This may be an odd title for a blog but I have read over the years to hopes that the Internet and Technology will save us all from the ravages of unemployment. Other material has been written that only those who are able to use computers will have gainful employment. Then there are those who believe that when automation is fully upon us we shall all be able to have creative employment,. The idea that economic activity is a zero-sum game is ignored and I can understand why so many think that economic growth is so magical. As a whole, the world’s population is unable to see how one man’s gain is another man’s loss. After all, economic growth is just doing more of the same, when and where that happens is usually a local consideration. Plant more apple trees so we can harvest more apples and sell them, except that demand has a set of definite limits and when those limits are reached we find ourselves with too many apples rotting in the barrel. And if we can buy machines to harvest more apples and lay off our human apple pickers then we decrease the number of buyers or people who demand apples. A man without any money is not a customer at any price. And if you are an economist by formal education and training then you have been taught that all markets will clear and reach their points of equilibrium, except they don’t which is why we have recessions and booms and all the other wild things in our economic zoo.
So why should we believe some economics professor when he states most assuredly that the future will look like this and be like that? What are these obvious patterns he sees and why isn’t his personal insight little more than rank speculation? Most of these fools fail to see the whole cloth when they cut their garments of the future to wear now. The nature of mankind is that one is either self employed, employed by another, or unemployed. Children are, for the most part, unemployed. That is not to say that they may not do any work aiding their respective families, but they derive their sustenance from their families and not from their own direct efforts. So we shall leave them aside for the moment. On the other hand one may become too old and infirm to do much for oneself and thus derive some or all of one’s sustenance from family, friends or state. This is another special case and I shall leave it aside as well. Our concern is the individual, the man or the woman who needs some employment. I say need because in order to do for oneself one needs employment. Yes, we can talk about bums and welfare queens but those are the exceptions usually supported by unnatural means, meaning other individuals or states.
Given that people, individuals want employment in the economic sector if only for the reason that it gives them a sense of security from fear and want, then we must recognize those wants and fears. And given that there are very few, if any, Gardens of Eden available then we must assume that the nature of economic activity in its basic sense is one of cooperation. That is, unless we all have our 40 acres and a mule, we must work in some sort of cooperative effort to exist. If I am self employed I still depend on others to buy my goods or services and they depend on me to buy goods or services from them as needed. Whether we live in a barter economy or one based of fiat money, all economies are exchanged based and it is only the way that one keeps score that differs. But you won’t find any modern economic textbooks making this point. Economics is assumed to be external, scientific, and wholly intellectually isolated from real personal experience. What fools these professors be! We revel in the economy every day. We wallow in it, we breathe it in, it is our life blood. It is not about learning how to use computers or program them and service robots and bow down to the technology gods. Individuals must have food, shelter, and clothing to exist. And they must have interactions with other individuals. No matter how many robots are built and take jobs away from human individuals, these humans have needs that must be met or they will die.
Concentrate on that last sentence for a moment. I do not know any person who really wants to die, especially so that a robot can eliminate his life for no other reason that he is no longer employable and therefore useless. But that is the obvious logical conclusion professed by so many of these experts writing of future employment. Endangered employment is endangered life, it is that simple. Yes, we can lay of all those minimum wage employees and replace them with robots and other machines but we cannot replace their wages and their participation in the economy. A laid off employee without an income is not a customer of any commercial enterprise. He is a liability upon those various enterprises. And at some point work must be provided, opportunities must be made for these individuals to have some hope of improvement. The French revolution was more about the dislocation of wealth within that country, Paris being the poster child for dissatisfaction on all class levels. We cannot cure the Fergusons of this country by misallocation of employment and incomes. And artificial means of raising minimum wage does not create employment nor preserve such work. The inflation of extreme debt has destroyed the futures of so many, it cannot be repaid through an increased reliance on technological innovation and invention. The concentration of wealth only serves to remind the many that the few have rigged the game and the only way to correct the situation is to drastically change the rules. And that drastic way is usually through some sort of revolt or revolution. Concentration of wealth is counterproduction to a healthy economy. It is no sin to be rich but it is to be ultrawealthy. Life is about checks and balances and for those with more capabilities than others there needs to be more obstacles to great economic domination. The use of technology is as much a curse as it is a boon for mankind when used in an irresponsible mannersocial