Tech and the rise of communism in the UK

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Interesting view from Mark Carney published in the Telegraph - might be relevant for Corbyn:

The Governor of the Bank of England has warned that massive job losses driven by technology could resuscitate Marxism in the West.

Mark Carney said that the expected automation of millions of blue and white collar jobs, bringing with it weak wage growth for those in work, may lead to the ideas behind Communism winning new fans.

“Marx and Engels may again become relevant” if technology destroys jobs, forces down pay and pushes up inequality as a new elite of highly skilled workers and the owners of high-tech machines reap the rewards of the new era, Mr Carney said.

Productivity soared 150 years ago as the industrial revolution took hold and new technology accelerated manufacturing, yet average wages stagnated for decades as machines meant the jobs created were low-skilled.

Recent years of weak wage growth since the financial crisis could indicate this 19th century experience is being repeated now, Mr Carney said.

“Workers cannot generally move seamlessly from one type of work to another in which they can be as productive, so the benefits, from a worker’s perspective, from the first industrial revolution, which began in latter half of the 18th century, were not felt fully in productivity and wages until the latter half of the 19th century,” Mr Carney told the Canada Growth Summit, noting that this stagnation in pay is known as “the Engels’ Pause”.

“If you substitute platforms for textile mills, machine learning for steam engines, Twitter for the telegraph, you have exactly the same dynamics as existed 150 years ago - when Karl Marx was scribbling the Communist Manifesto," the Governor, who is due to step down next year, said.

Mr Carney said there are also signs of  “hollowing out” in the job market as mid-level workers also find computers increasingly able to do specific tasks.

Major law firms, for instance, are investing in artificial intelligence to scan documents to find and analyse key facts among written material - something which is traditionally done by legions of junior lawyers and clerical staff.

Banks are using large volumes of data on customer queries and complaints and feeding it into machines. These can learn the common questions that clients ask, allowing the computers to answer questions directly - removing the need to employ customer service staff.

Services jobs such as driving taxis or lorries could also disappear, as self-driving technology improves.

Mr Carney said the pace of the digital revolution could also mean the new jobs created might not keep pace with the older jobs destroyed, leaving large numbers of workers stuck with skills that do not match the jobs available and so with falling pay.

While a large pool of workers could see their situation worsen, the small number with skills to match the new jobs can expect large pay rises.

On top of that, more profits will go to those who own the machines rather than to workers, increasing inequality further.

“If this world of surplus labour comes to pass, Marx and Engels may again become relevant,” Mr Carney said.



My pump-action drivel gun is smoking hot today!
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Comments

  • VimFuegoVimFuego Frets: 6256
    many years ago, I read a book called Beggars in Spain which is about just this sort of thing. Maybe that's the plan behind the syria bombing, kickstart WW3 and reduce the surplus population a bit. 

    I'm not locked in here with you, you are locked in here with me.

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  • Axe_meisterAxe_meister Frets: 2210
    There is a bit of an economic problem when a large proportion of the population can no longer consume thus the need for all the automation (I.e. produce lots of goods quickly) goes down.
    150 years ago workers had very little in terms of needs. Somewhere to live, something to eat and something to wear. There really wasn't much in terms of "toys", I.e. TVs, washing machines that we consider back needs these days.
    New industry must be created or new worlds populated (Mars/Moon) to continue growth.
    A universal wage is something worth considering as well.
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  • jpfampsjpfamps Frets: 1417
    edited April 14

    Every time there is a new technology a load of economists have predicted it would destroy jobs.

    So far they have been wrong.

    Economic predictions being wrong, imagine that!

    But of course "it's different this time", a phrase that was used liberally before the banking meltdown......
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  • scrumhalfscrumhalf Frets: 4941
    When I studied politics at A level decades ago one of the things that could have brought society to its knees was an educated underclass.
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  • KilgoreKilgore Frets: 1145
    When I was a young kid back in the 70's I seem to remember a lot of talk about the 'Leisure Society'. Everybody would spend their days playing golf while robots did all the work. 

    What we actually got was succesive governments telling us we weren't working hard enough.

