One of the strangest, and most persistent excuses for the expansion of big government in the name of compassion is what is now being called “post necessity economy.”

Apparently in the future, robots will do everything, and we need this big re-distributive economy to make sure that all those people made redundant aren’t starving the gutter.

There are so many things wrong with this meme it’s no wonder it’s a favorite of intellectuals and those suffering from a superiority complex, particular those “intellectuals’ who live in the insular enclaves of the left, like academia and bureaucracy.

In fact this meme has been repeated so often that most people just go along with it.  They nod, sagely, and look concerned and say “oh, yes, we’ll need a big government to take care of all those people that technology is rendering unemployable.”

And yet, this is so broken it’s not even wrong.  It’s a bizarre, often repeated shibboleth from a planet where the world is made of green cheese and where, whatever humans are, they’re not humans as we know them.

Let’s start at the beginning and examine the assumptions (and the smug) packed into this “Post necessity” meme:

1- We need a big state that looks after those who are rendered obsolete by technology.

Okay.  Fine.  I’ll bite.  Let’s say this day will happen, but when? surely not now.  If we were in an economy that had no room for unskilled laborers, why would we be importing gardeners and maids from countries where they don’t speak English?  By the millions?

Perhaps the problem is something else.  Perhaps the problem is not that our unemployed have been made obsolete, but that our regulations, laws, and in fact the apparatus of the big state make it almost impossible to hire people for starter jobs, in which they can get the experience for more complex jobs, and prefers instead to turn them into pensioniers.

So – point one, even if that wonderful “post necessity” (they used to call it “post scarcity.”  I guess that’s hard to sell in this economy) economy comes at some point, it is not today. So why are we investing in a big state today? To give all those poor unfortunates jobs shuffling paper and arrange for other, less apt unfortunates to live their lives out while being paid to do nothing?  What? For PRACTICE?

The fact is that those people now chronically unemployed don’t need big government to help them.  They need to have big government remove high taxes, extremely complex regulations, onerous costs of doing business that steal millions from the economy.  The latest of these regulations being Obama care, which makes it almost impossible for small companies to operate within the law and pay enough that their employees can afford the “tax” levied on those who don’t buy an extremely high deductible, low-accessibility health “insurance.”

This last is by no means the only or main hobble on the economy, but it is a very significant one and possibly the straw that broke the camel’s back.

2- The Amazing All Automated Economy Really Will Come, this time for sure, and it will strand lots of “low IQ” people who will be left without jobs to do.

You know the really funny thing?  I think this is a meme dreamed up by people who don’t own any toilets.  As Mike Rowe has shown, there is a lot of work to do that doesn’t involve understanding the intricacies of math or the nuances of language.  (Whether that means these people are “lower IQ” or “lower ability” is something else.  We’ll get into it later.”)

And I know they’ll say those are “demeaning” jobs, and sure some are.  But they still need to be done.  Others are not.  And yet all of them need to be done.  Or can be done.  Or will enhance our lives by being done.

There are jobs, both pleasant and unpleasant that need what those ivory tower people despise.  I have done manual labor.  Some of it is pleasant, some less so.  The least pleasant of those was ironing all of a hotel’s linen because I was cheaper than the ironing machine.  (Which they did have.)  It was done in a tiny room in the basement; it was monotonous beyond belief; it was hot, sweaty (it was summer) and humid from the iron; and I got blisters on my hands that burst before I formed calluses.

But I tell you what, I’d rather do that work again than be in an echo-chamber where I have to watch every word and movement lest I betray the different thinking their “diversity” can’t tolerate.

3- “Post necessity” — do let’s unpack that.  What do humans need?  Food. A place to sleep.  (Arguably) A group to be part of.  A mate is a fourth distant need, but most people will make do without if they have the other three.

A group to be part of could be argued to be “doing meaningful work” and “being valued.”  At least this is a necessity to a lot of people.  And btw, meaningful can be “enough to support myself.”

The way society is RIGHT NOW it’s very easy to achieve those needs at a level that far exceeds the luxuries of the noblemen in the middle ages.  A part time, minimum wage job is enough to secure a room, a bed (arguably much cleaner than in the middle ages, let alone before) enough food to keep body and soul together (rice and oil is cheap, so are vegetables, actually) and most work will make you part of a group, even if it’s the group that works at the convenience store down the street.

And mind you, the way most people in the middle ages lived, even the drudge in the meanest kitchen or the beggar on the streets was already MUCH better than the live of homo sap when they took over Europe.  (Meals might not have been as plentiful, but they were more regular.  And danger was rather lower, even if epidemics were more common.)

All of which brings us to: we’ve been post necessity since pre-historic times.  Arguably, agriculture did that.  Did all those poor people who only knew how to gather berries and who were “too stupid to plant” die?

Nope.  We still have their work-shy descendants in government bureaucracy today.

The main characteristic of humans is that they ADAPT.  They create, they invent.  One of the things they continually invent is a better life for themselves.  Humans dream.  They dream they can do something different.  They dream they can create something new, something so amazing other humans will want it.  It will become a necessity for those other humans.

Even if the great age of automated everything came tomorrow (it won’t.  I’m grateful much of the difficult things are now made easy, but not everything or even most things will be automated ever, and than heavens, because if it were, you’d end up dying when the machines broke down.) we clever monkeys would find other things to do and need and crave.

4- But… but… the “post necessity economy” will put all those low IQ, low-adaptability people out of work!

Oh, holy d*mn.  You know what? Sometimes I feel like I’m a secret agent.  Or perhaps a double agent.  You see, I can bend language around.  I can even understand mathematics, if you give me a running standard, because I haven’t used higher math in years and I’m digit dyslexic.  But I can also refinish furniture, plant gardens, install a wood floor and I’m soon going to learn to lay tile (as soon as currently overdue  books are in.)

Most of the stuff I know how to do comes from following manual laborers around.  Okay, not so much now. I’m not a cute pigtailed little girl, and they get antsy.  Though sometimes some are congenial and explain what they’re doing as they do it.  BUT they always did it until I was about fifteen.

And if you show the workman you know what you’re doing?  Or tell him that you know exactly what is wrong with that pipe over there?

They become buddies.  They tell you stuff.

What you quickly realize is that they are not in any way stupid.  Certainly they aren’t dumber than people I’ve worked with at universities and publishing houses.  They might be less interested in reading, less apt with language.  But they are usually spatially smarter, better at figuring out what’s wrong and fixing it with no-nonsense.

But those are skilled laborers, you’ll say.  What about the other people?  The unskilled ones?

Well, when I was a clothes presser in Germany one of my workmates was a semi-literate Turkish maid.  Common language was a bit of an issue, but once we figured out how to talk I found out she wasn’t significantly dumber than I.  Not where it mattered to do her job, get on with life, dream of a better life.

She might not have aspired to writing novels, but the difference between human IQs is not that large.  It’s more the specialties humans choose.

The assumption that these poor people won’t be able to shift unless the enlightened build a bigger state to look after them makes me wish to wretch.

These idiots view themselves as feudal lords, who should have power over “lesser beings” for the lesser beings good.

The smugness, elitism and in some cases racism (I’ve read more than one article saying this is why the government needs to hire black people disproportionately) implied in this decision that the “post necessity” economy needs “Smart people” to look after the less able ones is staggering.

Particularly when you consider many of the same people who proclaim this are having a lot of trouble adapting to the new world of publishing, or the press, or–

Humans were made to strive.  Anyone who tells you anything else thinks you have a saddle, and they’re outfitted with the spurs to ride you.

The big society they’re so intent on building is supposed, most of all, to look after them and reassure them they’re the important ones.



310 thoughts on “Obsolete

  1. “These idiots view themselves as feudal lords, who should have power over “lesser beings” for the lesser beings good.The smugness, elitism and in some cases racism … implied in this decision that the “post necessity” economy needs “Smart people” to look after the less able ones is staggering.”

    Yep – I never want to hear another modern social commentator opine on the snobbery of say – Victorian England. Nope. Not when the American ruling class is so absolutely vicious about those of us who live in Flyoverlandia.

    1. Not just Flyonverlandia, they have serious problems with the South, continuing to think of it in terms of Birth of a Nation* (D. W. Griffith’s film, not Nate Parker’s). Not that they like it when informed that this film was shown in the White House at the request of that great progressive President Wilson. Nor do they appreciate it if you mention President Wilson’s re-segregation of the Federal government or his Ku Klux Klan membership.

      When The Mother-In-Law was diagnosed with breast cancer, she was being treated at Duke, which had what was considered a cutting edge program. The Sister-In-Law called and suggested that she come up to Boston so she could get the best treatment.

      * O.K., maybe they view it as more like that of the film In The Heat of The Night, still not good.

        1. And undoubtedly friends later who were aghast that you ever could have been comfortable living in New England in the first place. 🙂

            1. I decided to move when I found myself traveling up to NH/VT/upstate NY every other weekend to go to the mountains. The whites are fun times and have all this gorgeous highland feel to them. I also loved how ‘tree line’ in coastal Maine was like 500 feet. 🙂

            2. Remember a few years back when the BIG IDEA among Libertarians was moving to New Hampshire en masse and establishing a libertarian utopia?

              I wonder how that worked out.

              1. Boston beat them.

                But better than Maine where my brothers commencement speaker was a D politico giving a stump speech about how socialism was necessary. I was too polite to walk out sadly

              2. The road to success is not to congregate, but to be leaven wherever we’re scattered until everything has been raised.

            1. I have heard many guys express much the same thought.

              Although, as I recall, the states they were referencing were states of undress.

      1. Look at who the presidents, vice presidents, attorneys general, speakers of house, etc. There is a reason DC was in the South (Maryland was Southern at that point). The South controlled the federal gov’t until the 1850s, and they ran the country the way they wanted it, with some compromises to the Northern states. Yes, Slavery was legal (though in compromise the Southern states couldn’t count the slaves as full people to get extra Representatives… amazing how many SJW don’t get that compromise right). But also taxes were low, because the South was a huge trading region, exporting her goods to Europe and importing the industrial goods she couldn’t produce locally and at that pre-IRS times taxes meant import/export tariffs. The Federal Gov’t was kept small and frugal, so they could have those low tariffs (though they did build SOME maritime infrastructure in compromise with Northern interests). The Federal Gov’t was kept weak, because they wanted a nation where individuals and states could set their own priorities rather than being a Great Power in the world. Then in the 1850s the immigration in the North caught up and things changed. Look after the Late Unpleasantness at who was president, vice president, attorneys general, speakers of house, etc. Except for a blip during Truman’s admin the Federal Gov’t was dominated by The North until… no, not Bush actually, it was Clinton when it looked like the South was returning to power except the Obamas and various mass immigration schemes have put the brakes on that regional switch again.

        So what did the North do? Acknowledge that we were founded according to Southern attitudes more than Northern and remade to the Northern ideal postbellum? No. They’ve pretended since that far from being the key founding region The South is and ALWAYS HAS BEEN the anti-America. The backwards, stupid, inbred, hateful, xenophobic, stupid, sexist, stupid, racist, stupid, lazy, stupid, stupid, stupid Anti-America and you must hate them and THEY WERE NEVER THE RIGHTFUL KING *I* AM THE RIGHTFUL KING!! IGNORE THEM!!!! Oh, what was I saying, oh yes. Yes, we can trace our nation’s founding to Plymouth Rock now, forget all those anti-American people down in Virginia and Florida… Virginia Dare?? Who’d that?

