workers could be send to the unemployment lines and soup kitchens, there's no way in hell the technology would find "jobs" for all these people overnight, to me it is crystal clear the economy (of our outdated system) would completely collapse overnight, worse than the Great Depression.


    (On the other hand, if all the useless jobs and obsolete sectors were eliminated, and what was left was automated as much as possible, what would be left would probably imo require the equivalent of 2-3 days of work per week.)


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  3. #2  
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    (crickets chirping)


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  6. #5  
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    The points about technology changing the way we work and indeed the types of jobs that are now available is very valid here, also so to
    the point about the unemployment caused by obsoletion. Liked the oxygen analogy, it highlighted how people who have worked in specialised skilled jobs can find that because that skill is no longer required, or to a point the volume of a particular skill not being required, that their working
    career is effectively over.

    The reality is that we, through the use of technology and specialisation, are already well past the point of addressing need. By this I mean we are easily able to provide for each individual all the basic things required to live. We get better and more efficient at doing this all the time, but really the focus has for along time been on creating wealth, we create things that are not essential but are desirable to enhance and make more comfortable our lifestyles. In order to maintain employment levels and ensure people have jobs we have to balance increases in effeciency with increases in demand for higher living standards or increased complexity.

    The thing about achieving balance is that the process is never perfect and we always see peaks and troughs as a result, also what we will see over time is that work will become a less important part of our lives, for example today the average working week is your typical 9 to 5, 8 hours a day 5 days a week, basically 40 hours, go back a couple of centuries and we find many people working 12 to 15 hours a day 6 days a week. Much less of our time is now spent working and this trend is likely to continue as we strive for balance.

    Also being efficient through our technology allows us to spend time and effort in other areas that arn't essential to our survival, such as researching the world around us, exploring the oceans and staring up into the skies. Pursuits made entirely possible by the very same process that makes many of the skills of past obselete.

    This whole technologic cycle of advancement began when humans first came together to work collectively and has accelerated ever since. Long before the switch was made to farming, men and women lived and worked together as hunter gatherers, it meant that people didn't have to rely entirely on their own ability and laid the foundation for specialisation. When eventually humans did come to farming specialisation boomed, meaning that whole communities could be fed by the efforts of only a few skilled individuals, thus leaving the rest time to accomplish other things such as the creation of pottery and textiles. They in turn became specialised at doing so, requiring less of them to do it, thus the cycle again continued with more man hours available for other accomplishments. This has pretty much been the corner stone of human history and how we have come be so utterly dominant as a species. We have ruthlessly exploited the abilities of individuals within our species to increase our control over our enviroment and passed along the skills learnt along the way from one generation to another.

    The process has led us all through much change along the way and has meant that we all have to be much adaptable today in the modern age than any time previously in history. It means that much of the reliance on specialisation that has helped us along the way is no longer required in individual workers, the skill and levels of precision today are no where nere that of yesteryear. But they arn't needed, in the information age specialisation is rapidly becoming a thing of the past and adaptability and multitasking are now seen as the way of the future. Whilst certainly it means that obsoletion in the volume of many skills will continue it also means that future generations of workers will be trained to able to do many different kinds of work, and the precision will be handled by the technology. New workers will be adaptable, if they are trained for one particular skill that does become obselete they will be able to adapt to working in new ways with new methods.

    What this all means is that we are seeing changes taking place, changes because how fast technology is moving us forward, changes because of the information available to all of us. Also the impact of women in the work place is helping to change the way we all work for the better, tradionally segregated work enviroments are now opening up to make for a far healthier society. What it means is that there is no longer the same societal pressures along gender lines to conform to a particular role or lifestyle meaning that both men and women a more freely available to best utilize their particular ambitions, desires and skills to best effect and thus lead happier and more fulfilling lives, whether that be at home raising a family or in the workplace.

    On balance I think the changes we have, are and will still see are for the best and enrich our lives, but yes their will be casualties along the way, but to help these people we have welfare systems, not perfect I know but at least we have something in place to help those that indeed do lose their jobs in the name of progress.

    So yes technology can create unemployment but it also helps us lead more enjoyable lives.
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    Certain technologies remove very little employment.
    For example: mobile phones and smart-phones.
    There is a massive industry behind smart-phones; an industry that didn't exist 20 years ago.
    And I can't think of any jobs that would be lost from the creation of the smart-phone.

    But there are also certain technologies that removed more jobs than they created (e.g. robotics).

    Whether the balance of these technologies is positive or negative will be difficult to calculate and near-impossible to guess.

    There is an additional complication when looking at what technology does to jobs.
    My job is writing software.
    Software (good software) makes work easier and quicker.
    This means people can do more.

    But my software has never caused someone to be laid-off.
    Because there were additional things that they could now do: customer care improved; there was time to produce more KPI's; people were more proactive and less reactive; etc.
    So, something that (at face value) looks like it should reduce jobs, actually doesn't.

    But we have had several decades of fast technological advancement.
    Perhaps if someone can find out how many jobs existed in 1980/1990/2000/2010 we could see if 'jobs per person' is increasing or decreasing?
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    I think technology, although it causes some forms of employment ot become obsolete, also creates other forms of employment. A person I know had a VHS business and was doing great, and then came along CD technology, and he failed to learn to advance and go with the flow and then had no job. I don't think it was the CD technology that was the problem, I think it was the inability to recognize that all things change and we need to continue to grow and learn to keep up.
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  9. #8  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ascended View Post

    .......So yes technology can create unemployment but it also helps us lead more enjoyable lives.
    Those of us who have not been forced into the bread line by it? jocular
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  10. #9  
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    Quote Originally Posted by icewendigo View Post
    So there are people that dont think technological unemployment is a reality.

    Lets establish the fact that new jobs are created by technology, new types of jobs, Im not saying that is not the case, and certainly its good and provides people with a greater array of activities.
    I'll also reiterate that I favor as much tech and automation as possible, and do not consider technology to be a problem, on the contrary, it highlights what is in my opinion
    the systemic problems of our archaic socio-economic system which uses money, hierarchy and secrecy, though in this case the way we use money and
    rely on a wage for it is the part that is highlighted as problematic.

    So tech creates new types of jobs. But, does it create unemployment?
    For tech to, not create unemployment, it would have to create as much or more jobs than it replaces.
    Does it? More than it replaces? Really?
    It appears to me, that a new technology of automation can create jobs over time, but make obsolete a Huge number of (now useless) jobs extremely rapidly.
    One possibility is that, once the price of something like say..... clothing gets to be less, the extra money a person would have spent to replace their shoes gets spent on something else they previously couldn't afford.

    Look at how much stuff an average person owns in the USA. Did they typically own that much stuff 20 years ago? Presumably the higher standard of living requires more production.

    So if hours of labor per item produced is less, but more total items are being made, then that should cancel out. The total number of jobs would only diminish if total production remained the same. But total production isn't remaining the same. It's going up.


    If jobs, viable jobs that generate "money" (which can nonetheless be totally, utterly, completely useless for society btw) are created gradually, and job loses take effect rapidly on a massive scale, you will have unemployment, for a time(with potential disastrous consequences because not only do these people rely on working to get the products and services society CAN produce anyway, but other people also rely on THEM to buy stuff, which can lead to a situation where the products are stagnating and available, from house, to food, to anything, while people are deprived because they are no longer needed to provide these products and services).
    It's true that we don't want change to happen rapidly. It's fine if a small percentage of the population is constantly getting uprooted and needing to find another job. It's very bad if a substantial percentage of the population ever finds itself in that situation all at once.



    You think there's no unemployment now? That the economy is tanking? Just imagine that useless jobs are eliminated by the millions and that jobs that can be automated would be, you think the economy is in a recession (or depression) now? Imagine if the millions of workers could be send to the unemployment lines and soup kitchens, there's no way in hell the technology would find "jobs" for all these people overnight, to me it is crystal clear the economy (of our outdated system) would completely collapse overnight, worse than the Great Depression.
    The main problem is that resources don't always extend further just because labor extends further. If a factory is suddenly able to produce 200 automobiles using the same amount of labor that previously was required to produce 20 automobiles - and resources are not a problem - then it would lower its price and maybe sell 10 times as many cars - thus keeping all of its workers employed.