    I'm a bit dubious about these kind of economic predictions.
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  • FretwiredFretwired Frets: 16962
    scrumhalf said:
    When I studied politics at A level decades ago one of the things that could have brought society to its knees was an educated underclass.
    But who else is going to deliver all the shit the educated classes buy from Amazon, or make the lattes in the local cafe while the educated classes take advantage of free Wi-Fi to read the Guardian on their Apple iPads oblivious to the fact they are made in a Chinese sweatshop.
    My pump-action drivel gun is smoking hot today!
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  • VimFuegoVimFuego Frets: 6256
    Kilgore said:
    When I was a young kid back in the 70's I seem to remember a lot of talk about the 'Leisure Society'. Everybody would spend their days playing golf while robots did all the work. 

    What we actually got was succesive governments telling us we weren't working hard enough.

    I'm a bit dubious about these kind of economic predictions.
    I believe they've made a robot that can play golf, though it still needs a human caddy to hand it the ball...*




    *this is a joke, for the sarcastically impaired, I have no idea if there really is a golf playing robot with a human slave. 

    I'm not locked in here with you, you are locked in here with me.

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  • FretwiredFretwired Frets: 16962
    VimFuego said:
    Kilgore said:
    When I was a young kid back in the 70's I seem to remember a lot of talk about the 'Leisure Society'. Everybody would spend their days playing golf while robots did all the work. 

    What we actually got was succesive governments telling us we weren't working hard enough.

    I'm a bit dubious about these kind of economic predictions.
    I believe they've made a robot that can play golf, though it still needs a human caddy to hand it the ball...*




    *this is a joke, for the sarcastically impaired, I have no idea if there really is a golf playing robot with a human slave. 
    You're wasted on here Vim .. sarcasm doest go down well as I found on the drinking thread ...
    My pump-action drivel gun is smoking hot today!
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  • VimFuegoVimFuego Frets: 6256
    I am generally wasted on here, though not exclusively, I'm wasted on a lot of places.

    I'm not locked in here with you, you are locked in here with me.

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  • FretwiredFretwired Frets: 16962
    Being serious for a moment there's been a suggestion that robots could be taxed like employees. The money raised would be redistributed by the government as a basic wage or could be invested in community projects that would give people some gainful employment such as providing community services. We could also wind down the resource hungry consumer society. Build things better so they last longer and repair things when they are broken.

    In the Great Depression in the 1930s the British government funded schemes to give men employment so they could earn money. My grandfather was unemployed for 6 years but was given two to three weeks a month work on community projects such as clearing rubbish, digging ditches and clearing canals for which he was paid. It meant families could buy food and pay for rent, heat and light and stopped riots and public disorder.
    My pump-action drivel gun is smoking hot today!
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  • jpfampsjpfamps Frets: 1417
    Fretwired said:
    Being serious for a moment there's been a suggestion that robots could be taxed like employees. The money raised would be redistributed by the government as a basic wage or could be invested in community projects that would give people some gainful employment such as providing community services. We could also wind down the resource hungry consumer society. Build things better so they last longer and repair things when they are broken.

    In the Great Depression in the 1930s the British government funded schemes to give men employment so they could earn money. My grandfather was unemployed for 6 years but was given two to three weeks a month work on community projects such as clearing rubbish, digging ditches and clearing canals for which he was paid. It meant families could buy food and pay for rent, heat and light and stopped riots and public disorder.
    Which is what I do for a living.......
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  • FretwiredFretwired Frets: 16962
    jpfamps said:
    Fretwired said:
    Being serious for a moment there's been a suggestion that robots could be taxed like employees. The money raised would be redistributed by the government as a basic wage or could be invested in community projects that would give people some gainful employment such as providing community services. We could also wind down the resource hungry consumer society. Build things better so they last longer and repair things when they are broken.

    In the Great Depression in the 1930s the British government funded schemes to give men employment so they could earn money. My grandfather was unemployed for 6 years but was given two to three weeks a month work on community projects such as clearing rubbish, digging ditches and clearing canals for which he was paid. It meant families could buy food and pay for rent, heat and light and stopped riots and public disorder.
    Which is what I do for a living.......
    Cool .. do you watch the repair shop on BBC? Great little programme ..
    My pump-action drivel gun is smoking hot today!
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  • Phil_aka_PipPhil_aka_Pip Frets: 8994
    Fretwired said:
    Being serious for a moment there's been a suggestion that robots could be taxed like employees. The money raised would be redistributed by the government as a basic wage or could be invested in community projects that would give people some gainful employment such as providing community services. We could also wind down the resource hungry consumer society. Build things better so they last longer and repair things when they are broken.

