Robotics - how developed economies can compete

topic posted Mon, February 6, 2012 - 5:29 AM by  Elo
this is one for Le -

<Keeping Jobs in the United States

The myth that the implementation of industrial robots in manufacturing will lead to massive unemployment is just that - a myth. The fact is that many companies that want to cut costs consider both outsourcing jobs to countries with cheaper labor costs and integrating industrial robots into their production lines. Cost analyses have confirmed that outsourcing jobs and integrating robots provide about the same amount of savings, almost 60% in some cases. The benefits of integrating manufacturing robots and not outsourcing labor are that jobs will stay in the United States and product quality will actually improve. A manufacturing robot can typically produce parts at a much higher quality than outsourced labor.

Fears about Loss of Labor

As for the notion of manufacturing robots replacing workers, this is true to some extent. However, the jobs that are replaced are tedious, monotonous, and possibly dangerous jobs. Lifting heavy pieces onto a table or skid for eight hours a day can result in injuries and other health problems. A manufacturing robot can do the same work without putting humans in harm's way. The jobs that are lost to robots are minimal and counteracted by the opportunity of new positions in the company. Instead of moving heavy parts, a worker can learn to program or perform maintenance on the manufacturing robot. In total, robots in manufacturing do not always result in a net loss of labor.


of course for that to work well youd need an effective government and tax system that invested tax into education and R&D and supported that with good employer/government/union dialogue and a focus on medium term investment cycles (of around 5-10 years).

In short exactly what America has not being doing, but what sensible economies such as Germany, Norway and Sweden have been doing.
posted by:
offline Elo
  • <In short exactly what America has not being doing,>

    maybe that's a little unfair because there is some talk of this kind of thing the last few years under Obama, but of course he is massively held back by extremists Republicans.
    • History sort of disagrees with you.

      Look at Foxconn. They're about to put tens of thousands of Chinese workers out of work and replace them with robots.

      What jobs will these Chinese workers get when they're replaced? I'd just like a direct answer to that. Is that possible?
      • its already been answered in my part in the quote i done above but there is an important part in that missing.

        First productivity increases the amount of products an individual employees produces with robotics.

        this means there is more money to pay tht worker to train him/her in robotic maintenance and programming or operation.

        if you notice it says that in that article above. Now i accept that probably will not take up 100% of the slack. But here is the important bit.

        if government is working properly like in Norway and Finland etc, then good corporate and high earner tax rates raise big revenues which are invested positively in medium term things like good hospitals, education, infrastructure, technology, R&D etc, that will further there economicy especially if there is a commitment to them programmes for long enough, like 8-10 years. why do you think Norway is doning so spectacular, twice the GDP of America per head, not all small countries do well trust me, look at Greece, Italy, Spain, Ireland etc.

        so that takes up more of the slack.

        Then importantly you should have encouragement for employers to give Friday afternoon off work, as they do in Germany, for people to have options more to do 4 and 3 day weeks, for mothers and fathers to have more option to take longer maternity leave for young children.

        All this would create more employment from the wealth of increased technology from clever investment in state of teh art robotic production.

        so all of them factors combined would not only make up the lost jobs but make much more better quality more interesting educated jobs and money for education and colleges and univestites to go with them like in Norway AND more lesuire time.

        BUT it would only work in the interests of ordinary people if there is this strong commitment to have ground rules that makes private enterprise who have all the power otherwise, to ensure the way they work is for the good of ordinary people and that country and the world. (there should also be a strong green R&D element to these ground rules)

        there would need to be a strong reform of many international institutions to make this work properly in a global context too. The argument has to be won for that - democratically through good use of the media.

        Norway should be a lesson to many of us around the world in the way government CAN work highly effectivly WITH private enterprise in technolgoy, education, R&D etc, etc. they show it does, they have an amazing GDP per head. -

        That kind of public/private investment partnership thing could work even better in the US with the right government commitment, America already has the most Noble prize winners.

        Government needs to do this in a positive and balanced government/private enterprise partnership where government and public fundamanetly set the ground rules.

        So we have big tax incentives and university R&D programmes and commitments from government and private sector.

        you know if you look into whats going on in the science and technology worlds these days its REALLY exciting, lot of growth can spring from that AND with health, that industry is going to be much bigger in 20, 30 years time.

