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The End of Labor: How to Protect Workers From the Rise of Robots
The Atlantic ^ | 1/14/2013 | Noah Smith

Posted on 01/15/2013 9:35:42 AM PST by ksen

For most of modern history, two-thirds of the income of most rich nations has gone to pay salaries and wages for people who work, while one-third has gone to pay dividends, capital gains, interest, rent, etc. to the people who own capital. This two-thirds/one-third division was so stable that people began to believe it would last forever. But in the past ten years, something has changed. Labor's share of income has steadily declined, falling by several percentage points since 2000. It now sits at around 60% or lower. The fall of labor income, and the rise of capital income, has contributed to America's growing inequality.

(Excerpt) Read more at theatlantic.com ...


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Government; News/Current Events
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Whatever your views: conservative/liberal, the prospect of potentially putting most of the workforce out of work and unable to earn a living through the use of automation should make you a bit nervous.

I believe that this is one issue that should, in a rational world, transcend political divides.

1 posted on 01/15/2013 9:35:47 AM PST by ksen
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To: ksen

Wooden shoes work well to jam up the machinery...


2 posted on 01/15/2013 9:36:48 AM PST by GraceG
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To: ksen
Here's a tangentially related story.
3 posted on 01/15/2013 9:38:54 AM PST by billorites (freepo ergo sum)
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To: GraceG

lol, sabo-tage.

why does that make me think if Kim Cattrall?


4 posted on 01/15/2013 9:39:03 AM PST by ksen
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To: GraceG
Hence the Term Sabotage

French workers would through them in the machinery in the early 1800's.

5 posted on 01/15/2013 9:40:17 AM PST by KC_Lion (Build the America you want to live in at your address, and keep looking up.-Sarah Palin)
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To: billorites

not clicking that link at work buddy! :whyyou:


6 posted on 01/15/2013 9:40:23 AM PST by ksen
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To: cripplecreek
You worked with Robots right cripple?

I used to work with once but It called me fat so we had a falling out ;)

7 posted on 01/15/2013 9:41:29 AM PST by KC_Lion (Build the America you want to live in at your address, and keep looking up.-Sarah Palin)
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To: ksen
Whatever your views: conservative/liberal, the prospect of potentially putting most of the workforce out of work and unable to earn a living through the use of automation should make you a bit nervous.

This sounds a bit like 0bama complaining about ATMs and online air travel reservations for unemployment.

We don't dig ditches anymore. I eliminate administrative staff time with innovative software solutions, but people still work.

Change is the only constant. We have to deal with it.

8 posted on 01/15/2013 9:42:32 AM PST by FatherofFive (Islam is evil and must be eradicated)
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To: ksen

You can’t protect workers from the forces of history and technology. Workers need to protect themselves. Get new skills, things nobody is projecting as being automated in the next 20 years, when in doubt learn how to run the robots.


9 posted on 01/15/2013 9:42:39 AM PST by discostu (I recommend a fifth of Jack and a bottle of Prozac)
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To: ksen

Onward progress, I say. Free people up to do other things. We’ve had this argument throughout our history (horse and buggy, ice man, milk man, etc) and those that want to hold onto the old way are always wrong.

Don’t fall for it. Bring on the robots.


10 posted on 01/15/2013 9:45:01 AM PST by youngidiot (God help us.)
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To: ksen

Not nervous at all.


11 posted on 01/15/2013 9:45:43 AM PST by lacrew (Mr. Soetoro, we regret to inform you that your race card is over the credit limit.)
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To: ksen

lol, sabo-tage.

why does that make me think if Kim Cattrall?

Most Illogical....


12 posted on 01/15/2013 9:46:55 AM PST by GraceG
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To: discostu
You can’t protect workers from the forces of history and technology.

Sure you can.

13 posted on 01/15/2013 9:49:29 AM PST by ksen
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To: ksen
For most of modern history, two-thirds of the income of most rich nations has gone to pay salaries and wages for people who work, while one-third has gone to pay dividends, capital gains, interest, rent, etc. to the people who own capital.

What a very starnge formulation!

Do nations have "income"?
Does the nation pay your salary?
Does the nation pay you a dividend? Capital gains? Does the nation pay you any rent?

In a perfect Socialist world, where the means of product are communally owned, then I suppose "the nation" might have a vast income, and might parcel that money out to the laboring classes.

But we're not there ... yet.

14 posted on 01/15/2013 9:51:32 AM PST by ClearCase_guy (Nothing will change until after the war.)
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To: youngidiot
Free people up to do other things.