    However, probably the cost of Iron, electricity, and stuff like that is still an issue. That's where the obsolete workers lose their jobs really. The percentage of the final price tag that corresponds with labor may go down, but the percentage that corresponds with resources stays the same (or goes up if production is increasing to levels that put a strain on those resources.)

    One big reason why the rich are getting richer is very likely because many of them own or control natural resources and derive their income from that. But the poor only have their labor to offer.
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  11. #10  
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by icewendigo View Post
    So there are people that dont think technological unemployment is a reality.

    Lets establish the fact that new jobs are created by technology, new types of jobs, Im not saying that is not the case, and certainly its good and provides people with a greater array of activities.
    I'll also reiterate that I favor as much tech and automation as possible, and do not consider technology to be a problem, on the contrary, it highlights what is in my opinion
    the systemic problems of our archaic socio-economic system which uses money, hierarchy and secrecy, though in this case the way we use money and
    rely on a wage for it is the part that is highlighted as problematic.

    So tech creates new types of jobs. But, does it create unemployment?
    For tech to, not create unemployment, it would have to create as much or more jobs than it replaces.
    Does it? More than it replaces? Really?
    It appears to me, that a new technology of automation can create jobs over time, but make obsolete a Huge number of (now useless) jobs extremely rapidly.
    One possibility is that, once the price of something like say..... clothing gets to be less, the extra money a person would have spent to replace their shoes gets spent on something else they previously couldn't afford.

    Look at how much stuff an average person owns in the USA. Did they typically own that much stuff 20 years ago? Presumably the higher standard of living requires more production.

    So if hours of labor per item produced is less, but more total items are being made, then that should cancel out. The total number of jobs would only diminish if total production remained the same. But total production isn't remaining the same. It's going up.


    If jobs, viable jobs that generate "money" (which can nonetheless be totally, utterly, completely useless for society btw) are created gradually, and job loses take effect rapidly on a massive scale, you will have unemployment, for a time(with potential disastrous consequences because not only do these people rely on working to get the products and services society CAN produce anyway, but other people also rely on THEM to buy stuff, which can lead to a situation where the products are stagnating and available, from house, to food, to anything, while people are deprived because they are no longer needed to provide these products and services).
    It's true that we don't want change to happen rapidly. It's fine if a small percentage of the population is constantly getting uprooted and needing to find another job. It's very bad if a substantial percentage of the population ever finds itself in that situation all at once.



    You think there's no unemployment now? That the economy is tanking? Just imagine that useless jobs are eliminated by the millions and that jobs that can be automated would be, you think the economy is in a recession (or depression) now? Imagine if the millions of workers could be send to the unemployment lines and soup kitchens, there's no way in hell the technology would find "jobs" for all these people overnight, to me it is crystal clear the economy (of our outdated system) would completely collapse overnight, worse than the Great Depression.
    The main problem is that resources don't always extend further just because labor extends further. If a factory is suddenly able to produce 200 automobiles using the same amount of labor that previously was required to produce 20 automobiles - and resources are not a problem - then it would lower its price and maybe sell 10 times as many cars - thus keeping all of its workers employed.

    However, probably the cost of Iron, electricity, and stuff like that is still an issue. That's where the obsolete workers lose their jobs really. The percentage of the final price tag that corresponds with labor may go down, but the percentage that corresponds with resources stays the same (or goes up if production is increasing to levels that put a strain on those resources.)

    One big reason why the rich are getting richer is very likely because many of them own or control natural resources and derive their income from that. But the poor only have their labor to offer.
    wouldn't it be nice to have an oil well or two...three would be rather greedy
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  12. #11  
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    Quote Originally Posted by RedPanda View Post
    Certain technologies remove very little employment.
    For example: mobile phones and smart-phones.
    There is a massive industry behind smart-phones; an industry that didn't exist 20 years ago.
    And I can't think of any jobs that would be lost from the creation of the smart-phone.
    You can't?

    Every business used to have huge numbers of people manning phone banks to give out information about products, or take orders, or manage the mountains of paperwork, or move paper receipts of the order and financial records, and armies of people just to do nothing more than maintain the meta data and archives of all that paperwork---all replaced by a MUCH smaller number of people who maintain web sites, and databases or confirm highly automated transactions. The smart phone certainly created a new industry, but as part of tech information industry that's replacing tens of millions of jobs in the US alone and hundreds of millions across the globe.

    The US markets continue to go gangbusters (I personally made a killing the past few years) because technology has allows business to invest in even more tech rather than spend to hire more people to expand and increase profits.

    Tech jobs have in large part replaced manual jobs already--driving education requirement to be successful higher and higher.
    Tech jobs are now also replacing information jobs.
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  13. #12  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    You can't?

    Every business used to have huge numbers of people manning phone banks to give out information about products, or take orders, or manage the mountains of paperwork, or move paper receipts of the order and financial records, and armies of people just to do nothing more than maintain the meta data and archives of all that paperwork---all replaced by a MUCH smaller number of people who maintain web sites, and databases or confirm highly automated transactions.
    None of which is affected by the arrival of smart phones.
    In fact, there are now more banks of people taking calls.....about smart phone sales.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    The smart phone certainly created a new industry, but as part of tech information industry that's replacing tens of millions of jobs in the US alone and hundreds of millions across the globe.
    To expand 'smart phones' to 'tech information industry' it too expand too far. Smart phones are subset.
    There are aspects of 'tech information industry' which cause redundancies, but smart phones don't appear to be one of them.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    The US markets continue to go gangbusters (I personally made a killing the past few years) because technology has allows business to invest in even more tech rather than spend to hire more people to expand and increase profits.
    I would be interested in any numbers you have for this. (I don't mean this in a facetious way; I am having trouble finding any data.)
    Has there been an overall drop in employment since the IT industry took off?

    There is this graph, from Employment is still near a 30-year low - Jun. 6, 2013

    Reading from that graph, there is no obvious downward trend until the financial crisis in 2007/8.
    There are some fluctuations, but they seem to recover.
    And this is only a graph for America - which means that any jobs sent abroad would not be included in the totals.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    Tech jobs have in large part replaced manual jobs already--driving education requirement to be successful higher and higher.
    Tech jobs are now also replacing information jobs.
    Which possibly maintains the same number of jobs while encouraging an increase in the average level of education.
    Win win!
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    Add to Post #12: About 48% of American Adults paid no personal income tax last year! This fact must be a consequence, I should think, of the unemployment numbers, the rich who pay none notwithstanding.

    As more and more people pay less and less taxes, the "bind" placed upon ever-expanding Government becomes pretty obvious: either reduce gov't. spending, which includes gov't. employment, or tax the remaining working population MORE, or BOTH. jocular
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    Quote Originally Posted by jocular View Post
    Add to Post #12: About 48% of American Adults paid no personal income tax last year! This fact must be a consequence, I should think, of the unemployment numbers, the rich who pay none notwithstanding.

    As more and more people pay less and less taxes, the "bind" placed upon ever-expanding Government becomes pretty obvious: either reduce gov't. spending, which includes gov't. employment, or tax the remaining working population MORE, or BOTH. jocular
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    Quote Originally Posted by jocular View Post
    Add to Post #12: About 48% of American Adults paid no personal income tax last year!
    Ok - but what percentage of American adults paid no personal income tax in the previous decades?
    How do we know that 48% in not a high point?

    And we are in the middle of a global economic crisis: do you think that would have an effect on the number of American adults that paid no personal income tax?

    If we are to identify a drop in employment due to modern technology, we will need more data.
    Unemployment rates seem easy to come by - but not employment rates.
    Maybe I can grab those and correlate them with population figures later.
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    Granted, Red, 48% may indeed be a high point; in fact I should be surprised if it were not. Today's data-gathering and storing capability is of course far superior than that of many years ago, so thus comparisons mayb be somewhat clouded. The openness of the Internet has allowed both reliable, AND devious statistics to flourish, unfortunately.

