Barry’s last post spurred several comments and references to articles dealing with the general subject of the meltdown and post-meltdown strategies to deal with unemployment.
That raises the interesting question:
If we are setting a course to cut costs in government and in health care, where will people find work?
If you watch network television, you’ve seen an ad Chrysler Corp is running for the Jeep SUV extolling the virtues of American manufacturing. For those who forgot, Chrysler was the first big bailout way back when. Then they introduced the mixed curse/blessing of the minivan, recovered, and then got taken over by Mercedes.
Everything the Germans didn’t strip out of the old Chrysler was then monetized by private equity buyers for their 2-and-20 management’s benefit, and then the financial crisis came and bailed out the few remaining line workers and the union.
What I find striking about the ad is not the gorgeous photography (it is), nor the lack of anything new to excite me about the vehicles (there isn’t).
The discontinuity between the voice-over talking about America making excellent products and the video showing a factory with no Americans in it was the problem with the ad.
The video shows a production line with no people, American or otherwise.
I understand that those doors the robots are attaching to the bodies of those Jeeps were made in smaller factories all over the midwest, and that most of the window motors, door linings, insulation and trim on those door sub-assemblies were put there by people who still have jobs.
The message I take away is that it is only a matter of time before all the people are replaced in all the factories. I wonder what the employment numbers will look like then. Worse yet, if the hard core “only private industry can create jobs” ideologues get their way, there will be no taxes on corporate profits or capital gains, so gains and income can compound to infinity without the awful friction of paying for the system that makes it all possible and protects their property. That will be left to wage-earners, but obviously not the wage-earners who aren’t visible on that assembly line.
As I’ve pointed out before, for most of our history, we taxed commercial enterprise and property, not individual income. That paid for government that spent most of its effort improving the nation’s infrastructure, educating the people, and especially defending those same commercial interests beyond our shores. It was a bargain that worked.
Today, corporate “citizens” have more rights than ever, and pay less. Our current Supreme Court went out of its way to re-write the Constitution and give legal fictions more power to affect the outcome of elections than it gives the citizens. Our Congress has seen fit to tax every dollar earned by labor, but avoid taxing most dollars earned by capital.
Naturally enough, all the capital and most of the income ends up in the hands of the few who control the corporations. The Russians called it serfdom, but for some reason we persist in calling it capitalism. When the owners of the capital actually pay for the infrastructure they use to make and protect their wealth, then it will be capitalism. Until then, it’s something else, much closer to feudalism than any kind of capitalism.
Eventually all the resources and all the productive infrastructure will be owned or controlled by a relative handful of people operating behind corporate fronts, leaving the rest of us competing for the chance to work for our supper, pay our rent or mortgage, and die poor.
I’ve seen this movie before, but it’s too early in the film to tell which one it is.
I can only hope the rest of the movie isn’t from the Terminator or Matrix series, but I’m pretty sure it won’t be the Jetsons.