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WhatsApp And The Jobless Economy

Facebook pays $19 billion for WhatsApp, a company with 55 employees. Are we building a jobless economy?

This Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014 photo shows the WhatsApp and Facebook app icons on an iPhone in New York. On Wednesday, the world's biggest social networking company announced it is buying mobile messaging service WhatsApp for up to $19 billion in cash and stock. WhatsApp has only 55 employees. (AP)

This Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014 photo shows the WhatsApp and Facebook app icons on an iPhone in New York. On Wednesday, the world’s biggest social networking company announced it is buying mobile messaging service WhatsApp for up to $19 billion in cash and stock. WhatsApp has only 55 employees. (AP)

First reaction to the news last week that Facebook would buy upstart WhatsApp for $19 billion was all about the money.  Nineteen billion dollars is a lot of money.  But the next wave of reaction is about jobs.  WhatsApp, the young company selling for $19 billion, has 55 employees.  Fifty-five employees driving, in dollar terms, maybe the biggest start-up success story of all time.  If all it takes is 55 employees, where are the jobs going to be in this century’s economy?  This hour On Point:  Work, jobs and structuring a society for the WhatsApp economy.

– Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Andrew McAfee, associate director of the Center for Digital Business at the M.I.T. Sloan School of Management. Co-author of “The Second Machine Age” and “Race Against the Machine.” Author of “Enterprise 2.0.” (@amcafee)

Erik Brynjolfsson, professor at the M.I.T. Sloan School of Management, director of the Center for Digital Business. Co-author of “The Second Machine Age” and “Race Against the Machine.” Author of “Wired for Innovation.” (@erikbryn)

Noah Smitheconomist and professor of finance at Stony Brook University. Writes at the economics blog “Noahpinion.” (@Noahpinion)

From Tom’s Reading List

The Atlantic: The Dawn of the Age of Artificial Intelligence — “The advances we’ve seen in the past few years—cars that drive themselves, useful humanoid robots, speech recognition and synthesis systems, 3D printers,Jeopardy!-champion computers—are not the crowning achievements of the computer era. They’re the warm-up acts. As we move deeper into the second machine age we’ll see more and more such wonders, and they’ll become more and more impressive.”

Slate: Will Technology Make Work Better for Everyone? — “Predicting the future of technology will always be tough, let alone predicting how social and technological factors will interact over time. Both ‘The Second Machine Age’ and the Economist are generally optimistic: McAfee and Brynjolfsson envision a world with “less need to work doing boring, repetitive tasks and more opportunity for creative and interactive work.” Similarly, the Economist takes the viewpoint that although ‘innovation kills some jobs, it creates new and better ones.’”

Huffington Post: Inequality, Productivity, and WhatsApp — “Whatsapp’s value doesn’t come from making anything. It doesn’t need a large organization to distribute its services or implement its strategy.It value comes instead from two other things that require only a handful of people. First is its technology — a simple but powerful app that allows users to send and receive text, image, audio and video messages through the Internet. The second is its network effect: The more people use it, the more other people want and need to use it in order to be connected. To that extent, it’s like Facebook — driven by connectivity.”

Read An Excerpt From “The Second Machine Age” By Erik Brynjolfsson And Andrew Mcafee

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • Fiscally_Responsible

    I can think of a great way to add some government jobs that will actually make money for the taxpayer. Hire some additional cops to simply follow newly elected Mayor DeBlaisio around and give him a ticket every time he runs a stop sign. There was a video posted on the internet that showed him running through stop sign after stop sign the other day. If he really believes in equality, rather than believing that the law does not apply to him despite his “I identify with the little guy” hyperbole, the fines will exceed the salaries and fringe benefits of the new employees. But I forgot. Liberals are all for higher taxes and enforced laws, as long as it isn’t applied to them!

  • Government_Banking_Serf

    Its called the QE I II III bubble. Open Fed Window for Wall St Class to play with, create malinvestment bubbles, prop up speculative companies and overpay for fads.

    As always, those well connected to Oz will make out like the lawless crony bandits they are, and the rest of us will wait to suffer more chaos when the bubble pops.

    Organic economy? Sound money? Pricing mechanisms? Competition?

    Oh Phsaw! That idea is so 1700′s. Koch brotherish even!

    Bailouts and Technocratic Banker Rule and Crony Capitalism, thats more our game!

  • Unterthurn

    An app that is not available for iPad.
    Prefer to use Fring, Skype, Viber.

  • creaker

    It’s the downside of productivity increases – eventually you get to a point where so few workers are needed there’s no one left to buy anything and the whole system falls over.

    • Government_Banking_Serf

      Sit back, relaxxxx, we’ve been liberated!

      Small scale local organic farming of plants and animals would provide plenty of work for us all, and exercise and sustainability to boot.

      But legal pot, Xboxes and Fed-subsidized Doritos sounds more fun! And with the new Whats App, we can text our high scores for the low, low price of handing over our privacy!

      What’s wrong with a loafer class? We earned it! What could possibly go wrong?

  • AC

    …..!!!!…..

  • Yar

    A man sat at a well and ask the woman for a drink, she ask where is the true place of worship, for some say Facebook, while others claim Twitter. The man answered the time has come when the mode of communication doesn’t matter, for community is the only true form of worship. Go and love your neighbor. The woman was perplexed for she could not tell which side the man was on. She went into her village and said she found one who didn’t pick sides. Many believed and followed. The economy collapsed but the people knew how to care for each other so they didn’t really care.

    • Government_Banking_Serf

      The commune becomes a nasty place when those with less of an altruistic sense of responsibility or duty start to nap on the haystacks.

      Then what. Your left poking them with your pitchfork. Doesn’t end well.

  • geraldfnord

    What fraction of the populace enjoy their jobs, get personal satisfaction from their work, or really benefit humanity thereby? What fraction of us are physically or mentally injured by the job, and the attendant low place in a palpably close hierarchy that means for most of us?

    Most jobs seem to me to have less to do with getting useful work done than with doing things necessary only to other jobs, and the system as a whole mostly about making sure thatmost people feel they must obey someone else’s orders or suffer. It’s a lot easier to keep people in line when they’ve developed the habit of acting so; I detect a strong whiff of ‘Most people _need_ to be bossed—not fine folk like you and me, of course. ‘ in much talk on the subject, and though privatised such were better for us than being bossed by the government with physical force, commands backed by the threat of hunger, exposure, illness, humiliation, and criminal victimisation serve well to instill obedience. .

    Our problem is not that of too few jobs but of low incomes and a dearth of meaningful (or meaning-accessible) work.

    • Government_Banking_Serf

      Either have self discipline to be productive and sober by your own volition, or get bossed.

      I have to agree with Billy C on this one, With Freedom, Comes Responsibility.

      Idle time is the plaything of the Devil or whatever. Quaint, but true. Or is it just a Kochism?

      We shouldn’t pretend that a loafing, or unmotivated attitude will bring good things. At best it will create a permanent leisure class with an indentured underclass that still does the work. And that can only happen with a great curtailment of liberty. A tyranny of the majority if you will.

      There will never be a panacea, much as central planning elites would have you believe. There might be for some of them, and that is by YOU being a…

      Government Banking Serf

  • Government_Banking_Serf

    Lets just embrace our Liberation and, in the jargon of the day, start Jonestown 2.0!

  • myblusky

    Wasn’t that the dream and hope of our society – to have more free time and less work – to have machines automate most tasks so we wouldn’t have to work and could pursue our passions and have more leisure time?

    I guess we didn’t think about the fact that people would need jobs for money. Maybe we should figure out how we can achieve the dream of more free time / better quality of life – and still earn an income in the age of technology.

    • Government_Banking_Serf

      Ahhh the dream, the dream.

      Can’t we all just get along? Can’t we all just pitch in enough on the commune? I promise, I PROMISE I’ll pull my weight. Tomorrow.

      Constitution, Rule of Law applied equally to all, and Free Markets with Rule of Law punishing cheaters enforcing basic anti-trust rules.

      Can’t we leave well enough alone, and just get back to work and enjoying our life the best we can?

      Sure beats revolutions.

      Founders did some hard historic thinking. Too bad we piss it away today.

      • myblusky

        Societies evolve/change – whatever word you want to use – so saying can’t we leave well enough alone doesn’t work. If we did that then we wouldn’t have all the things we enjoy so immensely like Netflix and cell phones – not to mention all the innovations in emergency medicine, food preservation – like refrigerators – creature comforts like living in a well constructed home that stays warm in the winter.

        For better or worse, humans weren’t designed to leave things as they are.

        • Government_Banking_Serf

          Yes we can leave Constitutional Self Governance and Rule of Law alone, or we’ll have a real mess on our hands.

          Do whatever you want within that, start a commune, tell your friends what’s best for them, whatever. Maybe a better future will come out of you experiments.

          But to discard Classically Liberal foundations that get us as close as historically possible to a peaceful and prosperous culture, as opposed to cyclical revolutions ala Venezuela or Ukraine, is not going to fly.

    • cf_skeeve

      Isn’t the point of this discussion that we need to re-evaluate the “fact” that people need jobs for money? If we have an ability to meet the needs of people without having to work (or work as much) wouldn’t that lead to something closer to the dream you describe? Or what if we look at work as adding value to society in a more abstract way rather than a traditional job. this would require a significant paradigm shift, but may significantly enhance the lives of the majority of people.

  • TFRX

    At some point “jobless” is a bit of a misnomer to me.

    This goes a bit back to when the financial sector started ‘making money’ by pushing paper around in the ’80s. (Yes, it’d been going on, but the increase in the funnymoneyness started being exponential then.)

    How are these unrealized conjectures compared to by companies who actually do something in the real world for their money? When one can pull numbers out of their hinders like that, if someone else is actually running a service or delivering goods in the physical realm, how do they “compete” with that fantasy?

    It’s enough to make Netflix throw up its hands. And that’s a company based on three technologies that didn’t exist a quarter century ago (wireless access, on demand capability, DVDs), and pretty much killed the Lackluster video store (and all its imitators).

    • Government_Banking_Serf

      Making money by printing is a lot easier than by pushing.

      Which is liberating, really.

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    There “ain’t gonna be no jobs” in this New World. Begs the question: what are all these people breeding going to do with their offspring?

  • Government_Banking_Serf

    Somebody explain with a straight face how the use of Whats App will ever generate 19 billion dollars? Its almost like our fiat money is a joke? No…..say it isn’t so.