        The short answer is that I believe the reason that all the Right Thinking People in the Acela corridore HATE those stupid Southerners is a deep cultural fear that the secret will get out… that the pretenders will be usurped… that the true King will return and they will lose their place. Yes, I know that seems like a weird unAmerican attitude, but I think it is a deep-seated thing. Atavistic. Like how they are drawn to a strong man and the sharing of the tribe’s kill and if you’ve got more meat it is because I have less. And it is wrong. Probably Projection. Southerner’s generally don’t long to rule The North or keep them in their place. My God, we might actually have to go there. I hear they have winter like… all winter… and they DRIVE IN IT and send their kids to school and everything. And where do you get sweet tea? Grits? No, we’d be like the banner here says: we’d want to leave them ruthlessly alone. But yet, just wait if we ever get another Southern president again those United States of Canada vs. Jesusland maps will appear so fast your head will spin.

        1. There is a reason DC was in the South…

          A deal was struck to pass Hamilton’s debt assumption bill, do I need to go into it at length?

            1. Thomas Jefferson’s own writings state that shortly after his return from France to assume the position of Secretary of State that he gave a dinner with Hamilton and Madison which resulted in the agreement. Up until that time every attempt to pass the assumption bill had failed. Jefferson later admitted that the deal to place the capitol on the Potomac in exchange for assumption was mistaken.

        2. Calling your analysis a gross oversimplification would be a gross oversimplification. George Washington was much more aligned with the North than the South in his comprehension of economics and finances, and his Secretary of Treasury and primary adviser, Alexander Hamilton (perhaps you’ve heard of him?) was very much a New Yorker.

          Of the first dozen presidents (through 1850), Adams père et fils were from Massachusetts, Van Buren had been governor of NY, Harrison was from Ohio and the Indiana territory, his successor, Tyler, was a Whig, as was Major General Zachary Taylor, who, although born in Virginia was a career military officer who won the election alongside New York politician Millard Fillmore.

          The “dominance of the South” likely resulted more from the competition between the New England and Mid-Atlantic blocs, where political divisions were more contentious. The low tariffs were an issue not only in the South but in (what are now) the Midwestern states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky. The demand for low tariffs was also a relic of the Revolution as British limitations on our free trade were condemned as “stifling our industry.”

          I lack time and patience for exploring this further. While superficially reasonable, your analysis barely touches the surface of a veneer of the issues between the various factions.

          1. I first encountered the theory in “For Good and Evil” a history of taxes (which is actually much more interesting than you’d imagine, for example do you know what the Rosetta Stone really says? It is a document granting tax immunity. That’s why it was written in stone in multiple languages when most all other documents were written on papyrus scrolls. If your organization had tax immunity you DON’T want to lose that!). You’re right that the statement is a simplification. I tested it by taking a list of key elected federal positions that were continuous from the founding (President, VP, Speaker, AG, Sec. of State., Supreme Court justices, etc.) assigning them all values (SWAGs, I think 3pts for President, 1 for justices, etc.) and graphing the result by year from 1789 to the 2003. The federal positions were pretty reliably grey until the 1850s. Then they stayed even more strongly blue for a LONG time, until there was a “grey” blip in the Truman years, and then it turned grey again under Clinton and Bush. I had to make some judgement calls about states brought in AFTER the late unpleasantness so that in the end I’d assigned the states to be mostly red=grey and blue=blue, but not entirely. I seem to recall using the old “pop vs. soda” map to help decide which states were in which cultural camp. Even with numbers it was just a simplified theory but it was very illuminating for a rainy afternoon’s work. I wish I still had that spreadsheet, but I don’t think I do. I may have the graph still somewhere in an email attachment, though.

            1. I’m an accountant — you don’t want to get into what I would imagine to be interesting.

              Things changed sometime around 1850 – 1860, eh? Gee, I wonder: was there some major national event around that time which might have effected dramatic changes in political and economic influence? Perhaps the election of Pennsylvania’s only president, James Buchanan?

              1. If you’re an accountant, check out the aforementioned history book by Charles Adams. He’s both a historian and a tax specialist (I think he’s Canadian so I don’t know if they’re called CPAs or something else) and even I found it interesting. One of the points he makes is that a LOT of the documents that survive a civilization are tax records or other accounting documents because THAT is what was important to the gov’ts and powerful people/organizations at the time, but most historians are bored by or aren’t qualified to interpret the minutia of the tax records and so there are probably a lot of interesting history still to be found in them.

                  1. Financial Analyst is a different specialty. I suspect that Canada follows the British system, making it a Chartered Public Accountant.

                    Google prompts seem to confirm my suspicion. Brits, Canadians and Aussies may be charterable, but American accountants are certifiable.

        3. Note capitalizations, they are deliberate and important.

          The United States was put together by people who felt a combination of republican and democratic sentiment.
          The civil war was democratic on the secessionist side, as the constitution wasn’t binding if enough felt otherwise. The Union side was republican, as they saw, by carefully reading the constitution in a particular way, that the terms of the deal required that they suppress the secessionists. Hence the Radical Republican perception that the confederacy was a treasonous criminal conspiracy.

          The combination of Radical Republican and republican perspective makes 13th and 14th amendments look almost consensual, as by their own efforts a large number of Democrats had withdrawn from the process. Under these rules certain activities promoted by Democratic influence, Jim Crow and banditry, could be seen as treasonous criminal conspiracy.

          The modern Democratic Party has continuity with the Democratic Party of that era. They wish to use their own past crimes as a target for condemnation, so they try to shift them to the Republican Party, to the South, and to the United States as a whole.

          The Democrats ruled the South for a very long time. During that time they were arguably too deep into treasonous criminality to be much trusted by the rest of the country to respect their interests. (The legitimating narratives the Democrats used in the South were much less effective in other parts of the country.) Hence the relative dearth of Southerners as successful in winning presidencies. (Consider Wilson, who had ties, FDR and JFK, who obviously made deals, and stuck to them.)

          Okay, the Yankees are now corrupt and deep into the treasonous criminality. The Democrats who by democratic sentiment see nothing wrong in trying to twist the deal’s terms until the exact terms no longer strike anyone as binding.

          I am now less confident in the theory that there is now a broad consensus in the South, as of veterans returning from WWII, that the methods of Jim Crow are too harmful to be allowed any longer. The South, Southwest, and Midwest may still coalition.

          We shall see.

          1. This gets into a banned topic, but actually the Confederate states were more heavily a republic than the Union. Some historians have observed the Confederacy died of States Rights, and they had a point. Fleeing Richmond, Davis found warehouses full of war material that was sorely needed at the front, but lacked the authority to obtain it for the Confederacy. That’s just one example.

            The causes and discussions of the war are banned here, likely because they never fail to raise strong feelings. So be it. I’ll only make one suggestion: Read William Rawle’s A View of the Constitution of the United States of America. Rawle was the first US District Attorney for Pennsylvania, appointed by President Washington. This shows how he and his contemporaries viewed the US Constitution.

            1. The actual mechanism of succession was democratic. A republican mechanism of succession would have required ammending the constitution, as it did not provide for such. As this would be slower, and the Democrats did not have the political power, they went with the alternative.

              ‘We have a lot of support, we can do it’ is a democratic argument.

              ‘The terms of the deal are…’ is a republican argument.

              The CSA, having enshrined democratic values to that degree, would not have long endured as a republic.

              1. The actual mechanism of secession was the same as ratification of the US Constitution, which makes perfect sense when you think about it. In most if not all cases, each county and parish elected delegates to attend a state convention on the issue. There the delegates debated and voted on the issue.

                This was another rabbit hole I fell down once. I was looking for the invocation given by a particular delegate who was a Baptist minister, and found an account from the minutes of a particular secession convention.

                This is one of those instances where going back to original documents are handy since things get glossed over and outright distorted. This is very important in that there’s strong narratives that fall into one of two camps on this. When looking at history, the thing is to try to get a grasp on events as they were understood at the time. That’s why I suggest reading William Rawle’s book.

                This is heading straight for “the late unpleasantness,” so here we should put on brakes. Just read William Rawle’s book. His section on secession surprised me, and that’s all I’ll say about this.

                1. When looking at history, the thing is to try to get a grasp on events as they were understood at the time.

                  Oh, pish and tosh. Interpreting history from a modern viewpoint is better, because we are more enlightened today. Don’t you understand that?


                2. To be properly republican, it would have needed to pass the same gates that a constitutional amendment does.

                  Which would’ve needed political influence in the north.

                  Absent the violence, maybe that could’ve happened, or maybe the support in the south would’ve died first.

                  Nose counts in the south are simply ‘nose counts right now’, no matter the procedures they are wrapped up in. Like lynching and #BlackLivesMatter are democratic, in that they are concerned with the results a majority of activists desires, and not agreed upon procedure regardless of results.

  2. The idea that automation will make human workers obsolete has been one that I have been hearing since the late 1960s, and it’s no closer to being true now than it was then. Better tools allow workers to do more, true, but that’s not the same thing at all. People in the manufacturing sector are not out of work due to a surfeit of locally manufactured goods, they are out of work because the regulatory burden on industry makes it cheaper to import goods from overseas than to make them locally.

    1. It’s not just the regulatory burden. It’s also the social safety net. We’ll pay you a certain amount even if you sit around and do nothing, even if you are capable of working for a living. Yes, there are some people in truly bad circumstances that need assistance, but when culture doesn’t put pressure on people to work when they are capable of working, more and more people take the easy way.

      Yes, in the science fiction realm of infinite power and technological miracles, it might be worth thinking about not needing work, but we’re nowhere near there. And it also might not be an issue even then, as we’re able to produce jobs out of nothing as long as people want things.

      And I’m not joking about producing jobs out of nothing, It’s no longer quite the job opportunity it once was, but back in the glory days of MMORPGs (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games, such as World of Warcraft), one could make a living in China by ‘gold farming’, harvesting and selling purely virtual ‘resources’. That is, people would pay money to have other people do the tedious and boring parts of their video games. That is people paying to outsource the boring parts of their freely-chosen entertainment. If that doesn’t suggest that work is, if not infinite, that nearly so as to make little or no difference, then I don’t know what would.

      1. The Chinese gold farmers always struck me as a weird phenomena. The idea that people were paying other people to play a video game for them made me think that there was a serious flaw in the entertainment value of said game.

        Then again, I was the one who was always disappointed when her characters reached maximum level because it meant that I couldn’t get any more rewards for running around the map and killing random monsters, so maybe my reaction says less about WoW than it does about me…

        1. While I don’t play those games, I suspect that such busywork things were added to the game as a way for players with more time than talent to advance in the game more than they would normally.

            1. This, more or less. Make it too easy for the players, and they’ll “finish” the content and quit playing. Of course, this then runs into the problem of determining how much time the players have. Different players have different amounts of time available, and what’s solid time-killing content for one player might end up taking too long for another player to finish.

    2. @Misha You really don’t have an accurate idea of how much automation has impacted the labor market. For example, I had a contract updating the computers for the Post Office back in the late 90’s. There are huge parking lots that surround the local Main Branch facility that are now 80% empty on a daily basis because all the sorting which was done by hand is now done by computers which can read even really poorly scrawled addresses on envelopes.
      Yes, regulation has impacted the job market, but automation (and outsourcing) has had a much larger effect on what used to be good wage manufacturing jobs.

        1. Preeee-cisely.

          And, I’m not entirely certain but that isn’t a part of the “plan”, for a lot of the regulators. Make human labor as cost-ineffective as you can, replace it with automation, and you’ve got a huge potential client class. Not to mention, the machines don’t “talk back” to management, which is one of the big things they really don’t like.