        But it will only work well with a strong role for government, positive non restrictive rules and regulation and partnerships.

        all this is possible but there has to be big real fundamental change.

        • so to simplfy above, what you do is you invest large amounts of capital in more high tec production and then government taxes the wealth that state of the art cost effective manufacturing produces and redistributes it in important parts of society like science, education, R&D, medicine, that builds a very strong modern service economy and creates many skilled and graduate jobs that further boosts the education system.

          for this to work well you need a progressive government working well in partnership with prviate enterprise, education, medicine, science etc, and the right balance between government funding and management and private enterprise and markets.

          like what we already have in Norway, Sweden, Finland but scaled up to big economies like the US, Germany, Japan, Uk, etc, and scaled up globally with more support from global institutions and global regulation on finance, with global finance contributing more to medium and long term sustainable technologically advanced growth.
        • And what happens to that system when the rich decide to leave the country? Where's the supporting tax base then?
          • <And what happens to that system when the rich decide to leave the country? Where's the supporting tax base then?>

            for a start most developed economies have higher tax rates than America, so where do you expect there going to go too, somewhere with a higher tax rate ? America is the worst offender like this.

            But tell me, why havnt all the rich people left Sweden, Norway and Finland because of high tax rates ? Why are them countries doing so well ? If there are some in America so greedy that they will leave because the government gets them to pay there fair share, maybe youd be better developing without them kind of people as Sweden, Norway and Finland have done.

            Your rich people are not doing you any good. While incomes at the very top have been tripling and quadrupling since the 70s, the average wage in America has shockingly stayed the same in all that 40 years. This is not what is happening in a country like Norway. There the average person has got wealthier.

            That being said an international element to this would certainly help, especially with regards to tax heavens and taxing the Financial markets. I mentioned that already in my posts above.
            • from your story -

              <America in 2050 was no different from a third world nation. With the arrival of robots, tens of millions of people lost their minimum wage jobs and the wealth concentrated so quickly.>

              this is exactly what ive been saying to you for months, how well that goes depends exactly on how progressive a government you have in America, it depend how you guys vote, it certainly hasn't gone this way in countries like Germany, Japan, Norway and Sweden who have invested in technology so fat and its very unlikely to go that way EVER. Why ? because they have much more progressive governments than the US.

              So if you dont change the government, you will be right.

              Which is what i have always said to you, the problem is less China, though for sure they bring competion that you have to compete with like the Germans, Japanese and Norwegians are competing with it, but the problem isnt so much them, the problem is your own domestic politics.

              And here is the thing, if were talking about 40 years off by 2050 these kind of robotics are going to be everywhere all over the world, so if by then you havnt brought in progressive governance to the US to share out the wealth fairly you are surely right that you will be fucked, with trade sanctions against China or not.

              Technology is going to bring lots of power, so its crucial that power is governed in a fair way for society, otherwise its going to be back to the days of feudal domination, and one thing that article is right on its already going that way in America, not so in the countries ive been talking about though.

            • <Your rich people are not doing you any good.>

              not that i have any love lost for the rich, but where do you think the majority of investment money for r&d comes from? the money tree?
              • <not that i have any love lost for the rich, but where do you think the majority of investment money for r&d comes from? the money tree?>

                of course im not saying you should persecute the rich, ambitious or clever, they can greatly contribute to a society, but you have to have regulations to ensure they take a. social responsibility to the community they come from, as they do in Sweden, Norway, Japan etc. .

                most of the investment in the US is being used to profit THEM not the general public which is why the average wage in America hasnt improved in about 40 years unlike countries like Germany, Sweden, Japan, Norway, where they tax there rich and rich corporations.

                Not only that of course but much of the wealth in America and wealthy corporations are now just outsourcing and investing in China or elsewhere, parking there profits abroad, and bringing there wealth back in through tax loophools and contributing nothing to America.

                For example lets take Google, and it breaks my heart to say this because there are many things about that company i truly love. But you do realize they pay virtually zero tax on most of there profits.

                Not only do they park there corporate center as regards tax in Dublin because it has so low tax rates, they have set up a separate company in the Cayman Islands as a tax haven that they transfer all there profits from the Dublin office too as a payment for intellectual property rights !

                The technology that created Google was helped by government money invested in Stanford University, now the US nation is getting limited pay back from that because of the tax dodge called the "double irish".

                And if Google do that, you can imagine how many others are upto the same thing.

