Posted On: Monday - February 27th 2017 8:08PM MST
In Topics:   Feminism  The Future
A recent post by Steve Sailer, again on unz.com (we've got a link and review now in the blogroll), entitled "When Work Disappears: Manufacturing Decline and the Falling Marriage-Market Value of Men" is his comment about a study done. The huge decrease in manufacturing jobs in the US was mostly the work of globalist elites in this country, but cannot be wholly reversed due to automation eliminating the need for these jobs in any country.
Though Mr. Sailer and the study were specifically relating this good-job loss to changes in marriage patterns, the comments turned somewhat to the effect of massive continuing automation on society in general. The following comment presented a fairly rosy view of a future, at least for the intelligent professionals thusly:
Increased productivity makes people richer not poorer (because fewer workers are needed). People do not want to work, they want what work gets them. They want something that they can trade to get things they value from other productive people.
Many of the successful doctors in my area have non-working wives who dedicate themselves to child rearing and managing the household. Maybe we will become rich enough as a society that most women can stay home, raise children and enjoy leisure like daytime tennis matches and brunches. With a quarter of the people voluntarily leaving the workforce wages would be higher for those who do work full time.
The last paragraph sounds like the world in a science-fiction story. I did not write that to sound snarky, so let me explain.
Automation and just higher productivity in general of course make the world richer (thought of as an accumulated quantity over time), or at least wealth can be created more cheaply (thought of as a rate)*, this is true. The discussions here and elsewhere about who gets this increase in wealth and/or what governments can/should do to spread out the wealth are getting more interesting and important as we can see the world going toward automation so quickly. Most of what people have to say about ways to equalize the rewards are kind of disgusting to a libertarian. However, there doesn’t seem to be a good free market way out of this because of the amount and type of people in the world and the trends thereof.
Back to the science-fiction story, the future told by optimistic stories, in the 70′s and 80′s, during my enjoyment of this literature, looked more like a sparsely-populated world (along with other worlds we we might want to hang out) where we got around in flying machines, lived in our hand-picked beautiful environments far away from our fellow man until we wanted a change, worked a few hours a day at the work we loved, and worked on cool intellectual projects of all kinds with our copious spare time (due to the automation). It sounded great to me, though I never thought that much of the automation would come in my lifetime. That was wrong on my part. What was wrong on the part of the science-fiction writers however, was one big assumption about the people in this future world.
The future people were all intelligent, and even 50 years ago, one might still rightly assume that the intelligent people would get ahead in the world and produce the bulk of the people of this bright future. Well, I should say “rightly” only if one didn’t see the welfare state and the degradation of the culture coming. This assumption was way, way off. The bulk of the population of this world is not the intelligent and well-educated crowd, we all know that by now.
The commenter's vision of the doctors and other professional’s lives sounds good, but what about the rest of the population. The problem is that lower intelligence people will not make good use of their spare time. I don’t mean just won’t make productive use, I mean, basically, will be up to no good. “Idle hands are the devil’s work”, they say. Or, I guess they can all watch 12 hours of TV a day, eat tasty junk food and just veg-out basically (“bread and circuses”), but I can see that situation devolving into a society of barely-humans at some point. That is, unless the elites of that “society” encouraged in some way (additives in the junk food?) low reproduction to slowly transform society into that in the sci-fi books. Maybe that last thing is the big plan. Possibly this whole post is just nonsense due to an overdose of zerohedge comments.
* Although peak oil aficionados and the like would differ on this with the valid point, and rightly so, that for real manufacturing (not creation of software and intellectual property) and mining and farming, there is no getting around the amount of energy needed for this work. Granted, productivity improvements can mean less energy is wasted in the processes involved, but there is a lower limit.
UPDATE [2/28:] Link to Sailer post on Unz.com fixed.