          Hierarchs, the people wedded to the system, do not like their employees/minions/fellow workers to be empowered or to enjoy the right to provide feedback in an upward or lateral direction. Thus, the apparent illogic in much of what they do, and why “bucking the system” creates such animosity in them. Threaten their lattice-chain, and thus, their place in it, and they respond entirely out of proportion and with such vitriol as to be difficult to believe.

          I can think of dozens of anecdotes whose rationale is beyond explanation, without this key clue to their behavior. It isn’t new, either–I dare say you could go back to the pyramids, and find examples galore of the same petty bureaucratic BS going on, and for the same damn reasons.

          1. It is scary when one finds oneself in agreement with Thomas “Stopped Clock” Franks

            LISTEN, LIBERAL!
            The subject of my new book is the Democratic Party’s failure over the last few decades to do anything really meaningful about income inequality.
            Indeed, they have scarcely dented the free-market consensus at all. This is not for lack of opportunity: Democrats have occupied the White House for sixteen of the last twenty-four years, and yet the decline of the middle class has only accelerated. Wall Street gets its bailouts, wages go nowhere, and the free-trade deals keep coming.

            The standard explanation for the Democrats’ failure are the rise of the right, which is supposed to be in league with the devil, and the way money-in-politics works its ugly will. I have described both of these in previous books. But as explanations for the Democrats’ failure they are ultimately inadequate, as is the favorite pundit theory that our Federal government is simply incapable of making big, sweeping turns.

            What I propose in this book is something else: that the Democrats are a class party in the most basic sense of the phrase, and that the socioeconomic group whose interests they represent most enthusiastically–the satisfied and prosperous professional class–simply doesn’t care all that much about income inequality.

            In addition to the startling and/or obvious facts I present to support this theory, “Listen, Liberal” contains: A look back at the “New Politics” and “Neo-Liberal” movements, a searching examination of the achievements of the Clinton presidency, a visit with the “creative class,” a conjecture or two about Obama’s fascination with tech, a Clinton Foundation event MC’d by Hillary herself, and of course a trip to Martha’s Vineyard.

            Taken as a whole, it is an attempt to understand the epidemic of liberal disillusionment as a genuine phenomenon rather than just to brush it off. It’s a meditation on a time in which middle America has crumbled, Wall Street has prospered, and hopeful liberals found themselves betrayed again and again and again.

            although I disagree with him on the cure and his underlying analysis, his criticism of the Dem-elites selling out the “Working Class” for that Wall Street and Silicon Valley money is painfully accurate.

            Of course, selling out their constituencies is a long-standing Democrat habit.

        2. And in the fast food industry, it’s the incoming minimum wage hikes in certain states that are going to do the trick.

          1. Yeah, I had that discussion yesterday with a campaign worker for someone pushing for a $15 national minimum wage. She seemed to really believe that increasing the wage would CREATE jobs. At the end of the call, she informed me that her candidate was going to Congress and Clinton was going to the White House.

            Unfortunately, she’s probably right about that.

              1. Indeed it is! How can anybody be expected to live in a three-room apartment (minimal acceptable size, i would think) have 5G internet (anything less is primitive and relegates its user to intolerable living conditions) and get carry-out meals on a mere $15,155 a year? [calculated at $15 * 29 hrs * 52 weeks * 0.67 to determine after tax take home pay]

                By the time you’ve figured in student loan repayment for that ciswoman’s studies MA you’re abysmally below the poverty line.

                The minimum Wage should probably be more nearly $30 or even $50!

            1. Nobody that is incapable of doing kindergarten level math deserves $15/hr.

              ex. – This weekend I was at McDs and my order ended in .98. I handed the guy my bills and three pennies. Instead of getting a nickle back (yegadsthepuns) he handed me FIVE PENNIES! This wasn’t some high school kid either, he looked like he was in his twenties with a short scruffy beard and a man bun.

                1. That does happen, but seems rather infrequent. A checker running out of $10 bills (or even not having any in the till at shift start) is common. An experienced checker might even just bump up to a $1 change, knowing the till is always a few cents off anyway. When I had a second job at a convenience store, there was one day (in a few years) that had a congratulatory note to all shifts of that day – the tills (there were two) both came out right down to the last penny.

                  At another store, this conversation took place:

                  “[Orvan], what would you say if I told you the till came out down to the penny?”

                  “Congratulations. That doesn’t happen often.”

                  “Every day, for a week?”

                  “That’s fraud.”

                  It was.

                  1. I’m guessing the checker was stealing from the tills he/she “checked”, and recording the amount after the theft so it would be “right”?

                    1. I didn’t get the details (this was at another site the manager was brought in to clean up some) but whatever was done, it was done to make the books come out “perfect” which is a rarity. It makes one wonder how much fraud goes undetected due to someone being more realistic and having things a random few cents off (it happens in both directions) every time.

                    2. This reminds me of a tale of a young poll worker proudly calling his boss to announce he’d gotten “100% of the vote for our guy!” … only to be told by the wardheeler to go back and manufacture some votes for the other guy “so it don’t look too suspicious.”

                    3. My guess would be that the person was voiding some of the transactions (or somehow not ringing them up at all), and then pocketing whatever was left over after counting down the till to the number recorded by the cash register.

      1. While certainly the efficiency improvement from automated sorters has impacted the widely cited USPS worker parking lot occupancy density metric, I think two other factors had greater impact: The rise of email for personal communication severely reduced first class mail use, and the rise of Fedex and UPS all but eliminated parcel post.
        Between those two factors, there’s really a whole lot less mail for the local PO to sort, to the point that USPS has started renting out their route delivery folks for the last-mile UPS deliveries in this area – even on Sunday, you can see the white USPS trucks running around dropping Amazon boxes on front porches.

        1. And what about the untold millions of unemployed farm workers and ranch hands. John Deere and International Harvester totally destroyed the rural economy! They are Evil!

            1. Okay then, what about all the shi_ shovelers put out of work by modern plumbers and sewage treatment plants? Huh, what about them!!???

              Oh, that’s right. They’ve all become politicians, journalists and advertising executives.

              Never mind.

              1. If they had we would have a much better class of politicians, journalists and executives. At the very least they would know what it meant to work for a living.

            2. 100 or so years ago 70-80% of the population were farmers.

              Of course the government is certainly not helping the ones who are left.

      2. By that logic, the backhoe took away jobs from shovel wielders. Never mind that it dropped the price of housing, roads, food production, etc…

    3. Where are all the children of buggy whip makers who learned buggy whip making at their parents knee and have no other useful skill in life? Hell where are all the old buggy whip makers?

      1. There’s actually a buggy whip manufacturer still around. I believe I learned of it here. Let’s see if my Google-fu is up to finding it… Sigh. New York Times of all places:

        Westfield, Mass., still known as “Whip City,” once had more than 40 businesses that made whips, tools and carriage parts. Today, only Westfield Whip Manufacturing, founded in 1884, remains.

    4. Henry Ford had to argue against the idea that automating car assembly so that 1 of his workers was as productive as a whole shop of coachbuilders had been wouldn’t result in unemployment in coachbuilders. He cited the shoe industry which had automated before him and that now that almost everyone could afford shoes there were far more people employed making shoes than before. Sadly, Ford was wrong and today there is almost no one employed by car makers, much less secondary industries like car repair, used car dealers, tow trucks, etc. And no one is employed by businesses that wouldn’t be possible without motor vehicles like deliverymen, truckers, taxis, ubers, food trucks, etc. Right?

      So what’s going to happen when 1 worker can produce the same as one modern factory? How many people here would buy more stuff if the cost was cut by a factor of 10? Or 100? More Toys? More Tools? More guns? More Vehicles? More Robots? More Games? More Costumes and Clothes? More Useless Impulse buys? More boxes to put things in? How many people would buy a pair of 6 pounder cannons for your front yard if they were $100 instead of 10,000 each?

        1. Well, I’d written a pair because in Texas it is not uncommon to see homes and buildings with a matched pair of small cannons as lawn or entryway decorations. They are intended to evoke the Twin Sisters, who were 6 pounders IIRC.

            1. The $10,000 figure for a 6 pound cannon I quoted was for a fully functional one. The non-firing replicas run about half that, but most of the ornamental ones I see around are even smaller and simpler than that.

  3. This is why I have nothing but contempt for Progressives. I just had a coworker yesterday say that some people can’t figure out that they need a CO detector so the state should mandate one, even in homes that don’t have any gas appliances. She didn’t realize that anyone too ignorant to buy a CO detector probably wouldn’t know what it was, why it was alarming, and what to do if it did alarm. Odds are that they’d just unplug it and go about complaining about that flu the family was suffering from.

    On the whole progress rendering people obsolete, as you point out we’ve been to this rodeo before, at least twice. Individuals too invested in the old economy might not manage to adapt, but their children and grandchildren certainly will.

    As for our current economy, the best thing we could do is repeal Obamacare and the second best thing we could do is implement a BRAC-type committee for government programs. Look for duplication and wasted effort and cut them in a straight up-or-down vote.

      1. NFPA code now requires smoke detectors in all new or remodeled construction in the USA. Canada uses the same code.

        Every room and corridor must have a detector except for the bathroom. (steam geshtupfs the sensor). Many areas additionally require a thermal sensor in the kitchen. Doesn’t matter whether the house has gas or not.

        All the sensors must be able to talk to each other, and they must all be networked go off at once. The text says that’s to ensure that an occupant might hear the alarm no matter where they are in the residence. And they have to run off the mains current; battery-only detectors are no longer allowed.

        Basically, what that means is the whole freaking house will go nuts periodically at 0300, and you’ll have no idea if there’s a fire or where it might be. Rather than exploring the whole house to see if it’s another false alarm. most people will probably find which breaker they’re hooked to to quiet them, and then how to reset the stupid things, which probably involves a stepladder. I predict enterprising homeowners and renters will find a way to permanently disable them.

        1. More obviously, that which is networked can be hacked. Just ask Dyn.

          I will admit to a certain desire to see it happen in this case, though! But we live in one of those old houses whose aquaintance with modern code involves thumbs and noses.

          1. Smoke detectors are generally networked to each other, but not to the internet. You don’t have a method of connecting to them, they are just wired together so that they all go off if one does.

            1. Depends. In the case of my house, the aftermarket security system actually has the smoke detectors tied in so it can call the fire department.

            2. They are? I suspect that depends on the newness of the installation. The last time I set one off (classic cooking issue) just the closest one beeped. Mind you that was an older condo in California a couple of years back

              1. I don’t know about California, but I’m pretty sure the regulations requiring them to be linked like that are for new construction only. People would be burning down City Hall if they had to spend several thousand dollars just to replace a $5 smoke detector if it wasn’t already wired into the system.

        2. They have 9v battery back-up. You have shut each one off individually.
          I do some work for a guy who owns around 70 rental homes,a local building inspector decided that replacing windows counts as remodeling and we had to install the new direct wired smoke/CO/CO2 detectors.
          Removing the batteries and clicking the breaker off is the only way to silence the damn things.
          Or you could reset each one-but it will only be an hour or two befote the next false alarm.

          1. We had a those in the house we rented for a year. It was 16 years old. When it started beeping every five minutes, and also when you stepped in a certain spot in the kitchen, we called the maintenance for the rental company. He couldn’t figure out how to fix it. He couldn’t even figure out what was wrong. And the model of thingy was no longer manufactured. So he ripped it all out and installed non-linked fire alarms of the sort you get for a few bucks at a hardware store.

