Monday, 31 July 2017

Humanity has a Big Problem.

Humanity has a big problem.
Humanity has several big problems.
Technology, Humanities greatest aid and comfort, is out stripping the imagination of the people who use it.

Resources, by their very nature, are limited. Skilled and Unskilled Human Labour is one such Resource.
It is however, a Resource for which Technology has become a perfect substitute.
The problem this poses affects everyone.
A glut has been created in the Labour Market. There are now far too many people, who previously would have undertaken Skilled or Unskilled Labour, who just aren’t needed any more.
This situation is only going to get worse, as Robotics and Computer systems replace more occupations.
Now the Market is in a quandary.
Everyone knows the Markets are rigged to suit the dominant players, who vary depending on whose star is rising or falling at any one time, but in a Consumer Economy, you need Consumers.
You need the Little Guys, who have a job or a small business, to be able to go shopping.
As more of these people fall by the wayside, as their Jobs and Businesses are destroyed by Technological advances, Demand for Consumer Goods will fall.
Now, everyone cannot be a Day Trader, unless the Market is Rigged in perpetuity to create rigged profits for everyone (or everyone in a select club).
So, some kind of Plan, some kind of provision needs to be drawn up for those people who are being disenfranchised, disinherited, dispossessed, of livelihoods, businesses, and communities, by unregulated technological change.
Many people hold the Tough Luck, Sink or Swim view of life, and let’s get something clear, these people who say that would be the first to complain if their neighbour did anything to reduce the value of their home for example, or dared to trespass on their business. Some people who say that now, WILL be victims of technological change in the near future.
Now, taking action that is to the detriment of another person is usually frowned upon, except when technology is concerned, then it’s all gung ho, let’s steam ahead with no thought for those affected.
Now, the number of people who will be left able to have a job, in the next fifty years, could fall as low as five or six percent of the working age population.
Robots and AI can almost certainly, replace 94% to 95% of all existent jobs.
So, to ignore what is a major change in the whole nature of Human life, and to just say, ‘people will work things out for themselves’, is foolish.
Look at History, violence will not be the last resort of people dispossessed from the economy ‘en masse’, it’ll be the first resort.
To say people will find new occupations is foolish. They said that in Britain about Mining Towns under Thatcher, and guess what? The towns withered away.
People cannot compete with Robotics and Automation, and they shouldn’t have to.
A new definition of what it means to actually be a citizen is needed, while a State actually exists.
Technology should, and could quite easily be made to serve all Humanity, false mantras about Free Enterprise and ‘Market forces’, are just the smokescreen of people wanting to protect their own entrenched economic privilege. A privilege they will lose, if change isn’t managed effectively and to the benefit of the majority of people. Now, certainly over the years, many non jobs, and partial jobs, have been sustained, often in the Public Sector as a means of dividing up the Surplus of Production. Now of course, higher home prices, has led (in Britain) to a surge in Buy To Let Landlords , who’s Rents are provided, often in full, by the Taxpayer, through Housing Benefit.
In other words, the State is choosing to provide an allocation of Resources to one part of Society, almost entirely on Arbitrary grounds.
British families, outside of the top echelons, usually have little or no inherited wealth, the surge in House prices, has created some, which Gov’t policy changes, for example to Adult Social Care Costs, has helped to remove again.
So, it brings us back to the looming disaster for the Labour Market.
How do you allocate resources, fairly, equitably, between Citizens, when you have entrenched, fortified even, positions of Wealth Ownership and Control, who frankly don’t want to share a penny more than they have to.
Now, the only real limit to physical wealth creation, is the natural resources consumed in production.
The potential production of products to satisfy Consumer needs , and wants, is far in excess of the actual need, or want, within reason. No one is suggesting that everyone who wants a Yacht should have one, that’s ridiculous. But the ordinary things, suffer no limit of scarcity other than that imposed by Manufacturers and the Price mechanism. 
The Price Mechanism, in all Markets, is being rigged, by a select few players, to what they want it to be. Even so, gluts in Raw Materials exist in most categories, the main exception being Rare Earth Elements, but even those supplies are not actually ‘Strained’ in any way.
What Humanity is actually short of, is Imagination, and Guts.
