"Economics is thus the study of the squirrel wheel."


It became obvious, except to economists, that automation could do just about everything people were paid to do. Just now, someone has invented a burger-maker machine that will presumably replace hundreds of thousands of burger-flippers who aren't needed anywhere else. Self-driving vehicles approach practicality, and will first replace long-haul truckers and then cabbies and delivery truck drivers. Much worse is in the offing. Here is the second crucial problem of modern economics: Where to put unnecessry people?

h/t Rob


"Where to put unnecessary people?"
Rent-a-crowd mobs and protestors.....bringing a Ferguson style mob, Northern Gateway/Keystone protest, and occupy style "lie in" to a community near you!

Is the author seriously pretending that this never happened in pre-industrial society? What utter drivel. Pre-19th century economies were characterized by permanent, massive unemployment or under-employment much higher than anything that exists today in North America or Europe.

Like Switzerland.

If immigration were sharply reduced, as well as government taxes on firms and the absurd level of government regulation and currency fiddling, the low wage / unemployment problem would disappear, along with the need of liberal politicians to ameliorate them

"Where to put unnecessary people?"

Idle no more? Government employment?

There's something about that rant that I can't quite put my finger on. Almost like a communist/nihilist world view. Starting to sound like someones manifesto for overthrowing a "corrupt" system.

"Idle no more? Government employment?"

Why not? That's where 99.9% of the unnecessary people of today are employed, along with the other 99.9% in universities. Sorry for going over 100%, but I am college edumacted, I think it was transgendered,basket weaving with wymin studies thrown in.

Well, a really big mass army with muskets would be useful in Ukraine, North Africa and the Middle East. If any troops are left over, send them to deal with the China nuisance.

Automation is one of the biggest issues facing society. More economic to invest capital into machinery than people. Even Chinese labor is being replaced. It has been happening for centuries but the scale is now massive and still accelerating.

CT has stated it precisely. The fact of the matter is that human labour is increasingly becoming obsolete. As an example in the 1980s, Sylvania built a factory making flashbulbs with equivalent capacity to supply the United States. Formerly hundreds would have been employed, but the new place required only about two dozen shift workers plus maintenance.

The real issue is income distribution from the enormous productivity of our modern industrial system. One answer to this was socialism and communism which has been rejected by all of us and many millions of others as anathema. But capitalism and private enterprise have not produced particularly convincing solutions either. Over time, unemployment is going to continue to rise remorselessly regardless of immigration policy.

Look at Japan. It has severely negative population growth and no immigration, and yet it still has severe real unemployment.

In short, following the "no immigration" policy advocated by some simply puts us on the same economic track as Japan.

Clearly machines are the scourge of civil society, at the behest of evil capitalists. Get rid of the tractor! Put people back to work in the fields and mines!

Actually, all those machines need servicing.

There are two sides to technological advancement, on one hand it allows us to automate tasks that make simple jobs disappear, but it also makes more complicated and difficult jobs easier allowing more people to do them. For example, in the last 10 years inexpensive game engines have emerged with advanced editor tools and abundant tutorials enabling most people to be able to develop videogames.

50 years from now, there will not be mass unemployment; technology will just develop new industries, and change existing ones, which will provide opportunity for these "useless" people.

Your first post had me scratching my head, as you appeared to miss the author's point. This very scenario is something I'v thought about a lot lately. Spurred on by the ongoing reference to the "rise of the middle class". This rise provides the market and the brain power to advance the technology to drive the rise. It will quite possibly culminate in the fall of democracy, as the rise is TOO successful. Simple math dictates such. This rise, with out its inevitable end is what ET kept expounding on, something that some in here just didn't/don't get. It will be interesting watching the limited intellects of government try and work a solution!!~

Machine replace labor work can be interestting subject has advantage and disadvantage it makerich become richer use new tecnology in return his tax will go up. And end of. Year then simple labor can stay home and enjoy see more increase in welfare. Cheque. But. Never happened in west capitalism. Insteaad machine used tto increase wealth and assetof rich if. He gain more profit for him opeen second branch minus his ttax still not increased his tax. Machine operation and breakdown of machine every year new innovation come for compete need upgrade like computer systemm all also lost if choose machine no human labor. next issue demand verses. Production lead soon such as target supermarket. Outof. Business there are. Too many supermarket here. Can liencee more needed. Too many bankrupcy laws. Intact insurance in past quarter tthheir proft went from $200 million in 3 month to $400 million instead pay tax or pay their claim file,Intact insu jumpt bought another insurance canada company $197 million to not pay tax and not pay

NME666 >

Oh god the retarded antichrist wannabe is quoting ET like she’s the great reverend Jim Jones again.

