It isn’t like you have to go back ages in history to see governing models that don’t work. The recent end of the Cold War provided perfect examples. But they collapsed in the ’80s and our younger generation has no memory of the hardships the people of those countries suffered under socialist totalitarian rule. They also give indications that they think government is the solution for all our problems instead of understanding that for the most part government is responsible for many of our problems. It seems they think that if we just had big government, everything would be lovely.
The “Feel the Bern” crowd are enamored with “social democracy”. They like to point to Europe and pretend that the system is a desirable one. But instead of pointing to Europe, perhaps they should cast their eyes to the south – to Venezuela. They might find it, oh, I don’t know, enlightening:
In 1999, Venezuela was taken over by Socialist who promised that he would punish big corporations and redistribute wealth to “the people” to provide health care, education, infrastructure, and even out income inequality. (Sound familiar?) The American Left cheered. Celebrities like Sean Penn and Danny Glover praised his Democratic Socialist economic measures. Chavez systematically nationalized the oil, banking, agricultural, food distribution, telecommunications, and power industries in Venezuela; because running them as social democratic communes would eliminate “greed” and give the people lower cost goods and services. The American Left praised him for “democratizing” the Venezuelan economy. When Chavez shut down opposition TV, radio, and newspapers the American Left defended it as necessary to protect the Revolution.
The American Left likes to pretend now that Venezuela isn’t a real example of Social Democracy; but up until the economy collapsed (as every sensible person knew it would) they were Chavez’s biggest cheerleaders, as the links above (or any Google search) shows.
It is, of course, a horrific example of a socialist takeover, but a typical one. A once well-off country with the most proven oil reserves in the world reduced to literal poverty. Food shortages, other commodity shortages, you name it, you can’t get it there. Oh, and about those oil reserves? Well it seems that Venezuela has an energy crisis. And the government’s solution? Well it said everyone should take Fridays off (yeah, screw productivity – that’s a capitalist construct) and this bit of brilliance:
Last week, his government said it was shifting its time zone forward by 30 minutes to save power by adding half an hour of daylight.
Socialism … in Venezuela’s case they’re actually feeling the burn.
Then there is Brazil. Brazil is the lover of “big governments” wet dream. Or as it has now become, a nightmare. Brazil is a failing state and the primary reason that it is failing is because of the premise under which it has operated for decades. Big government paternalism:
For all its modernist appeal, it was one more expression of the country’s long and troubled attachment to the concept of a giant paternalistic state, responsible for managing the affairs of the entire society, from its biggest companies to its poorest citizens.
“The problem is, from time immemorial, Brazil’s political leaders only see one way forward, the growth of the state,” said Fernando Henrique Cardoso, a former leftist intellectual who sought to reduce the size of Brazil’s government while president from 1995 to 2002. “But you need another springboard for progress, that doesn’t exclude the state but that accepts markets. This just doesn’t sink in in Brazil.”
Many wan’t to blame Brazil’s problems on corruption like the corruption scandal now rocking the nation. But the corruption arises from the base problem … big, unanswerable government:
While many observers of Brazil’s predicament have focused on the country’s corruption, that may miss the point. Brazil’s deeper problem lies in the failures of its Leviathan state, which has perennially reached for the utopian visions embodied in Brasília but instead has produced recurring cycles of boom and dramatic bust.
Of course there a huge lessons to be learned from these two countries that apply to this country and the current political arguments now being made. All, to some degree or another (with Socialist Sanders being the extreme) argue for both social democracy and bigger government. We apparently don’t learn from other countries but insist on learning the hard way, by repeating what has already failed any number of times.
That’s because of arrogance and the belief that the only reason any of this hasn’t worked in the past is the right people weren’t in charge.
With the class of politicians we have running today, Hugo Chavez would be a better choice to run their ideas.
And we all know how well he did.
