The upcoming Worker's Revolution

Inspired by this post, although I’ve been thinking about this for quite a while.

I’m a 44 year old woman, and this is troubling me mightily. I own a construction company, and we are so much more efficient every year. From when I started 20 years ago, there are at least 30% less people on the job site. The office is even more efficient.

We are making humans obsolete. From the empty guardhouses, to the ATM, etc. I’m doing it to save money and keep my company lean and profitable. Payroll and payroll compliances are expensive.

I am not anti technology, I fully embrace it, and am thrilled by breakthroughs like 3d printing that are truly revolutionary. We run an almost paperless office.

I also believe that humans are designed to do stuff, be creative thinkers, be physically active, work. For our mental and physical well being. If we don’t need to work, what then?

From what I see, our society/government is backing into a solution, rather than proactively dealing with future. If our “leisure class” is going to significantly increase, let’s sponsor inventors, economists, doctors, artists, scientists to improve the human race, as opposed to expanding the definitions of disability, or setting out a minimum dole so the uneducated, unmotivated can while the hours away on xbox, depressed.

I’ve built homes in Haiti. I went in there like a typical American, wanting to build fast, efficient, and consistent. It took me a while to grasp the idea that Haitians need to develop skills, experience and earn a living wage, to become middle class and the leaders and business owners of tomorrow, as opposed to just taking handouts and moving in the homes we Americans built for them as efficiently as possible. We’ve went down that road in Haiti before, and we crippled that country in many ways.

Labor inefficiency goes against every thing we were taught, but times have changed.

An idle, uneducated, unmotivated, no hope to improve their circumstances underclass is a dangerous thing.

What should we do? How can we proactively plan for this future?

That was a good post by Pullin and I have been feeling the same way as his dad for a good 5-10 years now. This is the entire reason that I am anti-Republican and anti-Libertarian even though I share many of their economic ideals (their religious and social views are anathema to me). The drum beat of austerity is really short sighted in this time of economic and social change and the inability of policy makers to understand this pisses me off no end. The democratic party does not understand this either, but at least they are trying to put their fingers in the dike.

Looking back through history it seems clear to me that all our most important social welfare programs arose from economic changes in the wider world. While I know it was more complicated than what I am laying out here, one of the reasons for social security is that the family farm disappeared and a whole generation of old people did not have a place to go to die. Similarly, one of the reasons for Medicare is that a whole generation of older people did not have anyone to take care of them with women entering the workforce in droves. This is the overarching reason these types of programs (support for the elderly, universal healthcare, support for the poor and unemployed) were instituted world wide in the time periods they were instituted; the economic problems created by industrialization could have destabilized society and governments saw this and took action. It had nothing to do with the ideologies of socialism and communism, it was the reaction to a economic problem. IMHO, YMMV.

Just wait until we have driverless cars, trucks, and an internet of things. Wait until more and more commerce moves to the internet and more and more brick and motor stores continue to shut down. Just wait until we optimize automate the rest of our manufacturing sector. Just wait for the upcoming revolution we will have in education to to high bandwidth internet connections and online education. Just wait until we perfect drone technology. I would not be surprised if the current automation and information revolution and globalization wipes out 95 percent of jobs in the western world. I am sure that the economy will change and new jobs will appear; people will find things to do and will trade their labor for things they find valuable. Capitalism is successful for a reason, but the intervening years will be really tough on the next generation and we need to support people while we move through it.

Even my job as a highly trained engineer with 20 years of experience and a high degree of specialization is in danger. The software I use to do my job, the optimization and analysis routines, are light years beyond what existed 10-15 years ago. It is getting to the point where a smart person with no special training in engineering could drive the software to get a design as good as anything I could do; just give it 10=20 more years in software improvement and I would not be surprised if this happens. There are already computers out their that are as good as a human doctor at diagnosing illnesses. Hell, there are programs out there that are 100 times better than a doctor at detecting infections (these programs are starting to be used in hospitals to find MERSA and other infections before they become noticeable to the staff - they rely on data mining of patient statistics). What other fields am I missing? Finance? More that 30% of trades are being done by high speed networks with software written by smart people with math, computer science, and physics degrees.

I could go on and on…

The Leisure Class is also creating drones & other combat robots.