    Your points are well-taken. Of course I think the economic crisis has contributed to lower numbers of individual taxpayers, but I also feel let-down by my fellow Americans who have over the past several decades taken overly-enthusiastic advantage of the give-aways offered them. Why pay tax if one can be supported instead by the multitudes of taxpayers? jocular
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    Found some more numbers:



    Unemployment in the United States - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    From that graph: employment starts at 63%; starts increasing; recession hits; employment dips; employment goes back up to 63%; recession hits again.
    Between 1995 and 2007, employment only fluctuates by 3% - and that includes a recession.
    (The graph does show has worse our current recession is compared to the 2001 recession. A 5% employment drop compared to a 1% drop.)

    From what I have read on the web, no-one thinks that past data currently supports the claim that technology reduces employment.
    The pundits that think that automation reduces employment, they all talk about the effects being seen 2 or 3 generations into the future.

    So, it seems that whatever technological advances have been in the past 50 years has had no detectable global effect.
    Certainly, individuals have lost jobs due to technological advances but, when taken as a whole, redundancies/vacancies have balanced out.
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    Quote Originally Posted by jocular View Post
    Add to Post #12: About 48% of American Adults paid no personal income tax last year! This fact must be a consequence, I should think, of the unemployment numbers, the rich who pay none notwithstanding.

    As more and more people pay less and less taxes, the "bind" placed upon ever-expanding Government becomes pretty obvious: either reduce gov't. spending, which includes gov't. employment, or tax the remaining working population MORE, or BOTH. jocular
    Really? People with higher incomes pay no tax...well then where is my freaking 40% of my earnings? I should get it back!
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    Quote Originally Posted by RedPanda View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by jocular View Post
    Add to Post #12: About 48% of American Adults paid no personal income tax last year!
    Ok - but what percentage of American adults paid no personal income tax in the previous decades?
    How do we know that 48% in not a high point?

    And we are in the middle of a global economic crisis: do you think that would have an effect on the number of American adults that paid no personal income tax? YOu forget the rise of elderly who no longer are required to pay taxes. Those figures go into the graphs but are rarely identified ..

    If we are to identify a drop in employment due to modern technology, we will need more data.
    Unemployment rates seem easy to come by - but not employment rates.
    Maybe I can grab those and correlate them with population figures later.
    The figures for the elderly who pay no income tax is not on any graph.
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    Quote Originally Posted by babe View Post
    The figures for the elderly who pay no income tax is not on any graph.
    I'm not sure what point you are trying to make.
    Are you sure that Jocular's 48% does not include pensioners?
    Are people over the age of 65 immune to any form of census?

    Actually, if pensioners are included in that 48% then we would expect that number to keep rising because people live longer nowadays.
    We would need a statistic that only counts the number of people of working age that pay no income tax.
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    Quote Originally Posted by RedPanda View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by babe View Post
    The figures for the elderly who pay no income tax is not on any graph.
    I'm not sure what point you are trying to make.
    Are you sure that Jocular's 48% does not include pensioners?
    Are people over the age of 65 immune to any form of census?

    Actually, if pensioners are included in that 48% then we would expect that number to keep rising because people live longer nowadays.
    We would need a statistic that only counts the number of people of working age that pay no income tax.
    One of the problems I have with "people stats": exactly what category of individual is included? For example, average annual income: do numbers reflect the fact that a relatively few very high income individuals grossly slant the results higher than realistic figures, if considering average wage-earners only? jocular
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    Quote Originally Posted by jocular View Post
    For example, average annual income: do numbers reflect the fact that a relatively few very high income individuals grossly slant the results higher than realistic figures, if considering average wage-earners only? jocular
    Very possibly.
    But we are looking for an decrease in employment due to technological advances.
    I don't see how the income of the rich skew the number of employed people in a country.

    I was looking for something better than the graph I posted above.
    But even those economists who support the "technology=unemployment" hypothesis do not claim that any effect has yet been seen.
    This has made me think that looking for better data - data that shows something different from the graph above - will be pointless.

    My current thoughts are that there is no conclusive evidence to support the contention that "technology=unemployment".
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    Quote Originally Posted by RedPanda View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by jocular View Post
    For example, average annual income: do numbers reflect the fact that a relatively few very high income individuals grossly slant the results higher than realistic figures, if considering average wage-earners only? jocular
    Very possibly.
    But we are looking for an decrease in employment due to technological advances.
    I don't see how the income of the rich skew the number of employed people in a country.

    I was looking for something better than the graph I posted above.
    But even those economists who support the "technology=unemployment" hypothesis do not claim that any effect has yet been seen.
    This has made me think that looking for better data - data that shows something different from the graph above - will be pointless.

    My current thoughts are that there is no conclusive evidence to support the contention that "technology=unemployment".
    1. They do not, IMO.
    2. Economists have been right and wrong, historically.
    3. Agreed, wholeheartedly! Has not "technology" existed longer than simply during the current "Information Age"? Did not Henry Ford's innovations qualify as "technology" Did he cause a rise in unemployment due to his activities? Ridiculous contention they have here. jocular
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    Quote Originally Posted by RedPanda View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by babe View Post
    The figures for the elderly who pay no income tax is not on any graph.
    I'm not sure what point you are trying to make.
    Are you sure that Jocular's 48% does not include pensioners?
    Are people over the age of 65 immune to any form of census?

    Actually, if pensioners are included in that 48% then we would expect that number to keep rising because people live longer nowadays.
    We would need a statistic that only counts the number of people of working age that pay no income tax.
    I would need to recheck this, but I believe after the age of 70 unless you have a gross income of XXXX dollars, you don't even need to file a tax return. I do not know if the graphs include or exclude pensioners...they never really state who is included in the graph.
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    Quote Originally Posted by babe View Post
    .... I do not know if the graphs include or exclude pensioners...they never really state who is included in the graph.
    Of course, they don't! The whole idea of the Social Security Act has become (unfortunately), one of withholding money from wage-earners' pay, then using those funds in the meantime to promote and pay for egregious government "programs", while hoping large enough numbers of these "contributors" croak, and relieve themselves as burden from the system which stole their money in the first place. jocular
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    Quote Originally Posted by jocular View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by babe View Post
    .... I do not know if the graphs include or exclude pensioners...they never really state who is included in the graph.
    Of course, they don't! The whole idea of the Social Security Act has become (unfortunately), one of withholding money from wage-earners' pay, then using those funds in the meantime to promote and pay for egregious government "programs", while hoping large enough numbers of these "contributors" croak, and relieve themselves as burden from the system which stole their money in the first place. jocular
    Actually I know someone in the SS chain of command... SS is fine.....just trying to keep the FEDS out of fucking draining it.....as they are apt to do. But as of 6 months ago....SS is doing just fine...lot of hype...unfounded......*singing* "I've got friends in low places..." Garth Brooks
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    Quote Originally Posted by jocular View Post
    2. Economists have been ... wrong, historically.
    Now that is an understatement!

    I agree, but my point was that if there was any data to support the contention that "technology=redundancies" then someone would have used it by now.

    Quote Originally Posted by jocular View Post
    3. Agreed, wholeheartedly! Has not "technology" existed longer than simply during the current "Information Age"? Did not Henry Ford's innovations qualify as "technology" Did he cause a rise in unemployment due to his activities? Ridiculous contention they have here.
    That is a good point - I hadn't considered that.
    Technology has had a large effect on society even prior to Henry Ford's time. e.g. The invention of the steam train and the early railroads - but no unemployment increase.
    It would seem fairly conclusive that if technology has not reduced employment over the last 200-300 years then it would take something other than just technology to cause a drop in employment.
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    I agree, but my point was that if there was any data to support the contention that "technology=redundancies" then someone would have used it by now.
    Well, it was certainly part of the script I was given for presenting modernisation/ computerisation seminars to union members in the late 70s.

    Nobody, including the union members concerned, believed that the number of jobs in the public service would decline. They were qualified people, a machine can't do what we do, ... and assorted other protestations of not-our-problem. (This was in large part the presumption of white collar tertiary qualified workers that their jobs were permanently safe. Pity about those poor sods in manufacturing industry. Their jobs could obviously be done by fancy machines, not like ours.)

    Surprisingly enough, the population now is almost double what it was then and laws have expanded much more than double. The public service? Many agencies now have a mere 20-40% of the staff they had then, even though the legal and administrative tasks required have expanded even more than the populations concerned.)