            1. Good luck with the tile-it’s not really hard to do,it does involve a bit of math though.
              As long as you’ve got the right tools,and do your layout before you start setting tile,use tile spacers-(depending on type of tile)-

              1. You know, when I put parquet in the floor or our dining room in manitou was when my sons found out mom cannot calculate in English. Having learned the multiplication tables in Portuguese, any calculation was done in a whisper, in Portuguese. They made fun of me for years.

              2. May I suggest that the most important piece of equipment for laying tile is the very very best, really really really good knee pads/protectors you can buy? I did three bedrooms with my dad and though I had good ones, they weren’t good enough and my knees have never been the same since….

                1. I agree with that 100%.
                  I still take tile jobs a few times a year,just took one this evening. First thin I checked,even before I dug through the pile of tools in the garage was kneepads. Got a pair in decent shape-and a brand new pair for backup.
                  My knees just ain’t gonna take many more tile jobs,or laminate flooring jobs,I already quit doing concrete work. 5 years in a row of doing stamped concrete finished destroying my back.
                  But,it was all satifying work,just something about making stuff/working with my hands that beats any office job,or the engineering field I quit trying for after 3 years of college.

            2. I’m pretty sure that the “one beep every few minutes that won’t” stop is the alarm complaining either that it’s battery is low, or the wires to the mains aren’t securely attached.

              At least that was my theory until I just removed the detector from the ceiling entirely.

              My favorite, of course, is the one in the spare bedroom, that is wired into the ceiling, but has no electrical box behind it. Because that’s not a fire hazard at all.

              1. I removed the one in the hallway between the two bedrooms that wouldn’t shut up. I forgot about it for about 3 years and finally replaced it this fall. There were detectors within 3 feet of it either side with just doors that we hardly ever closed between the three of them.

        3. Over-regulation like this is why I’m glad I no longer live in the US. I’m well aware that anecdote is not the singular of data, but I don’t know of anyone who has actually been saved by a smoke detector, let alone a CO or CO2 one. I know a lot of people (including me) who have been woken up by the damn thing complaining of low battery at 3am and roughly the same number of people who have set one off accidentally due to cooking, lighting a fire in the grate and not opening the chimney, or similar. In no case did having the detector go off assist in a calm clear up of the situation.

          1. Actually, I have heard of smoke detectors saving lives. More to the point, I know of someone in the days before cheap smoke detectors who was overcome by smoke and died at the front door of his trailer before he could make it out. Growing up we had two near misses that a smoke detector would have prevented.

            Our old rental had open space heaters, and we had a CO detectors. It went off several times, and we vented the house. Since CO is odorless, it seemed the prudent thing to do.

          2. A cousin of mine is a home inspector. He wrote up a gas wall heater. Said it needed to be inspected and repaired before moving in. The new owners stayed in their new vacation cottage during ski season. Turned on the heater and went to bed. The realtor who brokered the deal showed up the next morning with a welcome basket. She saw the noisy, annoying dog asleep in the hall. After some very loud banging on the door. Someone woke up and staggered to the door. Three of the five family members died from the CO displacing all the O2. Of course my cousin and the realtor were sued. My cousin entered his home inspection report into evidence. The judge read it and dropped him from the suit.

            Stupid kills. And what survives finds a lawyer and sues because Stupid is obviously never at fault.

          3. Well, I know one who was saved by a CO detector. My niece. In fact, she didn’t have one until she complained about some things that set off alarms in someone’s head, and when she got one she promptly found out that the house she was renting had a high enough concentration to be very dangerous.

            1. Oh, and a lot of modern detectors have temporary shutoffs (5 minutes, maybe? maybe longer?) to handle the irritation of accidentally setting them off with a push of a button.

          4. *Raises hand*

            It was actually the dogs’ fault, back in a rental in college. And I’m not sure the smoke detector saved our lives, but it certainly woke us up, and probably saved their sorry tails. The gas heater was in the living room, together with the dogs, we were in the bedroom. The dogs were playing (110 and 95 lb labs) and knocked a pile of homework and stuffs into the gas heater. The fire alarm woke us up at the smoking but not yet flaming stage. The rental was a hundred+ year old house with knob and tube, divided into four one-bedroom apartments. We had one on the ground floor, with two dogs, the other half of the first floor was rented by a gal with one dog. The two upstairs units were rented by cat people: as it was one of the few rentals in town that allowed pets, it was always fully rented.

      2. I have a cluster of 2 or 3 fire and another 2 or 3 CO2 scattered around on both sides of the bedroom/livingroom door. It is bizarre how many of the dratted things are there in the house. Worse I have to keep ripping the batteries out of them because they sit there and chirp at me at 2 AM. They don’t light up and just say … look my battery is low. No you have to actually catch it in the act of chirping with the light going red for just a second and then back to green. So aggravating and so useless.

        1. I’ve given up on that and just replace the batteries every Winter Solstice (I’m usually away for Christmas, so that doesn’t work out) or New Year’s. I figure my sleep is worth the few bucks a year.

          1. I discovered the smoke detectors in the house didn’t have the 10 year batteries I thought they had. I do the great Battery-Excahnge-Fandango (clocks and smoke detectors) on the Fall-Back Sunday.

      3. Same here. The biggest source of CO in my place is, well, me. But thanks to the busybodies in Olympia, I can’t sell my place until I install one.

          1. The law used to be that any dwelling with gas appliances had to have a CO detector, which at least makes a kind of sense, but then a family died from CO poisoning and the media made a big deal about it, resulting in a change to the law. I’m not sure if it’s an example of “something must be done; this is something; therefore it must be done” or a cabal boosting the signal on a tragic but rare accident to increase demand for CO detectors.

            I just finished Chris Nuttall’s When the Bough Breaks, where a political cabal in inadvertently brings about the complete depopulation of Earth, so I might be a bit more paranoid about politics than usual.

          2. Sort of, but then even if no gas line, there are other sources (attached garage? orr even a an actual fire the fire/smoke detector[s] haven’t picked up on, or some fool trying to charcoal grill indoors?). More a “rather than an array of exceptions/conditions, a simple one-and-done rule. Ideal? No. Just less non-ideal.

            The networked (which should be local only. IoT is a Bad Idea, overall, and will be so for some time) thing I can sort of see, so it gets noticed, but it needs a way to identify the initiating device so it can be checked and reset or replaced if need be. There have been times I’ve had a headache I couldn’t explain (explanations: illness, noise, thermal changes, chemicals) and I went to look at the individual CO/fuel gas detectors. So far, it’s never been CO or fuel gas — but I know (not ‘know of’, but know) people that had close calls before CO monitors became common — so I do consider that possibility.

      4. I’ve dealt with too many outlets that had smoked to accept that statement without comment.

        In one case, shoddy receptacles (manufactured house with seriously cut corners in the finish electrical stage), not to mention a couple of equally bad switches nearly started a fire. My nose caught the receptacle, but a smoke detector would have mattered a lot at night.
        Note: the receptacles and switches were no-name OEM type, not a UL logo (or manufacturer ID) in sight. Never saw anything this crappy at Home Depot.

        In the second case, it was old wiring that had corroded. Not good. I had to rewire several outlets at church, and 2 or 3 had already burned off the insulation.

        Besides, kitchen heat sources get pretty toasty…

  4. It is however easy for government to create an underclass of dependents who can’t/don’t strive. Such an underclass provides valuable employment in the government and non-profit fields trying to “help” them and/or manage them.

    1. And then there’s the overclass that does not strive: Government employees who cannot be fired have little external incentive to do more than the minimum, and after a certain point that minimum is quite low indeed. Some provide their own internal incentives, but those are not in the majority.

  5. They need to have big government remove high taxes, extremely complex regulations, onerous costs of doing business that steal millions from the economy.

    Simply and clearly put, yet for many so hard to comprehend.

    If you really cared about people living in a world in which there were no ‘unskilled’ entry level jobs this is not how you would remedy it. At least not if you thought that to be working as opposed to idleness was a good thing, having dignity, value and honor whatever the job so long as it was a legal pursuit. I don’t think that our intelligentsia view most employment in that way.

    The present regulations already make human labor too expensive for many business. They are opting to mechanize faster. Check out the soda machines. When I first was employed I, like many others in my generation, worked at a fast food establishment. Emphasis was placed on managing the poured portion size of soda, as it was a major way to maintain profit margin. Now you buy a ‘bottomless’ cup at greater price and fill your own from the dispenser. Minimizing the total number of employees and employee hours is now the major way to maintain profit margin.

    1. > working… idleness… intelligentsia

      Reynolds wrote dozens of books and short stories set in various dystopias where automation had eliminated most of the job market. Most of his societies ran on some sort of “negative income tax” or other entitlements, and the majority of the population was kept busy in “free” government schools, swotting for credentials. Which were necessary when a Ph.D. was the minimum requirement for the most menial of jobs…

      1. A lot of universities and community colleges are no longer hiring or replacing professors or adjuncts in liberal arts fields, although they are usually still teaching stuff like STEM and law enforcement.

      2. Ah. Is THAT what he did once he gave up on the “The Soviet Union out-produces the West into irrelevance, but then the intelligencia quietly take over and guide the State as it inevitably withers away” stories he was churning out earlier?

        I picked up one of those god-awful “strip-mine Gutenberg” collections a while back, that had several of those…

      1. Really? They couldn’t even be bothered to call it ” Robo Froyo” or “Froyo Robo”?

        Such a missed opportunity

  6. Hmmm. If the “post necessity economy” is making anyone obsolete, I suspect the obsoletistas are in fact the academics, bureaucrats, and leftist cognoscenti who are being increasingly bypassed by the mass of regular people due to the empowering effects of things like indie publishing, 3D printing, and citizen journalism.

      1. “Today only!” “Limited edition!” “One time offer!”
        We have so much we create artificial scarcity.
        Are there still genuinely scarce things? Why, of course.

        We still do not have a fusion reactor driving a mass spectrometer whose output flows to a collection of computer-directed nanobots to assemble whatever is wished from component atoms from the stream of ore/trash fed into the system. That is, we have not (yet?) built Santa Claus.

    1. Frankly, I’m waiting for them to figure out an excuse to restrict a lot of that stuff. It will probably be some convoluted Marxist bullcrap… and I’ll be, once again, amazed that otherwise intelligent people will swallow it hook, line, and sinker. They’ve already tried to start with the “ghost gun” BS for 3D printing… but that, thankfully, doesn’t seem to have gone anywhere.

      1. You don’t need 3D printing to make a “ghost gun”.
        Tabletop milling machines are rapidly dropping in price and the accuracy and quality are much better than just a few years ago.
        Plus there’s the fact that with almost all machine shops going with CNC turning centers to replace most milling and lathe operations,hundreds of thousands of manual lathes and milling machines have been purchased by guys with garage/ outbuilding machine shops.
        The guys who know how to run those machines almost always have a huge backlog of small jobs. Turned out a lot of things just aren’t worth programming the million doallar turning center to do.

