We live in an age of threat. International debt collapse is inevitable, as is the concomitant collapse of the fiat ‘money’ that represents the debt. Only the timing is uncertain. Sabre-rattling nation states, desperately trying to distract their citizens from insurmountable economic and monetary problems, have led to a level of nuclear threat only exceeded by the nail-biting days of the Cuban Missile Crisis.
There is another, less visible problem, which is the growing unemployment due to a rapid and worldwide thrust toward automation. It began with the introduction of computers into offices back in the 1980s; it caused the demise of office clerks. Other jobs began to disappear, at first slowly. Now, less than forty years later, robots are beginning to take over almost every job imaginable. From taxis, to truck deliveries, to medical diagnoses, food growing and meal preparation, pharmacists, shop assistants and all manufacturing, jobs are under threat. Even specialists like surgeons, financial planners, legal advisors and accountants are predicted to be replaced by technology.
The pejorative ‘Luddite’, with its assumption that job losses are temporary and will be replaced by better jobs at higher wages, is no longer the case. What sort of jobs will be safe from automation? Very, very few. But if most jobs are lost, then from where will the consumption derive to make profitable all the automated businesses?
Today, to ponder the future of jobs is not to be a Luddite; it is to be cognizant of a real threat. This time there really is a problem.
But why? How could massive unemployment happen in a free market?
The answer of course it that it could not. In a genuinely free market, a different paradigm would now exist.
We have reached a point of growth that is badly out of kilter. The reason is that one vital part of a complex equation has been removed. It’s like a car without a motor; everything looks great, but it doesn’t work. As with the economy, it takes a lot of pushing to get it moving on the flat; now we are pushing up a steep hill. At some point, the weight of the car will cause it to reverse and crush those pushing.
Growth that is unconstrained will always end up going exponential. That applies not only to ant colonies, but to human technology, populations, food production – everything. It also applies to capital. As long as all those things go exponential together, then all is good. And there is the rub.
Two hundred years after the Industrial Revolution and thirty years after the advent of computer technology, we should have accumulated massive amounts of capital to go along with the massive amounts of everything else. Instead, governments confiscated large amounts of the capital and frittered it away. Add to that the thirty-five years of falling interest rates and the problem of capital destruction is now beyond salvation.
The result is that the world has a huge population, but no equivalence in capital; in its place is debt – humungous debt.
Note the exponential rise in population with circulating Gold and the Industrial Revolution. This was also the beginning of exponential technological advancement and capital creation.
The capital is gone; the population remains. Without the capital the population is unsustainable.
We begat a Ponzi civilization that relied for its existence on a continuous supply of generations willing and able to pay ever-greater taxes to support it. The present generation of small business people are now saying “no mas” and refusing to participate. Along with too little capital, the risk factor due to regulations and taxes has destroyed the incentive.
Not to beat around the bush, without the quick introduction of circulating Gold, the only extinguisher of debt, our civilisation will fail.
Either way, people will die.
But what would have been the future if government had not destroyed the world’s capital? The question still remains: where would the jobs have come from? The future, by definition, has never existed; thus it is difficult to get it into any sort of focus. In a blurry way, here is a shot.
It is safe to say, in light of current developments, that all businesses can be automated to some degree or another – except those whose parameters and systems are unknown. Before a new business concept can be automated, the parameters need to be established and the systems devised, revised and then implemented – by humans. The accumulated capital would have meant that technological growth would have continued exponential, so fast that most employment would be in start-ups and system maintenance.
Around that core area of human wealth creation would have existed all the service and entertainment industries that are enjoyed today – and a whole lot more. Most would have still needed some human personnel; not many would pay to go to see a football game, or any other sport, with two opposing teams of robots. Fast food joints and cinemas would have been fine run by robots, but not many would want to go to a restaurant or bar run by robots. There is a none too subtle difference between eating and dining.
There would have been functional robotic haircutters, but there would also have been human operated hairdressing salons.
Most service industries would have separated into robot and human operated, with the latter always being more prestigious and expensive.
In such a fantastic wealth creation environment, those employees who were good at their jobs would have been rewarded sufficient that they could have retired on their accumulated capital at a very early stage of their life – if they had wanted to.
The faster that production could have been automated, the more capital would have been created. Some portion of that new capital would have been expended in the creation of new start-ups with new jobs. It would have been an ever-expanding hum of human activity – human work.
With no need to service government debts there would have been no need for manic population expansions in a desperate and socially destructive bid to increase the tax base. Populations could have stabilised, grown or diminished in response to genuine social needs.
It is hard to envisage such a level and speed of harmonious wealth creation, simply because it would be a new paradigm of existence. As today’s ‘poor’ live better than the Emperors of a few hundred years ago, so tomorrow, the ‘poor’ would have looked back on Bill Gates’ lifestyle and felt sorry for his deprivation.
Instead, we have a civilisation on the point of obliteration.
There is always human work. With capital accumulation it would have been high paying jobs and a fantastic lifestyle beyond our wildest imaginings. With the capital now squandered, jobs for the survivors will consist of chopping wood, growing hunting and gathering food, basket weaving and… it goes downhill from there.
The process now in motion is a tiny down-payment on the price that will be paid for the standard of governance that we have tolerated for the last one hundred years. The debt will be paid.