Thursday, January 26, 2012

The rise of the machines, or the return of the Luddites

[The Luddites were a group at the dawn of mechanization that believed that replacing men with machines was bad. At least that's the official history.]

There were 377,000 new unemployment claims last week, this is still below the “new normal” of 400,000. These numbers should indicate a brisk pace in the creation of new jobs. In reality, it may only mean that that corporate America has slacked off from firing people to replace them with lower wage novice workers. Even so this would be good news. If you go with the unadjusted data instead, (that is, no allowance for the post Christmas season) we are still way better off than a year ago today.

There is a lot of talk about the rise in robotics in manufacturing; this is to counter the talk about falling wages and unemployment, as if more machines really changed the mathematics of it all. Traditionally it has been the reality that more mechanization actually creates more jobs. More machines meant more people were needed to build and service the machines than the machines actually replaced. More goods were produced in total, and overall employment increased along with the standard of living from the increased productivity and more distribution and service jobs were created. This was before the one percent decided that all productivity belonged to them, and they alone.

Today the corporate media is circulating pictures of one robotic arm repairing another robotic arm as if this signaled a dynamic shift. Where is Sarah Conner when we need her? The whole point of the shift to robotics instead of simple mechanization was that robots could use more than one tool to do an operation without moving the product down the assembly line. This concept allowed for more products to be made by machines doing smaller volume manufacturing without hand labor. Again more products are produced which increases the standard of living.

Historically, the whole point of mechanization was to improve the standard of living of society as a whole. This has always been a point of contention between workers and capitalists. Capitalists have always believed they alone should get the benefits of improvements in productivity; and workers (who do the actual work) think that the rewards should go to them.

Today the capitalists are winning this contest; don’t confuse capitalists with the people who invent the machines or create anything that makes efficient production tools possible. Capitalists only control the capital, they are more than happy to steal from those who invent and create (there‘s real money robbing those people); just as they are willing to steal from those who toil with sweat and skill to squeeze the last dime.

President Obama is talking around the edges of doing something about this; and it’s driving the Republicans nuts. The Mitt Romney’s of the world live with absolute certainty that they are entitled to their ill gotten gains, but they always live with the fear it could come to an end with a mob of villagers advancing on the castle with torches and pitchforks. Mrs Mittens actually said in public that it was “unfortunate that they had to reveal [their real income through] their tax returns”.

The rightwing, on behalf of the 1/10 of one percent, will use any tactic to throw the common people off the scent. Depending on the day of they week, it’s the black people, or the brown people, the unions, or the immigrants, not long ago it was the Muslims, and now it‘s the rise of the machines. Just don’t notice that they are using capital and the manipulation of government to capture the means of production. They then shift all production to support their lifestyle of complete avarice, and still they want more. I guess that “insatiable” is the definition of “avarice”. Worse still, they carve out their wants from the muscle of the economy and now they need to dig ever deeper into the bone to maintain their status.

We can change this if enough people understand the economics of it all. It’s a joke that nearly everyone should work for little food and substandard housing just to avoid even worse poverty in order to keep the 1/10 of one percent living in the luxury of kings. That is it would really be a big “ha-ha” if we all knew better. Instead, so few people get the joke, that it’s as serious as a heart attack, and nobody knows seems to know CPR.


Anonymous said...

"... the 1/10 of one percent ..."

If we start calling them the "Romney Class" instead of some hard to grasp percentage, then the misled masses just might get it now.

Tom in Oregon

Anonymous said...

1/10 of one percent

If we start calling them the "Romney Class" instead of some hard to grasp percentage figure, then maybe those misled masses might get it now?

Tom in Oregon

craig said...

"Knowledge is the only way to win the war against the one percent. Enough people need to understand how economics really works. Facts do have a liberal bias -- "

"We can change this if enough people understand the economics of it all"

OK, how do we disseminate knowledge? And just how am I to learn wtf is really going on in politics/economics. I'm a professional programmer and know little about economics. I'm reading "Economics for Everyone" by Jim Stanford and scales are falling from my eyes. That book has helped me to better understand the Prairie2 News articles.

I'd really appreciate a link to good books on economics (for laymen) as well as some info on where you get your statistics and how you put it all together.

It would be great if you could publish a series of articles dealing with economic concepts/principles for those of us who want to know more, who want to learn, and will take that knowledge out onto the streets to others.

For example, you made a comment about corporate media "circulating pictures of one robotic arm repairing another robotic arm" but I can find any such picture in Google News. Hows about a link?

Secondly, and more to the point: "Capitalists only control the capital, they are more than happy to steal from those who invent and create (there‘s real money robbing those people); just as they are willing to steal from those who toil with sweat and skill to squeeze the last dime." YES! I now understand this concept (because of aforementioned book). But most of my friends don't. I submit that the vast majority of young people don't understand that concept. (I'm 57.) Teach us. Give us something to learn from.

macnow said...