          1. Yeah,that’s cool stuff,all those who think firearms will be banned are not getting how easy it is to “roll your own” now.
            We make our own car parts many times,especially the thousand dollar or so dealer only parts.
            Using a lathe,milling machine,drill press,surface,bench and die grinders-you can make almost any metal part for anything if you just figure it out on your own.
            Helps to have a brother who’s a machinist,and a good friend who’s a tool and die maker.
            My brother has had an insane amount of CNC programming schools-all paid for by his employer.
            The problem in that industry is now the lack of young people with math skills,and the ability to use non digital micrometers,calipers etc.
            I’ve got 40 year old Starrett mics and calipers that work just fine,have the gauge blocks to re-calibrate them as well. The kids today can’t comprehend how to use the calipers and mics unless they’re digital. Most of them anyhow.
            Same in the building trades-every year,I have to explain what the lines on a freakin tape measure mean to the summer’s laborers.
            In the past 5-6 years,I’ve had exactly one kid who could read a tape-and he only worked one summer-as it was his last year in college.

            1. There are digital micrometers and calipers? I’m probably one of the least handy people I know and I can manage to measure things.

              1. We’ve been at several conventions at which it was clear that whoever laid out the dealers’ room/ exhibit hall didn’t know how to use a tape measure. We got out our 25-foot tape measure and checked, and sure enough, we were short between several inches and a foot of area we’d paid for.

                When we were still running the dealers’ room at the local anime convention, we’d go there right after lunch on Thursday and mark off the booths, because the banquet staff would invariably have everything in the wrong places. That’s one thing I *don’t* miss about conrunning.

            2. Hmm. Sounds like I could brush off my metalworking (aviation style) skills and get a job in a few heartbeats. As long as no welding of cluster joints is involved. I kinda flunked that assignment the first two times.

              1. Around here-(NE Ohio) most of the aerospace jobs got shipped to Ukraine about 5-6 years ago. Goodyear Aerospace which used to be Cleveland Pneumatic Corp, and had made landing gear for everything from F-14’s to the B-1/B-1B/B-2 bomber shipped all their machining operations to the Ukraine which put a lot of friends out of work,although many had enough years in to get their retirements.
                There are hundreds of machine shops and tool and die shops in this area. Seems most are smallish shops with several large corps in the area.
                Help wanted postings have multiple listings for machinists/tool and die makers daily,often several pages of job listings.

        1. You can make a functional firearm with fewer tools than many people realize. There are several web forums for DIY gun construction, and most of the machinist forums have topics for it.

          1. Heck-you can make a functional single shot shotgun out of black steel pipe and fittings available at Lowe’s or Home Depot
            The only other material needed is a nail and drill with drill bit.

          2. You can make a perfectly functional and *completely illegal* (without a special federal permit for a fully automatic weapon) firearm with just a few hours time. If the government ever does successfully ban ownership of firearms, it’s merely going to open a whole new can of worms. If there’s no reason in the government’s eyes between someone owning a 9mm semi-automatic pistol, and someone owning a 9mm SMG, there’s going to be a lot more people with SMGs.

            1. And if you’re in for a penny, then you’d might as well be in for a pound. Why not go to jail for a suppressed 9mm SMG instead of that noisy SMG or pistol?

            2. It’s actually far easier to build a fully automatic autoloader than a semiautomatic one. The trigger disconnector bits can be fiddly to get working just right.

                1. WP has been really funky with this article. I got the email of it last night, but when I came here to like it/comment on it, it couldn’t be found. When I try to read it in WP Reader, it tells me there are 200+ comments but it won’t let me see them.

                  1. Yeah, I read it from the email long before I could see it on the web, too.

                    WP weirdness. Is it bleeding into other things (might explain the election year)?

        2. Well yes. You and *I* know that… but that fact didn’t stop politicians from trying to figure out how to make laws restricting 3D printers from being able to print “guns”. Notice, of course, the sarcasm quotes. I would be MUCH more comfortable firing a gun assembled from parts bought at Home Depot than one of those insane plastic 3d printed jobbies.

          1. They gave the game away when they named the first plastic pistol “The Liberator”. That name was used by GM in WWII. The pistol only has to fire once, then you take the dead Gestapo’s (Cop’s) 9mm and use it.

      2. I saw a link earlier today (Insty link to a VDH article, I think) that talked about the Dems’ in California attempting to persuade people to switch over to rail. Part of that apparently involves the neglect of the highway system – both because if the roads suck then people are less likely to drive, and because the rail projects are sucking up funds that would probably be better used for highway maintenance.

  7. “But they are usually spatially smarter, better at figuring out what’s wrong and fixing it with no-nonsense.”

    I remember one point as a kid (in the early 80s) having my brain rip it’s self in half when I noticed that my father was struggling to read something that, to me, was a pretty easy read. At the same time I realized that my father had, rather single-handedly, rewired the electric in practically the entire house, moved a bathroom (do you have any idea how much work is involved in MOVING a bathroom? But Mom said it was in the wrong place, so move it he did…), rebuild entire kitchens from bare walls, erected a TV antenna and ran the cable for it, ran phone lines in the house. Basically remodeled the @#$)(% out of every house we had ever lived in (we were once “kicked out” of a 100 year old house that we were renting because the owner decided, after my father got through fixing it, that it was so nice that she wanted to live there herself). whew… there’s more. Dad was a coal miner, and you never knew from one month to the next when the mine would be on strike or when they would be working, so Dad Fed the family by also working our small farm, complete with a HUGE garden and various livestock (cows, chickens, rabbits, etc.). He even artificially inseminated the cow himself rather than calling a vet to do it (our little farm wasn’t anywhere near enough to handle owning a bull, although he did try once… damn thing almost killed people, bulls can be very dangerous if you aren’t equipped to handle them). Wheeled and dealed for an old, broken incubator (and fixed it) and hatched out chicks, ducklings, and goslings (and guineas… shutter… Dad said they were the best hen house alarms in existence, but man were they annoying). Worked on the cars, trucks, and kept the old tractor running (which was so old, you started it by cranking a crank on the front, and that parts probably hadn’t been made for for 30 years so he had to fabricate a few parts himself to keep it going). I think you get the idea, all of that is just scratching the surface.

    I had always taken it for granted that my father could do almost anything. Realizing that my father, by my smart-ass 4th grade standards, could barely read was a shock. Of course now that I’m much older and understand the world better, “could barely read” wasn’t exactly accurate. My father could read fine for what reading he did. He was just not a “reader” like I was (then, as now, I read practically EVERYTHING I can get my hands on). I’m sure I seem dumb to him that I can’t design, build, and install an entire septic system (yes, I’ve seen him do that too). Frankly, I’ve always wondered WHERE DID HE LEARNED HOW TO DO ALL THIS STUFF? Certainly not the Internet. It didn’t even exist (in it’s current form) back then!

    1. guineas
      Nothing like a guinea screaming at you when it is dark, and you didn’t know it was there, to get the blood flowing on a very dark winters night

      My dad was like you describe, but he was well read, and taught himself Trig, and has been a machinist and electrician. He did grow up a slightly poor small farmboy/one of nine then 10 (adopted cousin moved in with them). So if they wanted something, they tended to have to build it, or fix and old one someone else cast off. Grandpa built his own lumber mill (using transmissions from old cars to traverse the logs back and forth), his own houses (3.5 of them. Dad burned one down, and one was hit by lightning and partially gutted and would have burned totally but Pa knew where the wires were, having done all of it himself, so he punched through ceilings and walls with his hands and pulled burning wires out) his own tractor (A Dodge frame iirc with a Buick Straight Eight engine), and was one of the inventors of the modern three point hitch for tractors. (Ferguson got the improvements used by Ford after meeting one of Pa’s buddies who had one or Ford himself saw the buddy using the homebuilt setup), and in his younger days had been a barnstormer with his sisters who were pilots.

  8. The way I figure it, we already went through the transition to “post-necessity.” It wasn’t all that long ago that 90% of the labor force was living in small villages, running and working on farms to produce food and fiber. If you had told an economist of that era—say, Quesnay or Malthus—that within a couple of hundred years there would be countries where 3% of the population could grow food for everybody, with surplus food to export . . . .

    Well, first, they probably wouldn’t have believed it.

    But, second, they would have panicked. “You’ll have 85% of the population with no work to do, and no place in society! They won’t be able to earn a living! There will be mass starvation!”

    And yet, funny thing, we developed new necessities. I mean, I’m economically in straitened circumstances, and yet we have over a hundred shelf feet of books; multiple shelf feet of video; hundreds of hours of music; multiple devices with computational capability, from a tiny smartphone to a desktop with a 25″ monitor; a refrigerator; two shelves full of spices and herbs; dentistry and optometry for ourselves; veterinary care and high-end kibble for our cat; for that matter, electric light, fans, and indoor plumbing. It might be argued that not all of these are necessities (though as Thomas Jefferson said, “I cannot live without books,” and much of my personal village is online these days)—but if the refrigerator, or the lights, or the fans, or the plumbing stop working, that’s an emergency; a residence without those is uninhabitable by present-day standards. And all of those are the product of human work. In fact, all of them exist because someone who needed a way to make money took the initiative to start making them available, and they went from rare luxuries to commonplace to bare necessities, sometimes faster than you can blink. (I mean, these days, there’s hardly any government office you can communicate with if you can’t go online, and surely the post-necessity people would count government services as necessary!)

    1. I don’t think the whole world has made the transition to “post-necessity” yet, but some countries have – at a guess: Japan, most of Europe, the Anglosphere. Some countries have a lot of catching up to do, and some can’t make the transition unless they shed their toxic culture.

      But looking at the wealthy countries makes me wonder. A while ago I read a book called The 10,000 Year Explosion, dedicated to the theory that humanity’s shift from hunter-gatherers to farmers created a corresponding shift in the type of personality required for success. An agricultural society rewarded such traits as ability to defer gratification and willingness to work hard, every day, as long as you were physically able.

      So… what if the Gods of the Copybook Headings are not universal, but merely a distillation of the characteristics associated with survival in an agricultural/subsistence society? And if so, what personality traits does a post-necessity, post-scarcity society select for?

          1. True. So there was a small percentage of the population that enjoyed something close to abundance. What traits do you think their circumstances selected for? Apart from marrying heiresses (which turned out not so good as a long term strategy)?

            1. Well, I’ve said for years that the British upper classes bread for land (“She has enormous . . . tracts of land!”) and their success in doing so explains the British Empire.

              But seriously, the strategy that landed aristocracies bred for was to identify some crucial resource, monopolize it, and collect rent from everyone who has to use it. That strategy is still being attempted now, both with industrial plants and with the Internet. In fact a lot of the conflicts in current politics have to do with attempts to monopolize information through the insane extension of copyright laws and the draconian punishment of those who disregard them. It’s not very different in spirit from the French breaking salt and tobacco smugglers on the wheel back in the 1700s.

              1. One difference between the British upper classes and the rest of the world is that, while they would look down on the nouveaux riches, it has always been possible to achieve entry into them if you try hard enough. Rich merchants/industrialists/bankers marrying the daughters of poor aristocrats is a staple of Regency fiction because it happened often.

    2. Yeah I think that is the case.

      Really basic needs like water, food, shelter and clothing are met for almost* everyone in the developed world: i.e. Korea, Taiwan, Japan, most of Europe, Aus, NZ, Chile, Canada and USA, as well as places like Israel and coastal China** and for that matter most of the non-war torn parts of the Middle East/ North Africa

      Dentistry and basic healthcare is also frequently available at prices close to free in emergency in most of these places too.

      * excluding drug addicts and the mentally unstable for the most part and generally that’s not for lack of assistance being available.
      ** the Economist splits China into two, it makes a lot of sense as the coast is a lot better off than inland

      1. Really basic needs like water, food, shelter and clothing are met for almost* everyone in the developed world: i.e. Korea

        South Korea.


        North Korea, on the other hand…

          1. Maybe certain parts of Africa when there’s fighting going on there. And particular strains of Islam are around in those areas at the same time to attempt to impose their own forms of goodthink on the locals.