                Its not about killing investment or capitalism or the rich, but using government regulation to direct it in a way that works for the good of all not the 1%.

                And dont tell me if that can work in small nations like Sweden, Norway, Japan, who have to stay afloat in a competitive global market place, America with it its size and power cant get it to work even better for it. There are capital controls you an used to stop too much capital being parked offshore, and of course closing down tax holes. Tax corporations and the wealthy at proper rates not at the ridiculous amounts they get away with now.

                In fact i think the high tech socialist - capitalist model of them countries could function even better in America which has a natural pool of more creative dynamism and the greatest number of noble prize winners.

                Its a myth that America has to always be a country of right wing low tax, this myth was brought in by Reagan with his government is the problem mantra, from 1900 - 1973 America was dominated more by progressive leaders and policies, of course the great one being FDR who wasn't scared to tax for the good of the nation and invest it in the country.

                As Jeffry Sachs says, tax is the price of civilization, and certainly the nations i talk about are advancing there civilizations better than most. There is no reason why that couldnt be working even better in America.

                  Consider the Germans

                  By Thomas Geoghegan

                  Thomas Geoghegan, a lawyer in Chicago, is the author of many books, including Which Side Are You On? and Were You Born on the Wrong Continent? which will be published this summer by New Press. His most recent article for Harper’s Magazine, “Infinite Debt,” appeared in the April 2009 issue.

                  Come on: Is the West really in such decline? Yes, we can sit here on our island continent and gloom about the rise of China, as our elite now like to do. Or we can go out into the world and start competing like the Europeans. For here’s a strange fact: since 2003, it’s not China but Germany, that colossus of European socialism, that has either led the world in export sales or at least been tied for first. Even as we in the United States fall more deeply into the clutches of our foreign creditors—China foremost among them—Germany has somehow managed to create a high-wage, unionized economy without shipping all its jobs abroad or creating a massive trade deficit, or any trade deficit at all. Sure, China just pulled slightly ahead of Germany, but that’s mostly because the euro has soared, making German goods even more expensive, and world trade has slumped. Meanwhile, the dollar is dropping, and we still can’t compete with either nation. And even as the Germans outsell the United States, they manage to take six weeks of vacation every year. They’re beating us with one hand tied behind their back.

                  Why is Germany beating us? It’s tempting to say it’s because we beat them. After all, we helped put a major component of the German model in place, which is the role that German workers have in running their firms. After World War II, we had a problem: Who would keep watch over all the German businessmen who had supported Hitler? We couldn’t put them all in jail. Back in that New Deal era, we and our allies were quite willing to put workers on the boards to keep an eye on businessmen. Still, the idea of works councils was not invented by Americans. In fact, it had its origins in Weimar Germany. And now Germany is the country, out of all countries, including Communist China, in which workers have the greatest amount of control over (dare I say it) the means of production.

                  Okay, it’s not that much control. But it’s enough to make the German system a rival form of capitalism. And because German workers are at the table when the big decisions are made, and elect people who still watch and sometimes check the businessmen, they have been able to hang on to their manufacturing sector. They have kept a tool-making, engineering culture, which our own entrepreneurs, dreamily buried in their Ayn Rand novels, have gutted. And now, thanks in large part to these smart structural decisions, Germany is not only competitive, it’s rich. Although it’s unlikely that even the most liberal of American politicians would ever use a phrase like “worker control”—much less describe people who work as “workers”—it might still be worth at least considering what would be involved in emulating the German model.

                  Let me here cart out the big three building blocks of German social democracy: the works council, the co-determined board, and Germany’s regional wage-setting institutions. If I were teaching a class, I’d put these up on the blackboard and talk about them at the beginning of every class. “What do I mean by the German model? I’d like to see hands.” No one knows. So I give the answer: “It’s the works council, the co-determined board, and the wage-setting institutions.”

                  Everyone in class groans. Whatever does that mean?

                  Well, the works council is simple in theory, though hard for an American to take in. Let’s say you work at the Barnes & Noble at the corner of Clybourn and Webster avenues in Chicago. You may be just a clerk, no degree. (In Germany, you’d have a certificate in bookstore clerking, but in the United States there’s no need.) Still, you could be elected to a works council at this store. That means you help manage the place. You help decide when to open and close the store. You help decide who gets what shift. On layoffs and other issues, the employer must reach an agreement with the works council. So you may ultimately decide whether Ms. X is to be laid off or fired. How did you get into this kind of “management”? Barnes & Noble had no say in it. You were elected by your fellow workers. You went out and campaigned: “Elect me.”