Consider yourself a climate skeptic? Well that’s dangerous ground if the new fascists have their way. And who are these fascists? Why a group of 20 Attorney Generals from blue states. The Federalist Society has the goods:
The twenty Democratic AGs’ (“Green 20”) concerted investigation against ExxonMobil (Exxon) and organizations deemed “climate change deniers” represents a threat to core constitutional commands of free speech, limited and constitutional government and the rule of law. This latest incarnation of regulation by litigation which seeks to punish climate change wrongthink has crossed a line that lies at the core of the First Amendment—a government imposing its orthodoxy upon its citizens. Declaring the need for “transformational” action on climate change as a settled question, Virgin Islands’ AG, Claude Earl Walker, announced, “We cannot continue to rely on fossil fuel. Vice President Gore has made that clear.” (Glad that’s all settled!)
As the United States Supreme court has noted: “If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion.” Further, punishing Exxon for its own research that expresses concern about climate change disincentivizes research and development and criminalizes the expressions of doubts, theories and concerns that are essential to the scientific method.
So, as others try to paint them as the “Green 20”, I’ll call them what they are – the Fascist 20. They are the very definition of fascists, or at least this part of the definition – “
You may roll your eyes at the latter part but isn’t their goal precisely that, i.e. deciding what industries is acceptable and which aren’t? And attacking those which “aren’t”. First it was the tobacco industry. That worked. So now, using the same sort of tactics and laws, they’re going after the fossil fuel industry, climate skeptics and anyone else they rope into this gaggle they want to eliminate.
This can also be likened to the Inquisition since it is clear, to many, that the “science” of climate alarmism has now become a religion, and it is time, since they can’t prove their point scientifically, to go after the heretics who are badly damaging their scam/religion.
If you don’t think that’s the case, consider this:
The tone taken by these attorneys general at their March 29th press conference with Al Gore reveals all. The calculated hysteria whipped up by Gore’s linkage of natural disasters and the spread of the Zika virus to climate change, was followed by the state AGs startling descriptors of their quarry—“morally vacant forces,” destroyers of this earth, planet destroyers, existential threats, deceivers! Walker announced his offices launch of “an investigation into a company that we believe must provide us with information about what they knew about climate change, and when they knew it,” a catchy formulation that was a verbatim echo of NY AG Schneiderman’s tone of climate McCarthyism.
This vituperative language calls into question these regulators impartiality and professional ethics and rises to abuse of the powers of the office of attorney general. Gore thrummed a bass-line of “fraud” and sensationalized recent weather news as “a nature hike through the Book of Revelation.” Somehow the rise of new diseases that Gore never heard of when he was growing up can be attributed to fossil fuel use (junk science, anyone?). NY AG Schneiderman closed the news conference with a litany of billions and billions of dollars of damage.
This is indeed, junk science and an attempt to use the authority of the law to both intimidate and silence those who find both the science and the arguments of the climate hysterics to be badly wanting.
This is a big “no-go” in terms of how this country is supposed to work. But we now have government agents as, basically, hit men, out to ensure the bosses agenda gets followed. And, obviously, they’ll stoop to any level, to include fascism, to get that job done.
Land of the free …?
Yeah, feast your eyes.
Hillary Clinton admits not only to a tax increase but a 1 Trillion dollar tax increase. To spend on the debt? Well, no. New spending! Freeloader spending!
If you know how government works, they’ll admit to $1 trillion in new taxes and claim its what they’ll spend, but my guess is the real spending will end up being 4 to 5 times that much. And that in the land of $18 Trillion debt. Check out this interview. Whatever happened to “no new taxes”?
Daily News: So on taxes, that I did call for among other things, a surcharge on incomes over $5 million, 30% minimum, the Buffett rule, over a million…
Clinton: Over a million. Yeah, right.
Daily News: …and then to carried interests, a change in capital gains that would reward people for holding for six years or more, I believe it is. How much revenue do you foresee coming off that and what will be the impact on growth?
Clinton: Well, I have connected up my proposals for the kind of investments I want to make with the taxes that I think have to be raised. So on individual pieces of my agenda, I try to demonstrate clearly that I have a way for paying for paid family leave, for example, for debt-free tuition. So I would spend about $100 billion a year. And I think it’s affordable, and I think it’s a smart way to make investments, to go back to our economic discussion, that will contribute to growing the economy.
Now I’m well aware that this is a heavy lift. I understand that. But I think connecting what I’m asking for to the programs, to the outcomes and results that I’m calling for give me a stronger hand, and that’s how I’m going to go at it.
