New Nobility

Today, I received am email from my friend Marie Limoges that contained this link:… 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.

3 thoughts on “New Nobility

  1. This is something that might be applied to projects like construction of the Keystone pipeline, where the corporations will employ a lot of people for a limited time to construct something that will bring the owners a fortune in returns once the labor force has been laid-off.

    Such projects always claim the benefits of being “job creators,” but those benefits are offset by the fact that the supporting communities are left with a huge idle workforce of people who travel to take jobs that pay well but for only a short time, and then get marooned at the jobsite after the plug has been pulled.

  2. Sue, labor is the only production resource that is not depreciated. Ore reserves are depreciated. Machinery is depreciated. Depreciation is allowed by law on everything owned by businesses that will raise profits except labor. I am suggesting that labor is the members of a society and that as one of the resources of production, society is also entitled to depreciation.

    This concept is an argument for reduction of depreciation as a means of increasing taxation of production profits. If I remember correctly, the concept of incorporation is not simply for the benefit of the owners. It also recognizes that there is some benefit for society in return.

    Today, I read that the new Chair of the Federal Reserve says that recovery in the labor market is far from from complete. Continuation of the current replacement of robots for humans in businesses will insure that the labor market will never recover.

    Action with regard to depreciation and other tax benefits for businesses much occur if the new nobility is not to be unthinkably discarded. Failure to support the new nobility, like the current wealthy nobility, will lead to revolution.

    This is not a problem only in the United States. Consider what will happen when robots continue to replace the workers of China.

    Failure certainly will reduce the population of the earth. It is recognized that the population consequence will must occur, sooner or later. The resources of the earth such as land acreage, water, cooling ability of the earth, etc.  are finite. Perry

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