    Federal Reserve and the Pyramid Scheme.

    While Dems and many Repubs embrace it, I do not know. But greasy palms do feel good….

  • creaker

    Most of the jobs these days are jobs to help people incapable of using technology to buy stuff. The rest is all being reduced or automated or scaled down to the absolute minimum.

  • AC
  • James

    I would wish to kindly point out that the these newly minted millionaires are going to want to go on vacations (probably through the use of planes) eat at high end restaurants, buy expensive cars, maybe a new house, they may want to hire a tutor for their children, donate to their favorite causes, purchase high end clothing and jewelry, I’m sure I could go on.

    • adks12020

      So “trickle down”? If you look at the wealth disparity number that doesn’t seem to have worked out so far.

      • James

        I’d prefer to describe it is new innovation freeing up more labor to participate in new endeavors. Instead of 10,000 people working in the factory and 9500 bringing bagged lunches you have 2500 in a factory, the rest of them working else where (like as chefs) and 2,000 eating out everyday.

        • adks12020

          The problem is those jobs you are talking about don’t pay well. Chefs, for the most part, do not make much money. Even in very nice restaurants they earn a meager hourly wage. Unless that changes there will be serious problems. If wages went up then I could see your idea working out but we’ve seen what happens when people attempt to raise even the minimum wage let alone those that make above it and still can’t get by.

  • http://www.marketplacegazette.com/ Alec

    It is funny how technology was supposed to make EVERYONE’S better, but as fewer and fewer people can create huge technological advances, thus huge profits, we find that technology is only making the top 1%’s life better – leaving the rest of the moderately educated grappling with iPads and iPhones we can barely afford and are manufactured by third-world countries. When will America’s working class catch a break? When will this top-down economics finally disperse into those of us trying to live the American Dream by simply working hard. Those hard workers are being marginalized and sent home before their 401K’s mature creating a middle class gap the size of the grand canyon. Pretty soon that gap will be too big to bridge – even with technology!

  • Rgrdy

    Tom, this is a fascinating conversation. In addition to the lack of jobs in this new era, I’m wondering if you could also speak to the lack of production in actual commodities or goods. Candy Crush and What’s App seem to deal more with information manipulation instead of actual productivity to our economy. Thanks for another fantastic show!

    • Government_Banking_Serf

      its called Malinvestment. We would all do well to look it up.

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    For you newly-minted college graduates. As Bob Dylan sang: You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere.

    And C++ or M&A contract mastery isn’t going to be of much good, either. We can buy that kind of cheap cognitive ability overseas.

    Better to just go out into your region and meet a need. A real need. Those are projects and problems real folks require help with.

    San Jose, Washington, D.C., and NYC? You might as well move to the Emerald City of Oz: and go to work for the Flying Monkey Hedge Fund.

    • J__o__h__n

      The Emerald City had great hours: We get up at twelve and start to work at oneTake an hour for lunch and then at two we’re done
      Jolly good fun

  • Government_Banking_Serf

    Fiat Wealth.

  • AC

    jobs will be in programming, maintaining and creating –
    This is why i don’t understand people who want to cut budget on education? we not only NEED it, we need it for older workers….

  • Government_Banking_Serf

    What to do!? Sounds like we need benevolent Central Planners now more than ever!

  • Yar

    Why is it that 70 percent of cotton still picked by hand? People still have to eat, machines only drive down wages, it has been the case since John Henry and the steam drill.

  • Yar

    Digital technologies create digital wealth, easy come, easy go.

  • Government_Banking_Serf

    The insanity of people taking these “products” seriously as having intrinsic value is as depressing as the Frontline show about Generation “Like” and the youth who don’t know what “selling out” means.

    We’ve always had Snake Oil salesmen. Now they just benefit from open Fed Windows and Wall St./Madison ave backing.

  • Government_Banking_Serf

    We, humans, used to have jobs collecting peoples personal data?

    I don’t think so.

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    No point going to school trying to find a career when American Capitalism is laying folks off in their 40s & not hiring folks in their ’50s because “they don’t have usable skills.”

    It’s a rat race. And we don’t wait any longer for the rats to die of heart failure in the cubicle maze.

    So don’t enter it. Make your own life. And tell Obama’s New World economy to shove it.

  • Coastghost

    What does any guest think will happen over coming decades with the bottom two or three deciles of US population in both income and educational attainment? Should we anticipate efforts to “wire and program” the poor (physically, in their crania) to maximize their potential? or will robots not yet invented get assigned to custodianship of the poor and disadvantaged?

  • Yar

    NOOOOOOO, the environment can’t take all play!

  • KJ

    As automation reduces the need for workers and income falls for many people, won’t those people choose by necessity to have even fewer children? The US birth rate fell to its lowest level in 2012. Won’t this eventually lead to a planet with a tiny fraction of its current population?

  • Government_Banking_Serf

    “Yet”. There will be no Utopia. Not without force. Encouraging people to be sober and productive in our free market economy is a lot better than enslaving people to support a utopian elite leisure class.

  • Government_Banking_Serf

    Once a robot can wipe Granny, we’ll be all set!

  • Yar

    Half the world lives on less than 2 dollars per day.

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    Right. We’re all going to get rich taking in each other’s coding projects.

    The Middle Ages did that with village laundry. How well did that work out for Mr. and Mrs. NoName Serf?

  • Government_Banking_Serf

    Monetizing peoples personal information is job creation?

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    We’re asking Americans over 40 to join Grandma on the ice floe at the same time American Capitalism is wiping out the ice floes.

    EVERYBODY WINS!

  • twenty_niner

    Facebook and WhatsApp are complete zeros. Facebook started out as a cliquey version of MySpace.com (you had to be invited on) where teenage snots could wank over each other and extend their exclusion of other kids into cyber space. They opened Facebook up to the parents, and now the fickle snots have moved elsewhere.

    Now Facebook is left with a bunch of middle age soccer moms who have a 0.0% chance of clicking on an ad, so they’re panicking and trying to buy every company in sight with a user base over 10 teenagers, even if there is no business model and never a prospect of one.

    Once again, real innovation like the Ivanpah solar plant, the largest of its kind in the world, goes unnoticed while everyone is focused text messaging, which has been on UNIX systems since the 70s.

    • Government_Banking_Serf

      twenty_niner, you should get paid for this.

  • Government_Banking_Serf

    Growing food to eat pays just fine. Pull the Fed plug on this joke of a bubble economy that benefits the Crony elite, and we’ll see where the real value is.

    • twenty_niner

      Exactly, once again, cheap money is the scourge of a free-market economy. It juices markets and is constantly looking for the momentum play and the quick return. It darts in and out of stocks within milliseconds, looking for fractions of a cent in return multiplied over a billion times. This is not capitalism. Capitalism is: steam engine get invented, lots of capital is spent laying down track, and now people can cross the country in less than three months.

      Our only hope is when this third massive liquidity bubble that replaced the housing bubble (caused by cheap money) that replaced the tech bubble (fueled by cheap money) finally pops, it crashes hard enough to shove a giant wooden stake through the central-banking system.

      • Government_Banking_Serf

        Thanks for saying it well, as always.

  • creaker

    We’re getting to a point where the global economy is going to implode – a world where 50 people can make 10 billion widgets but only a half a million can afford to buy them.

    • Government_Banking_Serf

      You are being liberated by the elites. Enjoy.

    • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

      We need free government supplied widgets. Call it Part E of Medicare.

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    May I remind the planet: you need to observe my 2nd Law of Thermodynamics. Hint: No Free Lunch. Let me know if I can help out.
    –Mother Nature

    • Government_Banking_Serf

      Stop with the reality already!!! Your harshing my mellow!

  • Government_Banking_Serf

    Madison Ave. + Google + Discarding of Appreciation of Constitutional Rule of Law, Sound Money, and Free Markets = Fait Accompli!

  • georgepotts

    Work is for suckers.

  • georgepotts

    Obama is moving us to the work-free world.

  • Fiscally_Responsible

    Actually, the future is now. There are a lot people collecting checks from the government who don’t work. They are called welfare cheats, disability fraudsters, and featherbedding government retirees. In other words, loyal Democrats!

  • James

    Is this sounding like Soviet style communism to anybody else?

    • Government_Banking_Serf

      With a smile!

      • jefe68

        … and a happy meal.

        • Government_Banking_Serf

          I dislike Command and Control, gulags and re-education camps more than I dislike McDonalds.

          Please tell me you feel the same.

    • Nelson

      No. Not really. In the Soviet system, politicians controlled the factories. In our system, private citizens control the factories, but many of the profits would get redistributed so that there would always be people that have money to afford whatever it is the factory makes.

  • Government_Banking_Serf

    Do the right thing? Create a loafer society?

    • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

      Everybody gets free government supplied loafers. Made in China.

  • Yar

    What percent of the world is below subsistence level today? You expect it to get better, or worse?

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    “I am firmly convinced there’s going to be enough to go around.”
    –Visionary Guy

    Yes, an observation that has never been made on any actual real world. Since the beginning of time.

    • Government_Banking_Serf

      Hope and Change, Hope and Change.

  • georgepotts

    We have moved beyond ideas like work and money and to a new world of people get what they want, when they want it.

  • Government_Banking_Serf

    Voltaire on Work:

    “Work saves us from three great evils: boredom, vice and need.”

    Is that too quaint for some of your guests?

    Robot hospice and it’s old hat?

    • Nelson

      You can have your work. I’ll take my chances with the robots.

  • georgepotts

    Malthus agrees with this show. The idiots are running the show.

  • Yar

    If we created a robot to pick tomatoes would we then welcome as citizens all the undocumented workers who are picking them now?

    • Government_Banking_Serf

      No.

      If we created a society through our Constitutional Freedoms and ideas and work ethic that led to the tomato robot, that is the product of our culture, and we can have the luxury of designing our Walden Two.

      If other cultures/countries want to depose their monarchical or tyrannical leaders and create a constitution and free markets that reward risk and work, they can benefit from that as well. And perhaps we can even have open borders with them.

      Until then, borders have a reason, and Rule of Law says no shortcuts, end of the line.

  • creaker

    The past 200 years have been an anomaly – we’ll be returning to a much longer standing system of serfdom.

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    Yes, Johnny you’re not only going to get your cake. You’re going to get Suzy’s, too!
    –Barack H. Obama {Visionary for All Time}

    And Suzy, you luck out, too. You get to keep your cake and you’re going to get Johnny’s. Let’s call it Facebook Economics.

