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Response to txlibdem (Original post)

Mon Mar 26, 2012, 10:43 AM

26. A socialist view on robots...

While this seems crappy on the surface it gives us a chance to think about a new economy.

As long as human labor is cheaper than robot labor, we'll continue to use humans. Robot labor produces no real value, as real value comes from human labor. By this I mean, robots don't buy goods and services. They're machines.

Using machines to replace humans will not only cause massive unemployment, it'll cause many businesses to collapse. This will happen because nobody will have money to buy anything.

Taking the robot argument to its final conclusion that eventually machines will do all of our work creates the same problem of creating tax cuts for the rich so they get richer with less effort.

What's the problem?

In capitalism, a capitalist uses his money/capital to buy resources, machines and labor. If there was a demand for making shovels, the capitalist would need to buy wood, metal, a place to make and manufacture shovels, and money to hire workers. Once you combine raw materials with the tools to make shovels and labor, you produce a final product; a shovel.

So we see that:
capital plus labor = cost to produce a good/service

Capitalists seek to make profits on goods and services made and this becomes the sale price. (cost+)

Capitalists have to compete with other capitalists to survive in a marketplace. They compete for customers. As such, they seek ways to enhance production by lowering the cost of production to keep profits (cost+) coming in.

One result is technological innovation. When machines can do the work of several workers, workers get replaced. This saves the capitalist money and increases his profit. (cost+ goes up.) The best competitor to produce goods/services will eventually be able to drive his competitor out of the market by producing quality goods/services at a low price.

We're seeing that now with Chinese and Indian labor. The Chinese and Indians can do the same quality work as Americans, but at a fraction of the cost. Not surprisingly, the capitalists are investing their tax cuts and tax breaks into savings bonds or building factories in China and India.

It makes sense from a business point of view.

A senior database programmer in the US could ask for a $120,000 salary. An Indian with the same qualifications and skills could ask for a $20,000 salary. It's a no brainer. You'd hire the Indian.

The same concept holds true for robots. If/when we get to the point that robot/machine labor is cheaper than human labor, eventually the Chinese and Indians would be put out of work as well.

Marx knew this, as did John Maynard Keynes. In the long run, capitalism is dead.

When machine labor becomes so common and so cheap, why would anyone need to work at a job? We could have robots tend fields, pilot aircraft, explore the harshest environments, and do the dirtiest work. There would be no need for mindless consumption to keep our economy going. People would not have to get up and go to work to pay the bills or because they have to. Machines would do all the menial work.

Humans could produce a world like that of Star Trek. We pursue our own agendas free of the tyranny of the market or people seeking to make profits. While the end of capitalism can seem to be a scary thing, we don't know what new things we'll develop or invent.

Capitalism replaced mercantilism, which replaced feudalism. Socialism is the next step in economic development. We will get to a point where we no longer have to work for our survival because machines can do all the work. We'll be at a point trying to figure out what to do with our time. That's the next human adventure.

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txlibdem Mar 2012 OP
KG Mar 2012 #1
CanonRay Mar 2012 #2
harmonicon Mar 2012 #16
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Swede Atlanta Mar 2012 #20
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txlibdem Mar 2012 #79
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Ikonoklast Mar 2012 #24
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lumberjack_jeff Mar 2012 #19
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randome Mar 2012 #23
LineReply A socialist view on robots...
dash_bannon Mar 2012 #26
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