    Other technologies.
    How many wharfies are now employed on the docks of the world? A few people operating the cranes to lift and load containers - where 50 years ago wharfs literally swarmed with people when ships were un/loading. Have you seen a car or white goods factory lately? I think a lot of people don't "see" the technology prompting redundancies when factories close or downsize - because the technology's been installed in a factory or workplace in another country. But the reason for the redundancies is the technology. The motive for installing the technology is to reduce the number of workers and the qualifications / training required for workers. The reason for building that facility where it's built is to take advantage of lower wages / safety conditions and lack of regulation in that region.
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    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    Well, it was certainly part of the script I was given for presenting modernisation/ computerisation seminars to union members in the late 70s.
    When it comes to individual jobs, it is certainly true.
    But it is also true that other jobs are either not affected or an increase in employment is seen.

    The question remains: in total, does technology increase or decrease employment.
    So far, the answer appears to be "no".

    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    Nobody, including the union members concerned, believed that the number of jobs in the public service would decline.
    Are those jobs gone or have they been privatised/out-sourced?

    For example, the energy supply business in the UK used to be government run.
    It was then privatised.
    There was then an expected drop in employees in the public sector.
    But there are now multiple companies supplying energy to the UK market.
    There are more jobs now because of the privatisation. (This also includes the new jobs created by the necessity of additional businesses like energy brokers and sales/marketing teams.)

    We can't just look at one number (i.e. falling public sector employment) and assume that the people who were laid-off became unemployed - especially when the overall unemployment figures don't support it.

    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    Surprisingly enough, the population now is almost double what it was then and laws have expanded much more than double. The public service? Many agencies now have a mere 20-40% of the staff they had then, even though the legal and administrative tasks required have expanded even more than the populations concerned.)
    The population has doubled; automation has increased; the public sector has drastically cut back on staff - why has unemployment not rapidly increased?

    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    How many wharfies are now employed on the docks of the world? A few people operating the cranes to lift and load containers - where 50 years ago wharfs literally swarmed with people when ships were un/loading. Have you seen a car or white goods factory lately? I think a lot of people don't "see" the technology prompting redundancies when factories close or downsize - because the technology's been installed in a factory or workplace in another country. But the reason for the redundancies is the technology. The motive for installing the technology is to reduce the number of workers and the qualifications / training required for workers. The reason for building that facility where it's built is to take advantage of lower wages / safety conditions and lack of regulation in that region.
    But, if that is true (and I assume it is), why has unemployment not increased?
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    Quote Originally Posted by RedPanda View Post
    For example, the energy supply business in the UK used to be government run.
    It was then privatised.

    There are more jobs now because of the privatisation.
    Governments should not be "in business", in the kind of countries most of us prefer to live in. IMO, the main reason is that governments are, by design, operated through taxation; thus any "profit" accrued from government-run business activities should be returned to the share-holders, the taxpayers. We know from experience it almost never is. During these past years of economic woe, small local governments, municipalities (in the U.S.) have cut back, drastically in some cases, but Big Government has gone ahead merrily overspending and granting it's employees pay increases. The small governing bodies lack one most significant attribute: the ability to control the currency. That one fact accounts for a major part of government haughtiness. "Obey, or we'll cut off your Federal aid". "Let's inject "stimulus money" into the worst-hit parts of our economy, that'll get things going!" What utter bullshit! "Bailing out" faltering corporations such as General Motors, was surely one of the more disgusting efforts on the part of our present leadership. jocular
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    To be honest, I think the entertainment industry and hospitality industry absorb the jobs. You can employ an almost unlimited number of people in those areas, without significantly impacting natural resources. How many natural resources does it take to produce a video game? Or a movie? Or to change the bedding in a hotel room? It's not zero, but compared with producing an automobile.....

    Hard production is limited by resources. You simply can't make stuff without raw materials. But using extra workers in those processes just means fewer are available to sing, dance, act, draw, program (games) and otherwise entertain us.
    Some clocks are only right twice a day, but they are still right when they are right.
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post
    To be honest, I think the entertainment industry and hospitality industry absorb the jobs. You can employ an almost unlimited number of people in those areas, without significantly impacting natural resources.
    Hmm...an interesting thought.

    It seems (particularly in the past ~30 years) that entertainment (e.g. computer games/TV/etc.) has grown exponentially.
    I remember when Channel 4 started - bring the total number of UK TV channels to .... 4 !!
    These days I have a choice of over 50 free channels (and many more if I want to pay for them).

    So, I would agree that the entertainment industry has the ability to employ a lot of people.
    People also have more free time due to technological advances (e.g. the washing machine).
    I would guess that this increase in free time has encouraged the demand for 'entertainment'.

    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post
    Hard production is limited by resources. You simply can't make stuff without raw materials. But using extra workers in those processes just means fewer are available to sing, dance, act, draw, program (games) and otherwise entertain us.
    I expect there is a balance that can be achieved.
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    Are those jobs gone or have they been privatised/out-sourced?
    No. They've just vanished. I don't know how old you are, but at the time I'm talking about, late 70s, people still thought in terms of the full employment we'd been used to during the 50s and 60s. Everything in public administration was done on paper which had to be moved around - by people. People who are no longer needed because documents are either not needed at all or don't move, only the data or the images move by computer. Unemployment did go up - and it's stayed up. http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@....f!OpenDocument

    Between 1966 and 2000, both the number of people who were unemployed and Australia's unemployment rate have increased. Over this period, the number of unemployed people in Australia increased from 90,300 to 596,000. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the unemployment rate stood at 2% but over the 1970s rose gradually to 6%. The early 1980s saw a sharp rise in the unemployment rate to 10% in 1983. This declined to 6% by 1989. A further steep rise then occurred in the early 1990s, peaking at 11% in 1993.
    Just think about people with employment problems - illiteracy, intellectual disability, ex-prisoners. All these people used to get helper and cleaner type jobs. Street sweepers, garbage collectors, general factory hands. (Parole officers used to be able to get prisoners a job as a garbage collector with little to no difficulty. Nowadays, driving those trucks is a skilled job and you only need a driver. The guys who used to hop off the back and pick up bins don't exist any more.) Modern technology has been an inestimable boon to people with physical disabilities and many of them can work where they couldn't before. But it's been an unmitigated disaster for all those people who used to work at sweeping streets or factory floors and similar tasks. Street sweeping is now down by skilled drivers of what are now fairly simple machines, but far beyond the capacities of people who couldn't get any kind of drivers' licence in the first place.
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    Quote Originally Posted by jocular View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by RedPanda View Post
    For example, the energy supply business in the UK used to be government run.
    It was then privatised.

    There are more jobs now because of the privatisation.
    Governments should not be "in business", in the kind of countries most of us prefer to live in. IMO, the main reason is that governments are, by design, operated through taxation; thus any "profit" accrued from government-run business activities should be returned to the share-holders, the taxpayers. We know from experience it almost never is. During these past years of economic woe, small local governments, municipalities (in the U.S.) have cut back, drastically in some cases, but Big Government has gone ahead merrily overspending and granting it's employees pay increases. The small governing bodies lack one most significant attribute: the ability to control the currency. That one fact accounts for a major part of government haughtiness. "Obey, or we'll cut off your Federal aid". "Let's inject "stimulus money" into the worst-hit parts of our economy, that'll get things going!" What utter bullshit! "Bailing out" faltering corporations such as General Motors, was surely one of the more disgusting efforts on the part of our present leadership. jocular
    I totally agree. Survival of the fittest, not the most convenient. Many business's fail, and many survive, but bailout is not the way to go about finding out who is well run and can bounce back with some smart business plan.
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post
    To be honest, I think the entertainment industry and hospitality industry absorb the jobs. You can employ an almost unlimited number of people in those areas, without significantly impacting natural resources. How many natural resources does it take to produce a video game? Or a movie? Or to change the bedding in a hotel room? It's not zero, but compared with producing an automobile.....