Daily News: So if I understand you correctly, if you look at your proposals for college costs and for family leave, for infrastructure investments…
Clinton: Well, that’s a little bit different, because infrastructure investment, I’m still looking at how we fund the National Infrastructure Bank. It may be repatriation. That’s one theory, or something else. It’s about $100 billion a year.
Daily News: A hundred billion a year, so that comes out to about a trillion dollars…
Clinton: Over ten.
Daily News: …over ten years.
Meanwhile, never mentioned, is what happens to an already hurting economy when government decides it can spend money better than those who earn it? Well the same thing that happens in any planned economy. People who earn the money quit doing so since it simply isn’t worth it. When marginal rates rise to the point that if you spend your time earning more, most of it goes out in taxes, well then you put together a plan to maximize what you get to keep and you don’t commit to any extra earning that will be mostly taxes.
Does the government spending drop when the planned tax revenues drop?
Have you ever seen it do so? Do you have any idea of how we’ve amassed the $18 trillion dollar debt we have?
So yeah, let’s elect this criminal crackpot and economic illiterate and finally pull the flush chain. Let’s just let it all go down the drain.
What a political season we’re being subjected too. And idiot on the right and two socialist crackpots on the left.
Meanwhile, the apparent hot topic is whether or not North Carolina has the right to have men use a men’s room and not the women’s room.
First, the University of Missouri, where the SJWs, with the help of a professor who didn’t think much of the 1st Amendment and was fine with committing battery to deny it, is having a rough year. Consequences from this bit of nonsense have really hit the bottom line:
Following a drop in students applying for housing, the University of Missouri will not be placing students in two dorms for the fall 2016 semester.
Mizzou will be closing the Respect and Excellence halls (ironic names, given the circumstances) in order to utilize dorm space “in the most efficient manner” to keep costs down.
In March, the university announced that it saw a sharp drop in admissions for the coming school year, and will have 1,500 fewer students. This will lead to a $32 million budget shortfall for the school, prompting the need to close the dorms in order to save money.
“Dear university community,” wrote interim chancellor Hank Foley in an email to the school back in March. “I am writing to you today to confirm that we project a very significant budget shortfall due to an unexpected sharp decline in first-year enrollments and student retention this coming fall. I wish I had better news.”
You see, those who are looking for a college have alternatives. And when they see a college or university that they perceive, right or wrong, to be out of control, they are likely to take their business elsewhere. Afterall, they’re paying the bill. So, take note all you institutions of higher learning who tend to fold like a wet paper box when a few students protest, you too may end up closing a couple of dorms if it goes the way of Mizzou. Fair warning.
Oh, and speaking of alternatives, New York government has decided to be “wonderful” with other people’s money and has hiked the minimum wage to $15 (over a time period). That’s double the wage of today. White Castle, an NY institution, isn’t taking that well since it will have a very heavy impact on their profitability (they make a 1 to 2% profit after expenses, including labor). White Castle’s CEO says there are few alternatives. If it was about price increases only, they’d have to increase their prices by 50%. He’s pretty sure that’s a no-go because of competition for dining out dollars. So, what’s he left with?
In the hyper-competitive restaurant industry, margins are slim — Richardson says that, in a typical year, White Castle hopes to achieve a net profit of between 1 and 2 percent — and if labor costs go up, many restaurants will turn toward labor-cost-cutting automation or business models that don’t require many employees. That means a lot of kids won’t get that first job. After decades of baggage check-in kiosks at airports, ATMs, and self-check-out lines at the supermarket, is it really so hard to imagine automation replacing the kid behind the counter at burger joints?
And what is lost to more young, inexperienced and thereby low-wage workers?
“We know that Millennials aren’t thinking they’ll stay at White Castle for 30 years,” Richardson says. “We view it as the start of the path. That’s true if you stay at White Castle or move on to something else. The skills you gain, you can take to the next role: learning how to apply for and get a job, learning how to show up, learning a work ethic, making a paycheck, and having fun.”
But this is about more than wages — White Castle has offered benefits and retirement programs for decades. It’s about the opportunity to work, to take the first step up the ladder of life, to get started.
“Out-of-work kids who don’t have an opportunity to work get in trouble. We want to offer kids jobs, offer kids work,” Richardson says. “There’s dignity in that.”
