Days Black People Not Re-Enslaved By Trump

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Flex Point

Kshama Sawant recently won an election in Seattle. She says she is a Socialist and has some ideas about how businesses should be run:
I wouldn’t call it “more socialist,” in the sense that it doesn’t make sense: It can be either capitalism or socialism. But what we can do, in the journey toward making the economy into something that works for everybody: We have to fight for major reforms under capitalism … We are going to be pushing forward for $15 an hour minimum wage in Seattle in 2014 …
I'm not opposed to a $15/hour minimum wage. In fact I'm all for a livable wage.
But we also have to be honest … That’s not going to be enough. Because the system itself is a system of crises … Capitalism does not have the ability to generate the kind of living wage jobs that will be necessary in order to sustain a decent standard of living for the majority …
Well here starts the problem. It isn't that Capitalism does not have the ability to generate living wage jobs, it that technology, the very sector Kshama comes from, has completely upended labour. Anyone familiar with history knows that for a while between Unions and business ideas like that of Henry Ford created quite a few middle class jobs where a man could, on his own salary, purchase a house, marry and support his family. That man could do so without a college education. Those days are fast closing.
Boeing has an enormous factory, [as well as] all the auto factories that are lying defunct right now in the U.S. — they all have enormous capacity for production. And there’s any number of workers with the skills, and people who have the potential of learning those skills. And instead we have a situation where, because we don’t have a say in the production, either the machines are lying idle, or the machines are being used to produce destructive machines like drones.

So what we need to do is to take the machines and the factories into democratic, say, democratic ownership — and the workers can contribute rail cars or buses, something like that, something that is beneficial to society. And that’s something that creates jobs — it will create living wage jobs …
Are you comfortable with the government telling you what your business should and should not produce? I'm all for responsible business but I am not for dictating what businesses should be in the business of doing. Boeing would not produce "destructive drones" if there were no customers for said drones. Kshama should be more concerned about why those customers exist more so than the means of their production

But her commentary about Boeing also underlines her complete blindness to business realities. Boeing factories aren't sitting idle because they don't want to use them. Boeing has idle factories because it no longer needs to use them to produce what they want. And why should a business pay to maintain a factory they have no need for?

And apparently Kshama thinks that Boeing would pay people x amount per hour to produce "rail cars or buses" when robots (who I'm sure she programmed for at some point) could do the job far cheaper. Unless of course she thinks the government ought to pass legislation requiring a certain number or percentage of human employees. Good luck with that.

See, I don't mind Kshama's attitude and vision for the people. The problem is that she apparently does not realize that the tech ship has sailed. More and more jobs previously done by "the people" (those who are not college educated and who's jobs do not require a college degree of any sort) are soon to be automated. How long do you think a $50k/year Starbucks barista job will last against the soon to come fully automated coffee stores that makes perfect coffee every single time?

or a Burger King?

Or a totally self service supermarket where RFID items are automatically checked and paid for so there are no cashiers or lines?

Department stores with RFID on all items so you pick up and go? Where robots can and will restock items (assuming one goes to shop).

Where there are no gas stations or attendants?

Where there are no road crews?

Where there are no bus drivers?

What happens when the minimum wage hits the reality of the jobs they were intended for are gone? That is the real problem facing the people. A technology makes human labour more and more unnecessary what do the countries do with the people who will supposedly still need money to get the stuff they need and want?

This is the real question for those concerned about the future. The flex point is fast approaching. Who's paying attention?