  9. It seems that the best use for the advanced computer AIs these people are talking about would be in replacing the dull, repetitive tasks currently performed by our intelligentsia, especially the government drones.

    Teaching is a fairly simple interactive program that could greatly reduce one of the government’s biggest and least effective cost centers. Simply establish programs providing the sort of online instruction people commonly experience with new such products as spreadsheets, word processors, browsers, media players and various apps they routinely purchase. It is a basic three step process, after all: study material, either text, video or both, take a test to demonstrate comprehension, use tutorial programs to address weaknesses, retake the test until adequate understanding has been demonstrated. We’ve all seen these processes used by private enterprise for product support and trouble-shooting, we simply need to repurpose this for basic education. Unlike human teachers, computer programs don’t get bored with “drill and kill” instruction and don’t discriminate against boys, girls, both, either, neither nor because some kid has an unusual name.

    We could also eliminate a great many “professional” jobs, as tax preparation software has demonstrated. Many basic contracts, wills, deeds and the like can be essentially automated as well, reducing the need for expensive lawyers and helping eliminate legal arguments over wording and definition.

    Many government positions are essentially paperwork processing that not only do not require human handling but would be more efficient without the errors human handling inevitably introduces. Given the failures already demonstrated in most government spending programs it is hardly likely that AIs would bleed more money. Automating the entire process would allow greater efficiencies and enable the government to cross-reference data far more effectively to reduce fraud and abuse.

    This is just a start, as I am sure we can readily find ways in which AIs can use their benefits to craft reasonable laws and policies for the benefit of all, eliminating the need for political campaigns with their constant demands for fund-raising (which all our political leaders assure us they despise) and thus eliminating graft, as well. We could also dispense with obnoxious campaign advertising, something I trust we can all agree would make life in America far more enjoyable.

    1. Well, I would make the computer programs for learning include various sorts of exercises and modes of learning, and have the computer try them all out and see which modes the student learned better from. (Or use them all, if that worked better.)

      Probably it would vary per subject for some people, but that sort of customization would be dead easy for a computer program.

        1. It’s always nice to have a Human to answer the “dumb questions”.

          Not that I was the person who asked the “dumb question” but it was always nice to have somebody else to ask the “dumb question”. 👿

          1. It’s even better to have a teacher who *asks* the right questions. Unfortunately there aren’t many of those.

            1. Nod.

              Of course, the last time I was a student in a classroom, it was to learn to use (and create) computer programs.

              Learning the Access Database software, I quickly “out-classed” my fellow students but at the beginning I needed those “dumb questions” answered. 😉

            1. One of the objections to modern pedagogical methods is that they are structured to prevent going down such trails, for concern the students might learn things inconvenient for them to know. Too many contemporary Ed School graduates are incapable of teaching but very well-trained in presenting approved materials.

        2. Ah, but make teaching a private sector profession: professional tutors! Test by automatic system (for those subjects best tested that way). Scheduled testing with live humans available by appointment, for any subject.

          Make it competitive, and let human ingenuity surprise you.

          1. They tried that, back in the 60’s/70’s or so. Some families got together and tried to hire tutors. The one room schoolhouse redux.

            The teachers unions and Our Beloved Rulers decreed that–although an *individual* can hire a tutor for young Biff and hold classes in the conservatory–if *two or three* families pool their money and hire a tutor, they must also build a school. To the exact same standards as the consolidated learning center the city built down the road with Federal matching funds.

            The result was twofold: the proliferation of megachurch-built private schools (and their competition), and the whole flippin’ homeschooling movement.

            1. Is it just me, or does that sound suspiciously like trying to keep the proles from getting above their station?
              Also, do you have any sources on that? That could be useful for discussing teachers’ unions in other venues.

              1. Is it just me, or does that sound suspiciously like trying to keep the proles from getting above their station?

                Not really. Just more standard union stuff to try and make sure that the “poor dears” end up funneling money to the institutions that pay the teachers who pay the union.

      1. Wasn’t there some sci-fi little girl character who had a book she learned all kinds of things from? Oh, yes now I recall… it was Penny from Inspector Gadget!

    2. *Glowers at RES* Right. I can out-teach a history AI any day of the week. Tech and rote? No, probably not, but the why and the blood and the spirit of history? No contest. I’d win.

      1. Why not a hybrid system? Full learning requires both rote memorization and interpretation. The automated systems can free up your time to focus on the things that only you can do. Division of labor FTW!

        1. Yes, a properly done presentation with narration can handle a lot of the boring part of the delivery of basic information, then classroom time with a live teacher can be used to discuss and digress.

          1. With the added benefit that the computer portion can be done at any time, and it doesn’t have the worry of forgetting any of the details that the lesson plan was supposed to include.

      2. I’d stick my tongue out at you but it is firmly lodged elsewhere.

        Please understand that I deeply respect and revere teachers but have ample reason to believe that such feelings are not held by the education establishment.

      3. No doubt you can, and I would love to have a chance to sit in your classroom. I have met several people who very gifted teachers. They can make their subject material more than just figures on a ledger. Unfortunately these teachers were few and far between. I have met far more who are at best managers of a class room.

        1. But imagine an educational system where those few and far between teacher’s best lectures and problem sets and helpful hints were recorded and rated for what results they produced in different age and personality type students. The computer could help match kids with lecturers and explanations that would have a high likelihood of helping them or inspiring them.

          I suppose it wouldn’t have to be just teachers… what if you could listen to a recorded physics lecture from Newton or a business lecture from Ford or Taichi Ohno instead of sitting in a class of 300 being lectured to by a grad student TA who barely had a command of English. We can’t go back and record Newton, but we could have Spielberg giving lectures on film study. Some state ought to develop a pilot program to go and pay the $ to pick a few subjects, find some of their best teachers, businessmen, scientists, engineers, tradesmen, farmers, entertainers, and inviting them in to record lectures on what THEY think is essential to know about their specialty. Maybe if they made it a prestigous honor to be picked somehow then they could do it without having to shell out a lot for the lectures. Then match up the lectures with either AI or real live humans (local or online) who could help out with problem sets or individual tutoring or really odd questions that aren’t in the database yet.

          1. …but we could have Spielberg giving lectures on film study.

            Spielberg has demonstrated a excellent craftsmanship, as well as the ability to produce highly entertaining and popular films. But can he teach the subject? This I don’t know.

            The North Carolina school system has already employed use of recorded lectures by master teachers.

            Have you heard of Great Courses – The Teaching Company?

            1. I don’t know, but I’d trust his judgement about what was important for a film-maker to know more than I would a better lecturer at some university. I prefer to read autobiographies or books written by successful technical people, as I notice all sorts of points that they try to explain but seem to never make it into biographies or summaries about them. If most of their contemporaries in the same field didn’t fully understand a lot of what they were doing, then certainly you can’t expect a textbook staff or biographer who is probably mostly liberal arts grads to understand why he/she felt it so important to explain ‘X’.

              1. But often the truly talented are bad teachers because they just can’t fathom that people can’t see the obvious. The obvious to them that is.

                1. Exactly. Now I have heard that both Lucille Ball and Jerry Lewis were excellent lecturers.

                  We acquired the Richard Feynman physics lectures for The Daughter. They are excellent, but there is something lacking. However much you wish you can never ask Feynman questions, or engage him in a conversations on points of confusion or interest.

                  1. Please note that my above suggestion was for AI instructors. A Richard Feynman AI would undoubtedly be able to answer questions. A Sheldon Cooper AI would also be able to answer questions but who would want it to?

                  2. Yes. I once heard Lucille Ball give a lecture on comedy carried live on TV. Her ground rules were no questions about her comedy programs. Some broke it during the Q&A period, but she gave an outstanding talk on topical humor as compared to enduring humor.

            2. In cases where a person is highly capable, but not really suited to teaching, one could arrange a long interview, which could then either be presented as-is, or turned into a lecture by a more teaching-oriented person.

          2. Have you heard of the Great Courses series? They have audio and video lectures on various subjects. I’ve bought 3 from Audible.

          3. Years ago I had the idea to record lectures by good teachers and make them available as alternatives to public schools teaching. Your idea of rating them for age and personality type is very good, and naturally leads to creating a repository of several different lectures of each type, so that students (and parents, for younger students) could search through and find a lecturer whose style matched best with theirs.

            When talking about remote learning, the question of classes requiring lab time always comes up, but I would think that a facility that supports an area that currently contains several schools would save money for the overall system by reducing duplication of supplies and equipment.

            1. FWIW, I remember when that was going to the one of the big things with public broadcasting. We had daily sessions in Kindergarten. But while I remember my teacher, I don’t remember those sessions. Maybe that’s why, in the 1st Grade, we were introduced to the film projector.

              There was also intermediate tech with film strips and records with a tone that were supposed to automatically advance them, but seldom did, and later audio tapes. None of it has the same impact as textbooks in a traditional setting.

    3. The DOD is a big fan of computer-based training. It is, without exception, completely useless. Lessons are routinely skimmed and cheating on the tests is not only trivial, it’s mandatory in some cases. All it does is allow bureaucrats to check blocks saying that a group of people have been trained on a topic.

        1. There are classes that are held over the computer but are live and in real time. I know that ORACLE does these.

          1. I learned Access programming, SQL, and Visual Studio via computer-based training. Given that I’m now a database analyst and (small-project) developer, I don’t think it was a waste of time.

            1. Yes, well. I bet you are one of those people who the educational system failed to teach to abhor learning and to not do anymore of it than you absolutely have to to get by.

        2. The problem comes in when you try and differentiate between those who completed the CBT out of a desire to learn and those who completed it in order to game the system.

  10. They have to appeal to “post necessity economy” because they no longer wish to appeal to God. Up into the 20th Century, all progressive policies in the West had, at their root, the concept of Christian Charity. This gets into the best way to extend that charity so as not to be an enabler, and whether it’s a business of government. Be that as it may, the elephant in the room is once you can no longer appeal to Christian Charity, it’s much harder to make the argument that government should adopt certain policies. That even undercuts the “post necessity economy,” (which, as you point out, is a base canard) for if ultimately nothing matters, then why bother with it?

    Another factor is what the State of Georgia got into a few years ago. Threats of crackdowns on illegal immigrants (and the story about what happened when INS got real once is an eye-opener) had illegals leaving Georgia, which put a crimp on some types of farm labor. Blueberry picking was one of them. So the State of Georgia tried directing people on the unemployment rolls to do farm labor.

    This turned into a huge fiasco. Some took Georgia up on it, and many of those didn’t last long. Those of us who grew up on a farm know why: It’s hot, monotonous, work. The thing isn’t they weren’t able to do it, it was they didn’t want to do it. That may rub some folks the wrong way, but that’s the fact of the matter. That stays a lot about our view toward work and it’s not good.

    That’s what is at the center of this issue. That view toward work was creeping in during my youth, a view that I’m told is common among European’s class views, but in America was an alien thing. It reared it’s ugly head during my high school days when guidance councilors took the notion that the trades were somehow “second best” and tried to put everyone they could on the college track. That was because it’s possible to make a good living in the trades if you don’t have a solid grasp on symbolic manipulation, as I think Dr. Pournelle has put it, but the trades encompass a wide range, from carrying materials all the way up to what we called master craftsmen. A master craftsman is roughly on par with a civil engineer.

    As a case in point, you wrote about laying a wood floor, and I take off my virtual hat to you. A finished wood floor is more difficult than people think, especially tongue and groove. I’ve known people I wouldn’t trust to lay a wood floor.

