Summarized ideas introduced in the article:
* Allowing for inflation to tackle unemployment (from 1.)
* Less monopole granting intellectual property laws (from 1.)
* Work-sharing programs (from 1.)
* Publicly funded higher education and training (from 1.)
* Subsidized education and training (from 2.)
* Making job benefits like health insurance and retirement funds more “portable,” (from 2.)
* Expanding the earned-income tax credit (from 3.)
> This set of proposals is based on the idea that the emerging wave of digital disruption won’t result in a permanent loss of demand for workers, but rather shifts in what types of work the economy needs.
The unemployed only know that making a living in a lousy industry is better than not making any living at all.
Human principles of fairness are based very heavily on social constructs of tribe and group survival that predate civilization by 10^5 to 10^7 years. Human thought is extremely malleable, I think the human psychology jury is still out on precisely how malleable "fairness" is.
That having been said, it feels like if we could start by ratcheting most people from a 40-hour week to a 30-hour week without cutting their pay, that'd square with the gut feeling of fairness. ;)
One legacy of agricultural and industrial production has been the devaluing of just about all "non-productive" activity. A broad re-valuation of what we spend our time on might be a good place to start re-calibrating our sense of fairness.
I think one of the problems today is there really isn't a way to self sustain anymore with just land and some hard work, so we need jobs to survive.
A "job" is not something you need. You need to contribute to society and you need support from society as well, and we currently structure that relationship primarily through jobs and "the economy" but that structure is what's going away. The question is, what to replace it with?
Automation is a good thing. From the point of view of the machines Moore's Law means that humans are becoming exponentially more valuable! (Thanks to Mark Miller for that gem.)
Unless you can do something that a machine can't be programmed to do you have a serious problem, though. What will your children be? And their children? We are deciding today what our distant descendants will be doing.
An A.I. koan:
Q: What can you do that a machine cannot?
A: Could a machine answer that question?
I think it's a bit sensationalist to assume that all work everywhere will be automated.
Even if we get to the point where that happens, capitalism as we know it would crumble if there is literally only automated jobs and robots owners.
1. Industrial revolution made obsolete physical work. The physical work that is done today (for instance, blue collar workers, waiters) is about mental capacities, not physical.
2. The brain is a physical object that process information (no magic).
3. At some point we will able to create machine that process information better than the human brain, making humans obsoletes.
If we accept that premises, the only question left is "when?".
>>"Even if we get to the point where that happens, capitalism as we know it would crumble if there is literally only automated jobs and robots owners."
I agree with that.
Exactly! What happens after capitalism?
The discussion should be, "what do we do when that happens"?
Person comes home from a coalmine job, grumbling because there are rumors going around that the mine is going to buy a bunch of automatic conveyors and lay off half the miners. They come in through the basement entrance straight into the laundry room (people who've lived in coal country, you know how that works ;) ) and toss their grubby clothes directly into the washing machine. How are they gonna make ends meet if they get laid off, they wonder?
They do not for one second stop and consider that a scant hundred years ago, a person would have been the one doing that laundry the machine is doing right now.
Reducing the value of human labor never goes well. As people become less valuable they become easier to abuse. There will always be a dirtier and more dangerous job to be done.
We used to spend most of our people growing food. Then we got tractors and combines, and we could spend only 2% of our people growing food. We spent the newly-available people on factories - some to make tractors and combines, but more to make cars and dishwashers and tons of other things. It was an overall improvement to society - we could spend our people on more productive uses.
We need to do the same in this situation. We can automate factories. Great! We don't have to spend as many people making stuff. The trick is to find better things to spend our people on. If we can, those new things, being more useful to society than factory work, should also pay better than factory work.
But what are those "better" things? Aye, there's the rub...
Years of tax cuts for corporations and the rich combined with the destruction of Unions and workers ability to collectively bargain has created this problem. Start taxing wealth and corporate profits at post-ww2 levels, increase protections for workers. Encourage co-operatives, profit sharing, and other forms of worker control and ownership.
Automation OTOH, is a global problem that requires wider-reaching systemic changes. And while the western world will likely cope by inventing more white-collar bullshit make-believe jobs, people in developing world will likely be hit very hard.
The thrust of the argument is that we've misconstrued value and thus don't properly account for all the activity in the economy, overcounting things which aren't 'productive' in the historical economic sense (like finance, FB's ad market), while undercounting other activities, including those of govt - before everyone jumps on me, both Marx AND Smith agreed that finance didn't contribute to productivity, merely enabled it.
There are lots of externalities (pollution) that are hard to measure.
Maybe we all get assigned a robot as our "work" and we get the robot's pay.
If we don't tax automation, what's to stop increasingly cheaper automation from replacing increasingly expensive first world workers? Especially when businesses are expected to increase salaries yearly, provide expensive benefits like healthcare - businesses would rather pay up-front for automation.
The thing I like about this (its not my model but it’s my favorite) is that it happens at the input side so it codifies the idea of Reduce Reuse Recycle by setting a base cost where it’s cheaper to recycle and purify than it is to use virgin materials.