Like have a revolution if the economy gets structured in such a way that they cannot make a living for themselves because over half of the available jobs have been automated?

How will they do "other things" if they aren't able to earn the money to finance those "other things?"

15 posted on 01/15/2013 9:52:26 AM PST by ksen
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To: ksen

Sorry but you’re wrong. People have been having this discussion since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution and the situation has remained consistent, people who adapt their skills thrive, people that insist reality stop progressing fail. The technology WILL advance, the percentage of our manual labor done by machine WILL increase, the need for low skill workers WILL decrease. People need to protect themselves, not expect the world to help them.


16 posted on 01/15/2013 9:53:28 AM PST by discostu (I recommend a fifth of Jack and a bottle of Prozac)
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To: youngidiot

Oh, and I’m not arguing that advancing technology is a bad thing. I’m saying as it advances there should be ways to help open up opportunities for a wide swathe of people to become capital owners and thus able to participate in the large increases in the return on capital that seems to be coming our way over the next few decades.

I think the author has some intriguing ideas along these lines: i.e. relaxing Sarbanes-Oxley a bit in order to make it more attractive for more companies to go public.


17 posted on 01/15/2013 9:57:44 AM PST by ksen
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To: ksen

I suppose we’ll all have jobs as government bureaucrats, regulating the robots. Or as Diversity Coordinators for the Splunge Foundation, or somesuch.


18 posted on 01/15/2013 9:58:20 AM PST by Buckeye McFrog
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To: ksen

Well change makes everyone nervous espceially change that affects jobs. Understand. However robot labor is inevitable and won’t be stopped nor should it be stopped. Whatever can be automated in a quality manner will and should be automated. There will still be jobs for people but they will be different new types of jobs. People must adapt. I am looking forward to low cost home robots that can do chores around the house.


19 posted on 01/15/2013 9:59:16 AM PST by plain talk
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To: ksen
Technology and advancements were supposed to cut down on the hours worked and improve salaries.

Times have changed. Basically, both couples usually work, we work more hours, and salaries are stagnant. Don't worry though, we are more productive now than ever before!

Throw in more millions into the labor force via amnesty and your gonna have a utopia!

20 posted on 01/15/2013 9:59:37 AM PST by Theoria
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To: ksen

You’re using the same argument that’s always been used and it’s incorrect. God forbid a checkout clerk get replaced with an automated system. What would the clerk do? Consider farming. There was a time when half the population farmed. Now it’s less that 2% because of machines and technology. It’s accurate to say that “half the jobs were lost” to farming machines. But it wasn’t a bad thing. Quite the contrary.

This article comes at the question from the idiotic “income equality” point of view. It’s a joke. Bring on the robots!


21 posted on 01/15/2013 10:01:09 AM PST by youngidiot (God help us.)
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To: discostu

You raise good points. But there is some complexity here that should also be weighed.

In 1700, how many people sat around and did nothing? Only the aristocracy — a very small percentage of the population. Everyone else worked and produced, or else they died. That’s just the way it was, whether anyone liked it or not.

Look at our world now. How many people in America sit around and do nothing? Quite a few — they may want to work, but work can be hard to find. A thread earlier today claimed that the real unemployment rate was close to 30%. That’s a lot of people who are not working — and not dying either.

As there is more automation, there will be greater possibility for people to contribute nothing — and you know we won’t let them starve. What economic system has a foolproof method of providing to everyone what they “need” even if they do not work? Socialism.

As automation increases, as labor is less needed, then the general societal trend toward Bigger Government, more socialism, and less respect for property will grow. I don’t like it. You don’t like it. But we need to see the very real danger in this social trend.

Sure, people can try to “protect themselves”, but the REAL danger is ... they won’t have to. They will expect to be taken care of, and they will be.


22 posted on 01/15/2013 10:03:43 AM PST by ClearCase_guy (Nothing will change until after the war.)
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To: discostu
Sorry but you’re wrong. People have been having this discussion since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution and the situation has remained consistent, people who adapt their skills thrive, people that insist reality stop progressing fail. The technology WILL advance, the percentage of our manual labor done by machine WILL increase, the need for low skill workers WILL decrease.

I think you misread my point because I'm not arguing that technological advancement is inherently bad or should stop. What I am arguing about is that we as a society need to decide if we should be doing something to help those displaced adapt to the new marketplace.

Not everyone is equipped to be a robotic engineer or handle the math for professions that rely heavily on math. As the return on labor diminishes and the return on capital rises there should be a way to open up opportunities that allow more and more people to become owners of capital.

People need to protect themselves, not expect the world to help them.