                  The result is that there are thousands of clerks and engineers in Germany who now are (or a few years ago were) elected officials, with real power over other people. They are responsible for other people. They are responsible for running the firm. They make up a powerful leadership class that represents the kind of people—low-income, low-education—who don’t have much of a voice in the affairs of other industrialized countries.

                  If that’s a works council, what’s a co-determined board? These apply mostly to the largest companies, those with more than 2,000 employees. We now leave behind the bookstore at Clybourn and Webster and try to imagine all of Barnes & Noble, the whole company. Way at the top, in the boardroom, where you expect to bump into Robert Rubin, the clerks get to elect half the board: not a fifth, not a third, but half—the same number of voting directors that the hedge funds get to elect.

                  Of course there’s a catch! Under German law, if the directors elected by the clerks and the directors elected by the shareholders are deadlocked, then the chairman can break the tie. And who picks the chairman? Ultimately, just the shareholders. So capitalism wins by one vote, provided the stockholders, the bankers, and the kids from Goldman Sachs all vote in a single bloc. But the clerks still have a lot of clout. If the shareholders are divided on whether “A” or “B” should be the next CEO, the clerks get to pick the king. “A” is CEO but he owes his job to the clerks. By the way, the clerks have all this power without owning any shares! In this stakeholder model, they need only act on their interests as “the workers.”

                  With works councils and co-determination, everything in the firm gets discussed, rather than the CEO going to the mountaintop without ever seeing a worker and deciding to pull the plug. “Wait,” people say to me. “You mean co-determination keeps jobs from going abroad?” No, they can’t stop a sale. They can’t stop outsourcing. But they can cut deals. “Conditions—that is my motto,” is how one worker-director put it in an issue of my favorite German magazine, Mitbestimmung. In the United States, people don’t even know the plant is closing until management calls a meeting and ushers everyone out under armed guard. But in a German firm, the workers are Cato-like guardians, able to look at all of the financial records and planning documents as if they owned the place. If a company wants to start a plant abroad, the workers can pressure the board to plow some money back into a German plant or provide a ten-year employment guarantee. Or they can fight to get a better owner. It’s not just the arguing: it’s the fact that they can be in the boardroom watching, or in the back room rifling through the files. Doesn’t your own behavior change when you think Cato is watching you? Well, it’s true for managers too. That’s why there is still a manufacturing sector in Germany.

                  Given the influence of the works council and a co-determined board, what remains for Germany’s many powerful unions? They do the bargaining over wages and pensions but at a macro level, with a federation of all the big bookstores, not just Barnes & Noble but Borders as well. This is the German model of regional or multi-employer bargaining. We negotiated wages this way in the United States in the 1940s and 1950s, but no more. I doubt many Americans under forty even know what I mean by regional wage-setting institutions, and yet they are probably the single most important way in which Germany is “socialist.”

                  This system is much in decline even in Germany, but it still has a huge egalitarian effect. The goal, never quite reached, is that every Barnes & Noble, every Borders, everywhere in the covered area, pays the same wage for the same type of work. Wages are not set person by person or shop by shop. They’re the same, everywhere, as much as possible. The result, from an American perspective, is a shocking transparency: in Germany the ideal is that everyone knows what everyone else is making. By contrast, who knows what Barnes & Noble pays in Chicago, or Borders in Joliet? In the German system, people can find out what other people are getting, and their unions in turn can demand the same.

                  The private export sector is the most unionized part of the German economy (even more than the public sector). And it is understood to be the vanguard, the industry on the front lines of the global economy. So if the engineers at ThyssenKrupp get a 3 percent raise, then certainly the clerks should get a 3 percent raise. Soon everyone in Germany is getting 3 percent! In a complicated and limited way, the whole country can have a voice, if not a vote, in what take-home pay they receive. Unification with low-wage East Germany has made this leveling tougher, but people in Germany can still actually talk about “wage policy” and “wage objectives.” There’s a national conversation, unknown here, as to how much everybody should get.

