back to article Basic income after automation? That’s not how capitalism works

Philosophers, economists and other academics have long discussed the idea of “basic income” – an unconditional monthly check from the government to every citizen, in an amount at least high enough to cover all basic necessities. Recently, this idea has gained more political traction: Even conservative parties consider it, and …


    1. Suricou Raven

      Re: I'm not paid a lot

      The non-necessities. It's called a 'basic' income for a reason: It's supposed to give you enough money to live on, and that's about it. If you are happy in your little low-rent flat, watching TV and roaming the internet, that's fine. Good for you. But if you have expensive hobbies to pursue or desire a more luxurious standard of living, you can go join the queue for employment. It may take a long time before you strike lucky and get a job, but with the basic income to support you there is no hurry.

      1. John H Woods Silver badge

        Re: I'm not paid a lot

        This is absolutely right. Opponents of the basic income seem to believe that people won't work at all. To me that's ridiculous: if that were true, capitalism wouldn't really work at all. People want more even poor people they are not some non-aspirational subspecies. I'm highly suspicious of highly paid people who say "pah, what's to stop me sitting on the sofa all day?" How about not being able to afford your Jaguar XKR?

      2. Whiskers

        Re: I'm not paid a lot

        ... and also no disincentive to seek work, unlike the current system whereby your 'benefits' are cut or cancelled as soon as you're 'earning' thus leaving you possibly a lot worse off working than not working. It's called 'the poverty trap'.

    2. Whiskers

      Re: I'm not paid a lot

      Boredom, people to get to know and relate to, earning money for treats and luxuries.

  1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

    And for my next trick...

    ...I will demonstrate how 'trickle-down economics' really does work, despite the ample evidence that it just widens the divide between rich and poor.

    The 'automation argument' is a massive straw-man argument. It's just not the point of universal income. Universal basic income as a concept is primarily there to provide a negative feedback so that the ultra-rich don't end up with all the money, lifting the poorest out of poverty, and actually stimulating the economy (because that those who work are guaranteed to have a disposable income).

    At the moment, we have an increase in the numbers of people in poverty, while the richest in society enjoy massive wealth and luxury (and tax breaks) despite never having to work. Somehow, those at the top (with everything) are not viewed as freeloaders, whilst those at the bottom (with nothing) are.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: And for my next trick...

      We don't have an incease in poverty. We've had (but the recession caused this to go down) an increase in inequality. Up until 2005 for the UK almost everyone was getting richer, but those at the top were getting richer faster.

      The usual figures given for poverty are for households earning under 60% of the median income. So it's a relative thing. Poverty is much harder to measure, are you poor if you can't afford one family holiday? Or if you can't afford a mobile phone and broadband? Or are we going for washing machine and fridge?

      1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        Re: And for my next trick...

        We don't have an incease in poverty.

        We have an increase in people relying on food banks to get them through the month. I'd call that poverty.

        The current government also massively missed its targets to reduce child poverty (hint: it went up). So what did they do about it? They changed the metric by which they measure poverty, so that it couldn't be measured year on year. That's right out of Yes Minister, which was supposed to be satire, and not a how-to guide for Machiavellian arseholes.

        Edit - oh, and I supposed the cuts of £30 a week to ESA for disabled people aren't driving them into 'inequality', and benefit sanctions aren't driving desperate people to suicide. Except that is exactly what is happening.

        1. codejunky Silver badge

          Re: And for my next trick...

          @ Loyal Commenter

          I think he is pointing out the difference between poverty (absolute) or relative poverty which is unlikely to ever be eradicated (for the same reason as 50% of schools are below average).

        2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Re: And for my next trick...

          Lyal Commenter,

          As I said, Child poverty used to be measured as any child growing up in a household with less than 60% of the median income. That tells us nothing about poverty, but something about inequality.

          For exmaple, 60% of the median income in Luxembourg is lots and lots, whereas 200% of the median income in Syria is bugger-all. So child poverty actually went down during the recession, because incomes fell - i.e. almost everyone got poorer. I assume it will have gone up again, as wages start rising faster than (the very low) inflation, which is what benefits are linked to.

          Using relative income as a measure of absolute poverty is ridiculous. Otherwise deporting Richard Branson (insert name of any other very rich person) would reduce child poverty - and allowing Bill Gates to move to London would increase it. In fact a rise in the average wage, or say pensions, would also cause a rise in child poverty.

          It's a stupid measure. As I said, it doesn't measure poverty, it measures income inequality. That's something worth doing, as it's also important - but children living in poverty is a serious issue and we can only target resources on it properly if we measure it properly.