I'd rather have a society that is a little less stark or socially darwin. You may disagree but that's why we have political debates.

23 posted on 01/15/2013 10:04:07 AM PST by ksen
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To: discostu

Better yet, learn how to fix the robots. Tech support is a growing field, and not just in India.


24 posted on 01/15/2013 10:05:36 AM PST by Ellendra (http://www.ustrendy.com/ellendra-nauriel/portfolio/18423/concealed-couture/)
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To: ksen

LOL! Yeah, all those peasants... what will we (us important people) do with them when we don’t need them for factory production?

This conversation has never gotten on a sensible start. Labor reduction in factories will naturally lead to wonderful new opportunities just as farm mechanization did.

...If the ‘important people’ don’t screw things up too much with their ‘smart’ attempts to interfere.


25 posted on 01/15/2013 10:06:42 AM PST by mrsmith (Dumb sluts: Lifeblood of the Media, Backbone of the Democrat Party!)
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To: youngidiot
You’re using the same argument that’s always been used and it’s incorrect.

Actually you are hitting at a strawman because I'm not using that argument at all. I agree to bring on the robots. But I also agree that something should be done to help workers adapt to their changing situation in order to help them take advantage of the new opportunities that will arise.

26 posted on 01/15/2013 10:07:13 AM PST by ksen
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To: plain talk
I am looking forward to low cost home robots that can do chores around the house.

you and me both!

27 posted on 01/15/2013 10:08:27 AM PST by ksen
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To: ksen
I believe that this is one issue that should, in a rational world, transcend political divides.

I'm all for automation of every labor saving task possible, but yes, there are consequences. For starters, what to do with all of the people who are put out of work or otherwise made obsolete? While some may find a niche in the new order of things, most will end up on the wrong side of the Player Piano river. There are more non-skilled people than there are skilled, and the former won't simply die willingly. Some say that the FEMA camps have been built to house Tea Party types, but I suspect that the useful idiots and unemployable eaters will be the first to rounded up, despite having served as voting tools for the tyrant who orders the genocide.

The bigger factor is the economic one of supply and demand. People without incomes cannot consume unless the government provides for them, but the government has already run out of money and is running out of producers to tax. Automation reduces the numbers needed for production. At some point robotics will be self regenerative and there will be little need for human intervention and upkeep. At that point, who is the consumer? If robots can do everything and humans are no longer needed, then how do humans pay for the goods and services that robots provide?

What economic system has been created to replace the barter/monetary system?

I don't know the answer, but God I love an egg cream.

28 posted on 01/15/2013 10:10:35 AM PST by Sirius Lee (All that is required for evil to advance is for government to do "something")
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To: ksen
Actually you are hitting at a strawman because I'm not using that argument at all. I agree to bring on the robots. But I also agree that something should be done to help workers adapt to their changing situation in order to help them take advantage of the new opportunities that will arise.

Oh I see. Well I disagree with that notion too. I think we should stand back and let things work themselves out, as crazy as that sounds.
29 posted on 01/15/2013 10:11:20 AM PST by youngidiot (God help us.)
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To: Sirius Lee

We need to figure out how The Federation managed it. ;)


30 posted on 01/15/2013 10:13:15 AM PST by ksen
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To: ClearCase_guy

There is that possibility. I’ve raised it in discussions on 3D printers and even neardly discussion on their conceptual forebears the replicator. I call it Judge Dredd world, part of the back story of the Judge Dredd comics is that automation has gotten to the point that people are by and large unnecessary, the vast majority of the work in the world is done by machines, unemployment is in the 90% range, school teaches hobbies because they know the kids will never hold jobs.

It is possible. Of course in the end there’s really not much we can do about it. The one proviso is that prior to this all big technological advances have resulted in raising the standard of living. It’s possible the current run in technology is breaking that trend. In the end though either way the survival method is the same, if your job is projected to be done by robots soon, learn another.


31 posted on 01/15/2013 10:14:52 AM PST by discostu (I recommend a fifth of Jack and a bottle of Prozac)
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To: youngidiot

You are in favor of social darwinism? Because that’s what you’re advocating.

Should we just let the displaced workers eat cake while they are trying to adapt on their own too?


32 posted on 01/15/2013 10:15:00 AM PST by ksen
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To: mrsmith
Labor reduction in factories will naturally lead to wonderful new opportunities just as farm mechanization did.

Well, I hope so.
I am sure there are great things just around the corner -- things I cannot even imagine. With enough automation, people may be freed up to achieve those new things and live in a world much better than the world we have now.

