Monday, 3 September 2012

Technology Revolution - As Big As the Industrial Revolution?

Whilst enjoying the benefits of technology, I do bemoan the fact that it has and continues to put so many people out of work. Computers in the 1970s and 80s were applauded as heralding increased leisure time for humans. But that should have been a warning for governments to prepare plans for ensuring an equitable share. It would only work if governments had thought of (or think up now) other ways to ensure distribution of wealth and other ways for the masses to contribute something to earn wealth.

As it is the corporations gain more profits from automation whilst more and more people are without work, until once a generation grows up seeing their parents always out of work, that becomes the norm and is a particular problem where parents accept their lot and do not instill in their children any desire to work. Luckily, some have that desire in themselves or it is instilled by their educators or by example and I applaud those who take it on without help from family.

But I believe this to be a downward spiral. In time unless corporations are forced to pay far more tax to the countries in which they operate, there really will be just a few mega-rich owner/managers and the millions unable to find work or afford anything. Taxes have to come from somewhere and as manual jobs disappear through self-service tills, automated receptions in hotels and doctors' surgeries etc. and all the areas yet to be automated, tax sources will either dry up or legislation will have to change so that the burden falls on those with ability to pay.

That of course provides a disincentive for companies to grow. So those who start companies and maintain them should always be allowed to expect to earn more than the masses.

But governments are notorious for choosing the easy option which affect the masses rather than those most able to bring about a desired change.

Look at all those councils fining people for putting rubbish in the wrong disposal bags. Wouldn't it be better to tax manufacturing companies for every single-use piece of plastic packaging produced? The cost would have to be passed on to those who intend to use that packaging and then soon they would find more environmentally-friendly alternatives and I would not have to find a pair of heavy duty scissors to open blister packs!

I don't know what the answer is to this problem. But we need governments to acknowledge that the way of the past is not sustainable. There are few opportunities for unskilled and semi-skilled people and they will diminish. We also need some innovators and entrepreneurial minds to start to think of solutions and new ways of sustaining communities.

At the moment there is far too much of the sort of thinking that leads to charging the earth for car parking in city centres and then moaning that shops are closing in city centres.

I don't often get into politics, but it is time for a rethink! What do YOU think?

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