Monday, May 13, 2013

Robot revolution will bring either fascist dystopia or socialism on a grander scale than Karl Marx ever imagined

Roberto Parada
The standard GOP catechism is that capital shouldn't be taxed much, in order to ensure that that capitalists invest to create jobs.
     This is the banana-on-a-string trick with which the Paul Ryan / Newt Gingrich types have been teasing redneck Republicans for years, to great effect.
     Most poor, dumb conservatives have bought in to this fantasy, and their right wing radio friends have, so far, made them keep believing that it is the fault of libs and immigrants that they can't find good (or any) jobs.
     That this scenario is bullshit is born out by the glaring fact that the aim of capitalists and corporations is to create more wealth for themselves not more jobs (and wealth) for workers. They do this by investing in automation and the cheapest labor available, currently found overseas. (Think Apple and the remarkably unphilanthropic Steve Jobs.)
     The GOP economic fantasy is betrayed by the recent phenomena of jobless "recoveries" — Wall Street surges in the midst of widespread unemployment.
     None of the economic geniuses of the far right political class have any answers for how their beloved corporate enterprises will mass market their goods to the robots who have supplanted the humans who used to make those goods.
     Mother Jones has a fascinating exploration by Kevin Drum of the coming new economic realities and you should absolutely should read it, if you haven't yet figured out where things are going — or even if you have:

     First and most obviously, if automation were displacing labor, we'd expect to see a steady decline in the share of the population that's employed.
     Second, we'd expect to see fewer job openings than in the past. Third, as more people compete for fewer jobs, we'd expect to see middle-class incomes flatten in a race to the bottom. Fourth, with consumption stagnant, we'd expect to see corporations stockpile more cash and, fearing weaker sales, invest less in new products and new factories. Fifth, as a result of all this, we'd expect to see labor's share of national income decline and capital's share rise.
      These trends are the five horsemen of the robotic apocalypse, and guess what? We're already seeing them, and not just because of the crash of 2008. They started showing up in the statistics more than a decade ago...

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