  • georgepotts

    If we can get more people on the dole, more people will want to be on the dole and will vote to keep the dole alive.

    It worked in New Orleans. People waited in their homes in the 9th ward, waiting for the government to come to take care of them.

    • Government_Banking_Serf

      Don’t worry, the Dems can Re-educate them as required until we get Utopia right.

  • Government_Banking_Serf

    When we wade this deep into conjecture about how best to engineer our society in a way that disconnects us from our human qualities, we should be very skeptical, and perhaps frightened, given how few people in today’s poorly informed world believe in vast, benevolent centralized power.

  • jefe68

    I guess it becomes a world where being the Dude is the goal.
    Well, I guess he was right: the Dude abides.

    • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

      But he didn’t get his carpet back, did he?

      • jefe68

        Somehow I think in reality, most people will be losing more than their carpets.

    • twenty_niner

      I don’t roll on Shabbos!

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    Don’t forget I invented the dole.
    –Bob Dole {still on the government dole in Kansas}

  • georgepotts

    Could one of you morons read a single book by Ayn Rand?

    • Nelson

      I did. It was boring. Hope this helps.

  • Coastghost

    Technophiles, take note: Disqus was on the blink here for the past fifteen minutes.

  • georgepotts

    Jeff Bezos is so rich, he can just pay for my stuff from Amazon.

  • Fiscally_Responsible

    I can’t wait to see some of the YouTube videos of people shooting Amazon drones out of the sky! Should be hilarious!

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    Right. We’re all going to get rich putting hot asphalt patches on all the roads. And still buy the goop from China.

  • Government_Banking_Serf

    Sound money would not allow these levels of malinvestment and extremely destructing bubbles that hurt you know who and benefit you know who.

  • georgepotts

    We can’t teach kids on the dole to add, but they should get free stuff so that they can survive.

  • Government_Banking_Serf

    Oh boy, evolve the utopia.

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    Abundance. Thanks to the sun and the open system {energy IN is free} we live in. Everybody bow to Mother Nature. Ooommmm….

  • Fiscally_Responsible

    George Jetson, pushing a button or two considered an honest day’s work, here we come!

  • georgepotts

    Obama has infected these liberal doofuses to reach the logical conclusion of his anti-business administration.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001436729213 Wes Nickerson

    It’s time for a Citizens Dividend/Basic Income Guarantee/Guaranteed Minimum Income. See below. There is plenty to do in the world without getting bored without a job. There is art. There is sport. There is travel. There is discussion. There are stories. – Wes

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citizens_dividend

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basic_income_guarantee

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minimum_income

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    The 3D printer is going to repair your sewer when the 3D contractor rips open your front yard.

    • Fiscally_Responsible

      This is getting pretty entertaining!

  • Government_Banking_Serf

    Bring on the Benevolent Dictator!

    • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

      The only system proven to work.

  • georgepotts

    Eventually, the bill will come for all of these non-functional windmills.

  • Ed

    We have been using third world workers as robots for years.

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    I’m going to buy one of those 3D truffle pigs to dig up my morels.

  • georgepotts

    NPR is the enemy.

    • methos1999

      Then why are you even on here? It must be terribly painful for you…

  • Government_Banking_Serf

    A free people with Constitutional Liberties will take us where we will go, not Utopian planners.

  • georgepotts

    When will this show start discussing the idealism in Marxism?

  • georgepotts

    Government jobs for everyone!!

  • Coastghost

    When do our machines replace our schools, colleges, and universities–entirely?

    • Nelson

      I’m not sure they’d need to.

  • AC

    work share

  • georgepotts

    Low inflation and easy money creates bills that will come due.

  • Gourdbanjo

    I’ve noticed that the pre-industrial economy still exists on the edges of our technological society. There are still people who farm, spin, weave, knit, make shoes, build furniture, make pottery, make jewelry, make musical instruments, and so on. And there is a lot of interest in farmer’s markets and craft fairs. People really like to produce real-life objects. Perhaps in some way the trade in these things will increase as office and factory jobs disappear.

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    The power will be so cheap we won’t even meter it.
    –The US nuclear power industry in the 1950s

    Yeah! How did that all work out?

  • Government_Banking_Serf

    Did he say barter?

    Fine. Dump the Fed and lets get it on.

    The Fed bubbles create all this leveraged drama.

  • carl_christian

    Tom — your language is full of a priori assumptions that continue to distract all of us from the real questions that need to be asked around these financial transactions; first among them, the idea that “economic value” has been created — it hasn’t! But it appears that way because our economic understanding is so narrowly defined in Wall St. terms rather than the steadystate or ecological framework that provides a whole picture of the human economy as only a piece of the environmental feedback loops that define a true economic picture. We really need to figure out why the creation of social apps for better smartphone games has been so widely misconstrued as “real economic growth” — what’s happened to our critical thinking skills?

  • Government_Banking_Serf

    Can you feel the singularity coming today?

  • georgepotts

    Utopian ideal society will exist when the global population reaches its ideal of 2 billion people.

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    “If they asked me I could write a book.”

    Apparently no connection with any reality is required for the career of author.

  • Tonya LaJeunesse Pisinski

    What about the finite resources of our planet? Won’t the resources of our planet eventually run out and will make all of this discussion moot?

    • cf_skeeve

      This assumes that all the value we add is in the form of tangible goods. I think we can add a lot of value through interpersonal interaction that requires less resources, and the way humans will need to progress if we are gradually replaced in manufacturing tasks by machines.

  • AC

    ? there’s facial recoggnition software that was created to know when autistic kids were frustrated and change tutoring styles…??

    imagine that in the hands of ad agencies…:/

    • AC

      what’s worse is it was created by 2 women from MIT. you would think the guest know this

      • Nelson

        I wouldn’t expect anyone to know that, but it is a very awesome idea.

  • Yar

    Look at the tulip wealth of 1635, where did it go?

  • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

    Without cheap oil, the earth gets ‘un-flat’ and this brings a lot of jobs back home.

    I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: any conversation about the economy that doesn’t take climate change on board is not worth very much.

    Infrastructure and local renewable energy sources and local food are how we have to go forward -and how we solve our economic problems.

    • georgepotts

      Our current prosperity is driven by cheap and abundant money.

      • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

        Oil is the driver of this economic bubble.

  • georgepotts

    Will this mean that XBox Live Gold memberships will be free? Or will the government pay for that too?

  • Government_Banking_Serf

    The “like” generation doesn’t know what “selling out” means. They probably don’t know what “sound money” means, they haven’t given much thought to the failed socialist utopias and tyrannies of the past, as that’s the stuff of musty old books. It wasn’t real was it?

    And they’re becoming in charge.

    • The poster formerly known as t

      If capitalism has succeeded then why are we here discussing unemployment and inequality, and market failures? Could capitalism success lie in that it appeals to selfishness and that selfish self-interest and Social Darwinism is a better motivator than fairness and sharing?

      FYI, Einstein, The “like” generation hasn’t turned away from capitalism. Those who can’t compete have. The people with good jobs in are pro-capitalists.

  • Coastghost

    As if on cue for a show devoted to gee-whiz technophilia, second- or third-party vendor Disqus software is not behaving very well . . . .

  • Yar

    The Army wants to cut the force size. Not smart, if you want to keep power don’t fire the policeman.

    • georgepotts

      Everyone here wants the Swiss Army or the UN to protect the world.

      • Yar

        All we need is squares full of unemployed people.

    • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

      Don’t need a policeman if you don’t patrol the wog lands of the planet.

  • georgepotts

    Disqus doesn’t count down votes anymore. Everyone gets a trophy.

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    There’s all those jobs begging for workers. In those virtual game worlds. Now you can take your Art History degree and make some money. Or Bitcoins or cowrey shells, or diamonds or whatever they trade in.

    Or those big round heavy stones on the Yap islands.

  • gedanken11

    As machines displace jobs, we will need to reduce the amount of labor required to distribute the machine created wealth widely. This means shorter work weeks and earlier retirements. This should be a good thing. If this is not done, we will have many competing for fewer jobs leading to reduced wages and high unemployment.

    • cf_skeeve

      The question that I feel is not being asked enough as we expand the role machines play in manufacturing is who do the machines work for? If everyone shares in the benefits these changes would allow for the modifications you suggest. If the machines serve only the people who can front large amounts of capital to purchase them initially the situation will get worse for the common man as it is hard to compete with someone who eventually works for free, never gets sick and receives no benefits.

  • georgepotts

    Money has become irrelevant for the rich liberals on this show.

    • jefe68

      Go away troll.

      • Government_Banking_Serf

        What the hairy heck are you talking about? He is making pithy comments that are right on track.

        Because huge swaths think that our monetary policy and incredible debt, are of no consequence, doesn’t make it so.

        If anything, shills for the status quo are the “trolls”.

        • walla walla

          no, he seems to be making short pithy comments because he cannot form a coherent or logical comment that adds to the discussion.

          It’s not the ideas at the root of his comments that make him a troll — it’s his partisan vitriol and sarcasm.

      • Sandstone3

        I also think that, generally, money has lowered in relevance to the wealthy in society. There is greater interest in protecting what is ‘mine’ and keeping it away from ‘you’. I’m not anywhere near a redistributionist. I do believe in the concept of ‘How MUCH do you really need to take to the grave with you’ thinking. I do believe in helping those who help themselves (and I’m not talking about ‘raise yourself up from your bootstraps’, just delineating from those who (ab)use the sysem).

        • jefe68

          What your on about I call common sense. And I agree with up to a point.
          THe question is what kind of society do we want? Do we want one where by getting sick or having an accident can lead to bankruptcy?
          Do we want one that prices the cost of education beyond the means of most Americans?
          Are we to except banking regulations that favor the banks to the point where they get to run rough shod all over us with fees and absurd interest rates for credit cards?

          My original response was based on that chaps constant need to post inane comments. Of course ignoring the rube would be a more prudent track.

          • Sandstone3

            We agree :)

  • jefe68

    Somehow this seems more relevant now…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n_1apYo6-Ow

    • Coastghost

      Also consult Buster Keaton’s short from 1922 “The Electric House”.

  • georgepotts

    WhatsApp was bought mostly with restricted Facebook stock (if FB goes down, the owners of WhatsApp lose money.)