                  Yes, there’s much to like about the U.S. model. In global competition, the United States has almost every comparative advantage over Germany. We spend vastly more on basic research than the Germans do. We have much more land, more labor, more capital, much higher levels of formal education. But with our flexible labor markets we cannot develop human capital or knowledge to wean ourselves away from turning out crap and leaving the high-skill manufacturing to the Europeans. The one great comparative advantage of Germany is that it is a social democracy. Germany has its problems, and I take them seriously. But I’m also sure that German companies will lead the next industrial revolution, the “green” one, while we in the United States will merely watch.

                  If you ask most Democrats and their think-tank minions how to help our powerless middle class, they have no answer except to send even more of them to college, where with luck they get out being only $50,000 or so in debt. As for the high school graduates who make up the base of the party, we effectively tell them: You’re finished. There’s no role for high school graduates in our version of the global economy. In Germany, these same high school graduates could be sitting on a corporate board. Skeptical readers will say: Oh, but that’s Europe, it’s socialism, something like that is not possible here. I think it’s quite possible.

                  I now have stopped underlining and re-reading Wolfgang Streeck’s great 1996 essay, “German Capitalism: Does It Exist? Can It Survive?” Still, I recall his central, disheartening point that the German model, with its works councils and the rest, was simply too hard to replicate in other countries. In the end, global capitalism would force Germany itself into our simpler, top-down Anglo-American model.

                  But it turns out, at least in the European Union, that other countries are now keen on experimenting with co-determination and works councils. “Co-determination is our biggest export,” a former official in the German government told me. As it spreads through Europe, we may come to understand the German model as not just a rival but a better form of capitalism. It only takes a change in law. Maybe we’ll decide one day, simply out of patriotism, that we have no other choice.

                  Is it likely? No. Is it possible? Yes. At any rate, it’s just nonsense that “Europe’s way” and “our way” can never be the same. We may have messed up our part in globalization, but we still have time to fix things. It may be even easier in this wired world to exercise our greatest privilege as Americans—to astonish ourselves by being American and making a European idea of democracy our own.
            • Unsu...
              Robots are the financial markets. :-D

              <That being said an international element to this would certainly help, especially with regards to tax heavens and taxing the Financial markets.>

              Market Data Firm Spots the Tracks of Bizarre Robot Traders
              By Alexis Madrigal
              From any objective measure, the trading was disorderly, indicating little true liquidity despite the record volume. That’s because much of the trading was conducted by high frequency trading (HFT) computer bots whose clear purpose seems to be to cause disruptions to prices.
              The journey to justice and truth is often long and arduous, but must never be abandoned. The alternative is to live a life lacking substance. But neither should the journey be unnecessarily prolonged. These things tend to creep up on you day by day, but we have passed the point of the CFTC taking too long for deciding if the silver market has been manipulated in price. Enough time has passed.
      • what china and other industrialized nations need to do is invest more money in education so that their low-skilled workers can compete when their jobs do vanish in the blink of a laser.

        it's the story of technology. a more efficient technology comes along. businesses utilize it. poof! there go the jobs.
        • Unsu...
          <what china and other industrialized nations need to do is invest more money in education so that their low-skilled workers can compete when their jobs do vanish in the blink of a laser.>

          Yes, it is being done gradually in the u s a spend money not on education but on the department of education... first import (reagan) soviet education system , then import (bush) red china education system calling it no child left behind. :)

        • Ever wonder about that?
          • why in hi tech Norway is unemployment only a shcoking 3.3% during this global downturn, every wonder about that ?

            Because they have a government that takes an active role in ensuring technology works for ALL there citerzens, not lets business do what the hell it wants.
            • here's one reason. the rate is reported as "artificially low".

              • even if we assume the real rate is twice that, so around 6% this is still shockingly good in today's climate, and considering disability benefits in Norway will be excellent, its hardly a big problem.

                I wonder if you have some explanations for this too -


                notice where Norway, Sweden, Japan, Finland and Netherlands fall on that graph, and where the UK and America fall on it. Very reliable international stats that have been cross examined in the lancet and other peer reviewed publications.

                Fact is America could do even better than them countries on these things if they had a radical change in their politics, Americans are warm, energetic, very dynamic and creative people and there economy and social economics were abostultly outstanding under FDR in the early 40s and 30s.

                And here is something for you and LE to ponder. How come there isnt more unemployment and poverty these days in countries like Norway, Sweden and Japan that are deeply immersed in technology than say Norway 400 years ago in the days of the plough and horse and cart before any kind of technology arrived and everything had to be done by hand ? Is that the world you want ?

