Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The bright future technology will bring...

By 2000, the machines will be producing so much that everyone in the U.S. will be independently wealthy. With government benefits, even nonworking families will have, by one estimate, an annual income of $30,000 to $40,000... How to use leisure meaningfully will be a major problem.

prediction in TIME magazine, February 25, 1966

Of course a lot has changed since then.  I remember reading somewhere that "futurists" at the turn of the 19th century, circa 1900, predicted that given the improvements from productivity from machine the average work day would drop to 6 hours a day with a 8 month work year.  But what has actually happened: we work more on average.  Competition and the wealth disparity means that all the bonus from the increased productivity is going to the most wealthy. 

Just look at the fact that most corporations are making record profits, the major banks are sitting on a record amount of cash, and the dow jones (lower case on purpose) just closed above 13,000.   Meanwhile most of the world is starving (even though the Earth can produce enough food for everyone) and average wages have not grown with the increase in productivity.   I don't know what the future will bring, but I don't think any system can survive these kind of imbalances.

And this discrepancy is an artifact of our system.  Why is there wealthy disparity?  Why would the very top want to "spread the wealth".  Like Ford wanted to pay his workers wages that they could afford to own a car which was radical for the time.

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