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    –Mr. Wu, if you send me your worthless Chinese prison-labor shirt products I’ll send you my worthless devalued Bernanke bucks.

    –You got big deal, Mr. American Running Lackey Dog Capitalist.

  • Yar

    Capitalism without regulation never does the “right thing”.

    • Government_Banking_Serf

      Big difference between Rule of Law and Central Planning.

      • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

        Why do you bring up ‘central planning’?

        • Government_Banking_Serf

          Because when the corrupted state of affairs hits a crisis point, everybody will be looking for the saviour authority to “have a plan” which in the hands of the same people who have delivered us here, will just dig us deeper.

          Main point is that many cannot answer what is the difference between Classical Rule of Law and Technocratic Central Planning. And that ignorance is a huge threat to our society.

          • http://www.findingourdream.blogspot.com Hal Horvath

            Unfortunately, we are accustomed to hearing hear totally wingnut ideas most often after people use phrases like “common law” or “classical” law, etc.
            Though that isn’t necessary, it is indeed the common experience.
            I can’t tell you how many dozens of people in persons, and hundreds on the internet start out with a sensible, good concept like “common law” and then go off into batcrazy territory a minute later.

          • Sandstone3

            There is no ‘one’ plan. Planning should be an evolving process of having a short and a long term vision AND allowing for adjustments as reality dictates (without MUCH tweaking to the long term vision)

      • http://www.findingourdream.blogspot.com Hal Horvath

        Almost getting interesting here, since you’re getting closer to a real question (one not already widely understood).
        Since there is always a criminal urge, it turns out that lack of law and law enforcement dooms any country/region/group.
        Of course the most widely known face of “libertarianism” is, unfortunately, the gross (simple) idea of less regulation/less government.
        Kinda like saying since some people drown we need to get rid of water.

        So….if you don’t set up the false choice of freedom vs. government (regulation, law, whatever name you like to use)….

        Then finally you begin to talk about something meaningful, instead of silly.

  • jpolock

    It’s pretty obvious what’s happening (except to the amazing amount of Trolls on this comment board). Human value, especially through labor, has been systematically devalued to a disposable commodity. The Libertarians will claim this is invisible hand baloney, and every low income worker is just a lazy slug… Hmmm, that sounds pretty dehumanizing to me. It’s pretty hard to have dignity and improve oneself when you can’t even pay your bills after a 40 hour workweek.
    So you’ll have massively rich neo-royalty in their cloistered gated communities, and the Pleeblands everywhere else.
    We need to become way more creative and imaginative, and fast. Think Star Trek, a society where everyone’s basic needs are met, while promoting encouraging human excellence and constant improvement and exploration.
    The alternative, which has visited mankind repeatedly throughout history, is NOT pretty….

    • http://www.findingourdream.blogspot.com Hal Horvath

      Yes, as usual the Austrian ideology (Ayn Rand, etc.) misstatements (they don’t even understand their sources) are effectively trolling.

      Note that there’s nothing especially wrong about the “invisible hand” concept — it helps to explain how progress and growth happened (past tense). Understanding *some* of the factors that matter — e.g., the “invisible hand” — even though not enough by themselves since they are *not* all the main factors, is necessary.
      Also, you used “devalued” as a verb — implying that the “invisible hand” did something! See the problem?

      But….take out that first paragraph of sniping, and the rest you say is good. So….ok, I will upvote.
      You are entirely correct that we will need to get to a world a lot more like Star Trek in its economics, since machines/software will end our current economy soon enough (within lifetimes of people alive now).

      • jpolock

        Not to whip the dead horse too much, but I think you made comprehension mistake there. The devaluation as verb was in the previous sentence indicating what the problem is. Then I imagined the Libertarian explanation as to why such problem exists (and why they don’t care about it). So, I do understand the hand as a descriptive for the outcomes of the system. However, true, I probably should have inserted “due to” the invisible hand to be more accurate with the language
        But thanks anyway for the engagement!

        • http://www.findingourdream.blogspot.com Hal Horvath

          Rephrasing: We should not have to choose between having a left hand and a right hand. Between having a head and a heart. Between having free enterprise and a social safety net. Between having a market (freedom of interaction) and having support and opportunity for all.

          Those are all false choices.

          When we realize they are false choices, we are poised for valuable gains in our society.

  • georgepotts

    There is a professor from MIT letting these utopian idiots get away with their stupidity.

  • http://tombstone001.blogspot.com/ tombstone001

    Time to get real and state the obvious, we are looking at great political uprising if the jobs keep disappearing while the money has any value.
    If the money has no value then the givernment could write checks to everyone. If the money is real then the poor will keep getting poor.
    Then we get to the point of neccessary population control or we will have two worlds, one for jobless and unwanted, and one for “whatsapp” engineers and their like.

    • Government_Banking_Serf

      Ron Paul’s been telling us for years….

      • http://tombstone001.blogspot.com/ tombstone001

        I wrote a whole series of article on my blog. Over ten years, we keep being led down dead end road.

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    There’s a snake handler fundie preacher job open in Free Market Missouri now.

  • Yar

    Tell me Whats app does that has real value.

    • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

      It circumvents the text-for-a-fee services.

      • Government_Banking_Serf

        and yet will generate 19 billion?

        • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

          I didn’t say that – I the FB has no idea what it is worth. Their playing with money.

          • Government_Banking_Serf

            Yes, taxpayer bailout and future inflations-backed money. Hope they are having fun.

  • georgepotts

    FDR and LBJ created the government poverty system we have today.

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    I’ll be selling the GetOffYourButt&GoToWork app in the lobby right after the show. Priced to Move {on}.

    • georgepotts

      Does it come with some free carbon credits?

  • georgepotts

    Cheap and easy abortions have kept the crime rate down.

    • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

      Some economists report this as true in the big cities.

  • http://www.sandyspalette.com Sandy Jones

    There are many old technologies that have become art. If I had the money, whether it came from a government subsidy or wherever, I would be dyeing fiber (like wool), spinning and knitting, selling my hand-dyed yarn and fiber to other craftspeople, and my knitted goods, and enjoying it thoroughly.

  • AliceOtter33

    Automation will be lovely some day. Meanwhile, more infrastructure please. Renewable energy, education, public works, public health. For the love of whatever you claim to love most, please do not speak of robots doing human labor as some kind of perverse boobie prize for loosing this ridiculous zero-sum game that is late capitalism. Let them eat cake and all that.

    • georgepotts

      Even the government hasn’t been able to get the solar energy industry off the ground.

      Cylindra, Evergreen Solar were just payoffs to campaign contributors.

      • walla walla

        that’s not true… they were part of a much larger DOE invest program which granted loans to many companies. Read the bill allocating these funds. You will find that the default rate of the loan program was within the predicted margins.

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    If David Brooks can get a job in this economy, anybody can. Even Tom Friedman can.

    • J__o__h__n

      I stopped reading Friedman when he wrote is his flat book that offshoring created new jobs in jobs that managed the offshoring.

      • walla walla

        It just goes to show that these so called ‘experts’ can be spectacularly wrong.

  • Paul Meade

    I’m surprised that the whole matter of how much an expanding population is impacting on this whole matter. It seems like if there were fewer humans to feed and service their other hydrocarbon demands many of the problems discussed here would be solved.

    Actually we are the problem.

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    Inequality is a “blessing” forever.

  • Government_Banking_Serf
  • John_Hamilton

    Typical of this kind of discussion is that trends are extrapolated independent of their context. These guests, esteemed academics at MIT, should be aware of the Latin term ceteris paribus – all other things held equal. This is the caveat economists use when they isolate variables in order to study modeled changes in an approach known as comparative statics.

    In a dynamic system, few variables can be held equal. In a dynamic of an unsustainable, disecological mass system in a context of global climate change, the decline in workers per unit of output is only part of the mix. It is a serious part, but if unsustainability and climate degradation move our mass system in a dystopian direction, it will be a mere contributing factor.

    • Yar

      They seldom know who puts food on their table, they think they do it with their work.

  • Government_Banking_Serf

    We DO know how to stop it. Its called Constitutional Self Government, Separation of Powers and Classical Rule of Law, not Men.

    Let Bankers Fail. Jail Corrupt Corporate Cronies.

  • twenty_niner

    Please Lord, shut this g*d@mn thing down.

  • Government_Banking_Serf

    We can’t all pay 13,000 for a dresser.

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    Vote for Hillary Clinton in 2016 and all our problems will be solved. Forever.
    –Polar Bear Population on Earth

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    We’ll all get rich buying each other’s hand crafted yachts.

    • J__o__h__n

      A rising tide lifts all hand crafted yachts.

    • http://www.findingourdream.blogspot.com Hal Horvath

      heh, but not entirely wrong….

      The buyers will of course be those 0.1%, but also the 1% will buy other goods & services, etc.

  • Coastghost

    No room for William Morris in the age of 3-D printers, hunh?

  • georgepotts

    Goldman Sachs was kept alive by people who had non-qualified deferred comp plans that would have been voided if Goldman hadn’t been propped up by the Obama administration.

  • Government_Banking_Serf

    Fed could go on one last binge and we can all have Walnut side tables.

  • James

    Tom, just because EVERYONE can’t afford a handmade boat, doesn’t mean that a portion of the population can’t.

    • jpolock

      Agreed, however this economy has not only forced down wages, but it has forced down prices of most things…
      I’m an oil painter, and I can report my sales have dropped dramatically over the last decade. (And I don’t think my quality has changed…well at least I’m told it hasn’t gone down.) It’s just that few people see the need to drop a couple thousand dollars on a piece of “fine” art when they can decorate with posters and facsimiles…and would rather have that new home theatre of iphone….
      The rich may buy a “luxury” item once and a while. But its no where near the volume to generate an equitable society filled with thriving craftsmen. Sure, you’ll have the lucky few rich artists…and everyone else will be singing for change on the Red Line…

      • The poster formerly known as t

        You need to approach the Idle Rich…people with so much money and so much time on their hands that they have no idea how to spend it. They are the ones who have traditionally supported Fine Artists.

    • Sandstone3

      I don’t know of many people looking for a handmade boat. Please don’t be so simplistic.

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    That’s what we need: a bounty on humans. I’d say, $500 for a pair of ears.

    Take out your neighbors and take the rest of the week off.

    • Liz Hand

      I know an unemployed person that may just sell their ears for $300. We can split the profit.