    Hard production is limited by resources. You simply can't make stuff without raw materials. But using extra workers in those processes just means fewer are available to sing, dance, act, draw, program (games) and otherwise entertain us.
    *chuckle* you have never done a film before. You might be amazed at how many people it takes.
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    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    Are those jobs gone or have they been privatised/out-sourced?
    No. They've just vanished. I don't know how old you are, but at the time I'm talking about, late 70s, people still thought in terms of the full employment we'd been used to during the 50s and 60s. Everything in public administration was done on paper which had to be moved around - by people. People who are no longer needed because documents are either not needed at all or don't move, only the data or the images move by computer. Unemployment did go up - and it's stayed up. 4102.0 - Australian Social Trends, 2001

    Between 1966 and 2000, both the number of people who were unemployed and Australia's unemployment rate have increased. Over this period, the number of unemployed people in Australia increased from 90,300 to 596,000. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the unemployment rate stood at 2% but over the 1970s rose gradually to 6%. The early 1980s saw a sharp rise in the unemployment rate to 10% in 1983. This declined to 6% by 1989. A further steep rise then occurred in the early 1990s, peaking at 11% in 1993.
    Just think about people with employment problems - illiteracy, intellectual disability, ex-prisoners. All these people used to get helper and cleaner type jobs. Street sweepers, garbage collectors, general factory hands. (Parole officers used to be able to get prisoners a job as a garbage collector with little to no difficulty. Nowadays, driving those trucks is a skilled job and you only need a driver. The guys who used to hop off the back and pick up bins don't exist any more.) Modern technology has been an inestimable boon to people with physical disabilities and many of them can work where they couldn't before. But it's been an unmitigated disaster for all those people who used to work at sweeping streets or factory floors and similar tasks. Street sweeping is now down by skilled drivers of what are now fairly simple machines, but far beyond the capacities of people who couldn't get any kind of drivers' licence in the first place.
    Adelady, no disrespect intended, but WHAT is a STREET SWEEPER? I haven't seen one of those in 35 years.
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    I haven't seen one of those in 35 years.
    Exactly.

    What jobs do you think unskilled people like that could do now?

    .............................

    I remember as a kid, now we're talking 50+ years ago, going to the city, and there was always someone with a very wide broom sweeping paths and gutters. Remember how many people smoked years ago? And how careless people were about rubbish? Councils employed people, real live people, to clean up after the messy citizenry. That only happens now after big public events like New Year's Eve or outdoor concerts and similar events.

    Nowadays we have recycling and anti-littering laws, which is just as well looking at all the plastic containers from fast food which didn't exist back then. Our takeaway foods were fish and chips or hamburgers which were always wrapped in paper. Discarded papers certainly looked messy but quickly disappeared.
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    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    I haven't seen one of those in 35 years.
    Exactly.

    What jobs do you think unskilled people like that could do now?
    I have to really think about this. Housekeeping, and a good gardener is a treasure. A house painter, a handyman, which are few and far between. There is also the option of returning to school, and there are grants etc out to help them. I think taking an initiative to succeed is individual and you can make it unskilled, or learn a new skill. or a degree. There is nothing ever out there to keep us from learning, except our lack of initiative to do so.

    .............................

    I remember as a kid, now we're talking 50+ years ago, going to the city, and there was always someone with a very wide broom sweeping paths and gutters. Remember how many people smoked years ago? And how careless people were about rubbish? Councils employed people, real live people, to clean up after the messy citizenry. That only happens now after big public events like New Year's Eve or outdoor concerts and similar events. In Portland there were people who picked up the streets daily when I was studying there. Menial? Yes, but if unskilled a job is a job and they never seemed unhappy.

    Nowadays we have recycling and anti-littering laws, which is just as well looking at all the plastic containers from fast food which didn't exist back then. Our takeaway foods were fish and chips or hamburgers which were always wrapped in paper. Discarded papers certainly looked messy but quickly disappeared.
    I don't do much takeout of anything. I am a good cook in my own right. I recycle.
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    You might not, I might not, but lots of people do. Especially in cities where workers get lunches even if they never do take away at home or socially.
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    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    You might not, I might not, but lots of people do. Especially in cities where workers get lunches even if they never do take away at home or socially.
    I don't disagree with you adelady, but I personally do my Papa Murphy's Take and Bake and that is pretty much the extent of my takeout on the Mainland. In Hawai'i DO cook every night for myself as I live in Hawai'i and my husband lives on the Mainland.
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    Quote Originally Posted by babe View Post
    Adelady, no disrespect intended, but WHAT is a STREET SWEEPER? I haven't seen one of those in 35 years.
    We still have them in the UK - both the motorised version and the plain ol' traditional "walk around picking up rubbish" kind.
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    Jobs which will potentially experience shortcuts in nearest decades: 1)Dentists. Currently 95% of all visits to dentists is related to carious. If they will invent some perfect sweetener which is capable to replace sugar but cause no carious, majority of dentists will be need no more. 2)Automotive mechanics. Electric vehicles require much fewer repairs than common ones. As EV and hybrids will become more widespread much fewer oil changes and engine repairs will be needed. 3)Insurance and stock brokers. Currently more and more people are doing insurance and stock market trade online. 4)DVD, CD, book, magazine and newspaper sellers. More and more media and music will come through Internet. 4)Cable TV. Since we have use high-speed Internet we pay no more for cable TV. Also I hope that some other high-pay-nothing-to-do jobs such as lawyers will be replaced by robots someday. In general you are right, - one of the largest disadvantages of modern economy system is that they were not capable to create system under which almost all people would have decent way of income which would be adequate to their abilities and skills. Real unemployment in nearest decades will reach 20-30 % even in many "developed" countries and it will create substrate for social shakes and major rethinking of political agenda.
    Last edited by Stanley514; July 16th, 2013 at 10:44 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stanley514 View Post
    3)Insurance and stock brokers. Currently more and more people are doing insurance and stock market trade online. 4)DVD, CD, book, magazine and newspaper sellers. More and more media and music will come through Internet.
    On that note, the ability to sell personal goods online is probably contributing a lot to the drop in demand for consumer goods. A lot of people are selling their old stuff instead of throwing it away. Other people are buying used stuff cheap instead of paying full price to get new stuff from a store.

    TV sets are a fine example of something you can get for almost free these days where I live. Couches and other furniture sometimes gets offered on Craigslist for entirely free. All they ask is that you find your own way to transport it.
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    From some point situation is philosophical: humans invented technologies which made their labour obsolete in many areas but were often not able to find even better use for themselves. What of course gives substrate to think about human narrowness and small-mindedness as a creatures. Or maybe it is just social system which should be changed?
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    Quote Originally Posted by babe View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    You might not, I might not, but lots of people do. Especially in cities where workers get lunches even if they never do take away at home or socially.
    I don't disagree with you adelady, but I personally do my Papa Murphy's Take and Bake and that is pretty much the extent of my takeout on the Mainland. In Hawai'i DO cook every night for myself as I live in Hawai'i and my husband lives on the Mainland.
    Seems like a perfectly workable deal to me! Given these circumstances, I could easily avoid the nightly squabbles invariably popping up between my wife & I! jocular
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    Quote Originally Posted by jocular View Post
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    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    You might not, I might not, but lots of people do. Especially in cities where workers get lunches even if they never do take away at home or socially.
    I don't disagree with you adelady, but I personally do my Papa Murphy's Take and Bake and that is pretty much the extent of my takeout on the Mainland. In Hawai'i DO cook every night for myself as I live in Hawai'i and my husband lives on the Mainland.
    Seems like a perfectly workable deal to me! Given these circumstances, I could easily avoid the nightly squabbles invariably popping up between my wife & I! jocular
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    "Shouldn't the long-term goal of any society be complete unemployment?"
    - Doug Stanhope
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    "Shouldn't the long-term goal of any society be complete unemployment?"
    - Doug Stanhope
    I'm not a great fan of the notion that all work as an employee is inherently onerous or damaging to people. People like doing something useful, some feel real pride in seeing a finished task or object.

    The real problem with employment is firstly setting out decent hours, pay and conditions. Then you move on to the nature of the work itself. If some "efficiency" expert has gone through and extracted every possible aspect of skill or pride or self-satisfaction - you've now got a not wonderful job. An employer who has the sort of objectives that you commonly see in, say, the lowest bidding call-centres or cleaning contractors, will set up jobs where neither the employees carrying out the tasks nor the people who deal with them will be satisfied.