Somehow, though, the concept of starter jobs that pay low wages (and with the minimum wage, it’s usually more than they are worth) has become lost in all of this and we see government stepping in to make them “career” jobs for some idiotic and economically unsound reason. The result is predictable, although it will likely be hidden. You won’t see numbers because the numbers in question are those who are never hired because the wage floor is too high. And they’re going to be the “out-of-work” kids who don’t get that first chance to experience a job and what it takes to succeed.
Instead an alternative will do the work. A kiosk will greet the customer, takes his order and money and do so at a price point well below a $15 an hour worker. This isn’t rocket science and the math isn’t hard at all – $15 times 0 hours equals what?
Indeed, not only can you not get any staples at grocery stores in the socialist paradise of Venezuela, now there’s an energy shortage.
Solution!? Take Friday off for a couple of months (because no one uses electricity at home)!
President Nicolas Maduro said Venezuelans will have “long weekends” in an appearance on state television on Wednesday night, announcing the measure as part of a 60-day plan to fight a power crunch.
“This plan for 60 days, for two months, will allow the country to get through the most difficult period with the most risk. I call on families, on the youth, to join this plan with discipline, with conscience and extreme collaboration to confront this extreme situation,” Maduro said.
Yes, discipline, conscience and extreme collaboration because your government has so screwed the pooch that the poor thing is dying. And it is your responsibility, dear Venezuelans, to do with out to fix their mess.
You see, they’ve flat run out of yours and other people’s money and they’re now calling on you to sacrifice even more!
And even with Venezuela and Cuba as prime examples of what Senator Sanders is pushing, there is a significant portion of the voting public that is trying to “feel the Bern”.
All the Venezuelans want is to “feel” a little electricity, oh, and milk and toilet paper, and diapers, and vegetables and meat, meat would be nice, and …
Or, the definition of politics today (and how Margret Thatcher defined socialism). Today’s “wonderful” people? Well they’re all in California. Example one:
San Francisco on Tuesday became the first city in the United States to approve six weeks of fully paid leave for new parents — mothers and fathers, including same-sex couples, who either bear or adopt a child.
California is already one of only a few states that offer paid parental leave, with workers receiving 55 percent of their pay for six weeks, paid for by employee-financed public disability insurance. The new law in San Francisco, passed unanimously by the city’s Board of Supervisors, mandates full pay, with the 45 percent difference being paid by employers.
That’s right friends, the price of being nice means charging employers 45% more for paid family leave just for the privilege of doing business in San Francisco. Isn’t that just “wonderful”?
Well of course it is … just ask the clueless:
The United States, which guarantees up to 12 weeks of unpaid parental leave, is the only developed country that does not guarantee all new parents paid parental leave. Expectant mothers get 18 weeks of paid leave in Australia, 39 weeks in the UK, and 480 days in Sweden.
That’s right, they do it in … say it with me, Europe! You know, the group of countries, all of which were they states in the US, would be poorer than Mississippi. That’s what we want, isn’t it boys and girls!
It is the responsibility of others to pay for our choices! Because, you know, it’s the fault of the employer its employees get pregnant and miss work. They should pay them for that time. And what the heck, they can just socialize the payment by raising their prices, can’t they?
And, of course, they can socialize even more with California’s new $15 minimum wage. Because everyone knows that employers ‘owe’ employees a “living wage”. However, don’t forget members of California’s various governments up to their necks in giving away other people’s money – employers still have choices, and you can believe when they are feasible and affordable, they will exercise them.
When that happens, Cal Pols, you can hold a math quiz with everyone who finds themselves looking for work because employers took their business elsewhere or automated.
“What’s $15 dollars times zero hours?
Oh, wait, I forgot … government run schools.
And it is neck deep in health care. So, with the passage of ObamaCare, what is the state of medicine?
The doctor is disappearing in America.
And by most projections, it’s only going to get worse — the U.S. could lose as many as 1 million doctors by 2025, according to a Association of American Medical Colleges report.
Primary-care physicians will account for as much as one-third of that shortage, meaning the doctor you likely interact with most often is also becoming much more difficult to see.