  • georgepotts

    Homer Simpson figured it out, work is for suckers.

    • Government_Banking_Serf

      More people can name multiple characters on the Simpsons than define the Bill of Rights. For real.

  • adks12020

    I really hope the woodworker that just called in is right. There is a reason why my father’s antique furniture store is full of amazing, fully functional and sturdy 150-200+ year old furniture while the dump is full of 5-10 year old junk sold at superstores: hand made quality.

    • Government_Banking_Serf

      Dump the Fed, more farmers, more artisans.

      Won’t get latter til do former.

      Good luck with that.

      Ron Paul tried to help us, but he was just too goofy really wasn’t he. Not cool like todays Tech-Cronies.

      • Human898

        The “FED” for people that actually take the time to become knowledgeable about what it does and how it works, might know that its board of governors is by law required to have a fair representation of financial, agricultural, industrial, and commercial interests and geographical divisions of the country. So call it the enemy, some call it the reason we had a “Great Recession” as opposed to another Great Depression. Many of those that want it gone won’t tell you that they want it gone because it cramps their ability to take “customers” to the cleaners.

        The “FED” like anything can also be corrupted and part of the reason for trying to isolate it from politics was to avoid political monetary policies directed by political parties rather than by those affected more directly by federal monetary policies, not intended to destroy that under which it exists, but to keep it alive, It makes no sense for the “FED” to kill the nation’s economy or the nation itself because to do so, it would kill itself.

        Individuals and some corporations in global economies, are more loyal to profit margins than to the long term sustainability of any one national economy and in some cases the long term sustainability of the corporations they head up. Cut labor costs by firing Americans of forcing lower wages and benefits and get a nice bonus and compensation package for doing so and you’re still sitting pretty for sipping Pina Coladas in some tropical paradise by the time the longer term effects of reduced consumer purchase power negates all the short term savings and then some.

        Having said that, I too prefer the more diverse, higher quality of goods and services at a reasonable price that pay enough to meet basic and very modest household expenses at the lower end while reducing the multiplier of the low end the upper end makes, to balance out the equation. If one has a fixed pool of money in circulation (accounting for physical replacement of worn out currency that is taken out of circulation) and as in the game of Monopoly where all players begin with the same amount of cash, in order for one to get wealthy someone has to become poorer. At some point one player may have so much wealth, all other players are driven out of business and because they have no money, the game is over. Not much different in real life as it’s tough to get blood out of a stone and if you drive all others into bankruptcy in order for to become the wealthiest person in the world your fantasy come true is short lived as all the sources of income for the most wealthy are dried up, ironically, by the wealthy.

        Money (and the value it represents) is no less important to any economy than blood is to the survival of a human body. If you cut off blood circulation to parts of a human body or pool most blood in certain parts only, the whole body suffers when some parts cannot function optimally or at all. There is little difference in an economy that needs circulation of its currency to all parts, not just a few, to keep it healthy.

        • Sandstone3

          Amen!

  • Government_Banking_Serf

    Nice job Tom, this is a deep topic today.

  • BHA_in_Vermont

    Particleboard – lots of glue and some sawdust.

    Yuck

    Won’t buy it.

    • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

      Disposable plastic = oxymoron

    • Yar

      Easy come easy go, many of the housing bubble houses were made of fake stuff. The trash outs are garbage in garbage out.

  • Bill Payne

    Two Books seem very relevant:

    Player Piano by Kurt Vonnegut (predicted recs and wrecks)

    The Circle by Dave Eggers

    Would love to hear a discussion about either or both of these books,

    • georgepotts

      What about “Harrison Bergeron” story by Vonnegut?

  • georgepotts

    Obama’s vision of utopia will not be realized until we have 25% of the population making sure that their neighbors aren’t cheating (ala Stasi).

  • Human898

    How do we reconcile the pluses in automation against how it seems to also work toward making humans obsolete? How often do machines buy food and housing and educations? How do you replace people with machines, then wonder why, while your business has increased and more efficient production, there is a sluggish demand for your goods and services? Out of work people or people that make less, buy less. Those at the top don’t make their large income packages without those consumers that pay those compensations.

    Where’s the balance between wages/salaries, employment needed to support the value of all that is produced? If there are only a million people that want or can afford what you’re selling, but you’re able to produce 2 or 4 million pieces of produce, what good is the increased or even more efficient production? Firing or reducing the wages of that portion of the population that supports economic sustainability, much less economic growth is not a good or workable formula, yet it seems to be the formula many seem to want to pursue.

    • Sandstone3

      A growig portion of primary and secondary education is being supplanted by online education (i.e. Kahn Academy)

  • Coastghost

    Oh, good! Our technophiles plan to abolish all threats of plague and disease, all displacements resulting from global climate gone awry! No more famines, either, with our dependable machines intervening on our behalf! Reforestation is just around the corner once we engineer our planting drones. Even smaller drones will take up the pollination slack from our declining bee population
    What interesting times.

  • Jim

    “As we get more educated, there will be less of us”

    Yah tell that to the mormons and the conservative south. Didn’t Romney conceived 5 or 6 of his own? Didn’t he get both an mba and law degrees from harvard? Yah right.

    • Government_Banking_Serf

      Send ‘em to the camps!

    • brettearle

      The Techno-Elitists were not referring to the Messianics among us–who nourish the precept, “Be fruitful and multiply”.

      More people are becoming more and more aware of the burdens of too many children in an uncertain world and an uncertain Economy.

      • Government_Banking_Serf

        Good old education, discussion, patience and freedom. Who knew?

        Sadly I can see the impatient among us embracing a much harsher, sped up version of “progress”.

    • James

      Most of the 1st world has a birth rate that is below 2. They’ll populations would be decline (or on the precipate of decline) without immigration.

      So yeah,

  • Government_Banking_Serf

    Are the likes and dislikes off because we can’t handle the truth?

  • Government_Banking_Serf

    Are you kidding me? The link to the poll by the McCormick Foundation that shows that more people can name the Simpson characters than explain the Bill of Rights is no longer active?

    http://www.mccormickfoundation.org/mccormickmuseum/pdf/Survey_Results_Report.pdf

  • Government_Banking_Serf

    As benevolent dictator, I decree we all genetically manipulate ourselves to contain chloroplasts, and move less. And think less. But absorb more carbon. Problems solved. Now do it, or else.

  • Mark

    What about the millions of unseen, grossly underpaid, highly exploited workers doing crowdwork (micro-labor platforms) for these apparently high tech companies like Amazon and Facebook. Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, CrowdFlower, CrowdCloud, ClickWorker, and more, individuals working at home do minute tasks that computers can’t perform. See The Wages of CrowdWork by Moshe Marvit, published in The Nation, 2/14/2014. My point is that there millions of people- related jobs available in spite of technology, but these jobs, any jobs, need to reflect through their recognition and pay that work is both available and valuable.

  • Government_Banking_Serf

    The Federal Reserve leverages Snake Oil Sales. Its that simple.

  • Government_Banking_Serf

    Give me a Meaningful Job, or give me Death!

    Nah, I’ll take the liberty and decide for myself whether pulling weeds out of my or my neighbors squash is meaningful or menial.

  • brettearle

    I agree and I have written, and have been published, about this matter.

    What’s more, if the guests’ predictions are accurate–at least to the extent that there’s a credible attempt at the overhaul of work and career and a corresponding change in values and expectations–I do not believe that an effective transformation will occur in time…..

    …..before the Plutocracy worsens; the middle class erodes even more; and a major political revolution occurs, in this country, 25 to 30 years, from now.

    I can’t see the over all vision, of a gradual change, being realized–before the general population `loses it’.

    There has to be a great deal of planning; a great deal of anticipatory strategy; and there have to be aggressive attempts at personal/personalized coaching–to prepare the population for such radical changes.

    I just don’t see adjustments being implemented successfully–especially within the timetable referred to above.

    • Government_Banking_Serf

      “and a major political revolution occurs, in this country, 25 to 30 years, from now.”

      Or we could back away from the dramatics and actually vote for a Nader, Paul or Perot for once.

      • brettearle

        I agree that a Revolution will not end well for the People.

        But let’s face it:

        According to history, you and I BOTH know that NOT ENOUGH people will wake up and tear themselves away from the Simpsons.

  • brettearle

    I agree and I have written, and have been published, about this matter.

    What’s
    more, if the guests’ predictions are accurate–at least to the extent
    that there’s a credible attempt at the overhaul of work and career and a
    corresponding change in values and expectations–I do not believe that
    an effective transformation will occur in time…..

    …..before
    the Plutocracy worsens; the middle class erodes even more; and a major
    political revolution occurs, in this country, 25 to 30 years, from now.

    I can’t see the over all vision, of a gradual change, being realized–before the general population `loses it’.

    There
    has to be a great deal of planning; a great deal of anticipatory
    strategy; and there have to be aggressive attempts at
    personal/personalized coaching–to prepare the population for such
    radical changes.

    I just don’t see adjustments being implemented successfully–especially within the timetable referred to above.

    • http://www.findingourdream.blogspot.com Hal Horvath

      check out what the Swiss proposed.

  • http://www.findingourdream.blogspot.com Hal Horvath

    That’s the near term, though the Fed and deficit spending spurred growth will hold back the full power of this some.
    Medium term is not clear I think, because people simply are not predictable.

  • http://www.findingourdream.blogspot.com Hal Horvath

    Malthus was wrong. Austrian/Rand thinking was incomplete (and Hayek, and Mises, etc.). Also, they ideas are typically overextended without even understanding the best current knowledge in those schools of thinking.

    Regarding machines/automation/technology and the economy — I suggest anyone doing so should *not* presume the future will follow the patterns of the past.

    • georgepotts

      Gore was wrong about Global Warming.

      • http://www.findingourdream.blogspot.com Hal Horvath

        *yawn* (I actually saw your comment and then spontaneously yawned for the first time today). Let me suggest: instead of the worst ideas, why not try to find the best ideas.

  • Jim

    Hunger games are coming

    • Government_Banking_Serf

      Or we could back away from the dramatics and actually vote for a Nader, Paul or Perot for once.

      That’s the beauty of Constitutional Self Government. And the shame of those who poo-poo our founding principles as too…..1700′s, and prefer to be sold out to more modern concepts like Facebook and the NSA.

      If people can tear themselves away from the Simpsons long enough to contemplate Crony Capitalism and Elite Lawlessness, and then simply walk to the ballot box, we might not need the revolution, which we all should know will never end well for the People.