          As for your mention of foodbanks, the figures from the Trussel Trust about how many people rely on these were about the number of people who'd used a foodbank once during the year. I wouldn't call that relying. I think their rules limit the number of times you can use them - i.e. they're an emergency "it's either this or a payday loan" thing, rather than a charity that provides food to families every week.

          Poverty is complex.

  2. Lamont Cranston

    Some excellent comments,

    so maybe the terrible article was worth it, after all?

  3. 45RPM Silver badge

    Alternatively, either:

    1. Don’t automate (so that there are plenty of jobs for all). This is an obviously silly idea since it results in the sort of shitty build quality and strikes that the seventies were famous for.

    2. Automate everything that can be automated and incentivise people not to have children - thereby reducing the population and hence the demand for jobs. Get the population of the UK down to 30 million or so and we could be self-sufficient (if necessary), and a lot greener. We might even build up some eco-credits so that we can continue to enjoy eating meat and driving cars and doing all the fun things that we’re occasionally told we have to give up for the good of the planet. Personally, I agree that we need to fix the planet - but the easiest and best way of doing that is to stop polluting the world with more of us. More than two children? Punitive tax (or sterilisation for those who can’t afford the tax). No children by the time you reach retirement age? Fat bonus in your pension. And with increased automation we don’t even need to worry about a shrinking workforce - because that’s one of the objectives that we should be seeking to acheive.

    1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      incentivise people not to have children

      3. Watch the ageing population starve in their own homes and die in filth because there are not enough people of working age to look after them and support their pension funds.

      4. Refuse to increase immigration to fill those roles because 'forriners takin our jobs innit'.

      5. ???

      6. Profit."Take back control"

      1. 45RPM Silver badge

        @Loyal Commenter

        3. - Not a problem. There are enough sprogs being born right now to deal with the short term. In the longer term, robotics is advancing at such a pace that decent human simulacra will be available thereafter. In fact, I wouldn't bet against such androids being available before the babies born now reach working age - and that's the real problem. Oversupply of humans for a dwindling number of jobs, which will result in societal unrest caused by bored, unemployed, humans. As to the pension funds, the cost of living will likely continue to drop as 'cheap' robots replace 'expensive' humans in many roles.

        4. - Immigration isn't the problem and never has been, despite the whinging of the brexiteers. The vast majority of the UK workforce was born here (surprise surprise), but (alas) many of us Britishers seem to have a peculiar sense of entitlement and want to land in a well paid plum job from the off, rather than working their way up to it. And if the plum ain't available from the start then they'd rather claim benefits. So it isn't really surprising that less entitled, more willing, bodies from other parts of the globe should be employed in, let's say, more menial roles whilst the lazy Britishers lie on the sofa, watching Jeremy Kyle, and screwing the pooch with their Brexit votes. That said, I do feel that anyone immigrating to the UK should be subject to the same rules on child count as everyone else - so don't come to my dystopia (a dystopia being the practical implication of a utopian dream - it never quite works out!) with more than two kids unless you can afford to pay child tax, or have no objections to being sterilised.

        5. ¿¿¿!!!???

        6. We never lost it.

        1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

          6. We never lost it.

          We never had it to start with, and if TPTB manage to grab a handful of it for themselves, they sure as hell aren't going to share it with those who swallowed the emotive but ultimately empty arguments of brexit and mistakenly voted for it.

    2. Suricou Raven

      2. Is pointless. Both the labor pool and consumer demand scale with population. If you halve the population then you halve the number of jobs required to meet demand, and overall unemployment doesn't actually shift that much.

      You don't need to incentivise, anyway. There's a consistent pattern that happens in all countries as they develop: First there is a long, long period of steady population, in which short live expectancy and high infant mortality balance a high birth rate. That's the bit where every family has six children. Then there's an explosive population growth when industrial agriculture, sanitation and medicine come along: You still have the big families, but now people aren't dying any more and population shots up, more than doubling in a generation easily. Then a remarkable thing happens: The birth rate falls. Higher educational standards and sex equality serve to discourage people from wanting children until much later in life, and contraception gives them the option. Population can actually start to fall. This creates its own problems, like an overburdened health system.

      Some countries have had to resort to coercive population control during the explosive growth period, but even China is phasing out their population control efforts now - they recognise that their need has passed.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "Some countries have had to resort to coercive population control during the explosive growth period, but even China is phasing out their population control efforts now - they recognise that their need has passed."

