Recently the Coronavirus Pandemic has shined a spotlight on many of the issues our global economy has been facing for the past decade. While it’s been a mission creep, I believe that things must change for us to survive. And when I say “us”. I mean the working class with no savings, no equity, and no safety net.
The world has become overpopulated and competition for quality jobs too fierce as the number of those jobs is slowly shrinking and disappearing thanks to automation. For example, Uber has already come out and said that when autonomous cars hit the market it will no longer need drivers.
This kind of massive change that is coming will lead to more widespread unemployment much like the virus is doing right now. But why worry about that now? You may be asking. Well, when you hear a fire alarm you don’t just stand there. No, you get moving and get the hell out of that burning building. Right now the signs are alarming in America. A healthcare system that is not prepared, slow indecisive government action and an unprepared populace is a recipe for The Great Depression 2.0.
So get ready, the Tsunami is coming and you better hope the government can act fast enough to do its job and make sure we all don’t drown. But the question we should also be asking once these bad times pass is. Why do we still cling to a system that is so broken and brittle that it can’t handle a pandemic without an economic disaster as the aftershock? Extreme capitalism as we know it is broken. Thus it will need a massive change or we the many will be the ones who suffer the consequences as we always do.
Is Automation bad?
In this system, automation is seen as a bad thing as it eliminates jobs and puts people out of work. I can understand that line of thinking but when you take a step back and looks at it from a different perspective. Is having more free time a bad thing? Let me clarify that with a few more questions. How do we create more jobs when there are fewer and fewer of them out there? A simple solution could be that we adjust our conventional thinking and move towards reducing the workday to fewer hours thus creating the need for more employees. In a perfect world, this would be the case. Employees would work fewer hours in the day or fewer days of the week whilst not seeing their paycheck go down. The shift we would have to make is to make this viable for people to still earn a living wage while working less. How do we do that?
For starters, there would need to be many new social programs put in place to accommodate this transition. For instance 100% free healthcare and University. You need people to have the freedom to learn new skills and change industries without fear of being stuck in a very bad position if they fail.
Something else to consider is that the money for such a drastic change has to come from somewhere. First off companies are already benefiting from automation as they need fewer workers to perform the same amount of tasks. In some industries, positions are vanishing entirely as there is no need for a human to perform said task anymore. For example when talking to singer/songwriter Johnny Punish a few days ago. He expressed to me that he used to pay a professional to master each of his songs individually and now he discovered there is an online service that uses AI to do it much faster and cheaper thus eliminating a job across an entire industry completely. This is devastating if that is your job. This is nothing new, however. It will become much more commonplace in the years to come.
So again I go back to our question. How do we get the money to pay people a living wage for working fewer hours a week than is the norm today? The simple answer is by taxing corporations that benefit from all this automation. When a machine takes a humans position a corporation does not need to pay that machine a wage. Merely it’s operating costs.
Take for example a laundry mat. Before machines did all the cleaning work I would assume that people washed their clothes by hand. Now a few people can run a whole laundry mat service by just maintaining machines and having the machine do all the work. Do people honestly want to revert to washing clothes by hand just so whoever had that as their job in those times has a job again? I don’t think so. I think of this as progress. Things are done faster and more efficiently with less effort.
The world is better for it. So once we wrap our heads around that. How would things look if this happened much too fast and on a much larger scale? Well, we get massive unemployment and chaos in the streets. Do we want that? Hell no. I’d much prefer a softer landing to this growing challenge. We desperately need to connect capitalism back to reality and we need to do it now!
Let’s imagine a world with 70% unemployment. There are two ways this could go. Rampant chaos and violence or it could become a utopia where people are living their lives enjoying it to the fullest, spending more time with family and friends and maybe humanity begins to explore more of our infinite Universe. I prefer the latter. Much like this clip from The Orville.
I think of a future where maybe even money becomes obsolete as a whole and one’s Reputation becomes our currency and worth. This is just something to think about while we are in our homes socially distancing ourselves to keep safe from this virus. Let’s not forget this time. Let’s make the transition in our minds so that we can begin to demand more from our government as the landscape is changing and our global system needs to change with it or risk forcing us into a life of pain and suffering.
Have any better ideas?
Please comment your opinion below. New ideas are always welcome here at BoreTopia.