      • Jim

        I will vote for nader and perot, not paul. And I will never live in a place like NH with a bunch of illiterate liberterians.

        • twenty_niner

          “Progress in thought is the assertion of individualism against authority.”

          - Oscar Wilde

        • Government_Banking_Serf

          Well, I think its time for the Naderites and Paulites to find common ground or we will be pushed to revolutionary times by the Summerites and Clintonites and McCainites.

          And we will lose when it goes hot.

          I keep mentioning Libertarian Populism as a starting point to get those skeptical of Big (business/government) talking.

          When a lot of “progressives” learn more about the role of the Fed and Banking and other elite manipulation in quarters they have not really thought much about before, minds start to turn more toward liberty and castrating the power elite, no matter their well-intentioned rhetoric.

          The Social Conservatives/NeoConservatives will never prevail and the Democratic Socialist types will never prevail. Only through force.

          • Sandstone3

            Define ‘progressive’ and I’m hoping you mean what I term as the ‘lefty loonies’ (i.e. Liz Warren). I am left leaning but more moderate/centrist. I understand the role of the fed & banking and the tax system.

      • Human898

        We have self-government. The problem is the government, is made of people that represent “we the people” and if “we the people” generally speaking are corrupt, “we the people” are going to elect those that “represent” our corrupt activities while those that are not corrupt, will vote for those who will represent efforts to protect their constituents from both their fellow Americans who are corrupt and those they elect to government or lobby within government to represent, support and promote their corruption.

        The founding fathers knew the corrupting influence of wealth and how both the wealthy and those taking payoffs from the wealthy would use power to keep themselves wealthy and powerful. It’s at least in part why bicameral legislatures were formulated.
        http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founders/documents/v1ch12s8.html

        There is something absurd about general disdain of government by people running for elected positions within government. The same with those who support such candidates or who blame the government for being too intrusive at the same time they blame it for not doing enough. Some seem to forget their government, for all their complaints about taking away their rights, also protects and preserves them. There are the same struggles within the government that their are in society.

        Kids that want more freedom and independence from their parents discipline and guardianship get it by presenting evidence they treat freedom and independence responsibly. Freedoms and independence are taken away when people do not respect them and abuse them for their personal advantage and to the detriment of others. Self-governance is not just eliminating governance, but offering some evidence there is little or no need for it. As a society, we seem to offer evidence to the contrary.

        • Government_Banking_Serf

          “There is something absurd about general disdain of government by people running for elected positions within government.”

          Why? What else do you do about a necessary evil? Putting it in the hands of skeptics who want to keep it contained to its core purpose seems quite wise.

          “The problem is the government, is made of people that represent “we the people” and if “we the people” generally speaking are corrupt, “we the people” are going to elect those that “represent” our corrupt activities while those that are not corrupt, will vote for those who will represent efforts to protect their constituents from both their fellow Americans who are corrupt and those they elect to government or lobby within government to represent, support and promote their corruption.”

          I guess if you have no faith in the people, than we should just pull a Jonestown 2.0 mass suicide and be done with it.

          I don’t know who you hang out with but most of the folks I know are decent, regular folks, not corrupted bankers and utopian technocrats playing with Federal Reserve printed money and putting all the risks the rest of our backs.

          A lot of people are not paying attention, and are not aware of the mechanisms at work, but most are not corrupt.

          I trust the people more than the elite.

          • The poster formerly known as t

            The difference between decent, regular folks is that they are not in positions of power. Take someone from humble origins and put them in positions of power they will begin to behave just like the elites we have now. Regular, decent folk are also prone to all sorts of irrational prejudices and expectations ( why do americans think they deserve to use more oil than other countries again?) against people who they feel are different from them. You really can’t blame the elite for all our problems.

          • Human898

            The “core purpose” of a government “of the people, by the people and for the people” as Lincoln described it, is laid out in the Preamble of the Constitution of the United States. The “size” of government some seem fixated upon as their imagined “core purpose” has no definition other than to stick within the parameters of what is laid out in the Preamble.
            Like lungs, our “government” at the consent of “we the people” through democratic means, and within the parameters of the Preamble can expand and contract as is necessary and as has occurred. The “size” many of the fixated keep referring to also has to do with and is commensurate with the size of the U.S. population and the growth of the United States in all manner of ways since its founding. That includes geographic territorial growth as well as economic growth stemming from any specific growth of a “sector” or “industry” and a collective growth. If a society is to remain a “free society” for all, not just a select few, a bureaucracy is going to grow in conjunction with demands upon it to consider not just a few, but all and it will naturally slow processes down as well as seem unfair to those who may have become accustomed to special treatment, thus come the temptations and in some cases the successes of people with wealth and power to use their wealth and power to corrupt fairness and put themselves at the front of the line and be treated with priority over others.
            One of the core purposes of the design of our government, is to provide checks and balances to that corruption and influence, to the displeasure of those who currently rail against they idea that in the eyes of their government and in order to protect freedom for ALL, not just people who think their wealth makes them something above equal or worthy of subjective treatment where the only fair treatment is objective. The founding of this nation was in an era when the “the people” were in many ways defined, in terms of legal recognition, free, white and male. Perhaps there was not enough forward thinking to foresee how efforts to level the playing field of equal opportunity amongst free white males would naturally become expanded to include all human beings(although we’re still working on the equal opportunity in some areas).
            To carry the core purpose of our government through to its highest level, a Preamble which speaks only of “people”, not their race, color, creed, religion, gender or sexual preferences, has to consider that “people”, “we the people” come in all shapes and sizes and all considerations of the aforementioned and treat each without prejudice or preference.
            The core purpose of our government is to remove prejudice or preference based on inconsequential, harmless features of human beings, in recognition of “all” being “created equal”. If some wanted to get picky and literal, they could suggest Jefferson, in the Declaration of Independence said “men” and meant only men, but “men” also come in many colors, religions, creeds and sexual preferences.
            What is occurring in this nation is the feeling of upheaval by some, that just as some of their ancestors displaced those already present on this continent, they are being displaced and their feelings of security and preference based on a comfortable majority, are being eroded.
            The irony appears to be the suggestion that their vision of “core purpose” is not being adhered to when it is perhaps adherence to the actual and real (not imagined) core purpose of government that gets under their skin as more and more people want to come to, what those now feeling threatened have boasted about and advertised as, the “greatest nation on earth”. Suddenly people from all over the world want to be a part of the “greatest nation on earth” and some of those that long touted it as such, are panicking because they’re feeling their privilege and preference is being displaced by all those they attracted to this nation.
            Many in this nation have no fear of freedom for all that do no harm to their society and to others by their mere existence, but do have fears of those who have long felt they should hold some superior position in society because of the color of their skin, their religious beliefs, their sexual preference and other inconsequential (on an individual basis) features or that they can use their wealth and power with ease to keep themselves in positions of privilege and priority falsely and undemocratically.
            Our Constitution protects “we the people” from “we the people” with regard to allowing majorities to purposefully legislate harmful prejudice and protects “we the people” (us) from prejudice by a majority of “we the people” (us).
            The short of the core purpose of our government is to protect the idea that in the eyes of “we the people” as ordained by “we the people” through the Constitution, the advancement and fair treatment of persons in this society cannot be based on the color of their skin, their religion, their gender and as we now struggle to come to terms with, their sexual preference or any other human features that are inconsequential with regard to individual harm to others. This also presents some complexities in efforts to play “catch up” for some specific groups in society who had long been treated unfairly and had their advancement (as a group) impaired by prejudices of majorities.
            In the world of the pursuit of happiness, the formerly oppressed and discriminated against did not like being oppressed and discriminated against any more than those who were formerly oppressing and discriminating against them with impunity are likely to be pleased with the prospect of no longer being able to oppress and discriminate against others.

          • Human898

            I’m not sure when “the elite” we no longer considered a part of “the people”. Perhaps you can enlighten us.

        • Sandstone3

          ” Freedoms and independence are taken away when people do not respect them and abuse them for their personal advantage and to the detriment of others.”
          Such was not the case as it pertains to the mortgage/lending/derivatives/banking sectors in 2008 or later (for the most part – the fees by JP Morgan etc are chump change for them and as compared against some ruined lives)

          • Human898

            I think there is a longer term consequence to both society and those who rip their fellow human beings off, not unlike cancer cells that apparently have no ability to reason or apply logic in the interest of their long term survival. If you consume or overwhelm the ability of what your existence depends upon, you not only doom your host, but yourself, to extinction. Some of us human beings believe, rightfully so or not, that we possess an ability to rationalize and reason and thus attempt to ensure our survival by other means than pure instinct. Some others seem to have one thing in mind and that is consuming, consuming and consuming, gorging themselves with far more than they need to sustain themselves, without a thought or care of where all they gorge themselves comes from or how it is or will be sustained so the offspring they have and in some instances claim to love, can have even enough to sustain such over indulgences, much less sustain their existence with the minimum needed to do so.

            The price to be paid by JP Morgan or other institutions and individuals that worship profits over the very societies that make those profits possible, is in the longer term, if not in fines, fees and arrests (stopping) of individuals that promote and practice such activities in defiance of “safe and sound” business practices, intended to protect both society and those businesses from failure at the expense of the many to the great profit of a few. The concern with monetary institutions is the integration of people’s currency. A failing monetary institution not only brings down that institution, the management, all other employees and those with invested stock in it, it brings down all who utilize them and all that is affected by that utilization. Banks make money in many specific ways, but it pretty much all revolves around the use of money. Some deposit short term in checking/debit accounts while others deposit longer term and are paid for the use of their money to led out at a higher rate of interest than they are paid, you know how it all works. If monetary institutions that utilize huge sums of money fail, there is a ripple effect and that is magnified by that ripple effect or multiple simultaneous failures of monetary institutions, so perhaps those that claimed bailouts were not necessary were keeping their cash in their mattresses and not recognizing how even they too would be gravely effected and much more so than was felt were bailouts not made in order to sure up the potential failings of numerous institutions.

            Unraveling just went wrong and who personally might have been responsible takes years and is necessary before anyone can make a legal case that will stand up in a court of law. That is why there have not been a huge number of prosecutions and convictions yet made and why there never may be a huge number, but what may be revealed beyond what has already been revealed are practices that are known to be risky that lead to failure. Working to prevent them is also only as good as enforcement is supported. If those who profited immensely from the invention and use of risky financial “instruments” are able to use their immense wealth to influence legislation or grease palms enough to have inspectors look the other way, then we’ll find ourselves repeating the same crisis over and over again.
            My hope is we begin to exhibit the sort of intelligence over other living entities that we so often claim we have and exhibit it in greater numbers.