    Tiling is another difficult task, not so much the actual installation, but preparation, including the figuring to properly lay it out. Remodeling adds several more levels of difficulty not only because you’re following another builder or two or three, but because houses can settle in odd ways. I once observed a nightmare where the owner had a room where three concrete slabs came together, and all were slightly uneven. As an interested observer, I suggested vinyl and be done with it. But no: they wanted tile, and this was one job I was glad I didn’t have to do. Because til;e doesn’t like an uneven surface, the junction of the three slabs had to be smoothed. The work that went into making a passable surface just to start laying off the tile was most impressive. All that took considerable forethought.

    Ah, but I have seen people capable of such planning channeled to the college track. The attitude at the time was that such work could be done by, shall we say, the “challenged,” and every shop teacher had horror stories. Guidance councilors saw the trades as a dumping ground, and as a result they sometimes had students who really shouldn’t have been around power equipment. That’s, unfortunately, no joke. Sure, those students could find work in the trades, but as a lower level than, say, a crew leader. They certainly couldn’t have made it to master craftsman.

    Our self-appointed “elites,” who probably couldn’t put down underlayment, much less install vinyl flooring, think the trades are a simple thing. Really, they think everyone but themselves are idiots. So of course they think people can’t adapt to new technology; they can’t. But far more damaging is their pernicious view of work. That has infected several generations now, and it’s going to take hard times to root it out.

    1. My grandfather was a shop teacher in the period you’re describing. He left when they started shunting the discipline problem children to him.
      You DON’T want goof-offs and delinquents around live table saws.

      1. Yes you do. You just don’t want to be blamed for the resultant improvement in the gene pool and/or the reformation of the goof-offs and delinquents.

        1. No, you don’t, because they can endanger more than themselves. Such as the day some students were ripping a board and it kicked back and crashed into the radial arm saw. And those knew something about what they were doing.

          I remember one shop teacher who drew his own very politically incorrect and very graphic shop safety posters. The first time I saw them I wondered who would actually try such things. Later I learned.

          1. Welding torches and these sorts of fools are right out. Especially the chemically enhanced ones. Metal Working class was more dangerous to the group than wood shop. The buffoons tend more toward self injury in wood shop than in Metal Shop. Not that they were all that safe in the Wood Working class, but Metal Working seems to bring out the “practical joker” in them. Seen 4 or 5 shoes set on fire, while being worn, mind you, just during brazing lessons.

          2. Hmm… that’s a poorly placed table saw, then. Even people who know what they’re doing can have their attention waver, and have something like that happen. Table saws and planers should be sited and facing a direction so that such accidents hit the wall.

            OTOH, I was standing at the band saw in shop class one day and was hit in the head by part of the wooden goblet some guy was making on the lathe about ten feet away, when he cut the wall too thin and it shattered.

            1. Nods. Me and two other boys were the only ones allowed to use the radial arm saw in that class due to prior experience, and every time I used it, I thought about that table saw right in front of me.

    2. We are by no means at the “post demand for labor” period but I will note that the 40 Hour work week and child labor laws and retirement came about because there was less work to do.

      Think Craigslist. Its employs 40 people, it probably destroyed 40,000 jobs

      Also look at the birth rate, its near the lowest its ever been in US history on par with Europe.

      Its pretty clear to me that wage arbitrage and automation and trade along divorce and with college expenses have had a pretty severe effect on the birth rate. And yes its absolutely true people are richer than ever in terms of goods , they if you’ll forgive the argot “ain’t feeling it”

      Talking about those blueberry pickers in Georgia, while there is an endless demand for labor, there isn’t a demand for decently paid labor. Everyone wants workers on the cheap and cheap labor is fine for part time kids jobs and really inept workers, broadly though its poison for society, Its breeds poverty

      From experience here I’ve done agriculture work before and its poorly paid back breaking work most of the time . No wonder no one wants to do that , almost any other job in the same pay category is better even warehouse work which I’ve done too.

      If we need people to do this kind of work we need to encourage people to not be rootless cosmopolitan strivers for one and to settle in one place and have children with a good work ethic and we need to pay a bit better,

      It will raise the per flat cost a bit but (and I just read a study of blueberry farming) its not the majority of the cost. Its something that can be managed

      Optionally we could encourage a lot more small family farms where family members can do the labor and a more robust rural culture but the bi-coastal elite are city folks and hate rural America and everything it stands for. Good luck with that

        1. Nice to see you too Sara .

          Still you have a point it was a wall of text I need to work on the idea that people everywhere actually don’t give a fig for explanations unless they ask for them.

          Mea Culpa

          Most folks suffer from complacency bias regarding automation and its effects . What’s going to happen, longer term baring collapse is all that efficiency is going to impose of lower carrying capacity not a higher one

          Considering the TFR of your native country is 1.5 and the unemployment is officially over 10% it seems pretty obviously that less jobs and more of them in cities means less babies

          Keep it up too long and poof, no society

          1. it was a wall of text I need to work on the idea that people everywhere actually don’t give a fig for explanations unless they ask for them.

            I think you miss Sara’s point. It is not the unrequested information, it is the formatting.

            Mr. Linebreak is your friend. Tap him twice for a good time.

              1. Oops! This election is causing me to run short of H, but I thought I had allocated enough for your name.

                BTW – check your email. Washington Post and Wall Street Journal are smacking Clinton Foundation:

                Inside ‘Bill Clinton Inc.’: Hacked memo reveals intersection of charity and personal income

                Bill Clinton’s Speech Fees Tied to Charity, Emails Show

                1. Now I’m thinking: Pound cake, toasted, topped with strawberries that have been macerated with a little strawberry liquor served with a dollop of whipped cream…yum.

                  1. Whipped cream??? Whipped cream?

                    End the brutality! Safe spaces for cream! Cream lives matter!

                    And while we’re at it, pounding cake is cruel.

                    1. Just because your insulin receptors don’t work and it has turned you into bitter desertless curmudgeon holding onto your restricted food lists it is no reason for you to impose narrow dietary view upon the rest of us.

              2. It is she of the accidental no disrespect intended misspelling, avatar of she who wishes to leave people ruthlessly alone.

              1. I’ve never understood the impulse to keep showing up where you’re obviously unwelcome. You’re much nicer than I am; about the third time, I would have made it my business to dox the SOB and taken advantage of the Violence Against Women Act to get his local ISPs to refuse him service as a stalker.

                1. I’ve never understood the impulse to keep showing up where you’re obviously unwelcome.

                  That’s the government impulse.

                    1. Any butting-in has to be looked at very hard to decide if it is imperial or defensive, and that includes mine. An offer of peace is always appropriate. If all of you agree to stop voting and paying taxes, I’ll never visit your forum again. Deal?

                      I define “war” as the situation where I don’t have the military means to offer as much due process as I would like. Like slavery, war is a continuum and not a yes/no. I far exceed the requirement of proportionality. While I’m bringing unwanted viewpoints to a forum, you’re obeying and giving aid and comfort to an enemy which steals half of my income and oppresses me with it.

                    2. Waging war?!? Waging war???!?

                      Tilting at windmills, perhaps. Waging against the dying of the light, possibly.

                      Making the perfect enemy of the good, undeniably. Wage on, little voice.

              2. As I noted the dynamic IP is not my doing. I don’t think my ISP even offers static IP. As such its going to change from time to time. I’m not causing it to happen and if I was trying to hide, I’d change my posting style and use a different name.

                That said if you want me blocked and consider me unwelcome , say so and consider it done.


          2. Still unable to spell my name too.
            You know, those statistics are JUST statistics. The birth rate in the seventies, they said, was 6 children per woman. I knew one family with six children.
            PLEASE get over yourself. Automation doesn’t cause unemployment. If you knew anything about portugal, you’d understand socialism causes unemployment.

      1. “We are by no means at the “post demand for labor” period but I will note that the 40 Hour work week and child labor laws and retirement came about because there was less work to do.”

        No, it came about because workers became productive enough that they didn’t NEED to do things like work 80 hours a week or send their kids to the mill. Rather than taking home more wages they took time off and sent their kids to school.

        1. I had an econ. teacher who related he got a very direct lesson in just that. After learning the very basics, he went back to his fathers farm and decided to pay (paid daily at the time) the laborers double as an incentive. The next day nobody showed up – they’d had two days pay already, so…

          1. I’d be willing to bet that problem would correct itself quickly, however, as the employees got used to having more money. It would probably cause trouble for most of them in the short run, as that money burned a hole in their pocket and fell out to pay for things they suddenly could afford, even though it would mean being short on bills unless they went back to working every day.

          2. I once read that opportunity cost was the most difficult concept in economics. I disagree. To me it seems that the idea people have the hardest time grasping – at least based on how infrequently it’s held – is that value is a subjective concept. Nothing has an intrinsic value but everything has a value to someone.

            1. potable water has an intrinsic value. However I agree that the amount of value of something varies widely.

  11. Sorry, after the shock in seeing a bunch of rational people here arguing about ‘negative liberties’ and ‘negative rights’, I have given up on the concept of a rational humanity. Logic is little bird tweeting in tree; a pretty flower that smells bad.
    Once you embrace ‘the framework for a caring and collaborative world’ it is all a joint responsibility, and the STATE aka the village elders are wise and just, it is all downhill from there. We already have 53% paying for the ‘compassion’ of the other 47%, and the wonderful State is doing great at protecting us from tuberculosis, terrorists, Russian aggression, cheap Chinese knock-offs and barbarians at the border.
    How can humans be so brilliant individually and so moronic collectively? Our real problem is we are all ready in the near post-scarcity world. Back when everyone was hard at work securing life, liberty and happiness, there wasn’t time to worry about negative liberties, nor limit ourselves to the barbarians at our gated communities.
    I for one welcome our robotic overlords, at least they will rule dispassionately, it is the petty passions of parts of humanity that the rest of us are too polite to laugh into their faces that is the issue.

    1. I’m not sure you understand what “negative liberties” are. The terminology is somewhat confusing, and may have been invented specifically for propaganda purposes, but “negative liberties” are simply liberty in the old sense of the word: the rights to life, liberty, and property, meaning rights not to have them taken away from you. They were “negative” because you respected them by NOT interfering in people’s lives.

      “Positive” liberties were things like being provided with health care, schooling, retirement schemes—in the last analysis, with various ways of having the government give you money that was taken from other people at the expense of their “negative” liberties. Obviously they’re better because they’re “positive,” right? It’s a clever semantic trick, as neat as Keynes titling his book “The General Theory,” drawing on the prestige of Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity. But it’s no more conceptually sound.

      You refer to “securing life, liberty and happiness,” but those are exactly what “negative liberties” means; there isn’t the conflict between them that you think. The only folly is in calling them “negative.”

        1. Negative liberties are those which restrain government’s ability to meddle in our lives.

          Positive liberties are those which enhance the ability of government to meddle in our lives.

          As with many matters, the understanding of “negative” and “positive” is determined by where you stand.

          If you are a slaveholder, tattoos, branding, and biiometric chips with GPS capability are positive things. If you are a slave (or at risk of becoming one) such things are negative.

  12. So why are we investing in a big state today? To give all those poor unfortunates jobs shuffling paper and arrange for other, less apt unfortunates to live their lives out while being paid to do nothing? What? For PRACTICE?

    A few years ago, after reading a news article, I contacted my Senators and Representative with what I thought was a good idea. I told them they could outsource watching internet pornography to me. I would accept less pay than what they were giving federal employees for the same work, they wouldn’t have to provide a pension, and I’d even provide my own computer and internet connection.