    In the Great Depression in the 1930s the British government funded schemes to give men employment so they could earn money. My grandfather was unemployed for 6 years but was given two to three weeks a month work on community projects such as clearing rubbish, digging ditches and clearing canals for which he was paid. It meant families could buy food and pay for rent, heat and light and stopped riots and public disorder.
    Whereas today they expect you to do it for dole money.
    "Working" software has only unobserved bugs. (Parroty Error: Pieces of Nine! Pieces of Nine!)
    Seriously: If you value it, take/fetch it yourself
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  • danodano Frets: 441
    All hail the new robot  overlords
    formerly imported_dannyboy on MR... before they 'imported' me from the total guitarist forums :-')
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  • FretwiredFretwired Frets: 16962
    dano said:
    All hail the new robot  overlords
    We'll still be useful for something ... ;-)


    My pump-action drivel gun is smoking hot today!
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 32822
    Marx and Engels have always been relevant, it's just that a lot of people stopped listening because they thought we now knew better...

    It's also worth reading 'The Life And Times Of Multivac' by Isaac Asimov.
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • jpfampsjpfamps Frets: 1417
    Fretwired said:
    jpfamps said:
    Fretwired said:
    Being serious for a moment there's been a suggestion that robots could be taxed like employees. The money raised would be redistributed by the government as a basic wage or could be invested in community projects that would give people some gainful employment such as providing community services. We could also wind down the resource hungry consumer society. Build things better so they last longer and repair things when they are broken.

    In the Great Depression in the 1930s the British government funded schemes to give men employment so they could earn money. My grandfather was unemployed for 6 years but was given two to three weeks a month work on community projects such as clearing rubbish, digging ditches and clearing canals for which he was paid. It meant families could buy food and pay for rent, heat and light and stopped riots and public disorder.
    Which is what I do for a living.......
    Cool .. do you watch the repair shop on BBC? Great little programme ..
    Haven't had a TV for over 10 years now, so no!
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  • FretwiredFretwired Frets: 16962
    jpfamps said:
    Fretwired said:
    jpfamps said:
    Fretwired said:
    Being serious for a moment there's been a suggestion that robots could be taxed like employees. The money raised would be redistributed by the government as a basic wage or could be invested in community projects that would give people some gainful employment such as providing community services. We could also wind down the resource hungry consumer society. Build things better so they last longer and repair things when they are broken.

    In the Great Depression in the 1930s the British government funded schemes to give men employment so they could earn money. My grandfather was unemployed for 6 years but was given two to three weeks a month work on community projects such as clearing rubbish, digging ditches and clearing canals for which he was paid. It meant families could buy food and pay for rent, heat and light and stopped riots and public disorder.
    Which is what I do for a living.......
    Cool .. do you watch the repair shop on BBC? Great little programme ..
    Haven't had a TV for over 10 years now, so no!
    You can watch it on iPlayer .. I assume you have a PC .. ;-)

    People bring some amazing things which a team of experts repair ...
    My pump-action drivel gun is smoking hot today!
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  • jpfampsjpfamps Frets: 1417
    Fretwired said:
    jpfamps said:
    Fretwired said:
    jpfamps said:
    Fretwired said:
    Being serious for a moment there's been a suggestion that robots could be taxed like employees. The money raised would be redistributed by the government as a basic wage or could be invested in community projects that would give people some gainful employment such as providing community services. We could also wind down the resource hungry consumer society. Build things better so they last longer and repair things when they are broken.

    In the Great Depression in the 1930s the British government funded schemes to give men employment so they could earn money. My grandfather was unemployed for 6 years but was given two to three weeks a month work on community projects such as clearing rubbish, digging ditches and clearing canals for which he was paid. It meant families could buy food and pay for rent, heat and light and stopped riots and public disorder.
    Which is what I do for a living.......
    Cool .. do you watch the repair shop on BBC? Great little programme ..
    Haven't had a TV for over 10 years now, so no!
    You can watch it on iPlayer .. I assume you have a PC .. ;-)

    People bring some amazing things which a team of experts repair ...
    Actually I don't have the internet at home either, only at work.
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  • GarthyGarthy Frets: 1892
    jpfamps said:

    Every time there is a new technology a load of economists have predicted it would destroy jobs.