    And anyway, it's a silly idea - unless you have some completely unrealistic notion of everyone living in some rural idyllic utopia. At a bare minimum, who's going to keep the water hygienic, the sewers safe and the power supplied, teaching, nursing, doctoring?
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    My utopia would be to split the difference. People who don't want to work can live in basic housing, wear basic clothes, eat basic food, and overall live humdrum lives. People who do want to work, and are talented at their job, can live in mansions, wear the latest fashions, eat great food, and live exciting and rewarding lives.


    I don't want the people who don't work to become homeless and die of exposure or curable disease or starvation - for the simple reason that - as Adelady has been pointing out, the percentage of the population who has job skills that are useful enough to make any significant difference at all is getting smaller and smaller.

    We could demand that untalented people work anyway out of a sort of sadism (wanting the pain to be equally shared by all), but it won't do the economy any good.
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    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    "Shouldn't the long-term goal of any society be complete unemployment?"
    - Doug Stanhope
    I'm not a great fan of the notion that all work as an employee is inherently onerous or damaging to people. People like doing something useful, some feel real pride in seeing a finished task or object.
    I think there is a difference between 'employment' and 'doing stuff you like doing' ( - even if you are employed to do stuff you like doing).
    Being unemployed does not mean you have to sit on your butt doing nothing.

    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    And anyway, it's a silly idea - unless you have some completely unrealistic notion of everyone living in some rural idyllic utopia. At a bare minimum, who's going to keep the water hygienic, the sewers safe and the power supplied, teaching, nursing, doctoring?
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    Quote Originally Posted by RedPanda View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    "Shouldn't the long-term goal of any society be complete unemployment?"
    - Doug Stanhope
    I'm not a great fan of the notion that all work as an employee is inherently onerous or damaging to people. People like doing something useful, some feel real pride in seeing a finished task or object.
    I think there is a difference between 'employment' and 'doing stuff you like doing' ( - even if you are employed to do stuff you like doing).
    Being unemployed does not mean you have to sit on your butt doing nothing.

    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    And anyway, it's a silly idea - unless you have some completely unrealistic notion of everyone living in some rural idyllic utopia. At a bare minimum, who's going to keep the water hygienic, the sewers safe and the power supplied, teaching, nursing, doctoring?
    Robots.
    I agree that one can always find something TO DO. Volunteers (always needed), and therefore, there is no excuse to sit on ones hands doing nothing. One is always capable of finding something resourceful to occupy their time.
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    Other jobs which could become under threat in the far future 1) Firefighters. Ultimately, everything could be made out of non-flammable materials. I wonder why they still fight with forest fires and just do not plant inflammable trees? 2) Car washers. Car paint will repulse any dirt.____Many predict also that automatic check lines will replace all the store cashers. I do not see how could it happen in near future though. Somebody still suppose to play security function and prevent shop-lifting. And many people (especially senior) prefer that somebody would handle and pack groceries for them.
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    Quote Originally Posted by icewendigo View Post
    So there are people that dont think technological unemployment is a reality.
    Sure it is. My garbage truck used to have three people on it - a driver and two loaders. Now it has a robot arm and a driver.

    So tech creates new types of jobs. But, does it create unemployment?
    Yes, it creates both.

    You think there's no unemployment now? That the economy is tanking? Just imagine that useless jobs are eliminated by the millions and that jobs that can be automated would be, you think the economy is in a recession (or depression) now? Imagine if the millions of workers could be send to the unemployment lines and soup kitchens, there's no way in hell the technology would find "jobs" for all these people overnight, to me it is crystal clear the economy (of our outdated system) would completely collapse overnight, worse than the Great Depression.
    You are assuming that we need to maintain the same levels of employment we have now. If we increase productivity per hour (as we have been doing) then we can cut back on full time jobs, switch most people to part time and have the same economic output. Note that this is happening now.

    Lets say technology can double your productivity. Would you rather work for 40 hours a week for $100,000 a year, or work 20 hours a week for the same money? And if you effectively now "shared" that job with someone else, you have doubled total employment while not increasing total hours worked.
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    Lets say technology can double your productivity. Would you rather work for 40 hours a week for $100,000 a year, or work 20 hours a week for the same money?
    Who said people work for the same money? Doubled productivity doesn't mean doubled purchasing power of salaries for majority of people. Also increased unemployment leads to salaries stagnation and even depreciation since price of any goods (including workforce) could grow only if demand exceeds supply.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stanley514 View Post
    Who said people work for the same money?
    Some would, some wouldn't. Some would prefer to make more money by working 40 hours a week. That's what most people do now because that's the norm.

    Doubled productivity doesn't mean doubled purchasing power of salaries for majority of people.
    It's close to it. Workplace productivity directly translates into workplace buying power, which was one of the lessons of Henry Ford's approach. (Buying power, of course, does not directly translate to quality of life.)

    Also increased unemployment leads to salaries stagnation and even depreciation since price of any goods (including workforce) could grow only if demand exceeds supply.
    Exactly. So to make them match either reduce demand (not good) or reduce supply. Reducing supply means people working fewer hours.
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    You are assuming that we need to maintain the same levels of employment we have now. If we increase productivity per hour (as we have been doing) then we can cut back on full time jobs, switch most people to part time and have the same economic output. Note that this is happening now.

    Lets say technology can double your productivity. Would you rather work for 40 hours a week for $100,000 a year, or work 20 hours a week for the same money? And if you effectively now "shared" that job with someone else, you have doubled total employment while not increasing total hours worked.
    I wouldn't bet on this working out. This is Exactly The Same Argument people were making in the late 70s as computerisation began to take over white collar work and increased automation and technological improvements sped up in blue collar work. Both processes reduced available jobs and also reduced the numbers of both unskilled and skilled jobs. Unskilled jobs knocked out by automation, international transfer and, more recently, robots. Skilled jobs knocked out by technological/ computer capacity to routinise or aggregate or replicate fairly complex processes.

    People were talking then about how wonderful it would be when we were all working 25 hours a week or less and earning the same money. It didn't happen then. No good reason to think it will happen now.
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    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    People were talking then about how wonderful it would be when we were all working 25 hours a week or less and earning the same money. It didn't happen then. No good reason to think it will happen now.
    It's heading in that direction. Indeed that's been a political criticism - that people are overoptimistic about the dropping unemployment rate because it represents too much part time work.

    Average hours worked per week in 2000 - 35.3
    Average hours worked per week in 2012 - 34.2
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    Quote Originally Posted by billvon View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    People were talking then about how wonderful it would be when we were all working 25 hours a week or less and earning the same money. It didn't happen then. No good reason to think it will happen now.
    It's heading in that direction. Indeed that's been a political criticism - that people are overoptimistic about the dropping unemployment rate because it represents too much part time work.

    Average hours worked per week in 2000 - 35.3
    Average hours worked per week in 2012 - 34.2
    If it has not been mentioned: Employment laws requiring partly or wholly-paid benefits such as medical and pensions by the employer exclude part-time workers. Thus, the incentive is explained regarding the widespread trend of recent years by employers to have as few full-time employees as possible. jocular
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stanley514 View Post
    Lets say technology can double your productivity. Would you rather work for 40 hours a week for $100,000 a year, or work 20 hours a week for the same money?
    Who said people work for the same money? Doubled productivity doesn't mean doubled purchasing power of salaries for majority of people.
    If the productivity of Television factories doubles, the price of televisions might drop to half of what it was before. Each worker is producing twice as many TV sets, but each TV set is worth only half as much. So, yeah. The workers in that factory would still be making the same wage they were making before.

    However, a few possibilities may happen now that TV sets are cheaper. Consumers who had only planned to buy one TV set, may now choose to buy two TV sets. Or if they're happy with only one TV set, then maybe they'll buy a few more movies to watch.