The 19th Century Model of Economic activity, has never worked very well, for anyone, and with the dawn of an age, wherein a Computer can do the work of Ten Thousand Clerks, in less than a Second, and one Factory Robot, the work of Fifty Men or more, there is a real serious need for a replacement model.
Such a model could be phased in gradually, perhaps over a century, with good planning and foresight.
As Robots and Computers replace people, people need new purposes in life, and new sources of income so they can participate in Society.
Perhaps a form of Universal Basic Income is the way ahead. In Britain in effect, through Housing Benefit, available to those who Rent property only, there sort of is, already, because Working people are its main recipient, especially in the expensive cities.
It makes a joke of the old notion of a Free Market, because it represents a subsidy to the cost of Workers for any Employer whose Employees receive it. People who own Property do not receive this form of Basic Income, despite that they might be paying for a Mortgage or indeed be Unemployed. It could be argued that they get Tax Free Annual Gains from House Price appreciation, but you have to sell your house to realise that! And of course, you need somewhere to live afterwards!
So in Britain we have a situation where, even as Jobs vanish, the Wealth divide is being expanded, widened, arbitrarily.
The obvious solution is to slowly expand the Cooperative, Social Employment Sector, enabling people, who have no money, to start or get involved with activities that create ‘Social Wealth’ in their locality. It would give them a sense of purpose, and would help create Communities, and provide care for those who need it.
Robots will eventually replace Doctors and Nurses, without doubt, but in the mean time Carer and Social positions are an option.
But they need to be funded. Because we struggle on under a 19th Century system, such funding can only reliably come from the State, waiting for Charity or Corporate sponsors would inevitably lead to certain areas being unfairly supported above others, the prejudices of the Sponsors coming through.
The idea of supporting local Cooperatives, with State Funding could be a good one, but of course, as 85% of new small businesses in the UK fail within the first three years, it begs the question how? One off Grants? That could be an open opportunity for Fraud. Long term Grants, same problem.
So, a structure needs to be in place, to Police the uses such funds are put to, to keep the whole thing honest.
Unless the system was organised centrally.
Unfortunately, whilst the Gov’ts in Britain and America both love Centralising Power, they do not like taking responsibility at a local level, and certainly in Britain, Gov’ts have done everything they can to cut the Public Sector to the bone.
These cuts have been, for the most part entirely for Dogmatic reasons, not for reasons of efficiently. Many examples exist (see Private Eye) of Privatisations, and Outsourcing, that have ended up costing the Taxpayer far, far more than the original Public provision.
To me, the obvious way to ensure that local Social Cooperatives spend their money wisely, is to have the Staffing, Payroll, and Budgets, centrally administered by a branch of the Civil Service.
So each Cooperative member would have a pay grade, and a salary. The Director of the cooperative, would present requests for purchases and so on, for authorisation to the central body, who following rules agreed by Parliament, would approve or not such requests depending on whether they fell within the remit of the Cooperatives activities. Various categories of Cooperative could be defined for various purposes.
Should the Cooperative undertake trading activities, such Cashflow should pass through a central Accounts system, any profits, being used to offset the whole Departments expenditure.
So, you could think of the whole Cooperative system as a Corporation, if you wished, but one established to address local Social needs rather than the self aggrandisement of a few Executives.
The Dogmatists will of course hate the idea of anything that does not make them or their cronies a profit at some point.
But what price do you put on having Safe, Happy Communities? How much incidental trading profit would arise in private business, from having Cooperative Employees in their area? We all live in one Goldfish bowl, and the ripples of happiness or unhappiness reach us all. Unless you are going to build yourself a Bunker, and what would be the point of living like that?
Now, Gov’ts have demonstrated themselves as being perfectly happy to PRINT MONEY, in order to look after the very few, surely the economic benefits of funding a wide reaching, pervasive and equitable Cooperative system would justify the creation of extra Tokens of Authority, which is all money is, at the end of the day.

With a system in place to cushion and absorb surplus Labour, you could then march your Robots in with a clear conscience and with less resistance.