Now, 2025 is 9 years away and, the “primary-care physician” is the star of ObamaCare because he or she is the “gatekeeper”. However, which doctor is the worst compensated of all doctors?
Why the gatekeeper of course. And, that’s by design. Government design:
Starting salaries in high-paying specialties can range from $354,000 (general surgery) to $488,000 (orthopedic surgery), while primary-care fields tend to bring a sub-$200,000 starting salary, from$188,000 (pediatrics) to $199,000 (family medicine), according to a Merritt Hawkins report.
The pay disparities reflect America’s “fee for service” health-care model, which compensates providers based on the number and type of services they complete, and which inherently favors specialists.
Anyone know what entity pushes the “fee for service” model? Can you say “Medicare”? And yes, the insurance companies follow their lead. Hence, we have doctors in the primary care field looking at specializing because as gatekeepers, they are mostly the chief “referrer” to the other medical specialties … the ones that get paid more.
Wow … what a surprise then that the field of primary care is looking at a future shortage. It’s another one of those “human nature” things that central planners simply can’t wrap their brains around.
Then there’s the exacerbation of the problem by ObamaCare:
The shortage is one that’s been stewing for decades but of late was exacerbated by passage of the Affordable Care Act, which increased the number of insured people and along with that the demand for doctor access, experts say.
As we’ve mentioned countless times, having insurance does not equal having care. And as the number of gatekeepers dwindles, that problem will become even more acute.
Of course everyone knows what the answer that will be put forth by our political leaders don’t they? Why of course more government. You know, like the UK, where the former head of the NHS just died because the operation she needed was postponed 4 times.
Our Idiot-in-Chief recently opined that we shouldn’t take the JV team very seriously because they’re just not an existential threat. Of course when I heard that I had to ruefully shake my head and remind myself that January of next year will be here soon. To paraphrase another yahoo that once occupied the Oval office, it depends on what the meaning of “existential” is.
If we’re doing a hand wave and pretending they’re a conventional force, then yes, they are not an “existential” threat. They have no airforce capable of penetrating American airspace. Certainly they have no navy. And they haven’t any airlift capability or conventional weaponry that poses any threat to the American mainland.
But that’s not the war they’re waging is it?
Of course it isn’t. They are, instead, waging what used to be termed “unconventional warfare”. They’re using guerrilla tactics. They’re targeting soft targets in far away lands. And, according to a new study, they’ve upped the ante by plenty:
The deadly toll of terrorism around the globe has jumped nearly 800 percent in the past five years, according to an exhaustive new report that blames the alarming expansion of Islamist groups across the Middle East and Africa.
The nonprofit Investigative Project on Terrorism found that an average of nearly 30,000 people per year have been killed by terrorists since 2010, when terrorism’s death toll was 3,284. The authors of the study, which tabulated the numbers through the end of 2015, say that the exponential increase shows two troubling trends: More attacks are happening, and they tend to be deadlier than ever.
“Everyone has known that terrorist attacks have generally been increasing yearly since 9/11,” Steven Emerson, executive director of IPT, tells FoxNews.com. “But the magnitude of the increase of the attacks surprised us, especially in the past five years. Even if you look back at the annual reports issued by the most senior analysts in the top five intelligence and counter-terrorism agencies, there is not one report that predicted or forecasted that we would likely see such a massive escalation of attacks.”
The study notes that most of the attacks have been centered in the Middle East and Africa.
In addition to ISIS, groups like Boko Haram in Nigeria and Al Shabaab in Somalia have been on the rise in the last few years. The Taliban has been resurgent in Afghanistan and Pakistan, where it took responsibility for Sunday’s Easter attack on Christians in Lahore; Kurdish-affiliated groups have been blamed for bombings in Turkey; Palestinian terrorists have waged at least two uprisings in Israel and Al Qaeda has continued to be active in Syria and Yemen, among other locations.
The terror groups, particularly those in the Middle East, have new access to deadlier weapons, which they have used to destabilize governments and terrorize citizens, said Emerson.
There is a method to their madness in the regions mentioned. Many of the countries in which they’ve waged their terror campaigns have become failed states. So using their tactics of choice, they’ve certainly shown themselves to be a proven existential threat to weaker nations.