Violence against the Poor has always been seen as a “solution”.

This cannot end well for anybody.

First off, humans are “designed”, so that assumption fails.

Secondly, people have been screaming about this ever since the industrial revolution began. OMG, they’re automating the farms!! What will the 50% of the population do that’s currently working on farms. OMG, they’re automating the telephone switching system. What will all those women telephone operators do? OMG, what will the buggy-whip manufacturers do?

First off, how is your opening statement also not an assumption?
Second off, can we please avoid the “screaming” tag?

:smack: Aren’t designed. * Are not.*

Slapology accepted. :stuck_out_tongue:

A solution to excess labor? Maybe we can build huge glass towers full of cubicles and just shove 'em in there and let them do busy work all day.

Soon enough people will be able to buy a machine to scream for them.

It’s called cable news.

Or legalize pot.

Do you happen to have any data, statistics, numbers etc. that correspond with this sentiment? AFAIK there is much greater spending by the government on the inventors, doctors and scientists than on the uneducated and unmotivated. If you take in all the zero interest guaranteed loans the government backs for education I would say that that figure increases by a large margin. I also think there has been more of a trend in welfare cutbacks and similar programs than an increase - but if you know differently or have different figures you’re working with I think it would be interesting to see.

As for technological displacement goes, according to Wikipedia, these sentiments have been around since at least around 1799 when Ned Ludd broke two stocking frames. Since that time, on a global scale, the average human lives much longer, works more hours, enjoys much greater access to resources and has a quality of life that the average person in the 18th century could barely have dreamed of. AFAIK, there is pretty broad agreement among those that study these things, neither of these assesments would be considered controversial.

Actually, I suspect the average human works fewer hours than they did in 17-whatever or 18-whatever. 10-12 hour days were the norm Monday through Friday with a half day on Saturday. While some people do work 60-70 hour weeks these days that’s not the baseline any more. Plenty of people work less.

well, you have to give people some security. not everyone has the wherewithal to start a company or work two jobs are work on making inventions in their basement on the weekends. in the past most of these people would of worked in factories or been janitors or had a truck with a delivery route. jobs that pay enough and keep you busy but aren’t really stressful or demanding.

now, as far as getting people off of disability, whether it is physical or mental, you have to give them some security. i’d come off of disability immediately if i knew that three years from now when i had another breakdown, i’d get my disability back. but i wouldn’t. it’s very hard to get it back.

Employment rate per population since 1943, showing employment levels are much higher. PDF

Disability rates

Article from NPR outlining the inverse of welfare to disability, the increases, etc.

I’m not Chicken Little, and I’m far from a Luddite. This has been percolating in my little mind for a while, it’s interesting to start to research it, even if there is conflicting info.

Average workweek is 34 hours

There a lot of valuable stats in that link.

If this is the official site, it’s cheesy as all hell.

But it has 3%education, social security 24%, welfare 10%.

Also, iPads are fine as toys, worthless for actual work/research.

I’ve been reading that, and I don’t blame you. The employment rates of people who had once been on disability are less than two percent. Plus you can lose health benefits, etc.

If you don’t mind me asking, what do you DO all day? Is it fulfilling, do you feel like you are contributing to the betterment of yourself, your family, society, even if it’s in a very minor way? Do you ever expect to leave disability? What would the circumstances have to be?

That’s not an official government website.

Not disputing your claim, but where is the 24% for social security coming from? And does that include social security retirement spending, rather than disability spending?

Marx took the old Latin word “proletariat” as a label for the working class, but it’s rather a misnomer because the ancient Roman proletariat, although they were laborers, were in an entirely different position. The Roman proletariat were citizens who’d been displaced from the primary middle-class vocation- freeholder farmer- by the rise of large-scale plantations owned by the rich and worked by slaves from the conquered provinces. The displaced had nothing to do except move to the cities and get what day labor was available (also in competition with slaves) and rely on handouts subsidized by competing politicians. So ironically the “proletariat” are really becoming the original “proletariat”.

2010 budget, it’s wiki.

$743B Medicare/Medicaid

$695B social security

$663B defense

$571B welfare, unemployment

$47B HUD

$46B education.

Now,I know there is slush money for grants in other departments, energy, agriculture, NASA, etc. but not sure how to drill down for that info.