    Technology fails to deliver on the promise of making everyone rich. What happens instead is the poor have more TV sets.
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    If the productivity of Television factories doubles, the price of televisions might drop to half of what it was before. Each worker is producing twice as many TV sets, but each TV set is worth only half as much. So, yeah. The workers in that factory would still be making the same wage they were making before.
    Productivity doesn't grow simultaneously in all the fields with the same speed. TV factories are mainly situated in S.E. Asia so it doesn't directly relates to U.S.
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post
    Technology fails to deliver on the promise of making everyone rich. What happens instead is the poor have more TV sets.
    If the "poor" can buy more TV sets (and more cars, and more food, and more books etc) then they are not poor. They now have more purchasing power than they did before, which means they are better off - even if numerically they are making less.

    Note that in general inflation prevents the above from happening.
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    Quote Originally Posted by billvon View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post
    Technology fails to deliver on the promise of making everyone rich. What happens instead is the poor have more TV sets.
    If the "poor" can buy more TV sets (and more cars, and more food, and more books etc) then they are not poor. They now have more purchasing power than they did before, which means they are better off - even if numerically they are making less.

    Note that in general inflation prevents the above from happening.
    I'm glad you brought this issue up. I'd say it comes down to where you set the goal posts.

    I would define poverty as an income level where your ability to secure basic needs, like housing, food, and medicine, is in question. If you have 200 TV sets in your closet, but you can't be sure where you'll be living next month, or what you will do if you get sick, then you are still poor. If you had no TV set, but own your home outright, with full cupboards, and top of the line medical insurance, then you are not poor.

    The thing technologies fails to provide us is it fails to lower the price of rent (or increase worker salaries enough to exceed increases in the cost of rent). It can help with food costs. It (paradoxically) has tendency to increase the cost of medical insurance (by making new treatments available and therefore mandatory.)
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post
    I would define poverty as an income level where your ability to secure basic needs, like housing, food, and medicine, is in question. If you have 200 TV sets in your closet, but you can't be sure where you'll be living next month, or what you will do if you get sick, then you are still poor. If you had no TV set, but own your home outright, with full cupboards, and top of the line medical insurance, then you are not poor.
    Well, you can define it subjectively however you want. Someone else might think that if they have their health and their family, they are far richer than Steve Jobs was while he was dying.

    But in pure financial terms (i.e. how much people have in "real" dollars adjusted for inflation) people on average have been getting richer since the 1940's. Every quintile has been going up except the lowest 20%, which hasn't changed much. So overall the rich are getting richer, the middle class are getting richer and the poor aren't moving. Not ideal but still pretty good progress.

    The thing technologies fails to provide us is it fails to lower the price of rent (or increase worker salaries enough to exceed increases in the cost of rent).
    I'd say it doesn't lower the cost of rent, but based on the data we have, it does increase worker salaries on average.
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    Every quintile has been going up except the lowest 20%, which hasn't changed much. So overall the rich are getting richer, the middle class are getting richer and the poor aren't moving. Not ideal but still pretty good progress.
    I don't know where you are, but in US, UK and Australia, it's not really working like that.

    The very rich are getting even richer, the poor are getting poorer and the middle classes are slipping badly. Here are some nifty graphics for USA for wealth and income inequalities. Wealth Inequality | Inequality.org Income Inequality | Inequality.org

    After rising steadily during the three decades following World War II, wages have stagnated since the early 1970s. Between 1947 and 1972, the average hourly wage, adjusted for inflation, rose 76 percent. Since 1972, by contrast, the average hourly wage has risen only 4 percent.
    EDIT: Just found this video in my bookmarks, also shows big changes in the last 40 years.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature...&v=QPKKQnijnsM
    Last edited by adelady; September 9th, 2013 at 08:18 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    Every quintile has been going up except the lowest 20%, which hasn't changed much. So overall the rich are getting richer, the middle class are getting richer and the poor aren't moving. Not ideal but still pretty good progress.
    I don't know where you are, but in US, UK and Australia, it's not really working like that.
    It is working like that in the US. Wages have been going up since 1967 when they first started charting such data. There was a peak in 2000 during the dot com bubble and another peak in 2008 during the real estate bubble, but if you ignore those peaks average income is going up for everyone. A few links:

    U.S. Household Incomes: A 44-Year Perspective
    Historical Income Tables - Households - U.S Census Bureau

    Note that strictly speaking every single quintile is making more and more money. The top quintile is increasing much faster than the bottom quintiles, which are barely moving.

    The very rich are getting even richer
    Agreed.

    the poor are getting poorer
    They are getting richer as well, at least in the US - although very slowly.

    and the middle classes are slipping badly.
    They are also getting richer.

    After rising steadily during the three decades following World War II, wages have stagnated since the early 1970s. Between 1947 and 1972, the average hourly wage, adjusted for inflation, rose 76 percent. Since 1972, by contrast, the average hourly wage has risen only 4 percent.
    Agreed. They are rising, just more slowly. This is good overall; most people are getting richer.
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    David Ricardo in 3rd edition of his "On the principles of political economy and taxation" (chapter 31) has the same argument (it's been a while since 1821 but it's still relevant). He actually has a numerical example:

    An investor produces a consumption good. Then, next year he invests in order to produce a machine that will add to his fixed capital (at year 3). At this point, technologically induced unemployment occurs.

    Production of consumption good (year 1):

    Capital= 20.000$ Which is analysed:
    Fixed Capital (Cf)= 7.000$
    Current Capital (Wages, Cc)= 13.000$

    Profit (Π)= r(rate of profit)x Capital= 2000$, r=10% (fixed)
    Total Value of produced good= Cf+ Π= 15.000$

    Next year (year 2), 1/2 of workers are employed at the production of a machinery good. Therefore we have 2 sectors of production:

    Sector I (consumption good):
    Capital=10.000$
    Cf=3.500$
    Cc= 6.500$
    Π=r x Capital= 1.000$
    Total Value= 7.500$

    Sector II (machinery):

    Capital= 10.000$
    Cf= 3.500$
    Cc=6.500$
    Π=r x Capital= 1.000$
    Total Value= 7.500$

    Sum (sectors I+ II): Capital=20.000$, Cf= 7.000$, Cc= 13.000$, Π=2.000$, Total Value= 15.000$

    According to Ricardo, since the value of the machine is 7.500$, then this exact money won't be available for hiring labor units. So, the investor will give 13.000$-7.500$= 5.500$ for hiring labour units (workers) even though he possesses 14.000$ (7.000$+ 7.500$ from the production of the machine).|
    Total Capital still is 20.000$ but the composition has changed: Cf=14.500, Cc= 5.500$

    Therefore, there's new unemployment since at year 2 Cc (wages)=13.000$ and year 3 will be Cc= 5.500$. Therefore the luck of 7.500$ (the value of machinery) will generate technological induced unemployment.

    The concept according to Ricardo is that innovation and new investments will catch up with unemployment and reduce it but never eliminate it.

    It's logically and scientifically correct to argue that technology can create unemployment. I doubt that this is the case in USA and Europe but, a part of it may be the outcome of technology and innovations (an empirical research may reckon the %).
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    Technology certainly can create unemployment! There have been a number of great replies already so there isn't much left to say. To give an example let's look at accounting jobs. Accounting has historically held very strong demand and even to this day the demand for accountants is fairly strong. But with the development of accounting software, basic taxes can be done by anyone. No need for an accountant. Much like the automobile factories of times past when thousands of employees were needed to assemble a car, now most the work is done by robots (specifically the technical assembly work), and the rest is left to the remaining employees.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eighty88 View Post
    Technology certainly can create unemployment! There have been a number of great replies already so there isn't much left to say. To give an example let's look at accounting jobs. Accounting has historically held very strong demand and even to this day the demand for accountants is fairly strong. But with the development of accounting software, basic taxes can be done by anyone. No need for an accountant. Much like the automobile factories of times past when thousands of employees were needed to assemble a car, now most the work is done by robots (specifically the technical assembly work), and the rest is left to the remaining employees.
    Being married to a CPA....he has not a free moment....he is always in demand.

    You are correct that simple tax returns do not require an accountant.

    There is actually a shortage of them.

