Sundays bring out a number of - my goodnesses :
The grunts certainly watch football winding down,
Women cling to their TV's for The Golden Globes,
Oldsters ready themselves for Downton Abby 3,
Sixty Minutes delayed an hour for football's overrun.
It was 60 Minutes' first segment that caught my eye -
Finally someone took blinders off the idea of work :
Seems the new dynamic in manufacturing is the return of industry from China or other countries back to USA for production here. The problem hidden within this decision is that the return isn't predicated on our superior workforce or their inferior workers but by something else.
Robotics is the new buzz word. The union of the cyber world with the mechanical world. A robot performs what a person or a few persons did previously but the robot works 24 hours a day, 365 days a year without lunch or breaks. It needs no vacation, nor holidays, nor unions but maybe it will need a shot of oil or grease every few months. When bought, this sophisticated unit pays profits to its owners : day in, day out ; year in, year out.
The March of Civilization has left in its wake : Iron and Bronze Ages, Wars and the Dark Age, Renaissance, as well as, the Crusades, an Industrial Revolution and an Information Age. Now we enter a new era, that of robotics, in an unprecedented amount ; in a number which will alter the very concept of work and people we once referred to as workers.
The return of work to these shores is not based on putting people here to work but to make more profit for the owners of businesses, the owners of the robots. Owners see an advantage in saving shipping costs and see an advantage in a more stable economy here which is still the number one consuming nation. It is still, "the dollar stupid".
"The Sixty-Four Thousand Dollar Question" remains : what in the World do we do with all the idle people unable to secure a decent paying job? Work, as once defined, no longer can suffice. To educate the masses has significance but not enough to alter the longer term effect. It is no longer - one person pitted against another ; to the victor goes the spoils - but, man competing against a robot to do a repetitive job, loses every time, period.
Work must take on a new paradigm. Society, I believe, has to embrace the concept of work as encompassing anything which adds value to the whole of our living experience. For instance, just cleaning the streets and sidewalks of every urban environment would add value. Eradicating poison ivy, another. Add kudzu or any other non-indigenous species controlled, that would certainly add value to the lives of all. There are countless other examples, there has to be millions of more jobs to busy the growing populous.
Now, the biggest question of them all, how does society pay a living wage for this, so called, make work, work? An army of accountants would be kept busy shuffling numbers to justify wages. The purists, the rich, the pull yourself up by your boot straps would rail against this notion. They, in the mean time, would have been spending money on contractors hired to build walls and fences around their properties. Modern day cloisters would sprout up like motels once did to comfort a set free mobile nation.
How long do we have to filter all this out? It's scary to think our Congress, as impotent as it has been in recent years, would be able to formulate a works program equal to the task. This may have to be a bottom up initiative rather than top down. What do you think?
Ronald C. Downie