                How come technology didn't put them in poverty and take away all the jobs ? Answer - that second hallmark of modern civilizations to technology - good governance.

                Its actually a deep tragedy that the worlds most powerful nation beats up and derides mankind's two civilizing factors now, government and technology, though of course i can understand why. I do think its on the cusp of profound change though, as Jeffry Sachs said in his recent lecture America has been here before in the 1880's - 1890's, just at the start of a hugely progressive wave from 1900-1917 and then again from 1933-1945.

                the fact that many of you cant see what is gapingly obvious to many in other developed countries is because your deeply immersed in your own culture. But many in America are stating to wake up, cue Occupy Wall street etc, which almost defiantly is just the start.
                • 3.5 x 2 = 7%...i'd just like to point that out.

                  i'm not denying its good and i'm certainly not arguing that the united states is the most equal country on the planet. i hope you enjoyed knocking down that straw-man.
                  • This is the maximum depth. Additional responses will not be threaded.
                    <i hope you enjoyed knocking down that straw-man.>

                    its not about beating you in an argument Gerbil i believe in all this with a passion, that its crucially important to the world at this time that America embraces BOTH equatable and progressive governance AND technology, i think its very important the two have to go together.

                    Only technology will give the world - EVERYONE in the world, including the billions in the developing world, a wealthy sustainable living over the next 20, 30 and 50 years, but that technology will only do that with good progressive governance. This is why i think they need to be linked at the waist.

                    If you watch this short clip you might get why i think that so much -

                    • technology means nothing without education. if you can't use the technology or don't know what it is or what it's for, then it's meaningless and won't accomplish anything.

                      <its not about beating you in an argument>

                      then do me a favor and stop talking about americans as if they are one monolithic entity.
                      • <technology means nothing without education. if you can't use the technology or don't know what it is or what it's for, then it's meaningless and won't accomplish anything. >

                        Gerbil how many times have i listed in these posts that the things you need to invest in are technology, education, science, R&D, infrastructure etc ?

                        I have made the point over and over that this only works well if its an integrated package of all them things together in a balanced way.

                        When I'm talking about Americas policy of the last 30 years, a short hand is obviously to say things like "Americas policy on this" and stuff like that.

                        Of course im aware that a minority in America have opposed this as a minority have opposed it in the UK, but I think its pretty clear Im talking about teh nation as a whole and the direction the nation has gone in.

                        Thats not the same as saying all Americans are the same. Clearly im talking about what the majority have lead to in regards to majority politics.
        • <it's the story of technology. a more efficient technology comes along. businesses utilize it. poof! there go the jobs.>

          Rubbish, it completely depends how it is done, can you explain to me how high tech Norway has a shockingly low unemployment rate of only 3.3% currently int his global downturn ?

          Because they invest in robotics, high tech, and education in a way that benefits the average citerzen - not in a way that works only for big business.

          Its ALL down to who profits from the technology, and of coure if thats left to the markets alone, it will be only the elite. Governments can ensure instead it works for the good of everyone, and tahts exactly what is going on in nations like Norway, Sweden, Japan, Germany, Finland etc.
          • rubbish? can you please tell me where all the jobs in the rust belt went and why they disappeared?

            how does norway's industry and employment stats break down? if the majority of their workers aren't in manufacturing or other industries that technology affects considerably more than others then it makes sense that a technology boom would not affect them as much as a country with much more reliance on production and manufacturing.
            • <a country with much more reliance on production and manufacturing>

              Americas manufacturing has been wiped out, its mostly outsourced to China now because it makes the rich in America more money, so you can hardly claim to be a country with reliance on production and manufacturing now as regards employment.

              Beside the point i have made it clear all through this thread that yes, of course in America with current politics technology will profit only the powerful and destroy your employment base in America if your politics don't change.

              I explained in detail how that wealth can be better shared out, as it is in many other countries -


              the last point is do you seriously think your going to stop the global march of technology anyway ? What are you suggesting that the American economy goes back to spades and shovels while the Japanese, Swedish, Norwegians and Germans go for high tech robotic production.

              That sounds about as good an idea as when GM and Ford decided to stick with Hummers while the Japs were jumping onto hi tech green vehicul production, we all know what happened there.