But we’re apparently not in that category according to our Prez. And that’s because we’re big, we’re powerful and we are arrogant. We also apparently don’t think outside the conventional box.
Meanwhile, as we watch and assess conventionally, the enemy moves and executes unconventionally to the point that the kill rate now is 10 times what it was a mere few years ago.
Oh, and it’s moving from the Middle East and Africa … to Europe and Asia:
They also predict that Asia will see more terror attacks as countries like Thailand, The Philippines and India are perceived as soft targets, and that due to the migrant crisis, violence in Europe will increase over the next two years as extremists continue to exploit the immigration system throughout the EU.
Meanwhile, where we are having “conventional” success against them, they are shifting away from there to more amenable soft targets:
“With ISIS losing large swaths of territory as well as key commanders, its center of operational gravity definitely appears to be shifting to Europe, where it can recruit among the more than 30 million Muslims who live in Europe,” Emerson said.
“Add to this mix the fact that thousands of mosques in Europe are controlled by Salfists, Wahabists and the Muslim Brotherhood – which indoctrinate their followers,” he said, “and you have a future recipe for a massive increase in Islamist terrorist violence.”
But remember, we don’t say “Islamic extremists”. And what we won’t say and won’t acknowledge, we can’t defeat. And what we won’t address and thus can’t defeat remains a very real existential threat, simply because we won’t confront them in the reality in which they operate. When a mall or an airport or mass transit station go up in flames here, perhaps Mr. No Existential Threat will finally acknowledge the truth.
I think we all knew it wasn’t a matter of “if”, but when. “When” was today.
Today in Brussels was a demonstration by ISIS. Unlike our President, they actually back their talk with action. They’ve been saying for quite some time they were going to strike in a different way – a mass casualty way. Previously, they were mostly interested in targeted actions, like Charlie Hebdo.
Today, it was about terror … pure and simple. All the attacks took place outside of secure areas. Easy as pie. One in the waiting area to go through security at the airport and one in a subway station. And it certainly doesn’t take a heck of a lot of sophisticated intelligence gathering. The timing (rush hour at the subway station, any busy hour at the airport) is pretty easy to figure out.
It could have been anywhere a crowd was gathered. But we’re not talking rocket science here. Identify a target, recruit one or more fanatics, explosives … some assembly required (automatic disassembly guaranteed upon detonation).
It could have also happened anywhere. In any country. Of course, Brussels is the capital of the EU. ISIS is big into symbolism when they strike outside their region.
The point of course is you can look for this to happen any number of times in any number of places in the (near) future. As I said, this is their demonstration.
So where is “next”? A crowded shopping mall on a sale day? A stadium sports event? A political rally?
More importantly what can we do about it … without giving up more liberty and freedoms?
Me, I’m all for taking my chances and playing the terrorist lottery. I figure I’ve got about as much a chance of winning that lottery as I do the state’s numbers game, er, lottery.
However, that’s not what I expect to see.
Hide and watch.
It’s closer than you think. Last Friday I put a bit up in Stray Voltage about Dominos testing a robot delivery service in New Zealand. And I intimated that that sort of automation would be something that would displace labor if labor got too expensive – like $15 for the minimum wage.
Over the weekend I happened across a couple of more articles. One featured the CEO of Hardee’s and Carl Jr.’s talking about an automated restaurant he’d seen in San Francisco. And, sure enough, his focus was on labor savings ($15 minimum wages specifically):
The CEO of Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s has visited the 100%-automated restaurant Eatsa — and it’s given him some ideas on how to deal with rising minimum wages.
“I want to try it,” CEO Andy Puzder told Business Insider of his automated restaurant plans. “We could have a restaurant that’s focused on all-natural products and is much like an Eatsa, where you order on a kiosk, you pay with a credit or debit card, your order pops up, and you never see a person.”
Pudzer’s interest in an employee-free restaurant, which he says would only be possible if the company found time as Hardee’s works on its northeastern expansion, has been driven by rising minimum wages across the US.
“With government driving up the cost of labour, it’s driving down the number of jobs,” he says. “You’re going to see automation not just in airports and grocery stores, but in restaurants.”