    I never heard back. It’s like they’re not even interested in saving money.

    1. I often point out to my supervisors that giving me more overtime is the fiscally responsible thing to do. I’m far more responsible with my money than the government is with its, so by giving me more government money the overall responsibility level goes up.

      1. It would take a major effort to be less responsible with your money than the government is with its. Spending it on internet pron … the government does that. Spending it on debauchery … they’ll beat you there. Handing it out to drug addicts and hobos at interstate access ramps … the government not only does that in far larger amounts than you could manage in a lifetime, they employ people to supervise people who do it.

  13. Seems like in an actual post-necessity economy, us poor stupid janitors wouldn’t need the government to take care of us, since the tech would be available to provide anything we needed pretty cheaply. Of course, we don’t need them to take care of us now, either, but they never believe us if we say so. Instead they target us with the IRS if we refuse their ‘assistance’. And then find (or pay) some idiots on a street in New York to scream about how ‘we’ need more.

  14. One of the neat things about the rise in the availability of mass produced goods is that the demand for craft goods also rises.
    For instance, as a bass player, I could get an app for my tablet that can pretty much perfectly simulate every single amplifier, speaker cab, and effects combo I can think of. I could spend a few more bucks, and get a pedal that does the same. I could look at the ton of small, light digital amplifiers that only weigh a couple of pounds, but have massive power outputs.
    But most of us, if we have the money, will get a number of honest to goodness vacuum tube amps, and handwired boutique effects pedals, and would gladly pay for a custom shop to build the guitar we always wanted.
    (Now if I could only get the SFT II clone I built to work properly…)

    And thank goodness for the modern hipster- many of the tatted-up, beard wearing millennials are discovering that working in an honest to goodness craft or trade to be pretty dang rewarding.

    1. I remember Iowahawk mentioning years ago that your likeliest convert to the cause of limited government is not the wealthy businessman but the hipster trying to run an artisanal food truck and facing the nightmare bureaucracy involved. Those are people primed to hear the message of liberty. Plus they’ve made it easier to find good beard care products, and being a shaggy-jawed fellow I appreciate that. 😀

    2. As put in the original Connections what do you carry that is uniquely you? Nothing much, really. The details might change, but the ID card/license is common, the cash/cards/coins as well, and so on.

      The one-off or hand-made or even sufficiently old items are the less common things in the house. I know I’ve passed on some shirt designs I’ve seen as while they were mildly interesting, they were also for sale in a big box store so they were also quite common. It’s not that I want to stand out, it’s more that I want to not blend in with a certain crowd. That’s more looking for the uncommon within the common. Cars are common, but it’s not every day you see an Edsel, for instance.

  15. “Even if the great age of automated everything came tomorrow (it won’t. I’m grateful much of the difficult things are now made easy, but not everything or even most things will be automated ever, and than heavens, because if it were, you’d end up dying when the machines broke down.)”

    Sarah, have you ever read THE MACHINE STOPS, by E.M. Forster?

  16. And here’s a personal story about low IQ workers …

    My dad’s eldest sister (born in 1935?) was retarded. She was in an institution for a while, then brought back home after my grandfather died. She essentially did housework and kept Grandma/Mom company. In her late 40s, she got a job at Salvation Army … ironing clothes (which she’d been doing at home for decades). She also learned how to take the bus, and certainly made the connection between going to work and having money to go to the beauty parlor. Not sure what her mental age was (I’d always estimated her around 8-10), but what held her back was a presumption that she was incapable without any evidence to support that.

    1. I used to work with folks like that when I was in the Glorious People’s Democratic Republic of California. I was an in-home support worker for developmentally disabled adults living as independently as possible. A lot of them held down jobs (not my clients, but others I met; mine were the particularly hard ones) and largely took care of themselves. They had assistance for learning things no one had bothered to teach them, or for things they were incapable of doing themselves. I don’t think complete deinstitutionalization was a good idea, but there are an awful lot of folks that can do just fine if they’re taught and have people believe in them.

      1. My mom’s brother was probably somewhat more functional. Not by much. He was a janitor in the hospital and had four children, the first two of which went to college. (Different wives. The second two went to jail. Nevermind.) He was a nice man and though likely to be vague about things like rent and planning, he supported himself and his family.
        The girl who went through school with me and who was educable mentally retarded took in laundry (maybe still does) and supported herself and her family (well half, her husband was a handyman, same mental age) that way.
        And before someone says “but there will be no room for laundresses who wash by hand–” Wanna bet? If I knew any that still washed clothes that way, I’d save what I needed to pay to send my clothes out. Much better for people with sensitive skins than event he best detergent on the machine.

        1. Sometimes I miss having a laundress like I sometimes did in Sao Paulo. Quite a few housewives I knew made a good income doing others’ laundry that way. The scent of certain fabric softeners still takes me back to memories of a sweet old lady that washed our things.

    2. I did a summer as a counselor at a Lutheran summer camp (this camp is gratifyingly still there, in Oak Glen, in the mountains back of Yucaipa, California) and one week-long camp session was for the mentally-retarded. Most of them were from a Lutheran home, and the degree of retardation ranged widely. Some of the campers were basically three-year old toddlers in a teenage body, but the ones on the upper end of the scale were operating on the level of about a thirteen or fourteen-year old – what was then termed educable. They were happy, relatively well-adjusted, particularly deft with manual tasks. (I taught an art class for them, making beadwork rings – which I had previously taught to elementary and middle-school aged Girl Scouts. The campers at that session caught onto it with one demonstration, the students of normal intelligence needed two or three and maybe some extra coaching.) Four of the campers were not from the Lutheran home, but lived with their families. One was an Eagle Scout and on his school wrestling team. With strong support, and a certain degree of sheltering, they were capable of holding down jobs and living a rewarding and relatively independent life.

      1. my “educable” classmate was maybe 6 or 7 mentally. The teacher managed to teach her to read, but it DID take 4 years, and she was always somewhat lacking on more complex concepts.

          1. She was a sweet hardworking lady. Probably still is. She supported herself and sent her kids to college. (Which means her retardation was probably a result of an illness or of bad nutrition.) All in all, she was one of my favorite people in that class.

        1. My cousin with Down’s is mostly a kid of 8 or so mentally but his job is messing with melted paraffin wax making fire starters from shredded newspaper and toilet rolls. Others, a bit lower on the age scale mentally, load the rolls, those a bit higher make rustic furniture. It is part of the “Home” he lives in (Actually he has his own apartment in an assisted living sort of complex) and another of our cousins lives there as well, though he was born fine, a massive fever when he was 2 gave him brain damage, and when he was younger, he could get difficult, but has been living on his own, for the most part, since he was in his 20’s (he is 3 years older than I iirc) but mostly has worked as a janitor for McDonald’s or WalMart, though I think he is doing something different now. In some ways, he is “older” than the other with down’s, but in others less so. For instance, he had a limited motorcycle license, whereas the other can hardly ride a bicycle, yet he’d never be able to deal with the hot wax job, and “cooks” less and simpler stuff.

  17. “As Mike Rowe has shown, there is a lot of work to do that doesn’t involve understanding the intricacies of math or the nuances of language.”

    This reminds me of two jokes: The first one was when a brain surgeon needed plumbing work done, and was given the bill: “I don’t charge this much for *brain surgery*!” and the plumber responded, “Yes, I know. That’s why I left brain surgery myself.”

    The other: A mathematician got his toilet fixed, and saw the bill, and decided to become a plumber himself. He was warned, though, that the boss didn’t appreciate educated people, so he had to pretend that he didn’t know any math.

    Well, after a while, the boss changed his mind, and decided that all his plumbers needed a 2nd Grade math level. So this mathematician found himself a class, and was asked what the formula for the area of the circle was. Well, he couldn’t remember, so he decided to derive it as an integral…except that it kept coming out negative.

    One of the plumbers leaned over to the other and said “He needs to change the order of the limits.”

    1. I can’t remember where I saw the link (here maybe?) about some Special Snowflake writing a whinge piece about how her precious, Master’s degree possessing self was forced to take up a job as a barista. She was much upset, as you can imagine, and wrote how she wanted to explain to all her customers that she had a Master’s Degree!!!!, and it wasn’t fair that she be demeaned to do such manual labor!!!
      My reaction- that’s nice, honey. Your manager has a PHD, as does the guy swabbing out the toilet.

      1. My answer to her would have been, “I’m sorry that you find this labor demeaning. I think I have the perfect solution–you no longer need to do this job; I’ll just find someone who actually wants the job. Your severance check will be in the mail.”

    2. True story:

      I knew a doctor who had his boat engine break down while offshore. He reached someone via radio, who fixed the engine in minutes after arrival. But his bill was steep and the doctor questioned it.

      “When was the last time you made a house call, doc?” the mechanic said.

  18. My last part time job in college was fixing power tools in a hardware store and I had a “private client” cabinet shop fixing and doing maintenance on stuff too big to move. The last summer, when I was leaving for medical school, I told the owner he needed to find somebody else, and why. He responded with one of my best-ever compliments, “That’s a waste of a good mechanic.”

  19. I don’t know if anyone has already posted to this effect above, but I think the trouble some of the self-styled “elites” are having adapting to new industry is actually the key to why this whole “a big government run by the smart people will have to take care of all the dummies” idea is cluched so tightly.
    If *they* are having trouble, and life looks ominous and uncertain to them, when what must the poor peasants be feeling?
    Not realizing that the peasants saw the changes coming years ago and already decided how to roll with them – again, years ago….

      1. The Beloved Spouse’s step-mother is a highly accomplished lawyer who had to be taught how to email during a Beloved Spouse visit a few years ago. Beloved Spouse has many fine qualities but is not the first person to whom anyone would turn for technical support. Which proved a brilliant choice, as Beloved Spouse was able to communicate the process at a level Step-MIL could absorb without being lost in an avalanche of jargon, assumptions and cascading instructions.

        Then there is the top-end sewing machine the Father-in-Law bought her* about twenty-five years ago and she could never keep running beyond a few stitches.

        So yes, anecdotal support. Smart, highly accomplished people can feel especially frustrated by technology. And if they are frustrated …

        *FIL, who has argued multiple cases before the SCOTUS, knew women are born with the innate ability to sew and thought she’d be delighted with this wonderful enhancement of a skill set she’d no interest in enhancing.

  20. The “Post Scarcity Economy” also known as “Economy of Abundance” is like the horizon, an imaginary line that is always the same distance from you.

    In the thirties, industrialization was going to do the trick. It seems odd to realize that the two great British dystopias of the era, Nineteen Eighty-Four and Brave New World, are this sort of world, but notice that both have to deal with disposing of surplus production.

    In the fifties it shifted to automation. So you had things like Dick’s Solar Lottery, Vonnegut’s Player Piano, and Pohl’s “The Midas Plague”, all with different approaches to getting rid of the mass-produced abundance while making sure that no one got any.

    In the sixties, it was cybernetization. There was a pompous fellow named Robert Theobald who wrote a manifesto explaining how this was going to fundamentally transform society, then he wrote a fiction titled Teg’s 1994 about how life would be like under it. Philip José Farmer read the manifesto and wrote “Riders of the Purple Wage”.

    For a while in the nineties it was nanotechnology, but by then the stories had become more magic than science fiction.

    In all these stories, though, there is no infrastructure work (excepting Vonnegut, who did have government organized work crews), no personal services, and no farming.

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