    Demand for accounting grads reaches all-time high

    One of the reasons, our daughter decided in two degrees in Business, one in AIS, and one in CIS from California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo
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    Quote Originally Posted by babe View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Eighty88 View Post
    Technology certainly can create unemployment! There have been a number of great replies already so there isn't much left to say. To give an example let's look at accounting jobs. Accounting has historically held very strong demand and even to this day the demand for accountants is fairly strong. But with the development of accounting software, basic taxes can be done by anyone. No need for an accountant. Much like the automobile factories of times past when thousands of employees were needed to assemble a car, now most the work is done by robots (specifically the technical assembly work), and the rest is left to the remaining employees.
    Being married to a CPA....he has not a free moment....he is always in demand.

    You are correct that simple tax returns do not require an accountant.

    There is actually a shortage of them.

    Demand for accounting grads reaches all-time high

    One of the reasons, our daughter decided in two degrees in Business, one in AIS, and one in CIS from California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo
    That's good for her! One of my degrees is in accounting and I'm currently working to earn my CPA! One of the reasons accountants will always be in demand (especially in the U.S.) is because of an incredibly complex series of tax-regulation and law, and it's ever-changing face. It's impossible for any one person to understand so it takes groups of tens, hundreds, even thousands.

    The last two cities I've lived in the largest accounting-related employers were the U.S. government, go figure!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eighty88 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by babe View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Eighty88 View Post
    Technology certainly can create unemployment! There have been a number of great replies already so there isn't much left to say. To give an example let's look at accounting jobs. Accounting has historically held very strong demand and even to this day the demand for accountants is fairly strong. But with the development of accounting software, basic taxes can be done by anyone. No need for an accountant. Much like the automobile factories of times past when thousands of employees were needed to assemble a car, now most the work is done by robots (specifically the technical assembly work), and the rest is left to the remaining employees.
    Being married to a CPA....he has not a free moment....he is always in demand.

    You are correct that simple tax returns do not require an accountant.

    There is actually a shortage of them.

    Demand for accounting grads reaches all-time high

    One of the reasons, our daughter decided in two degrees in Business, one in AIS, and one in CIS from California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo
    That's good for her! One of my degrees is in accounting and I'm currently working to earn my CPA! One of the reasons accountants will always be in demand (especially in the U.S.) is because of an incredibly complex series of tax-regulation and law, and it's ever-changing face. It's impossible for any one person to understand so it takes groups of tens, hundreds, even thousands.

    The last two cities I've lived in the largest accounting-related employers were the U.S. government, go figure!
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    Quote Originally Posted by babe View Post
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    Quote Originally Posted by babe View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Eighty88 View Post
    Technology certainly can create unemployment! There have been a number of great replies already so there isn't much left to say. To give an example let's look at accounting jobs. Accounting has historically held very strong demand and even to this day the demand for accountants is fairly strong. But with the development of accounting software, basic taxes can be done by anyone. No need for an accountant. Much like the automobile factories of times past when thousands of employees were needed to assemble a car, now most the work is done by robots (specifically the technical assembly work), and the rest is left to the remaining employees.
    Being married to a CPA....he has not a free moment....he is always in demand.

    You are correct that simple tax returns do not require an accountant.

    There is actually a shortage of them.

    Demand for accounting grads reaches all-time high

    One of the reasons, our daughter decided in two degrees in Business, one in AIS, and one in CIS from California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo
    That's good for her! One of my degrees is in accounting and I'm currently working to earn my CPA! One of the reasons accountants will always be in demand (especially in the U.S.) is because of an incredibly complex series of tax-regulation and law, and it's ever-changing face. It's impossible for any one person to understand so it takes groups of tens, hundreds, even thousands.

    The last two cities I've lived in the largest accounting-related employers were the U.S. government, go figure!
    The best of you in your CPA exam! It's a corker! Tough as can be!

    Daughter works for a big 4....in Zurich, currently.

    What is your focus in future work?

    Audit? IT? Finance? Banking?

    I suggest Finance or IT....heads up from a MOM! *Chuckle*
    I'm still not sure what the future holds, but if I pursue a career in accounting I'd open my own firm and do taxes. I recently had an internship with the OCC and am not a fan of the banking industry haha! But who knows, finance may come up!

    Thanks for the advice!

    Cheers!
    babe likes this.
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    Northern Horse Whisperer Moderator scheherazade's Avatar
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    The two certainties of human existence are death and taxes. There will always be room for good estate planners and tax accountants in my opinion.
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    it means... that only smart people would have work... no more factory workers thus dumb people would go one step more down the hierarchical ladder...
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    Quote Originally Posted by blackscorp View Post
    it means... that only smart people would have work... no more factory workers thus dumb people would go one step more down the hierarchical ladder...
    Actually, a good accountant and estate planner can prevent precisely the fate you predict by ensuring that blue collar workers hang on to more of their earned wages. A lot of people are not aware of the various tax breaks to which they may be entitled and pay more that they should in taxes. A good estate (and retirement) planner helps people to plan for the future so that the government doesn't get most of the inheritance.

    Just by a small intervention, people can learn how to keep more of what they earn, now and for their future. While corporate accounting and dealing with huge sums of money can get pretty complicated, just about anyone can learn enough basic math to do their own personal income tax.
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    Quote Originally Posted by scheherazade View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by blackscorp View Post
    it means... that only smart people would have work... no more factory workers thus dumb people would go one step more down the hierarchical ladder...
    Actually, a good accountant and estate planner can prevent precisely the fate you predict by ensuring that blue collar workers hang on to more of their earned wages. A lot of people are not aware of the various tax breaks to which they may be entitled and pay more that they should in taxes. A good estate (and retirement) planner helps people to plan for the future so that the government doesn't get most of the inheritance.

    Just by a small intervention, people can learn how to keep more of what they earn, now and for their future. While corporate accounting and dealing with huge sums of money can get pretty complicated, just about anyone can learn enough basic math to do their own personal income tax.
    people don't wanna keep what they earn but expend...but what I meant is that the factorys today use stil a significant number of employes wich will be changed for automatic machines... ... it means ... that those people who used to work in factorys probably cant find other jobs...
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    Quote Originally Posted by scheherazade View Post
    The two certainties of human existence are death and taxes. There will always be room for good estate planners and tax accountants in my opinion.
    And I am married to an amazing one!
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    Quote Originally Posted by scheherazade View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by blackscorp View Post
    it means... that only smart people would have work... no more factory workers thus dumb people would go one step more down the hierarchical ladder...
    Actually, a good accountant and estate planner can prevent precisely the fate you predict by ensuring that blue collar workers hang on to more of their earned wages. A lot of people are not aware of the various tax breaks to which they may be entitled and pay more that they should in taxes. A good estate (and retirement) planner helps people to plan for the future so that the government doesn't get most of the inheritance.

    Just by a small intervention, people can learn how to keep more of what they earn, now and for their future. While corporate accounting and dealing with huge sums of money can get pretty complicated, just about anyone can learn enough basic math to do their own personal income tax.
    I have this guy!!
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    If there had been a payment for moderators , surely there will be much more competition for job here too.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stanley514 View Post
    Other jobs which could become under threat in the far future 1) Firefighters. Ultimately, everything could be made out of non-flammable materials. I wonder why they still fight with forest fires and just do not plant inflammable trees? 2) Car washers. Car paint will repulse any dirt.____Many predict also that automatic check lines will replace all the store cashers. I do not see how could it happen in near future though. Somebody still suppose to play security function and prevent shop-lifting. And many people (especially senior) prefer that somebody would handle and pack groceries for them.
    that is silly
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    Quote Originally Posted by billvon View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Stanley514 View Post
    Who said people work for the same money?
    Some would, some wouldn't. Some would prefer to make more money by working 40 hours a week. That's what most people do now because that's the norm.

    Doubled productivity doesn't mean doubled purchasing power of salaries for majority of people.
    It's close to it. Workplace productivity directly translates into workplace buying power, which was one of the lessons of Henry Ford's approach. (Buying power, of course, does not directly translate to quality of life.)

    Also increased unemployment leads to salaries stagnation and even depreciation since price of any goods (including workforce) could grow only if demand exceeds supply.
    Exactly. So to make them match either reduce demand (not good) or reduce supply. Reducing supply means people working fewer hours.
    My husband works at least 56 hours a week....sometimes...70 or more...my daughter the same...son just laid off
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