The robot commercial is on regular rotation on tv, I think it is an assembly line for cars (?) and one robot flashes on it's LCD screen "I'm broke I need fixing" and the other robots in the assembly line stop and fix it.

To tired to google it right now, If I see it again I will post the link.

I would, beyond books use these websites:

Barry shoots pretty much down the middle, some times libertarian (social aimed), sometimes progressive (just bare edges), always a good read.
Lot's of historical tie ins etc. He is also a market player and newsmaker (for his counter opinion on CNBC etc.).

Nice in-depth detail, the recent "Debt O Nomics" just kills it. He nails the whole deflation thing (much worse then the whole inflation crap they are peddling, or were).

Decent market coverage, lots of charts, good commentary.

World focus, debt deflation/ credit crunch, bit of doomstedders and such. I like the discussions in the forum and the article contents with historical context. They (the authors) use to be with the oil drum.

Like I said they can ver toward dooms day like talk, but I believe right now it is doomsday for a lot of people, who will never recover and live rough and destitute lives (thru no fault of their own really) till they die.

There are more, Zero Hedge, Misch's blog, Angry bear, Naomi Klein (sp?), Ravi Batra (sp?) and so on. I do a mix of progressive, libertarian, statistical/historical, and a bit of doomsday types.

I won't agree with everything they say, but by picking thru and cross referencing, I get a good view of whats going on.

Prairie2 ties it all together for me, in bite size chunks with a nice sense of dry wit that is not obnoxious and very informative.

He is the type of blogger that I would like to meet one day and just shoot the shit with, sitting on some sunny porch and expanding my perspectives.

I think, he will probably correct me if I am wrong, but he probably does a lot of cross referencing also, and probably more then just bloggers; he probably hits certain traditional journalist, news feeds (international?), and historical books.

He just connects the dots much better in a general read then a lot of the other bloggers out there.

That's why I said in my last post to his blog post before this one; that he is becoming a bit of a danger to the powers that be (not really, but fun to exaggerate for dramatic effect).

He is just simply laying the knowledge down in a easy yet informative way; but highly connected to current and past trends, that overall make his argument hard to deny.

macnow said...

Sorry to do a double post...

...but to answer two of your questions Craig, we disseminate by passing this blog to other people. Oh and click on the side links for ads; so the dude makes some money and keeps the post coming.

: - )

I got my mom now hooked on this site, she now has her bossed hooked on it, who now uses some of the info in the arguments when he battles his extremely rightwing laise fare business friends.

But beyond just passing it on, start using P2 arguments yourself. Hone your own "connect the dots" type conversations with others.

It can be hard, but the more you engage, the better you get. Just watch out for the hubris. Keep your argument statistical and historical based with a dash of humor (like P2). The dash of humor helps the dry stats and history go down (easier) for the muddled minds out there.

I really like the style P2 is delivering right now, for him to change would change the expedience of the message he puts fourth. So NO, at this point her should not start link fest etc. (he does have his side bar videos etc.).

This is why I have connected to other sites you can look at, that will give you more in-depth answers you are looking for. Again, for him to do this would change the timbre and flow of this site.

But I must admit, I to have in the past pressed P2 for more info or direction (usually cause I am frustrated with things in general) and he has obliged in this forum.

But to be honest his stuff is pretty common sense, and so one needs just to relax for a second, catch the deeper meanings he is saying, google some of the main points he is saying (you will actually learn more than having direct links), and follow the breadcrumbs as far as you want.

Just know that, FUCK... things do need to change, and these basic conversation starters P2 puts forth; are what we need to discuss with friends, family and others... no matter how uncomfortable it can be.

Oh and my mom questions why I have to cuss sometimes in this forum, I tell her it's for dramatic effect and to expediently get the message across. in fewer words.

; - >

I also tell her I am 42, Irish like her, former military, and a bit pissed at the world.

She still thinks I can be a bit more eloquent, I say I piss off the wingnutters quicker this way.

Oh and I also follow this blog below; these guys and gals really take dirty words and political commentary to a new art form (and helps me keep my sanity):

Like P2 in a way; connects the dots on politics and pundits, with a heavy dose of Irish dry wit and cussing. The comments section will have me in tears sometimes. I would put Thers (the main blogger) up against any, political lier, propagandist, false progressive or wingnutters on any day, anywhere on any political topic.

Hope this has helped... and like they said in "The Road":

The Boy: Because we're the good guys.
The Man: Yes.
The Boy: And we're carrying the fire.

fype said...

Literary references? Better try Vonnegut's "Player Piano", which was written in the 1950s. Luddites, indeed! BTW, I have owned a manufacturing business for nearly 20 years. Not easy. I'm just a guy. Vonnegut was a visionary.