I've read that land/material-based taxes instead of income-based could raise enough to fund a GBI, and be sort of organized like Alaska's oil fund.
PS: if the evil robot owners produce stuff and keep it for themselves without selling them, the rest of the world still has needs that are unmet and we end up in exactly the world we have today
How will humans gather resources after the 'job' method is automated?
Or will we even need to gather resources anymore and will be able to focus on art and scientific pursuits and advancing the human race?
Regardless, I haven't seen better suggestions yet.
Not everybody knows what they want to do at 9 years old like I did. I watch friends and family struggle their whole lives with this and recognize that I was very fortunate.
That said if I had health insurance and programmer culture was a bit different I would work 30 hours a week, get nearly as much done and have more time for family and hobbies.
Think of how advanced the human race could get if no one was starving and people's attention could be focused on science and art and building cool new technology to better the human race.
One day people will look back at how we live as extremely primitive.
> In your lifetime the current economic paradigm will become as quaint and bizarre as a Renaissance Faire.
> The handwriting is on the wall, plain to see for all. With the rapid sweep and accelerating scope of technological development, most people will be left behind. Just sitting there you are becoming relatively more ignorant as a sort of inflation of the mind occurs all around you. There is no way you can keep up with it all, so how is a normal person going to do it?
> These are the options for normal people:
1 Exterminate them.
2 Enslave them.
3 Pay them to stay home and play video games.
4 Trick them into make-work and drudgery.
5 Something else...
If you split that evenly among 300 million people, each would get $11,000, which is half of the poverty line of $22,000.
Even if you thought that little money was acceptable, to afford it you'd have to cut:
1. all military programs
2. all existing social security programs
3. all government infrastructure projects
4. all education programs
Since the average tax burden for those making $500k+ is around 30% already, that would effectively mean taxing them at 90%.
I don't think it's politically feasible.
I benefit from lack of competition in my field leading to significantly higher-than-average compensation, but I have to say that I'm intrigued by the idea of giving everyone the freedom to find something to do which meets their aptitude rather than wasting what might be a lot of really smart, capable people, or artists, etc, who have to piss away precious hours of their possibly productive time flipping burgers or something else equally valueless. It may not fit well into our current "meritocracy" ideal but I wonder if we wouldn't build a much better world if we upended our existing incentives a bit. Enough money for everyone to survive (with roommates and such) but little enough that there remains an incentive to go earn more.
And the other side of this is to try to bring down costs. Hopefully a basic income will encourage more regular doctor visits and fewer expensive emergencies. We should also be able to reduce some kinds of welfare spending if food and rent are being paid from the new basic income. And there are already plans underway to increase availability of cheaper housing.
If the tax rate is too high, then people won't replace jobs with robots. That's a negative feedback on the behavior we're worried about, so that's not a bad thing.
Remember that problem with the glassblower? He had no one to replace him because there was no market for a journeyman chem glass blower so nobody followed behind. We will have the same problems elsewhere.
It's the precisely the lack of these low-skill workers that will drive the necessity of automation, because the cost of hiring people will become too expensive.
Quartz published a well-research article last year on the same topic: "Low-skill workers aren’t actually the ones most threatened by robots" https://qz.com/1010831/the-middle-skill-job-is-disappearing-...
The jobs don't belong to workers, so the premise is entirely wrong to begin with.
While yes, that shouldn't mean one is necessarily entitled to anything, I want my tax funds going towards helping people who have unforeseen things happen to them. If they lose a job, or get sick, or their head-of-household/primary income passes away, or they are the victim of abuse ... I want my funds to help those people.
Maybe now things are how you say, but it's not a divine mandate.
If you see the government as a tool of society, it's the society who should choose the role of the government through the democratic process.
Exactly. It is not the job of the State to make sure everybody has a job. Arguably all the State should do is protect property rights, enforce contracts and provide some notion of a "justice system". And really, all three of those things can be debated.
The best way to think of it, IMO, is the way Bastiat put it by describing "the law" as "no more than the collective extension to our individual right to self defense". (paraphrased slightly).
It's that simple. No moral arguments are necessary.
Within a given model, complexity tends to increase with time and thus so does corruption. Perhaps another way to look at it is just to consider corruption as one form of complexity. Eventually complexity increases beyond the point of diminishing returns into negative territory. Then the system collapses. This is the position of Joseph Tainter, one I find particularly compelling.
The best way to think of it, IMO, is the way Marx described the State which is a group built to protect the bourgeoisie.
It should (will? could?) eventually reach a point in which the State represents a social contract between all members of a civil society to work in the group's overall best interests.
It's funny, I've got a whole pile of books by, and on, Marx, piled up waiting to be read (even though I'm a Libertarian in American terms. "know thy enemy" and all that) but finding time to get to that stuff is always the challenge.
I did not realize that Marx described the State as such. That is a somewhat interesting take on things.