              If you cant stop it the sensible thing is to integrate it into your society in a progressive way with clever governance in a way that is going to benefit all that countries citizenship.

              Tax is as Jeffry Sachs new book suggest from a famous line from the head of the Supreme Court, Oliver Wendell Holmes at the start of the first progressive era, "the price we pay for civilization".
              • and by the way of course im not suggesting this could be done overnight, your talking about a serious 10-15 year plan at least and of course with current US politics that hard. But its curical, Obama has made some small steps in the right direction recently but if you want to really create a healthy society you need to do much much more than that.
              • Unsu...
                <That sounds about as good an idea as when GM and Ford decided to stick with Hummers while the Japs were jumping onto hi tech green vehicul production, we all know what happened there. >

                Yes, the Japanese bureaucrat rule Hummers are green!

                "Starting this week, Japanese buyers of the hulking power machines from General Motors — which come with a 5.3-liter, 300 horsepower engine and roar to 60 miles per hour in eight seconds — receive a 250,000 yen ($2,780) subsidy under Japan’s new, looser fuel-efficiency standards for imported cars."
              • Unsu...
                <If you cant stop it the sensible thing is to integrate it into your society in a progressive way with clever governance in a way that is going to benefit all that countries citizenship. >

                "For they amount to this: that if we are to produce a society of educated people, fitted to preserve their intellectual freedom amid the complex pressures of our modern society, we must turn back the wheel of progress some four or five hundred years, to the point at which education began to lose sight of its true object, towards the end of the Middle Ages."


                <Beside the point i have made it clear all through this thread that yes, of course in America with current politics technology will profit only the powerful and destroy your employment base in America if your politics don't change.>

                When Did the Soviet Socialist Republic of America Begin?
                End of Cold War and Fall of Soviet Union Staged to Collapse America
                • <we must turn back the wheel of progress some four or five hundred years, to the point at which education began to lose sight of its true object, towards the end of the Middle Ages>

                  are you for real with that ? Do you know what the average life expectancy was around 1100, even in the richest countries then, and what estimated murder rates were back then ? , even compared to the last century including both world wars they were at last 10 times worse than now.

                  You might want to go back to life expectancy of around 30 or 40 years old and humans killing about 20% of each other, torture legal and common place in every country in the world, absoutle rule by dictators everywhere, and huge inequalities, but for me - no thanks.

                  The biggest myth of all from a romantics is that there has been no progress.
              • we are obviously discussing two separate things. i am talking historically, where technology, over the long run, has had a tendency to cause jobs to vanish, especially in countries that rely on production and manufacturing. i mean, where did the rust belt jobs go? some were outsourced. some were the result of technological advances that allowed businesses to utilize robots who are more efficient than a worker, at the price of that worker's well-being, unfortunately.

                you cannot deny that from the early 1900s, when ford rolled out his model t to about the 1970s, possibly even early 1980s, america was a production and manufacturing powerhouse. once the march of outsourcing and technology replacement began, we were fucked.

                the one stat i saw to break down the employment sectors in norway had norwegians employed at approximately 80% in the service sector. i'm not entirely sure what that entails but it seems like it's an industry more protected against technology booms than others. though i'm sure a nice shiny robot would have all the personality of a human worker. and you can program it to work non-stop with no breaks! hot damn!

                <What are you suggesting that the American economy goes back to spades and shovels while the Japanese, Swedish, Norwegians and Germans go for high tech robotic production. >

                that's exactly what i'm suggesting. please, elo. give me a fucking break. let's all go back to the stone age when we whittled our tools out of stones and we had to use flints to make fire. that's exactly what i want. i mean, my dependence on all this technology makes me want to throw it out of the window and never use it again! spite steve jobs! spite bill gates! spite spite spite all you technological geniuses who have made my life easier!

                <If you cant stop it the sensible thing is to integrate it into your society in a progressive way with clever governance in a way that is going to benefit all that countries citizenship. >

                i don't deny that and we are basically arguing the same thing. see my comment: "profits should not trump workers".
                • <i don't deny that and we are basically arguing the same thing. see my comment: "profits should not trump workers". >

                  good, I want to get into a constructive conversation about this, Im not trying to argue.

                  I think the confusion is that your misunderstanding my position a bit, I agree that technology CAN destroy jobs, I agree it CAN be destructive to the majority of a population IF the government isnt constructive in trying hard to direct its use in the country.