        More like it's had an unfortunate side effect. They're still massive overpopulated (~1.7 billion), but now it's also massive imbalanced because China's social traditions have an almost exclusive focus on SONS (as in only sons can inherit the family name). The child limit exacerbated that problem.

        1. Suricou Raven

          Check China's population growth rate. It was almost 3% in 1970. It's 0.5% now. That's less than the US, and about even with the UK. It's on a downwards trend too, and may even go negative.

          The government of china may be oppressive, but they are also practical.

  4. phuzz Silver badge

    "That’s not how capitalism works"

    That's a feature of basic income, not a bug.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Basic income is seen as a solution

    it's not an income, it's a benefit. Yeah, I wouldn't mind to get it, as long as YOU pay for it? Or is it "you, mr robot"? Widespread abuse of automata, ahoy...

  6. Robin 3

    One change - no more minimum wage

    With UBI people no longer 'need' to work to live, so scrap minimum wage. This lowers the cost of starting up new and interesting businesses. Who knows what would happen. But to say UBI would not change things much is blatantly wrong.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: One change - no more minimum wage

      "With UBI people no longer 'need' to work to live, so scrap minimum wage. This lowers the cost of starting up new and interesting businesses. Who knows what would happen. But to say UBI would not change things much is blatantly wrong."

      Except that the UBI has to come from SOMEWHERE, and it can't come from the beneficiaries themselves. Guess who that leaves? The business owners and the rich people who tend to back them.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why does the Reg keep on reproducing these articles from the Conversation authored by failing academics?

    I assume the author of this one found an editorial from the early 70s, jazzed it up a bit and sent it for publication (an example of this is the editorial Welfare Farewell from Analog of April 1973).

    At that time the buzzword was NIT (Negative Income Tax). Programs were run in the US which gave mixed results mainly because no one was sure of what they were doing and they were too short to give significant results.

    Applied to today, there is no reason why NIT wouldn't work, in fact it could cause an upswing in overall wealth for everyone (it would give, for example, a programmer that has an idea for the ultimate program the time to write and test said program without them ending up destitute).

    Automation is only 'bad' from the point of view of the 18th and 19the century 'work ethic' which says that people have to work to be happy and support themselves (it also makes the boss very happy from the wealth he gains off the back of the worker). Once you remove the idea that people 'have' to work to live and start looking at people that want to work for extra pocket money automation becomes a tool to do that.

    Rant over.

  8. codemonkey

    Car Factories

    Many more cars produced, MUCH less human labour. Does this author really live in the real world? Human labour goes from "living" to "dead", that is, humans, to artefacts that humans have created ( machines ), in all industries.

    Having said that, BI would only be one more way that capitalism tried to maintain the profit stream. A stream, as it turns out, that is shockingly bad for humans anyway. It would not surprise me if they gave it a try, given that QE and the socialising of debt was only a sticking plaster.

  9. smartypants

    Basic Income - some other attractive aspects

    1) It would make it less risky for people to consider changing jobs, which is probably a good thing

    2) If you found yourself out of work, you'd not need to apply cap-in-hand to the welfare state and wade through a morass of paperwork, feeling like a piece of shit in the process.

    3) Once we all got used to it, we'd stop working ourselves into such a state over people who have decided they'd rather just lounge around watching Jeremy Kyle on their big plasma TV all day, as they'd be exercising a right we all have, rather than forcibly demanding something which the rest of us think should only be a temporary 'safety net' to help people in difficulty.

    I don't think it would make much difference to the number of people seeking employment. Whilst some luxury items have decreased dramatically, others have increased. Look at the price of housing. If you regularly swing cats, you'll have to buy a 'luxury' house whose walls are far-enough apart to avoid killing them on a regular basis. So there will always be the desire to work to earn money for dream fulfilment. And lots of people like having a job. Some free time can be nice, but lounging around at home all day soon becomes boring and depressing for most.

    So I'm looking forward to the results of the studies that were mentioned in the article.

    1. Mephistro Silver badge

      Re: Basic Income - some other attractive aspects

      " If you regularly swing cats, you'll have to buy a 'luxury' house whose walls are far-enough apart to avoid killing them on a regular basis."

      In my experience, most people with a tendency to swing cats live either in very small homes or in big mansions.

  10. dervheid

    Three words

    What Utter Tripe

  11. Toltec


    One thing that always seems to be missing in discussions about BI is the figures. If the BI is X then at what multiple of X are you paying pack all of the BI (plus handling charges) you are getting in tax? What percentage of people would need to be earning over a multiple of X in order to cover the people not paying enough tax to pay back their BI and also cover normal state spending?