    So far they have been wrong.

    Economic predictions being wrong, imagine that!

    But of course "it's different this time", a phrase that was used liberally before the banking meltdown......
    I've been made redundant once to automation, and survived three more rounds of it in another industry due to automation. It is quite noticeable in a fire drill before and after when 120 stand where 5000 previously lined up for roll call. If you get a chance to walk around a paper mill or similar, you won't see a soul (which was our undoing as it happens).

    The Rover Cowley plant in Oxford has made around 200,000 cars a year for over 50 years, yet in 1975 employed 20,000 full time employees, now BMW make 200k Minis with 5000 staff including casuals.

    At the other end of the scale in the 90s, a place I worked at employed 20 people printing stationary and at least a dozen other printers within 5 miles did the same thing, all were flat out and busy. Then the affordable 3 in 1 copier/scanner/printer for PCs was launched and within five years all of the print shops went bust, many didn't last a year.
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  • jpfampsjpfamps Frets: 1417
    Garthy said:
    jpfamps said:

    Every time there is a new technology a load of economists have predicted it would destroy jobs.

    So far they have been wrong.

    Economic predictions being wrong, imagine that!

    But of course "it's different this time", a phrase that was used liberally before the banking meltdown......
    I've been made redundant once to automation, and survived three more rounds of it in another industry due to automation. It is quite noticeable in a fire drill before and after when 120 stand where 5000 previously lined up for roll call. If you get a chance to walk around a paper mill or similar, you won't see a soul (which was our undoing as it happens).

    The Rover Cowley plant in Oxford has made around 200,000 cars a year for over 50 years, yet in 1975 employed 20,000 full time employees, now BMW make 200k Minis with 5000 staff including casuals.

    At the other end of the scale in the 90s, a place I worked at employed 20 people printing stationary and at least a dozen other printers within 5 miles did the same thing, all were flat out and busy. Then the affordable 3 in 1 copier/scanner/printer for PCs was launched and within five years all of the print shops went bust, many didn't last a year.
    It's savage for the people whose jobs are destroyed (and few governents if any have found a satisfactory solution to this problem), but on aggregate (I should have qualified this in my previous post) technological advancement creates jobs.

    Maybe it will be "different this time"; in reality no one knows, and anyone who predicts this with any certainty is a charlatan. 

    My guess is that it won't be "different this time".

    The nub of the problem is that if we want rising standards of living, we will need to increase productivity per worker, and thus embrace new technology.

    In fact given an aging population in UK, we will need to increase productivity per worker just to maintain our current standard of living.

    The technology is not suddenly going to go away, so we need to embrace it.

    Nor would I be in favour of taxing it, as essentially we would be taxing the most productive parts of the economy, whereas we should be taxing the unproductive parts of the economy, eg hoarding land.


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  • mellowsunmellowsun Frets: 2326
    Automation and technology are productive and generate wealth, but this goes to the few, not the many, so eventually will lead to discontent.

    Redistribution of wealth via a citizen's income to replace all/most benefits, and flat rate of tax over the 10k citizen's income threshold, could be looked at.

    E.g. citizen's income of 10k for everyone of working age, offset by 50% tax. So if you earn 30k, you take home 10k citizen's income, plus 30k - 15k tax = 25k.

    If you earn 100k, 10k citizen's income plus 100k-50k = 60k take home

    If you earn 5k, you take home 10k + 5k = 15k

    The exact figures would need to be worked out and balanced, but it could work.
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  • TheBigDipperTheBigDipper Frets: 932
    Good OP, Fretwired.

    Automation is always good for business and bad for employees. Machinery/software doesn't get sick, take holidays or go on strike. Then, when the employees are replaced by automation, they will be castigated as being the feckless poor by those who've done OK through automation (business owners and the employees who've kept their jobs and improved their lot) and payment of anything that might help those people to move forwards will be resented. 