                  So to me its not a question of does technology destroy jobs, because you can only answer that if a country handles it well as part of a balanced strategy, balancing all sectors of its economy well. What Im putting forward here is that technology CAN be really good for a country if a country is managed well overall.

                  I'm suggesting that maunfacturing goes high tech to stay competitive, and then you use some of the tax revenues from that to help develop your service sector better - education, health, science etc - which generates jobs - but infrastructure too, which also generates jobs, and green infrastructure also, which could also generate lots of jobs.

                  But its important that you dont either outsource all manufacturing, and then let that capital take profits without paying tax, or let manufacture die altogether. You keep it as part of the mix, keeping it competitive with technology, but you compensate for the for the jobs lost in manufacturing with technology by creating other jobs in the economy.

                  At the same time, as the post shows right at the top its a myth that manufacturing technology destroys all jobs in manufacturing, sure it would destroy a lot of unskilled and semi skilled jobs, but there would still be then more skilled and graduate jobs open up in machine robotic operation, programming, maintenance etc. Certainly more anyway than if you outsourced the vast majority of the jobs to China. But im not saying it would take up all the slack. It wouldn't.

                  A combination of an inflated service sector that you then develop, infrastructure spending that employs people, and the new skilled and graduate jobs in manufacture (as opposed to all them factories being located abroad) then you develop a broad employment base.

                  Also of course you can invest money in green jobs, If America harnessed its wealth and invested a lot of that wealth more productively in green programmes (and you could easily set up tax incentives for investment to work more in that way), that could generate a lot of jobs, from installing solar panels and CSP and wind, to more graduate jobs - project management, R&D, science, etc.

                  The common denominator with all of the above is that government takes a hands on role - not to control or dominate business - but to direct it and direct its growth.

                  Its that balance that its crucial, a healthy mix of governance and enterprise working together. THEN technology can help a country enormously.

                  in terms of the governance component to that, that's exactly what hasn't been happening in America, its been left now as a wild west where the markets can take the country wherever they want and do what is in there interest.

                  The fact is in 70 years we could all be living in very wealthy countries with the vast majority of manufacturing and boring unskilled and semi skilled jobs done by robotics and even basic admin done by computer software, then more clever interesting jobs are done by the humans, and the wealth the robotics generates is shared out fairly. Employment could be bosted by government incentives for people only working 3 or 4 day weeks, and taking large 1 or 2 year maternity leaves.

                  But if it isnt done that way were in deep trouble. It could all be done very differently with huge mass unemployment and the wealth of that technology only going to a tiny elite.

                  I think the key thing America needs is good medium term investment plans of about 10 years that are supposed to generate BOTH employment and profit and take it truly to a sustainable, modern, technological future.

                  This Jeffry Sachs lecture is brilliant, really cant recomned it enough, try at least watching about 5- 10 mins of it from 56 min onwards if you cant want to watch the whole thing -


                  so long as your economy is run like that you will have no chance in the medium to long term competing with the BRIC economies.

                  I should read your article about Germany though.

                  • This is the maximum depth. Additional responses will not be threaded.
                    the article abut Germany was really interesting, and i agree with what it says and the value of giving workers much more say and power, but that doesn't contradict with what i have been saying about the government having more power to direct a nations growth and above all tax enough so that you can invest properly in growth and a service sector that will serve the people. They can nicely together.

                    I think you would find that Jeffry Sachs talk just as interesting.
  • <Lifting heavy pieces onto a table or skid for eight hours a day can result in injuries and other health problems.>

    so can tying your shoe, driving a car, swimming in the ocean, eating a pickle, etc. ad nauseum. cotton picking can result in heat stroke, heat exhaustion, backaches, headaches, etc. every job is dangerous. hell, even a secretary can get injured with carpal tunnel syndrome. even a computer geek can suffer from toasted skin syndrome. just because a job is dangerous doesn't mean it should be replaced by robots, especially if the economy suffers from the unemployment caused by the replacement.

    higher profits should not trump workers.
  • People can compete in many ways. Robotics is one way in which one can drive down the cost of production.
    with robotics one needs to establish more jobs which the robotics take away. This can be done through investment in entrepreneurship providing opportunity for many.

    Legalizing Marijuana has proven to create jobs, as it is a demand which is currently being met through illicit non taxed means.

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