Timmy elsewhere

At the ASI.

The machines are going to steal all our jobs. Hurrah!

14 thoughts on “Timmy elsewhere”

  1. Cue some ‘robot factories don’t provide the aggregate spending power to buy their products’ rhetoric;plus ‘we need the Major Douglas scheme of Social Credit’.Plus ‘the people on this site don’t know much’ number.

  2. The economy always equilibriates in a free price system; Say’s Law and all that. You can’t get a system in which the factories are producing more (in aggregate) that can be afforded. It’s inherently impossible. It’s like saying you can have more rain falling from the world’s skies than evaporates from the world’s surface.

    If your theory predicts a terminal imbalance like this, it means you’ve gone wrong. It’s fundamental.

  3. IanB, agreed.

    Last summer I sat with my brother in a real country pub (real means shithole) in idylic rural North Somerset. I asked him what percentage of the population was employed to provide our nutritional needs two centuries ago. His figures (he’s a geographer so these will probably be bollocks, but the point is made) are a drop from 40% to about 2%; our needs are still met today and them some. “Where did all those workers go?” he asked and “how do they eat if they’re not employed anymore?”

    The answer I arrived at (it was actually the first time I had ever consdered it) was “it doesn’t matter, we’re being confused here by the existence of money”. We are producing the food we need and more with fewer people. We are therefore as rich and richer as a result. If we were a small cooperative grouping we could simply give them the food without working and they would have the same true wealth, i.e. access to goods, as before.

    A little bit more thought gives the market mechanism. the cost of the foodstuffs falls as costs of supply fall and supply increases. Consumers have spare resource to look to consume other stuff. This increased demand provides for all the former farm workers to have new jobs (19th Century mill workers, 21st Century diversity consultants).

    Along the way what had been luxury goods, or just goods beyond our imagination, become ‘needs’. Thus wail that the “cost of a colleage education is rising” does not sound like the ejaculation of a complete dickhead. Surreptitious Evil brilliantly pointed us to the Iain M Banks Culture novels. I would only take up one small point with him: ‘professional games players’ are with us already; we are the Culture.

  4. @IB
    Say’s law: there’s a blast from the past. As I remember it : the supply side creates its own demand. Only problem is that robots create supply but no demand. Say was pontificating at a time of paid hand production. In a parallel case; the same effect is created by importing stuff from China, plenty of supply precious few wages to buy them. Result: what we see around us.Si monumentum requiris, circumspice.
    You are ignoring a major political intervention on the part of the Manufacturing Interest viz the Abolition of the Corn Laws.
    Agriculture collapsed and the farm workers had to find work in town where they were only able to live on imported wheat / bread.By the Boer War, recruiters found working people too feeble and too small to pass muster .
    Also most of industrial investment initially came from retired slavers and this new industry at first employed child labour who since they could not give consent were also slaves, in the case of the workhouse children drafted into mills, obviously so. So the “it all worked out in the past /it will again” argument won’t stack up.Still everything ‘s for the best in the best of all possible worlds is n’t it?

  5. Is labour not necessary to the human soul?

    Speaking entirely personally, I think I have always enjoyed things I think I’ve earned, or waited for, over those I’ve been given. I can afford to eat on any restaurant in the country now but it rarely tastes as good as a cheap curry did after a proper day’s work when I was a youngster. Lots of people seem to share this sense, though I only have anecdotes.

    Quite apart from that, the devil really does seem to make work for idle yoot. If you don’t believe me, park your car in the banlieues.

    I’m not saying work is an unalloyed good, mind – just that it’s not all bad, either.

  6. Interested-

    That’s often true. We often ascribe more subjective value to things we’ve produced ourselves, even if objectively inferior to a purchased product, due to the sense of satisfaction of achievement.

    But the hypothetical robot economy doesn’t stop people doing that; indeed you’ll have more time to do work you want to do (e.g. cooking, or home improvements, or gardening, etc) once the burden of producing other stuff is relieved. I’d like to devote more time to growing (uneconomic) vegetables myself, for instance; a spud fresh from the garden is a real delight to me.

    I think the problem is that most “dignity of labour” moralists are people with jobs they find highly satisfying and even compulsive; they’re activists, journalists, “opinion formers” etc and they’re being paid (handsomely) to do things they’d do anyway. They thus don’t realise that most of us are just at work for the money and suffer it more than enjoying it. There is little personal satisfaction in most labour, just the need to earn money.

  7. DBC-

    . As I remember it : the supply side creates its own demand. Only problem is that robots create supply but no demand.

    No, that’s a misrepresentation of it that Keynesians use to discredit it. It’s actually the observation that people produce in order to consume. Production and consumption are the same thing. I am drawing pictures at the moment because other people are demanding them from me. I produce them only because they want them.

    Say made his “law” statement to debunk a commonplace, persistent fallacy that if there is economic recession, that there is an aggregate overproduction so there is “no market” for output. What he actually showed is that it is caused by people producing the wrong goods; too many shirts and not enough shoes, rather than too many shirts and shoes. Shirtmakers need to switch to cobbling to rebalance the market. And so on. You cannot have an aggregate overproduction.

  8. Dear God. What has Corn Law repeal got to do with technological innovation? I am sure every innovation over the past 200 years can be rewritten to pursuade yourself that we’re all poorer, eating less and sending our kids down mines. The fact is – the fact – that we are employing far fewer people to produce far more food than 200 years ago. So…where are the starving millions?
    How about we go with transport? Or automated manufacturing? Or IT taking jobs in offices? Or washing machines and vacuum cleaners?

  9. Ironman-

    It’s a central tenet of the Left that high labour with low production is preferable as it ensures everyone “has a job”.

    Everyone had a job in Cambodia, working on the land, of course.

  10. IanB, agreed again.

    Fantasies become dangerous though when they nned lies to sustain them and when their believers show us they are ready to tell those lies AND BELIEVE THEM.
    DBC Reed, like Richard Murphy, has convinced himself that the 1970s were a golden age, but now they are determined to convince evryone else. It is pure counter-knowkedge, anti- academic enquiry, anti-learning. We don’t need to take a single word they say seriously; they are weapons-grade morons.
    I would much rather be having a philosophical discussion with you and Interested. Instead I find myself sharing this idiot’s fantasies.

  11. Try googling UK car market ove supply or US car market oversupply if you can’t be bothered to read any books ,although Daniel Alpert’s book on oversupply sounds interesting.

  12. if incomes are needed to buy stuff we need and want, what incomes do we have in the absence of jobs?

    I guess there will be less opposition to ‘redistribution’ the more people struggling to find work.

  13. More from the producer interest on Net: “Coal producers across the world continue to be battered by low prices and oversupply in the markets”
    “The world now faces an oversupply ,not a shortage ,of energy”
    Hardly communist or Keynesian tales of oversupply on Net in:
    and on the widget side :
    memory chips (DRAM)
    solar panels
    Perhaps that Daniel Alpert was onto something when he entitled his book The Age of Oversupply
    [email protected] Absolutely and pre-War the Douglas Scheme of Social Credit envisaged the Banking System in public hands creating a Citizen’s Income which would provide enough purchasing power to keep mechanised industry working to full capacity.But you cannot discuss that on here because everything is just fine with the present system which is perfectly “equilibriating” (though maybe below the level necessary to sustain life) .

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