Yes the limited intellects of government have worked out a solution numb-nuts, it's called open borders, militarized police, and a UN controlled central government. Pay attention to current events a little more instead using ET's gaffs to speak.

We repeat the work culture adjustment phase every time technology delivers a high impact innovation - the industrial revolution had a similar impact on the surf class displacing millions of farm workers to tend industrial processes in the cities - computers rid us of large office staffs – automation rids us of boring industrial assy. jobs or dangerous jobs in raw material refining. The past labor-tech patterns have demonstrated that when technology displaces one set of job skills another new skill set is created ( E.g.) -we have less office workers but now we have a large IT staff or we have more complicated mass produced goods which require inspection and set up jobs – the 3rd phase of automation will certainly, again, replace low end jobs, but just as assuredly, we will see new jobs created – however, we will see this technology-job cycle increase in frequency as new technology evolves in faster and faster cycles.

The key to surviving these increasing cycles of job redundance and new skill openings is to; (A) have a general education which covers as much as possible – stay informed and self-educate, always be open to innovation and (B) become adaptable – as tech cycles come faster, it is not uncommon for a future worker to have had several careers in his work span.

That said, there will always be some areas of productivity which require huge capital outlays for automated equipment, but with a large unskilled, uneducated work force unsocialized to change, this huge labor pool will become so inexpensive to hire it may alleviate the need for costly automated equipment- that will be displaced by a ready cheap labor pool – like cash crop harvesting - There’s a reason the southern US border is open to unskilled labor.

"Conservatives harbor the curious notion that people will work if they don't have to". He's not talking to the same conservatives to who I'm talking.

Occam >

“this huge labor pool will become so inexpensive to hire it may alleviate the need for costly automated equipment- that will be displaced by a ready cheap labor pool “

That may be true to a degree in places like China and Indonesia but it’ll never happen in Regulation USA. There is no reason in a hyper regulated capitalist free market to take on the headaches and pains of hiring “people” especially minorities, when a machine can efficiently do the same job.

The only way the UN and it’s western subsidiary governments can socially engineer the mass migration from the third world to the west, stave off the ensuing poverty and limit potential civil wars to local/ regional urban conflicts is by force.

"Where to put unnecessary people?"

Indeed! Western civilization/culture has been way too successful. Long lifespans and modern conveniences have consequences. Automation will continue. Artificial intelligence will bring useful robots (not necessarily looking like those in the humanoid things in the movies but robots none the less) which will eliminate all the routine, repetitious work. Count on it. This in less than 50 years from now. A mere blip in time. 2 generations. Way more serious than Global Warming or anything else.

A few people will benefit by virtue to their intelligence and education. The bulk of humanity, the common person, will have no work as it is known today. Will they find productive hobbies to fill their time??? No.

War, what is it good for? The words to an old vietnam era antiwar song. Answer: Population control.

So, in the run up to Armageddon, promote non reproductive lifesyles (including deviant ones), Chinese style population control, massive immigration, massive welfare, sports and fantasy games and groupies.

None of this will work in the long term as third world countries are simply too far behind.

Don't worry, be happy.

We saw too many hollywood movie that we see a day we all seat home enjoy and let machine give us bread on table builtt home shleter for us. We all human need peace shelter and food to survive goods instead of money paper back to stone age nobody work with difference now machhine work all jobs ! That would be fun.

Absolute drivel.

The same things were said about the industrial revolution were the labour economies of mechanization were in some cases a thousand to one or greater.

Right now we have skilled worker deficits around the globe. If there is a crisis of unemployment going forward it will be because of a failure to get people the education they need.

Many people are observing these ever rapidly increasing technological and social changes occur and are subconsciously responding with protests, environmental scams and weird lifestyles. With their ever present low grade angst they are trying to stop the world and get off.

Youu need mortgage approval and how much money you have and lend before try to buy home. All collage training is bs and. So many coourses waste time money with no direction for job training. Therefore,. You need job promise to take collage coourses work for that job offered you get. If we put high end job like. Engineering, medical science and law and accounting need degree before work but still if you enter any degree need to get prerequeest promise job offer in end completed. New innovation in industrial should not get permision liceince. Before eenough employee training was come with machine built. You need some one run your new machine made before liecence to sell it. Both ways problems can be arised

"Where to put unnecessary people?"

That phrase is chilling, and the thought process necessary to come up with that phrase is dangerous. If he really wants to go there, however, I believe that the National Socialist German Worker's Party had a solution for him. A final one, even.

Also, he spends the final section of his little manifesto attacking conservatives who oppose the minimum wage. If you are an economist who does not understand the difference between wealth and money, you are doing it wrong.