    More simply, is BI even feasible?

    Would it work if all automated production and therefore profit belonged to the state and people only did service and creative work? Oh and being a member of the government of course.

    Come to think of it wouldn't BI put lots of public sector workers out of a job due to the simplification of the benefits system?

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Calculations

      Apparently one economist described basic income as a brilliant thought experiment but an awful policy...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Calculations

      That's the thing with it, it doesn't come from taxes, the government has to print money to do it, increasing inflation, in turn increasing the basic income requirements, which inturn increases the amount of money printed, which increases.......

    3. Swarthy Silver badge

      Re: Calculations

      There is an article on Basic Income that includes numbers. Published right here on El Reg, even.

      1. Toltec

        Re: Calculations

        @ Swarthy

        Thanks for the link, with respect to Tim there was more hand waving than hard financial modeling of a BI system, I think it came down to-

        Nice idea, but unless it is replacing something that is totally knackered it won't work.

    4. Whiskers

      Re: Calculations

      "Come to think of it wouldn't BI put lots of public sector workers out of a job due to the simplification of the benefits system?"

      Absolutely. One of the key benefits. Those people might even be inspired to find something useful to do.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Luddite fallacy

    thanks for the link to the explanation .. I thought the Luddite fallacy was crying out for fantasies like base load power from renewables only & the destruction of capitalism by streaming Facebook posts and tweets - all from the latest iPhone ...

  13. teebie

    "technological progress will indeed wipe out some jobs, but new ones will arise in their places."

    If those new jobs are telesales, estate agents and chuggers I'd rather people got free money and stayed at home, thanks.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Unfortunately that article is wrong.

    1) Automation presents a far greater degree of ongoing risk to jobs than any previous industrial revolution. It CANNOT be assumed that new jobs will be created just because they were in the past.

    2) The entire financial system WILL collapse at some point. Fiat money and a debt based money system cannot survive. The mountain of bank created debt is already fuelling casino capitalism to the extent its beginning to destroy the productive economy.

    3) Inequality will become so great that the pitchforks will come out. War is the inevitable consequence if wealth isn't shared out. Would you rather a re-run of the 1930's again ?

    4) If few people have jobs, who's going to buy the products ? Robots ?

    I'd rather not end up living in a 'mad Max' type world with the elite vs. the rest armed by robots.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "4) If few people have jobs, who's going to buy the products ? Robots ?"

      It could reach a walled garden state where the few with anything left cater to each other.

  15. Sparkypatrick

    AI is a new kind of automation.

    In the past, people designed machines that reduced the amount of human labour required in a given process. Increased production created economic growth, bringing mode jobs. A high proportion of those losing jobs in one industry/workplace found new ones in another.

    AI potentially doesn't just remove human labour from one process. Eventually, it is likely to remove the need for human labour at all. In the immediate term, we are already on the verge of being able to replace a large proportion of the workforce with machines that can do any job those humans are equipped to do, including any new ones that come with economic growth.

    Some of those people will be able to retrain to do something that machines can't yet do, but the numbers will grow year on year that can't. If we don't find some way for those people to share in the new economy, then civil unrest is inevitable. The Terminators of the future may not serve a machine intelligence, but rather a ruling human elite.

    1. SPiT

      Re: AI is a new kind of automation.

      This is the key comment in all this discussion. I've just spent 20 minutes finding to prove I don't have to write it from scratch. The key change is that we are facing a future where the combination of AI and robotics could create a situation where some humans are unable to acquire the skills to do a job that returns an economic pay rate. Some people will end up competing with fully automated solutions where the viable pay rate is too low to live on. This has multiple consequences.

      As SparkyPatrick pointed out this can lead to an underclass with a ruling human elite. A very popular dystopian future that pervades both literature and visual media. There is however a second issue which is that the true driver of our existing economic system is people buying stuff and when the automated factory turns out many more shoes without any human workers then only the owners are left to buy the shoes and the economy goes into a recessionary spiral. To prevent that enough of the money has to be given to people who will spend it (and spend it fairly promptly). This is the economic argument for the universal guaranteed income and it makes perfect sense. The proviso that changes it from a "that isn't how it works" to "we need that" is the situation where some fraction of the population are no longer redeployed into new roles.

      I would suggest that we are seeing the beginnings of this effect with the expansion of minimum pay jobs in the service industry. This is using people to deal with other people because this is were your low paid human currently still wins out. The rise of the automated MacDonalds fast food joint would probably be the point where UGI really needs to be considered.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Different premise, different conclusions.

