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Is politics killing the working class?

August 19, 2016

With all the election swamp gas rising about income equality, worker rights, the minimum wage, outsourcing and all that rot, you’d think that politicians see a future for the working class.

They might, but it’s obvious the world might not.

With the economy currently the #1 issue for voters, it might be wise to ask – what economy?

Both candidates are pushing for increases in the minimum wage, while the BBC reports Mrs. Clinton has a whole smorgasbord of Federally mandated, employer-funded mandates ranging from fully paid FMLA leave for all to capping  how much a childcare provider can charge.

The current view of the political class, particularly on the liberal-progessive side, is that the business community is the source of a never-ending flow of new tax dollars.

For the franchisee or small business operator, that’s a zipline to bankruptcy.

The obvious answer for businesses trying to stay in business is to lower the number of employees, and that’s what is in the works.

This was bound to happen, just as it did at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, as soon as having human employees got to be too much of a pain.

Uber  has announced that it does plan to go to a completely driverless fleet as soon as it possibly can, and it is debuting the technology in Pittsburgh.

While there are certainly other factors in play, you have to note that the company has been and still is embroiled in a class action lawsuit brought by its drivers. The $100 million dollar settlement it proposed to settle the suit was just rejected by a judge as being too small.

That’s a lot of scratch even for the tech industry, and it would buy a lot of self-driving cars.

Why put up with those pesky humans when you don’t have to?

Similarly, the fast-food industry is considering replacing all those fry cooks and burger flippers with a machine that can grind the meat fresh, cook the burger and serve it more cheaply and with better sanitary parameters than humans. And it’s not a pipe dream. The machines exist and are currently set to be trialed in San Francisco.

All the talk of punishing companies that outsource their work is only going to accelerate these plans.

The first people to be hurt in any industrial revolution are those in the unskilled or lower skilled working class, but it tends to move up the chain.

For instance in the article linked above about the burger machines, the former McDonald’s USA CEO says that humans will still be used to “take out the garbage and for payroll”.

Probably not for long. Those are two things that lend themselves extremely well to automation. In fact, the job opening (singular) of the future at McDonalds  might be for one on-site  mechanic/technician per store or several stores to service the robots. The person will be tracked using geo-positioning and biometrics and his/her paycheck will be generated automatically, solely from that data and auto deposited to the person’s account.

Presto, no need for those boring mousy bookkeepers, or auditors or even the accounting department.

Believe it or not s*** does not have to run downhill. Gravity can be suspended and even reversed with the right power source.

In fact the only thing preventing a far greater investment in mechanical/industrial  technology was the ROI of humans vs. machines. Once that balance tipped toward the machines, the stage would be set to go to an all-mechanical workforce, at least in some industries.

It appears we are there.

On the plus side, it’s going to be a lot harder to buy the vote of a burger machine than a human.

From → op-ed

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