Less and less so. Increasingly technology is black-boxing. Just look at computers. From early days of complicated wiring and switches it's now plug-kin components. Same kind of thing with automobiles. Gord Tulk is right about the mismatch between skill requirements and the available labour pool, but there's no real sign of that improving any time soon. In fact if anything, it's going to get worse as modern industry demands increasingly specialized and skilled labour. And with that increasing skill requirement and specialization will come increasing numbers of people outside the system. That situation never ends well.

The essay reads like a Grade11 view of "da world".
One problem with our yutes? They want their jobs to be fun and cool, not icky and dirty, and most importantly, they cant get in thecway of their video gaming habits.

Self driving vehicles will never share a road with people, or will up to the point that someone dies and the company gets sued into the dark ages.

I'm having a hard time deciding if the article is condescending prattle or just satire (" ... to [conservatives] work, real actual work, is an abstraction with which they have no familiarity").
The article appears to be an attempt at condensing contemporary social/political issues into simple common-sense sound bites. Or maybe it was supposed to be humorous?

My thoughts on Stanley, Campbell and other investors like them are this: if they're so smart about economics and all-things-money, why are they wasting their time publishing online investor articles? They should own entire small countries by now rather than trying to dazzle readers with their clever arguments. The evidence suggests to me the opposite.

You could be right, I hope you're, right. You probably are partly right, but I think there are still going to be tons of people with nothing to do.

minuteman >

"...but I think there are still going to be tons of people with nothing to do."

Not to split hairs, but there are already "tons" of people with nothing to do in the west. The treasonous crime of western governments against their citizens is that they are importing many millions more "useless eaters" into the west.

Not to sound totally uncaring of the Third World peoples, they need to fix their own issues instead of bringing them into our own countries as a temporary stop gap for a "few" uneducated, unskilled nobodies. If they indeed happen to be educated and skilled they should be left in the Third World to help resolve their own problems whatever they may be.

Immigration Gumballs (updated 2010)


If one clicks on the link, he will find that the essay was supposedly written by 'Phillip Francis Stanley."
It was actually written by Fred Reed:


Fred was in the Marines and received a load of shrapnel in the face during the Vietnam War. He was blind for a year or so afterward and has had many eye operations as a result. Stanley destroyed one of Fred's eyes in the latest one. Fred has started putting this link at the bottom of his essays:

"Philip Francis Stanley and Grotesque Ophthalmological Malpractice"

I suspect that's what confused Mr. Campbell, the webmaster of the site to which Kate linked.


Occam ,the way to stay relevant into the future is to have a trade, trades are simply not replaceable by machines maybe in some areas but you just cant replace an electrician, a welder, a framer, and aircraft mechanic. You just cant.

So if you want to have a safe and secure future get into a trade, once you have it you will have it for life then you can always go do the other stuff and fall back on your trade.

Anonymous you are correct there will be wars to cull humanity but which humans will be culled? no doubt western white humans of course, because the third world "brown people " will be controlled with food.

I think this is all being done to bring in a 1 world government. humanity will collapse. because let's say a sick pos in thew one world gov has a penchant for raping kids well just send a minion to where ever take the kid from the parents nothing they can do and there you go a sex toy for the 1 world gov bureaucrat no one can or will be able to fly all over the world to find their child further more they won't be allowed to , as well they will not have media on their side either. workers will be slaves serving the few say 1,000,000 people in control of say 4-5 billion. We will be screwed why do you think the UN is getting involved in guns and trace ability of guns. An unarmed society are known better as slaves/victims.

hay nitey99

the evolutionary process of the rise of the middle class has been in progress for about 500 years, and you still haven't realized it. Little slow on the up take aren't you my boy. The evolutionary process of the rise of technology run parallel, and intertwined with it, to this rise. When taking my industrial engineering we discussed this quite extensively as automation was on a rapid rise at the time, and unions were screaming blue murder. This was more than 30 years before ET posted anything I ever read. Try taking your head out of you a*s. You are a perfect example of one who disagrees with a concept because you don't understand it. Which is something I found quite a bit of when I tried dispensing advice while working as a service tech. People who don't understand or who feel threatened because they "didn't think of it", EGO related, usually protest the loudest.

Lets see now, about 12 million illegals and more than 92000000 not in the work force, take away those 12 million and you are still left with 800000000 not in the work force. Math is probably not one of your strong points either.

Not Mentally Enabled 666 >

LOL, What the f*ck did you just try and say?

Sorry can't track with the mentally ill gibberish whether it comes from you or the other Muslim troll "OK".

You should just write each other, maybe you'll understand each other - or not, whatever.