Good old government. Helping out again, aren’t they (another way to make you more dependent on them)? As Pudzer says:
“This is the problem with Bernie Sanders, and Hillary Clinton, and progressives who push very hard to raise the minimum wage,” says Pudzer. “Does it really help if Sally makes $3 more an hour if Suzie has no job?”
Well no, it doesn’t. And then there’s this:
“If you’re making labour more expensive, and automation less expensive — this is not rocket science,” says Pudzer.
Well no, it’s not – er, except to Bernie supporters. But then it isn’t necessarily easy to automate everyone’s jobs either. But it is getting easier as technology develops.
Take the restaurant that Pudzer was talking about:
“I would call it different than a restaurant,” said David Friedberg, a software entrepreneur who founded Eatsa. “It’s more like a food delivery system.”
Last week, I was in a fast-moving line and browsed on a flat-screen monitor the menu of eight quinoa bowls, each costing $6.95 (burrito bowl, bento bowl, balsamic beet). Then I approached an iPad, where I tapped in my order, customized it and paid. My name, taken from my credit card, appeared on another screen, and when my food was ready, a number showed up next to it.
It corresponded to a cubby where my food would soon appear. The cubbies are behind transparent LCD screens that go black when the food is deposited, so no signs of human involvement are visible. With two taps of my finger, my cubby opened and my food was waiting.
The quinoa — stir-fried, with arugula, parsnips and red curry — tasted quite good.
And he saw no one other than other customers. Says the author of the article:
Whether a restaurant that employs few people is good for the economy is another question. Restaurants, especially fast-food restaurants, have traditionally been a place where low-skilled workers can find employment. Most of the workers are not paid much, though in San Francisco employers of a certain size must pay health benefits and in 2018 a minimum wage of $15.
Ironic, isn’t it? That the prototype “food delivery system” is established in a city in which government has decided it will set the wages. The laws of economics, or “rocket science” for the Bernie supporters, begs to differ. There’s no real advantage in terms of labor savings, if the market sets the minimum wage, but mandated wages? Well, then it comes down to viable alternatives – and cost-wise, this is suddenly viable. The lower wage job holders of America say – thanks government.
And beyond the obvious, there are advantages to automating:
By not hiring people to work in the front of the restaurant, he said, they save money on payroll and real estate. (There will always be at least one person available to help people navigate the iPads and to clean up.) The kitchen is also automated, though he declined to reveal how, and the company is experimenting with how to further automate food preparation and delivery.
And, fewer to call in sick, give benefits, sick days and paid vacations too. Make an employer’s job easier, more efficient and more enjoyable and the employer will take that route every time.
“We can sit and debate all day what the implications are for low-wage workers at restaurants, but I don’t think that’s fair. If increased productivity means cost savings get passed to consumers, consumers are going to have a lot more to spend on lots of things.”
Consumers have a choice – spend more for the same thing to help someone else have more money or spend less for the same thing and have more to spend on other things they want or need. Wal-Mart says they will choose the latter. So do those pesky laws of economics.
The food industry isn’t the only industry that’s going to see this though:
Automation is transforming every industry. Business owners look to substitute machines for human labor. It happened to blue-collar workers in factories and white-collar workers in banks and even law firms. With self-driving vehicles, it may happen in the taxi and trucking industries. Robots and artificial intelligence machines are expected to transform health care.
Coming sooner rather than later … possibly sooner than we think.
Nowhere is the potential for job automation so obvious as it is in the on-demand economy, where many startups have grown fat with venture capital despite poor unit-economics. Uber is spending heavily to hasten the development of driverless cars. Instacart, Postmates, and other delivery-heavy startups are unlikely to stick with humans once machines—which don’t take sick days, need bathroom breaks, or threaten to unionize—can do the same jobs.
But even if you don’t work in the on-demand economy, chances are high that you or someone you know will eventually be in the same position as Fox-Hartin. Machines already exist that can flip burgers and prepare salads, learn and perform warehouse tasks, and check guests into hotels. Companies like WorkFusion offer software that observes and eventually automates repetitive tasks done by human workers. And automation has also crept into knowledge-based professions like law and reporting. When in 2013 researchers at Oxford assessed whether 702 different occupations could be computerized, they concluded that 47% of U.S. employment was at risk of being lost to machines.