    It's not a new thing. 

    It's shameful that the winners are allowed to keep it all and not display any sense of social responsibility to people who's lives are now blighted. Not contribute directly, perhaps, but on a national level through taxation. It's shameful that governments just drop them and run because they feel the people who are being left behind aren't their voters anyway. Who says a government only exists to support the people that voted for them? It's then daft that some of those left behind continue to vote for the people who had the policies that put them where they are - because that's their party, right or wrong. 

    The real question is what sort of a country do we want to be and how are we going to get there?

    Lots of people can say what they don't want (usually by insulting their opponents and not by making a proper, reasoned case). Conservative voters don't want a socialist country run by Corbyn and Abbot. Labour voters don't want an authoritarian hell run by Rees Mogg and possibly May as the figurehead. So the political discussion is always about the perceived negatives of the other side. 

    I'd love to see a discussion that referenced the positives of a set of policies and didn't refer back to the opponents. Under our existing system, though, that approach doesn't win elections. More fool us. 
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  • HeartfeltdawnHeartfeltdawn Frets: 11476
    jpfamps said:
    It's savage for the people whose jobs are destroyed (and few governents if any have found a satisfactory solution to this problem), but on aggregate (I should have qualified this in my previous post) technological advancement creates jobs.

    Maybe it will be "different this time"; in reality no one knows, and anyone who predicts this with any certainty is a charlatan. 

    My guess is that it won't be "different this time".

    The nub of the problem is that if we want rising standards of living, we will need to increase productivity per worker, and thus embrace new technology.

    In fact given an aging population in UK, we will need to increase productivity per worker just to maintain our current standard of living.

    The technology is not suddenly going to go away, so we need to embrace it.

    Nor would I be in favour of taxing it, as essentially we would be taxing the most productive parts of the economy, whereas we should be taxing the unproductive parts of the economy, eg hoarding land.



    This reminds me of an article from the FT I squirrelled away:

    https://www.ft.com/content/fff1944a-e51c-11e5-a09b-1f8b0d268c39

    You talked of the Industrial Revolution before. I don't think it's even worth comparing technology now to the impact of the IR then. AI and automation is way beyond the spinning jenny for impact. 

    You're in favour of taxing land hoarders. Generally that isn't a poor person tax because poor folk don't tend to own land, let alone horde it away. Is any right-leaning government really going to do that?

    Clarity over quantity.  
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  • FretwiredFretwired Frets: 16962
    Garthy said:


    At the other end of the scale in the 90s, a place I worked at employed 20 people printing stationary and at least a dozen other printers within 5 miles did the same thing, all were flat out and busy. Then the affordable 3 in 1 copier/scanner/printer for PCs was launched and within five years all of the print shops went bust, many didn't last a year.
    I work in marketing and 20 years ago 60% of our work was on brochures which were printed. We do a couple a year now. Email and PDFs killed the need to print things and if you need to send a letter people have a template in Word and a digital colour office laser printer. There was good money printing receipt books but firms use handheld digital devices. There were 20 plus printing companies around here now there's just one left.
    My pump-action drivel gun is smoking hot today!
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  • FretwiredFretwired Frets: 16962
    Good OP, Fretwired.

    Automation is always good for business and bad for employees. Machinery/software doesn't get sick, take holidays or go on strike. Then, when the employees are replaced by automation, they will be castigated as being the feckless poor by those who've done OK through automation (business owners and the employees who've kept their jobs and improved their lot) and payment of anything that might help those people to move forwards will be resented. 


    Not sure. I took a tour of the Luton Vauxhall plant in 1975. Horrible place and very dangerous. Last year I went round the Jaguar factory - clean and all the horrible body assembly and metal shaping was done by machines. A much nicer work environment.

    The problem is that too much wealth is concentrated in the hands of too few people. Do we need to work 5 days a week for 8 hours a day. I'd say not. People could work three days a week and share their jobs. The government pays a living wage and companies top it up via work. That way everyone has a basic income.
    My pump-action drivel gun is smoking hot today!
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  • VimFuegoVimFuego Frets: 6256
    Fretwired said:
    Good OP, Fretwired.