Common sense is (for obvious reasons) definitely not yours

Unemployment is inherently destabilizing. The simple expression in a democracy is that the fools get voted out. To avoid that governments pander to the masses and spend money they don't have. I suggest that today's automation being compared to the Ford assembly line is misplaced. Could be wrong as I never experienced that.
Instability in employment combined with capital chaos does not bode well for the future. Ultimately it will bring capitalism into question more than ever.

Just as male births always increase when humanity is under stress we see now where world birth rates are collapsing. Perhaps mankind has a inner yardstick which will tell the tale.

""Where to put unnecessary people?"

The UN plan is to kill us. The plan is to abort children at one end and use euthanasia at the other end for old folks, all through socialized medicine. The people in the middle were supposed to die through privation caused by radial environmental initiatives which will starve(food wasted for biofuels and water wasted for the delta smelt are examples) and making energy so expensive that masses will die from lack of heat and air-conditioning. The UN haven't given up on the environmental track to reducing world population yet.

The real coup de grâce(excuse my French)for the 'unnecessary people' will be to kill us with an injection. Getting everyone to line up for their H1N1 shots(socialized medicine again) was a dry run to test compliance of the masses before the hot shot comes.
They'll keep some of the best natural brains and natural beauty around as slaves/breeding stock and that'll be the end of the rest of us. With cloning/gene splicing they will have access to our genetic stock and they might not need any of us for breeding at all.

The elites don't need us anymore. They know it, but most of the plebeian class don't have a clue.

I agree OZ but remember someone has to cook the gourmet meals and fix and fuel their aircraft and fly them around , and drive the limos , and so on and so forth.

Agree entirely CT. And the historical examples of unemployment being destabilizing are legion throughout recorded history. And indeed, comparing current automation to production line development is simply wrong. The production line dramatically reduced costs, allowing more people to afford things, in turn driving up employment. Automation does not do that in the same way at all. It improves quality control and displaces workers, but it does not hugely reduce costs the way the production line did in its inception. And whatever gains in productivity have been made have largely been swallowed up by the growth of government.

And the chaos in the capitalist system has already started to bring in the things you are rightly concerned about, things like Occupy Wall Street and Idle No More. These are symptoms of a greater unrest, and they will grow stronger over time unless there are reasonable solutions to the problems we've agreed exist. What we certainly agree on is that greater state control is NOT the solution. It's failed in every other historical circumstance in which its been tried.

cgh, although I agree on some aspects of your comment - not all. Increasing quality also decreases costs, and real companies (not crony capitalism), were formed in the first place to reduce costs.

“There’s no benefit to making something smart,” he says, “without it making sense”


Making stupid posters, doing drugs, pretending to live in tents, pretending hunger strikes, etc. - illustrates to me, people that if forced to, couldn't even do the tasks that automation does now.

BTW: I have seen no evidence that a better word processor has produced better writers.

And what does the 3rd sentence of my second paragraph say?

There are no "unnecessary people", if you uphold the principle of individual rights.

If machinery and technology created permanent unemployment throughout history, the jobless rate today would be north of 99%. The fact is that without government intervention in the economy today, it would be very close to zero, as it generally is in a free market.

Recall also that real wages rise with an increase in capital investment per worker. Machinery and technology are the key to a high standard of living.

Robert of Ottawa @ 9:49 a.m. said: "Actually, all those machines need servicing."

Not to mention designing, manufacturing, etc.

Here is a solution. Change all families to 'one income families'. Only one person has a job outside the home. The other person stays home to raise the family, if there is one, or volunteers. Now the children have some supervision and home training, rather than letting the state government train the children. For this to happen taxation would have to be reduced and consumerism reduced. Reducing consumerism is the right way to reduce the drain on the earth's resources.

“Here is a solution. Change all families to 'one income families'”

But that wouldn’t be fair to the selfish Liberals that want to dump their kids on society so that they can afford yachts and vacation homes in retirement.

The better option is more borders with more choices for people to govern themselves. Example Texas verses California, if you like guns and conservative values, you live in Texas, if you like gay marriage and large objects in your rectum you live in California.

Notice that it’s the moonbat Liberals that want to take away all the borders and force integration of their values?

One way or another there will be forced segregation in the future. It will either happen the smart way or the bloody way but happen it will.

Decreasing costs of automation often tend to first overtake
humans when it comes to taking on the simple pleasant jobs.
Only the boss's girl friend has much clout in keeping her
job in a situation like that.

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  • Sgt Lejaune: Decreasing costs of automation often tend to first overtake humans read more
  • Knight 99: “Here is a solution. Change all families to 'one income read more
  • Doug: Here is a solution. Change all families to 'one income read more
  • nv53: There are no "unnecessary people", if you uphold the principle read more
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