But is this inevitable? Today, I have enough food, enough cars, a big enough house, and more "stuff" than I really need. What will my life look like when we are all freed up to do more great stuff? Well, as I stated earlier, "I can't even imagine".

I can take it on faith that such a better world is around the corner, but what if I've pretty much achieved something like the max in material wealth -- I'm not Trump, but practically speaking I don't have enough hours in the day to enjoy to leisure activities that are currently available to me.

If there is no bright shining better world around the corner ... then my material needs will be met by robots, while I sit at home enjoying my leisure, while "society" provides for my needs.

I think we're heading for a Socialist Utopia. And how do you feel about that? The feral crowd in the inner city may be ahead of the curve on this one.

33 posted on 01/15/2013 10:18:29 AM PST by ClearCase_guy (Nothing will change until after the war.)
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To: ksen

Call it whatever you want. But when people have “helped” like you’re advocating, it’s always been a disaster. I know it doesn’t FEEL right. God Almighty. Am I on the wrong site or something?


34 posted on 01/15/2013 10:18:47 AM PST by youngidiot (God help us.)
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To: ksen

We as a society don’t make that decision. The workers do. We can, and have, setup methods for people to learn new job skills. But the worker has to make the decision to use them. Many don’t, they demand the world halt, and they lose.

You don’t have to be a robotic engineer to run the robots. The modern world of technology puts nice UIs in front of everything. Most folks that program computers don’t actually know how to program computers, they’re using high level programming languages that the compiler changes to actually program the computer. Same thing with modern robots, just like your DVR, you figure out the language.

Doesn’t matter what society wants, in the end the people need to take responsibility for themselves and put knowledge in their brains. Because it’s their brains and their lives.


35 posted on 01/15/2013 10:20:34 AM PST by discostu (I recommend a fifth of Jack and a bottle of Prozac)
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To: Ellendra

If they want to be in support they need to learn empathy. The modern era of call center support is much more oriented towards making people feel better than solving the problem. Seen it where I work, and it kind of scares me, the technical knowledge of our support staff has dropped dramatically in the last 4 years (when we changed directions), and our customer satisfaction level has sky rocketed.


36 posted on 01/15/2013 10:23:18 AM PST by discostu (I recommend a fifth of Jack and a bottle of Prozac)
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To: youngidiot
But when people have “helped” like you’re advocating, it’s always been a disaster.

Nonsense.

37 posted on 01/15/2013 10:24:10 AM PST by ksen
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To: ksen

Go back to farming because it’s a good example. Half the people lost their job. Who was there to save them, the way you’re advocating? Nobody. What happened? Economic boom and an increase in living standards for everyone.

Contrast that with the New Deal. Here’s a great article right here on FR, though I doubt you’ll be bothered to read it.

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1048166/posts

People wonder why socialism hasn’t died. It’s because people like you “want to help”. Stop with the help already.


38 posted on 01/15/2013 10:32:25 AM PST by youngidiot (God help us.)
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To: ClearCase_guy

“They will expect to be taken care of,and they will be.”
That will only be true as long as elites need their votes.
After the votes aren’t needed,death camps.


39 posted on 01/15/2013 10:32:54 AM PST by Farmer Dean (stop worrying about what they want to do to you,start thinking about what you want to do to them)
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To: Farmer Dean
That's pretty much where I'm going with this thinking. I see "socialist utopia" as the default setting for where we are all going (like it or not) and when I think "socialist utopia" I definitely think "mass murder".

With robots doing all the work, aren't we all going to be "useless eaters"? Except the political class, of course.

40 posted on 01/15/2013 10:37:31 AM PST by ClearCase_guy (Nothing will change until after the war.)
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To: ksen

Jerry Brown from 1995
http://biggovernment.com/mrichmond/2010/06/10/jerry-brown-flashback-we-need-more-welfare-and-fewer-jobs/

The conventional viewpoint says we need a jobs program and we need to cut welfare. Just the opposite! We need more welfare and fewer jobs. Jobs for every American is doomed to failure because of modern automation and production. We ought to recognize it and create an income-maintenance system so every single American has the dignity and the wherewithal for shelter, basic food, and medical care. I’m talking about welfare for all. Without it, you’re going to have warfare for all. Without a universal health care like every other civilized country, without a minimum level of income, this country will explode. You can’t blame the guy at the bottom forever. At some point there’s a reaction and we’ll see that the real criminals are those calling the tune, making the rules, and walking to the bank. We have the money, we have the brain power. The United States now has the highest measured wealth of any nation ever in the history of the world. We could rebuild our cities, we could create the kind of buying power and community well-being that will provide for peace. The guaranteed income is one way.