    The fundamental premise of the basic income argument is that there will be an unprecedented transformation of the economy that will drive the value of all wage labor exponentially to zero including science, engineering, and the arts. You disagree with this premise as indicated by your shoe factory trope. The problem is the premise indicates that even after all the workers have been replaced by machines, the value of the factory itself is literally zero.

    If you disagree with this premise then of course you disagree that there is an unprecedented problem society will soon have to solve. I suggest you open your mind and consider that there are those who have more knowledge than you about the technology involved that are sounding the alarm. It's as if you don't believe the makers of the atom bomb about how different this technology is, Which is not surprising if you don't know physics.

    If those who know more than you are right, you are doing a disservice to society by telling people not bother preparing for judgement day.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Different premise, different conclusions.

      "If you disagree with this premise then of course you disagree that there is an unprecedented problem society will soon have to solve. I suggest you open your mind and consider that there are those who have more knowledge than you about the technology involved that are sounding the alarm."

      Or the cynic in your could say they're just crying wolf to ensure there's more business for them. If people smarter than me were crying alarm for something that, should it be averted, would make THEM redundant (IOW, they're saying to do something that would threaten them), THEN I'll listen.

  17. Martin Walker

    Would have been short sighted 35 years ago, now simply daft

    This is one of those "because it has always been true it always will be" type articles which makes it pretty lame to start with, but which also fails even more because unless you are selective with the facts it isn't even true, and hasn't been for a long time.

    Over the last few decades there may not have been quite the scale of job losses that might have been predicted, though the reality of unemployment rates have been massively massaged, but the pay of the newly created jobs has sucked, reducing the working class more and more to the position of poor peasants paying rent to their feudal overlords.

    Sooner or later automation will destroy even the fading illusion of high employment levels.

  18. earl grey Silver badge

    NO, and HELL NO

    We can therefore no longer deny income to those who don’t work.

  19. juice Bronze badge

    Where to start...

    As badly written articles go, this one is... quite badly written. Where to start?

    First, the entire article is based on the strawman that a basic income policy is only intended to address a shrinking job market. However, there's far more to it than that: not only does it reduce inequality and poverty (pleasing the left) and reduce government bureaucracy overheads (pleasing the right), but it also leads to more entrepenureal activity (pleasing both). After all, if you have a guaranteed economic safety net, you're free to experiment and take risks that would be unthinkable otherwise. And this isn't just a theory: this effect has been seen in many of the pilot schemes carried out to date ( - in Madhya Pradesh, "The study also found an increase in economic activity as well as an increase in savings, an improvement in housing and sanitation, improved nutrition, less food poverty, improved health and schooling, greater inclusion of the disabled in society and a lack of frivolous spending".

    Dismissing the concept as being just "charity" is therefore both foolish and misleading - as is the claim that it would "not be progressive or emancipatory".

    Then, there's the shoe-factory example. There's an underlying assumption here that there's an infinite market for shoes - i.e. if you make 200 pairs instead of 100, you can sell all 200 for the same price as the original 100. In practice, the market will become saturated sooner or later, and then you'll have to either drop your prices or reduce your output. Either way, that shop-floor worker will lose out, as they'll either get fired, work less hours or get a reduced wage.

    "There's no correlation between how burdensome and how well-compensated a job is". "Burdensome" generally isn't factored into compensation calculations because it's irrelevant (and often subjective, to boot). A manual job may require some degree of physical fitness but often requires little in the way of training or experience, so there's a very large number of people who can do it and the laws of supply and demand kick in again.

    "The principle of production increase over leisure increase applies independently of the type of job in question". It does up to a point - the point where supply exceeds demand. At that point, you either scale back, start making a loss or end up with a large chunk of unsold/unsellable inventory - which essentially also means taking a loss.

    Then, there's the claim that there will be new jobs to replace the old jobs. However, the current industrial revolution is different to previous ones in at least one important way: it's happening a lot quicker, and it's affecting many more economic areas. After all, a lot of it is being driven by software, and new apps and updates can appear virtually instantaneously across the world. Take Google Maps for an example: it's eliminated the need to keep a physical map in the car, and it's getting increasingly better at identifying and routing around traffic jams. So there goes the paper-map industry *and* the traffic-report DJs. Along with everything else that can now be handled by a mobile phone - checking your bank balance, taking photos, booking hotels, ordering food, checking mail, etc. There goes the bank-teller, the camera-manufacturer, the people on the phone and even the computer manufacturers...