            Sustainability appears to be all about balance. Eat too much or too little and it could kill you. If we take, more than what is regenerated, on all levels, then we overwhelm and destroy that which we depend upon for our own survival. It is not just a matter of our own individual needs, but how to balance equations so our needs keep being met, not just once, but over and over and to balance the equations we have to consider all parts of the equation, like all the others just like us who have the same needs and the ability of whatever fulfills those needs to keep up with our individual as well as collective needs.

            Debates can ensue about the reality of how many codfish there really are in the sea and how many are needed to meet the demands of humans who consume them and the fishermen that fish them out. But to suggest, without study of the equation, that fisherman jobs are more important than efforts to maintain populations of codfish (for the purposes of sustaining cod fisherman jobs) is somewhat absurd. If we take, more cod out of the sea than the ability of those codfish remaining in the sea to reproduce between our harvests, then the cod fisherman’s job is effectively destroyed by his own hand. That, in the eyes of many, is not a sign of a higher intelligence.
            Have a great day!!

  • georgepotts

    #FreeJustina

  • cf_skeeve

    If we share the benefits of mechanization instead of only giving the benefits to those who originally financed the machines, treated work as an end to itself rather than just a means to an end, and redefine the value one adds through work not solely in terms of its “economic” (i.e. rigidly quantifiable in dollars) value. This can paint a very appealing picture of the future.

    • georgepotts

      If people don’t have any money, they won’t buy anything.

      • cf_skeeve

        That is why distributing the benefits of mechanization, including the profits from production, is crucial to a sustainable model. This would allow people to add value (potentially using their time to do things which were formerly not economically viable) by doing things that benefit themselves and those around them (or if they desire holing up and living off their share of the machine profits).

    • Nelson

      I’m not with you as a work as an end to itself. The only way work makes sense is as a means. Everything else is play. I’d be okay playing the rest of my life.

      • cf_skeeve

        I think this would be the conceptual shift necessary to move forward. Most people currently think of work as what gets you paid. If we shifted the meaning to what produces benefits to society (to include things which are now largely volunteer oriented), then we can add value in new ways. Play would need to be more narrowly defined as things done solely for the enjoyment of the thing. Maybe the split is end to itself on a societal scale versus individual scale if that makes sense.

  • bikengr

    Thank goodness the discussion is beginning. It is abundantly clear that most of the low-wage jobs will eventually fall to automation. Yes, it will take million$ to develop a bed-making machine, and the early ones will need remote intervention. But eventually hotel maids will be replaced. And forklift drivers. And hairdressers. And lawn care help. And cooks. And travel agents. And bank tellers. And teachers. And subway drivers. And retail clerks. And telephone operators. And maintenance people. And assembly line workers. And homebuilders. And delivery drivers. And hedge fund managers.
    This is the first time I have heard the redistributionist concept on a major outlet. About time, I can’t envision any other way out of the impending crunch. I really think that most of the economy can flourish without human workers, so we can all be given a maintenance ‘sufficiency’, and apart from raising families, some of us may choose to be creative, create new products, do art, nurture people or animals, or do any other innovative thing.

    • brettearle

      I’m waiting for the official time to finally arrive, when participants, to this Forum, are replaced by mini-Watsons and mini-Hal2000′s.

      • Charles

        It’s possible that some of the right-wing zealots on here are, in fact, computers programmed by the Kochs and Fox News.
        Pretty easy to write an algorithm that spews talking points, I’d expect.

        • brettearle

          I’m a satirist and I don’t steal others’ material.

          I only wish I thought of that.

          EXCELLENT!

          • Charles

            Yeah, I don’t usually go for zingers, but I couldn’t pass that one up…

    • The poster formerly known as t

      You read too much science fiction. Robots will never get to do those things given the resource crunches we are facing. Automation, just like any other physical activity will be limited by limited availability of resources, the first , of which is energy.

  • thegreengrass

    If machines are gonna do everyone’s jobs in our economy, I wonder if it’s time for the US to look into basic income. http://www.usbig.net/whatisbig.php

    • Nelson

      Makes sense. There are tons of benefits to this system. It would even help with starting new businesses because would be entrepreneurs won’t have to fear failure, thus encouraging more to try.

  • thegreengrass

    I find it odd that we’re talking about what to do when computers do our jobs, as if it’s a far out fantasy when there are entire communities in the United States with very few jobs thanks for disinvestment and deindustrialization (we have what, 40 million people in poverty right now?). Why aren’t we figuring out these problems right now?

  • twenty_niner

    Speaking of brilliant companies that do nothing, create nothing, add no value, explore no new horizons, invent nothing, provide nothing: Here’s a firm that does high-frequency trading with it’s own money that wants to go public.

    “Market-Maker Virtu Expands Globally as It Mulls Public Offering”

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-05-02/market-maker-virtu-expands-globally-as-it-mulls-public-offering.html

    “Virtu, which Cifu says accounts for more than 5 percent of U.S. equities volume”

    Thank you Mr. Bernanke, et al. for flooding the world with ultra-cheap money. It’s finally being put to good use for one-millisecond trades in and out of stock and bonds. The motivation to build anything useful is now, absolute zero. Mission accomplished; the end is nigh.

    • The poster formerly known as t

      Because companies that do something socially useful, create something, add value, and explore new horizons require real expertise to build and run.
      The other thing is that the world is running into limits to growth of making physical goods because so a lot of entrepreneurs are settling for creating and selling virtual products that are the equivalents of empty boxes being sold by motivational speakers.

      • TheDailyBuzzherd

        “As Seen on TV” products, anyone?

        ;0)

  • TheDailyBuzzherd

    Let’s Face Facts: There is no precedent, no infrastructure to deal with the social impact of computer engineering.

    Innovate and Don’t Look Back.
    Invest Now Ask Questions Later.
    Reap All the Benefits and None of the Cleanup.

    We do, however, have a history of messes left to others to clean up.

    Examples Include:

    The Savings+Loan Mess
    Love Canal
    Wounded Knee
    A+H Bomb Construction / Decommissioning
    Nuclear Waste
    Exxon+BP Spills
    Fracking
    9/11
    So-called “Great Recession”
    GMOs

    So, we socialize the risks of financial and environmental innovation without regard for those risks blowing up in all our faces. The digitalization of the country, world, just is one more example that may prove far more costly than we ever anticipated, particularly in The States, where someone is going to have to figure out how to pay for an aging population’s health care. The capitalistic growth model seems to have some basic structural flaws baked in the bread.

    Kudos to wood artisan John in Mystic who brought up another point: The Analog Blowback. This is in reference to those who are resisting the digital conversion due to any myriad of reasons: iD Theft, job loss, the unnecessary duplication of tasks.

    As reiterated on today’s show, only those who’ve survived well enough to pay for handmade items can enjoy such luxuries. The Rest go to Wal*Mart. The Vicious Circle in play.

    How sustainable is such an economic model? Not at all.

    Suppose Asimov is correct in his assumption that all unpleasant work will be automated leaving us free to enjoy life. But, who is to decide what is unpleasant? Who is to decide what is automated? I enjoy Asimov’s work but it’s easy to conjure such notions in an intellectual sandbox rather than live out the consequences of such reasoning.

  • http://tombstone001.blogspot.com/ tombstone001

    May be soon we will get lucky, when the government spending stops ( right now the government is giving money directly to the rich with its monetary policies, when they start giving real money to the poor for not working the party will be over, read more in the archives of my blog).
    When the jobless consumers have no money to buy they will rise up to be mowed down, or the ” jobless economy will fall on its face, no buyers, no ads and no seller, reset. Google amaozon and facebook all crap out.

  • L. Rood Joseph

    I just think this conversation is incredibly shortsighted do far. Everyone is aiming that resource is infinite. The only way such an automated society could work is if the global pupation was on much tighter control as it is now. There is a cost to this supposedly Utopian society and it would be paid one way or the other. If you exploit and over tax resources the environment would prove to be too much. Relegating it to a minority of the global population and revolution would surely rise violent or non violent. If you just think logically about the cost of any of this and you realize how improbable it all is. And I’m only pointing out a small portion of possible issues.

    • brettearle

      I agree. It feels improbable to me, as well.

      The guests, basically, were imaginative visionaries, without any real practical basis for how their ideas could actually be implemented.

      I doubt that any of it could be applied in time, anyway–before there is a major overhaul in our society, via Revolution, which may come to pass, maybe in about 25 years.

      • Nelson

        Well, we already have unemployed people. And we already have farmers willing to provide food as long as they are paid (not to mention left over houses from the recession). It’s not a matter of jobs, it’s a matter of efficient resource allocation.

        • The poster formerly known as t

          The farmers cannot be paid properly because the college credentialed middle men and middlewoman want to gobble up all the value and reduce the value of farmers to nothing. The only people worth paying a living wage to, according to the middlemen and middlewomen are people with graduate degrees in law finance, and business administration at selective schools.

    • Nelson

      Well, resources are infinite on a human time scale, at least with some advances in technology infrastructure. The sun provides all the energy we need, we just need to figure out a way to harness more of it without killing birds in the process. Asteroids can provide minerals and such. The cost is massive, but Rome wasn’t built in a day as they say.

      • The poster formerly known as t

        Stop selling false hope. It took nature millions of years to store the fossil fuels that we’re using to power all our high tech. I bring this up because nature is much more efficient than any human attempt to harness energy from the sun with technology. We can’t harness asteroid technology because the cost of building technology to mine asteroids would be more than the benefit. Energy is the main concern. We can’t harness enough energy from the sun (or anything else) to run large machines in a sustainable fashion, in outer space to move around asteroids, break up asteroids and transport useful things back to Earth, There isn’t enough available energy to do all of those things and if there isn’t enough energy, there certainly isn’t enough capital, although a few tech-fix zealots are fantasizing about it. P.S. Rome didn’t collapse in a day either.

        • remccainjr

          We have more renewable energy available than we would ever use in a trillion trillion lifetimes. The /problem/ is that it is easier to pull oil out of the ground. We have generations of research invested in that system. We have the infrastructure in place. It would cost trillions to shift and it would upset the powers that own the existing infrastructure.

