The Future is Shocking

Ellie

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Israeli Roey Tzezana says middle-class jobs will vanish, polarization between rich and poor will grow – and it will happen faster than you think

“The level of unemployment in the United States is the lowest ever, but many of the new jobs only keep those filling them alive – so they don’t complain too much. In general, from the 1950s we have been seeing that the productivity compared to the effort invested has risen at a stupefying pace – that is how the world will become a better place. To produce more with less.”
“But if until the 1970s the hourly pay for an employee rose at the same rate – a relationship existed between productivity and hourly wages – 40 to 50 years ago a dramatic change began. Productivity continued to grow, between 1973 and 2014 it rose by 74% – but the hourly pay rose only by 9%. It’s amazing. My explanation for this process is that at the same time the machines that were capable of being programmed came in, so did flexible work. You needed the average worker from the middle class less and it was possible to switch to machines to close factories and move them to China, where wages are lower,” says Tzezana.
 

Brenda Archer

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People are trying to live without healthcare on wages that are too low/not enough hours and the death rate rise is worse for Millennials.

Meanwhile, too many people don’t/can’t realize what automation is doing.

The problem with retraining is that it will be charged for, at rates that lock out even the small fraction of the working poor who are able to absorb it. Underfunding means decent retraining will not usually get into the employment office or many public schools. If someone is poor enough, books, and a computer good enough to train on, can be out of reach.

So the ten percent will have normalcy, by working very hard, and the poor will be locked out and mostly misinformed.

Wealth has to represent genuine assets and productivity, or it’s a big bubble. The Trump tax cut fueled stock buybacks, and by extension, a bubble. Consumer spending can’t keep up enough to drive the economy. Since we can’t seem to get even a Keynesian government, much less a social democracy, we’re headed for another depression.

The rich seem to think that with enough discipline, this is manageable. It is more accurate to say wealth cannot survive the collapse of the rule of law and much of it cannot even survive a depression, so the stupidity now in charge is not actually self-interest, it’s a kind of unimaginative ego. Fascism has already given up on the 20th century order.

Yang’s insight is mostly correct, but of course he doesn’t stand a chance, not so much because capitalism hates him, but because the fascists hate what used to be capitalism.

I’m not sure the US can avoid third world status.
 

Beebo Brink

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Labor is devalued when there are too many people, more than are needed to perform essential work. That puts all the power on the side of the employers.

One of the side effects of the plague pandemics that swept through Europe and removed half to 2/3 of the population was that the surviving serfs benefited from higher wages and the dismantling of the very institution of serfdom. Labor was scarce, and as such more valued.

Unfortunately, we don't seem capable of engineering that balance ourselves. Less drastic remedies than the Black Death would be nice for a change.
 

Eunoli

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I’m not sure the US can avoid third world status.
In the future, third world status might well just be ''all world status'. As climate changes collides with corporate greed and corrupt politicians, the standard of living everywhere is going to deteriorate. As pointed out in the OP - it might not even be that far off.
 

danielravennest

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I've been worrying about the "technological unemployment" problem for half a dozen years now. It's not just people being put out of work becoming poor. It's that they can no longer pay rent or mortgage payments, so landlords and lenders lose out. They don't pay sales taxes, so local governments lose out. They don't pay income taxes, so state and federal government lose out. They don't buy the products that capitalists are selling, so the capitalists lose out too.

Our system is based on trading specialized labor for money, then money for all the other stuff you need and want. By specialized, I mean people work at one or two kinds of job rather than doing everything for themselves. A carpenter might frame his own house, but then need an electrician and plumber to do their parts. Many of us never use whatever product the company we work for makes. So when the unemployed don't have a way to get money, the whole system breaks down.

UBI is just a new name for what used to be called a negative income tax. In both cases, if you are low enough income, you get more than you pay to the government. It is only a temporary solution, though. As automation and robotics gets better, fewer and fewer people will have traditional jobs from which taxes can be collected. Then where does the UBI funding come from?

My answer is a private version of "workers owning the means of production". Automation and robotics good enough to put lots of people out of work is also good enough to produce basic goods and services (food, shelter, utilities, etc.). So we form cooperatives to build and run the machines, which then supply the basics of what we need to live. People can still work and trade with each other on top of that for non-essentials.

In theory, the government could supply the basics using automation. But I don't trust them not to fuck it up somehow. I trust people more to run things for themselves where they directly benefit.
 

Free

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I just want me some fully automated luxury gay space communism.
Ironically, fully automated luxury gay space communism will cost more than fully automated luxury gay space capitalism. But it's still cheaper by a bit than fully automated luxury gay space anarchism.
 

Brenda Archer

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Ironically, fully automated luxury gay space communism will cost more than fully automated luxury gay space capitalism. But it's still cheaper by a bit than fully automated luxury gay space anarchism.
It might be easier on the environment, too.

The people currently at the top of the heap are showing signs of being willing to turn the whole planet into an open-air prison, so we need both a faction fighting for better terms for the workers and a faction fighting for spaces where the law doesn’t overdetermine everything. We also still need some defense against thievery, without making cops into gods. It is a tall order, to be sure.