Another way is to have always the availability of work in a nonprofit, in community service. A third is to start giving people training to develop skills where they can be self-supporting. You could come up with a cash supplement. Even conservatives have suggested a negative income tax to cut out the bureaucracy. If we were smart, we’d get rid of welfare and give people a family assistance like they do in Europe…

The problem isn’t even a problem. Automation and technology would be a great boon if it were creative, if there were more leisure, more opportunity to engage in raising a family, providing guidance to the young, all the stuff we say we need. America will work if we’re all in it together. It’ll work when there’s a shared sense of destiny. It can be done! It’s all there! What isn’t there is the leadership to create the kind of social network, the safety net, the distribution that would truly create a just and equal society…

We have to restore power to the family, to the neighborhood, and the community with a non-market principle, a principle of equality, of charity, of let’s-take-care-of-one-another. That’s the creative challenge. First, expose relentlessly the big lie that comes over the tube every night-that if you just go out and find that job, and work harder, it’ll all be fine. It won’t! There’s not enough work to go around and a lot of the pay is not fair. Unless you totally yank up that system and create a better one, unless the spirit changes, unless the heart opens, unless we confront power with the truth of our own unarmed but absolute fearless truth, we’re not going to overcome it. Evil is too embedded to be overcome by anything other than a spiritual challenge.


41 posted on 01/15/2013 10:42:17 AM PST by Haddit
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To: ksen

Well I, for one, welcome our new robot overlords.

42 posted on 01/15/2013 10:43:25 AM PST by kevkrom (If a wise man has an argument with a foolish man, the fool only rages or laughs...)
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To: KC_Lion

That’s not a robot. That’s a zombie...I dated a couple of them.


43 posted on 01/15/2013 10:44:02 AM PST by max americana (Make the world a better place by punching a liberal in the face)
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To: Theoria
Basically, both couples usually work, we work more hours, and salaries are stagnant. Don't worry though, we are more productive now than ever before!

I think you've hit on the key reason why I believe we are hurtling towards Socialism. As more and more people become aware of this stat they are starting to ask themselves "Well, Damn! Where's MY piece of that increased productivity I've been creating? Guess I need a Big, Strong Government to go and take it away from those Grrrrrreeeeedy Eeeeeeeeeeevil Rich People and give it back to me!"

It's economic sophistry, but it is politically quite powerful.


44 posted on 01/15/2013 10:44:30 AM PST by Buckeye McFrog
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To: ksen

Ned Ludd also advocated smashing the new automated weaving machines at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution as it would put weavers like him out of work... hence the term Luddite. Obama himself has berated ATMs and kiosks as taking away “good jobs”. Any growing technological economy produces structural unemployment as new technologies make others obsolete. Consider the telephone business say 60 years ago when telephone operators still manually connected 6your calls. These operators lost their jobs to dial phones. Phone service was expensive and many people did not have phones or relied on shared party lines in rural areas. With cellular technology the telephone industry has been transformed and employ more people than back in the days of telephone operators .


45 posted on 01/15/2013 10:44:35 AM PST by The Great RJ
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To: Haddit

Jerry Brown makes sense! :)


46 posted on 01/15/2013 10:54:31 AM PST by ksen
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To: max americana
ROBOTS: Don't date them!


47 posted on 01/15/2013 10:56:00 AM PST by KC_Lion (Build the America you want to live in at your address, and keep looking up.-Sarah Palin)
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To: youngidiot
Go back to farming because it’s a good example. Half the people lost their job. Who was there to save them, the way you’re advocating? Nobody. What happened? Economic boom and an increase in living standards for everyone.

What timeframe are you talking about? I want to be sure I have the same one in mind.

48 posted on 01/15/2013 10:58:06 AM PST by ksen
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To: ksen

Don’t worry because if Bill Gates and Microsoft design those robots then they will be obsolete every six months and will die from viruses in between model changes.


49 posted on 01/15/2013 10:59:12 AM PST by AmusedBystander (The philosophy of the school room in one generation will be the philosophy of government in the next)
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To: Buckeye McFrog
I don't know about the ‘socialism’ thing, Because, we already have a pretty big part of it here. I suspect the siren song of populism to return.

Pat Buchanan was probably the last populist that was in the politics, he was utterly repudiated, but his outcry against Free trade and illegal immigration still resonates today. Throw in bailouts, bulging pensions, selective law enforcement, police state, world policing, etc. the anger will grow.

50 posted on 01/15/2013 11:01:49 AM PST by Theoria
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