    Automation is always good for business and bad for employees. Machinery/software doesn't get sick, take holidays or go on strike. Then, when the employees are replaced by automation, they will be castigated as being the feckless poor by those who've done OK through automation (business owners and the employees who've kept their jobs and improved their lot) and payment of anything that might help those people to move forwards will be resented. 


    Not sure. I took a tour of the Luton Vauxhall plant in 1975. Horrible place and very dangerous. Last year I went round the Jaguar factory - clean and all the horrible body assembly and metal shaping was done by machines. A much nicer work environment.

    The problem is that too much wealth is concentrated in the hands of too few people. Do we need to work 5 days a week for 8 hours a day. I'd say not. People could work three days a week and share their jobs. The government pays a living wage and companies top it up via work. That way everyone has a basic income.
    I'd agree with that, but you'd need a significant shift in the economy to enable people to still live well, specifically housing costs. Automation has the capacity to seriously reduce many living costs but not house prices if we don't radically change how housing is "allocated".

    I'm not locked in here with you, you are locked in here with me.

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  • VimFuegoVimFuego Frets: 6256
    an interesting (well, to me anyways) anecdote that I think I've recounted before, many of our local banks have shut and the one that is still open now has an automattic teller, where as well as a cashpoint, you can now scan and pay in cheques, cash etc. While great for the customer, and probably the bank, it does remove a job from someone. Bank jobs in rural areas used to be very desirable jobs for locals to get.

    I'm not locked in here with you, you are locked in here with me.

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  • HeartfeltdawnHeartfeltdawn Frets: 11476
    Fretwired said:
    Not sure. I took a tour of the Luton Vauxhall plant in 1975. Horrible place and very dangerous. Last year I went round the Jaguar factory - clean and all the horrible body assembly and metal shaping was done by machines. A much nicer work environment.

    The problem is that too much wealth is concentrated in the hands of too few people. Do we need to work 5 days a week for 8 hours a day. I'd say not. People could work three days a week and share their jobs. The government pays a living wage and companies top it up via work. That way everyone has a basic income.
    I believe that is how things should go. Changes in housing and employment would be needed but the benefits would be huge. Less pressure on transportation systems at peak times: childcare issues reduced: greater time for parents to spend with children: potentially more time freed up for adults to help their parents in old age. 
    Clarity over quantity.  
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  • jpfampsjpfamps Frets: 1417
    jpfamps said:
    It's savage for the people whose jobs are destroyed (and few governents if any have found a satisfactory solution to this problem), but on aggregate (I should have qualified this in my previous post) technological advancement creates jobs.

    Maybe it will be "different this time"; in reality no one knows, and anyone who predicts this with any certainty is a charlatan. 

    My guess is that it won't be "different this time".

    The nub of the problem is that if we want rising standards of living, we will need to increase productivity per worker, and thus embrace new technology.

    In fact given an aging population in UK, we will need to increase productivity per worker just to maintain our current standard of living.

    The technology is not suddenly going to go away, so we need to embrace it.

    Nor would I be in favour of taxing it, as essentially we would be taxing the most productive parts of the economy, whereas we should be taxing the unproductive parts of the economy, eg hoarding land.



    This reminds me of an article from the FT I squirrelled away:

    https://www.ft.com/content/fff1944a-e51c-11e5-a09b-1f8b0d268c39

    You talked of the Industrial Revolution before. I don't think it's even worth comparing technology now to the impact of the IR then. AI and automation is way beyond the spinning jenny for impact. 

    You're in favour of taxing land hoarders. Generally that isn't a poor person tax because poor folk don't tend to own land, let alone horde it away. Is any right-leaning government really going to do that?


    I'm still not convinced by the "it's different this time" argument; regardless I expect we will find out either way.

    There is as much a right-wing case as a left-wing case (or even indeed a common sense case) for a land value tax. 

    For example, Adam Smith, David Ricardo and Winston Churchill were all advocates of a LVT.

    If politicians are doing their jobs properly (a beautiful dream I know) then they should be looking at ways of making sure that benefits of technological advancements are experieneced by everyone, without hindering these advancements.

    Seeing how little policitians knew about Facebook in the recent questioning of Mark Zuckerburg I am not holding my breath.
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