    Admittedly, people are using technology to create new jobs for themselves - t-shirts, 3D printed cosplay accessories, self-published media, etc. Sadly, the people I know who do this are generally making little or no money. Because with technology being so cheap and easy to use, anyone can do what they're doing and the rules of supply and demand have come into effect once more. However, having a basic income would give them more freedom to experiment, innovate and differentiate themselves, and therefore increase the revenue they earn.

    It's actually worth looking at some of the classical civilisations to see how they handled over-production and over-population - Egypt, India, China, etc. Generally, what you ended up with was a heavily striated society with very limited movement between layers and increasingly complex social models and policies - such as the imperial examinations in China, where you had to study philosophy, poetry and even horseriding and archery. They also tended to have either low productivity or some form of resource-sink, such as the Great Wall of China or the Egyptian funeral industry. And in the long run, they also tended to be dominated by more efficient and less striated civiliations - the Romans, the Mongols, the British empire, etc.

    Of course, there's always another approach to dealing with over-population: going to war - not only does it reduce your population (and that of whoever you target), but it distracts the general population and you also get to spend resources on equipping and training your troops. Win-win, except for the people at the sharp end of the axe.

    So personally, if a Basic Income offers even the slightest possibility of avoiding a striated society or war, I think it's something we should be spending a lot more time looking into!

    1. kyndair

      Re: Where to start...

      In the main yes but if you look at world population graphs with the dates blanked out you would be very hard pushed to spot the wars, they really don't make that much different (not to say the next big won't) things like spanish flu had vastly larger impact but even that was soon made up for (human fecundity is a problem that we need to actively manage after all)

      1. juice Bronze badge

        Re: Where to start...

        To be fair, I was thinking more historically, but even more recent wars have had something of an impact - according to the ever-reliable Wikipedia, up to 80 million people died "[including] 19 to 25 million war-related famine deaths". That was 3-4% of the entire world population at the time.

        Then too, it was significantly worse at a country level - some (e.g. Poland) suffered 15%+ casualties.

        Any which way, war sucks.

  20. boatsman

    it's all fiction

    money is something we believe in. until we stop doing that.

    so is having to work, or having to work to earn a living.

    there will simply not be work for all of us, we say.


    there is no need to keep working 40 hours or a 100 in some places.........

    unless we find it necessary to fill the virtual coffers with virtual money in the not so virtual hands of maybe 3 or 4 -thousand people, who where not elected to rule us, but actually do.

    1. Cru

      Re: it's all fiction

      You'd have to storm all corporations, and seize the means of production. Simply opting out is not enough, we don't have the land (a means of production) to grow food.

    2. Cru

      Re: it's all fiction

      You'd have to storm all corporations, and seize the means of production. Simply opting out is not enough. We don't have the land (a means of production) to grow food.

      Most of us don't have the food and shelter secured (payment free) so we can't purchase or create a means of production with our full effort. Furthermore, assuming we all decided to become overnight entrepreneurs, and each of us had some ware or service to sell on day two. How do we organize who buys what? Someone will have no business on day two, week two, month two, year two, if they don't starve first. In order for people to actually work less, en masse, we need revolution or revolutionary policy.

  21. Marketing Hack Silver badge

    Lots of holes in the author's argument

    A) Automation does put people out of work. We''re putting in a new sales back-end at work, and once that is operating I can think of at least 2-3 order management headcounts that are going away. I drive across bridges where the toll takers have disappeared in the last 5-6 years, because of license plate scanners and electronic payment systems.

    B) You can't just keep producing "more shoes" ad infinitum. Eventually you will saturate the market.

    C) The issue is not just getting a new job, it's getting a job that allows you to support a family. Way back in the mid80s SF bay area, I got a job as a trainee grocery store cashier. I started at about $8.50 an hour. I know someone who recently did the same thing, for the same grocery chain, and also in the bay area. They started at about $8.50 an hour, only now it's 30 years later and inflation has halved the value of that wage. Butchers, construction, many manufacturing jobs-- these used to be solid middle class jobs in the U.S., but they aren't anymore.

  22. Schultz

    So no basic income after automation. How about...

    basic income because it might fix a highly unbalanced wealth redistribution program run by the government? A lot of benefits are doled out based on complex and exploitable rules. A basic income concept would be simple and transparent and might fix that. It would also help to overcome regressive benefit/taxation models that currently keep a lot of unemployed or underemployed out of work.


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