          If oil ceased flowing tomorrow, the world would slowly grind to a halt – and we would scramble to invest in new energy sources. And then we would continue using those new sources long after a different, better energy source was discovered – because of the investment cost and the politics involved in making the switch.

          Quit stomping on reality and denouncing the inevitable future. The human race will eventually shift away from oil – just as soon as every single last penny has been wrung from the investment made into the system.

          • The poster formerly known as t

            You’re optimistic and that would be fine if what you were saying was grounded in reality. None of what you’re saying is backed by science. Science says that modern civilization can not be supported with 100% renewables. It takes about 30-50 years for us to transfer to a new power source. It’s not something that can be done at last minute because it requires a lot of energy–energy that can only be supplied by current stocks of fossil fuels. Waiting until a critical fossil fuel like petroleum becomes unavailable to do something about changing our lifestyles or finding alternatives to petroleum will cause chaos. It’s very clear that you have no idea how dependent we are on the stuff. Much of the components used for wind turbines and solar panels require oil products, for example. We should have started doing something about shifting away from oil and other fossil fuels decades ago. With every year it will get more costly to change course and the like likelihood of a smooth transition dims.

          • L. Rood Joseph

            and what will this world look like after we’ve run out of oil? what of the climate? you make it sound so easy. No one here is pro oil. the point we are making is that people like you dream unrealistically about making some easy switch like switching wall sockets. it doesn’t work like that even if you are willing to switch to renewable energy. just the simple fact that we are making MORE STUFF is taking its toll on the environment and it’s making the world undesirable. we also need to think about making less stuff. A fully automated society just sounds like too much stuff, even we aren’t consuming them on an individual basis. even if the energy to make it is renewable, the stuff we are making leave a mark on this world. I’m no dystopian preacher, but we will surely get there if we don’t think smarter and less 2 dimensional.

    • cf_skeeve

      I think one of the points the guests were trying to make is part of the necessary shift was going to be moving away from a ‘stuff’ economy to a ‘value’ economy in which interpersonal connections and services (teaching, care for the elderly, working on public parks, etc.) become more prominent. These pursuits are inherently less resource intensive and would seem to allow growth to be sustainable with less (although admittedly not no) impact on resources/the environment.

      • L. Rood Joseph

        the “Stuff” I’m talking about which would be resource intensive is the proliferation of automated systems, to make robots, to power robots etc… to do things that humans use to do. it’s very energy consuming.

  • GuestAug27

    Yup … dot com bubble 2.0. It’s time cash in and head for the Bahamas.

  • GuestAug27

    No we are not yet at a point where we all can be 100% unemployed while the machines do all the work (though that should be the goal). We are, however, long overdue for a major cut in working hours.

    We need 24-hour workweek, worldwide, now. That’s that only long-term, sustainable solution to unemployment given the current productivity levels and 5 billion working age people on the planet.

    And before you whine about not being able to live on 1/2 of your pay, just think how much you pay now to protect yourself from people without jobs. Everything from food stamps to prisons to bloated military budget is the cost of joblessness either in your neighborhood or across the world.

    • Nelson

      I wish they talked about this option on the show.

    • https://www.facebook.com/kyle.rose Kyle Rose

      I have already transitioned to a 32 hour workweek, because 30 was the least I could work and still be considered “full time” for the purpose of benefits. I agree: productivity gains over the past century make a reduction in the standard work week far, far overdue.

      • GuestAug27

        Now if we only could find a politician with the guts to support this.

        • https://www.facebook.com/kyle.rose Kyle Rose

          What do politicians have to do with this? I got my 32 hour work week by making it a condition of my employment. Those with leverage in their jobs should be like me and get the ball rolling.

          • GuestAug27

            Not everyone has the leverage you have. This needs to be enforced by a regulation across the board. We now have labor laws that say that anything over 40 hours/week is an overtime (at least in most jobs) and requires higher pay. That would need to be changed to 24 hours.

          • remccainjr

            The first step would be to discourage overtime. Anything over 40 hours is paid at 2.5x the existing rate.

            This would incentivize companies to hire more workers and work them fewer hours, instead of overworking existing labor.

          • OrangeGina

            well, maybe you get double time, or time and one half. Maybe you get straight time. It depends upon the employer and his policies. Many do not pay you 1.5x for hours in excess of 40 IF the week contains holiday, vacation or sick hours. In comparison, union contracts don’t allow the employer to do that, those contracts will specify that ANY hours over 8 a day or 40 per week are paid at 1.5 without regard to whether those are hours are working, sick time, vacation or holiday.

            In California, the state law there is that ANY hours over 8 per day are paid at 1.5.

            And you don’t get ANY OT if you are on salary.

            Over and over again, we see employers send their jobs to countries where there are smart and capable people, but the government or state provides benefits like time off or health care. That instantly relieves the employer of that burden. We’ll see if the ACA ever evolves to that level for the purposes of American companies.

  • Max Entropy

    Funny that the they don’t see the 800 pound gorilla in the economy called capital. All the talk about government subsidizing jobs just throws in the towel and says to the corporate elite “You won – we’ll do whatever you want to stop you from killing jobs.”

    Forget being job creators; the globalists want to automate everything because they own the machines, which don’t need pensions, health insurance, job security, safe working conditions or salaries. Why aren’t we – and Tom’s guests – saying Hell, No? Instead, these pusillanimous academics spend time figuring out clever little schemes to mollify capital and help it continue to accumulate power and wealth. Feh.

    • Nelson

      In my dream world capitalists would still own and control the machines, but they’d be taxed to an extent that necessities such as health care would be provided to everyone, regardless of employment status.

    • GuestAug27

      The “experts” and talking heads don’t say “Hell, No” because they know better than bite the hand that feeds them.

    • remccainjr

      Luddites also wanted to smash the looms.

      The problem is not the loom, the problem is the idea that human labor is something that can be discarded like an outdated machine. Unlike a loom, a human requires food, clothing, shelter and medicine until their death. If those basic necessities are not guaranteed, then poverty, homelessness, social unrest and civil disobedience are a certainty.

      Automation is coming. Not just for those that flip burgers. But also for those that drive lorries and taxis, for those that build houses and automobiles and ships, for those that assemble electronics and package food and deliver goods and services.

      Textile workers were replaced by the automated loom. Scribes were replaced by the Gutenberg press. Copyists were replaced by Xerox machines. Operators replaced by voice activated and push button phone menu systems. DJ’s by nationwide computerized programming. Autoworkers by robotized factories. Soon, anything that can be automated, will be – and with the glut of skilled labor displaced, prices for human labor will drop.

      And once we enter that spiral – only the wealthy who have invested in the system, only those that design and program the systems, will profit and thrive.

      Your job is replaceable. Maybe not this year, maybe not this decade. But do you really think your job is secure enough that you can plan a retirement around it?

  • Nelson

    All of theses “problems” can be solved simply if you remember the following: “Humans don’t need jobs.”

    We need goods and services, but if those can be provided by robots, that’s A-Okay.

  • burroak

    Just read an article by Propublica titled: U.S lags behind world in temp worker protections; yet, another example of how so many American workers are badly effected by a certain element of the current congress that just doesn’t seem to care about rebuilding America’s working/middle class, their impoverished communities, and our grossly aged and outdated infrastructure.
    I just do not understand how these elected officials could serenely sleep at night knowing full well that there is so much economic hardship and inequality in this nation. It is disheartening, discouraging and downright debilitating.
    I wonder: how many elected congressmen would venture beyond the cozy beltway to hardened, depressed, struggling American cities such as Camden New Jersey, and Baltimore Maryland, for example, and walk the streets with the downtrodden, go to a coffee shop(that is, if you can find one), sit down with the citizen folk and listen to their economic woes-for as long as it takes. And then, empathize, look them in the eye and say: I am going to help your community.
    Yeah, right, that is a hoot.

  • Marc Elliott
  • http://tombstone001.blogspot.com/ tombstone001
  • twenty_niner

    Note to small businesses and potential advertisers on Facebroke:

    “This Man’s $600,000 Facebook Disaster Is A Warning For All Small Businesses”

    http://www.businessinsider.com/mans-600000-facebook-ad-disaster-2014-2

  • ExcellentNews

    Knowing human nature, this is going to end badly – unless we can come up with a new mental model for man and its role in the world. We did it in the 18th century, when the Enlightenment replaced the old feudal system. Hopefully, we can do it again – and it will be something better than “a check from the Government”.

ONPOINT
TODAY
Aug 27, 2014
Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, shakes hands with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, right, as Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, center, looks at them, prior to their talks after after posing for a photo in Minsk, Belarus, Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014. (AP)

Vladimir Putin and Ukraine’s leader meet. We’ll look at Russia and the high voltage chess game over Ukraine. Plus, we look at potential US military strikes in Syria and Iraq.

Aug 27, 2014
The cast of the new ABC comedy, "Black-ish." (Courtesy ABC)

This week the Emmys celebrate the best in television. We’ll look at what’s ahead for the Fall TV season.

RECENT
SHOWS
Aug 26, 2014
Matthew Triska, 13, center, helps Alex Fester, 10, to build code using an iPad at a youth workshop at the Apple store on Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013, in Stanford, Calif.  (AP)

Educational apps are all over these days. How are they working for the education of our children? Plus: why our kids need more sleep.

 
Aug 26, 2014
Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, right, speaks with Ady Barkan of the Center for Popular Democracy as she arrives for a dinner during the Jackson Hole Economic Policy Symposium at the Jackson Lake Lodge in Grand Teton National Park near Jackson, Wyo. Thursday, Aug. 21, 2014.  (AP)

Multi-millionaire Nick Hanauer says he and his fellow super-rich are killing the goose–the American middle class — that lays the golden eggs.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Poutine Whoppers? Why Burger King Is Bailing Out For Canada
Tuesday, Aug 26, 2014

Why is Burger King buying a Canadian coffee and doughnut chain? (We’ll give you a hint: tax rates).

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Why Facebook And Twitter Had Different Priorities This Week
Friday, Aug 22, 2014

There’s no hidden agenda to the difference between most people’s Facebook and Twitter feeds this week. Just a hidden type of emotional content and case use. Digiday’s John McDermott explains.

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Our Week In The Web: August 22, 2014
Friday, Aug 22, 2014

On mixed media messaging, Spotify serendipity and a view of Earth from the International Space Station.

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