Today, I received am email from my friend Marie Limoges that contained this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v… The link contains video of the assembly line of the Tesla Motor Co. The emphasis is on how automated with robots is the assembly of these automobiles.
What struck me was the thought of how many workers these machines replaced. This replacement of human beings by automatons has been occurring for the past forty years. Initially, these workers were replaced by less expensive foreign workers. Then, even those jobs were transferred overseas to nations to take advantage of the less rigorous safety, health, retirement and other statutory rules.
To be sure, the robots are designed by higher wage workers. But, those workers replaced within this nation by robots have less beneficial employment, at best. At worst, they have long term unemployment before they must turn to low paying service industry jobs or welfare.
Another friend of mine, Ralph Rosenberg, refers to these manufacturing leftovers as the “new nobility.” The “new nobility” are those who the society must support to do nothing. From where does the money to support these people come?
There are many solutions. One answer might be to revise or eliminate the laws providing for depreciation of production machinery or to require taxation of employers for the depreciation of the employees. Call it what you like. The current system must be changed to provide for those persons who are excess to those needed for production in this country. Either tax breaks for business must be eliminated or those who have income from the businesses must fill the gap.
As Robert Reich blogged on Saturday, January 25, 2014:
At some point, working people, students, and the broad public will have had enough. They will reclaim our economy and our democracy. This has been the central lesson of American history.
Reform is less risky than revolution, but the longer we wait the more likely it will be the latter.