Saturday, September 6, 2014

In Heaven There Are No Jobs

Imagine that you pass from this world and arrive at the gates of the afterlife.  The gatekeeper hands you a bundle of work clothes, your schedule and a benefits package with forms to be signed.  You are assigned to the grounds keeping crew.  The guy behind you is put to work filling pot holes.  The next in line gets brushes and rollers and put on painting detail.
You have  guaranteed eternal employment.
WTF, you think, is this heaven or is this hell?  Well it certainly isn’t heaven.
Heaven would be a state of perfect contentment where all needs are met and nothing needs to be done.  Not so here on earth.
On this planet, human life is an unending process of becoming.  Success is short lived, pleasures are fleeting and all victories have the seeds of defeat within them.  There is always something gone wrong and more to be done.
To live with some degree of comfort, humans apply their brains and effort to the gifts of nature to create things that are desirable to themselves and their neighbors.
One thing that makes American life heavenly is burgers.  The other night I had Pork and Lamb Burger topped with Balsamic Marmalade and washed down it with small batch bourbon and craft beer.  That set me back about $40 U.S. dollars.  Lest you think me a snob, I am seriously looking forward to trying Mickey D’s new Jalapeño Double Burger.  Two of those suckers with fries and Coke will fill me up for less than a ten spot.
My gourmet burger was chef created, cooked to order and made from premium meats that were custom ground and mixed.  My libations were attentively crafted by artisans using hand selected ingredients using processes that extended over weeks and even years.  All of this was delivered to my table by an attentive and gracious server.
The McDonald’s burger that I am eagerly anticipating will come to me at the end of highly automated, mechanized, digitized and globally sourced supply chain.  The heroes in this process are not trained chefs, experienced cooks and artisans.  They are marketing analysts, food scientists, engineers, and logistics professionals.  Also, let’s not forget the legion of franchise investors who make Mickey D restaurants a convenient five minute trip for most Americans.
Somehow, the people at the end of the McDonald’s supply chain have come to believe that they are a vital and irreplaceable cog in this machine.  They that key my order into a computer and then assemble the product based upon written instructions.  In cities across the U.S.A. fast food workers are agitating to attain compensation commensurate with their self assessed value.

Enter the Burger Robot from Momentum Machines. This bad boy can bang out 360 burgers per hour.   It will grill the patty, slice and dice vegetable toppings, apply condiments and then assemble and wrap the sandwich.
 The robot’s inventor, Alexandros Vardakostas pulls no punches. This "device isn’t meant to make employees more efficient. It’s meant to completely obviate them." The manufacturer’s website takes no prisoners claiming their machine "does everything employees can do, except better."
Sensitive to charges that they are simply creating jobless, Momentum Machines responds that they really adding value to society:
“The issue of machines and job displacement has been around for centuries and economists generally accept that technology like ours actually causes an increase in employment. The three factors that contribute to this are 1. the company that makes the robots must hire new employees, 2. the restaurant that uses our robots can expand their frontiers of production which requires hiring more people, and 3. the general public saves money on the reduced cost of our burgers. This saved money can then be spent on the rest of the economy.
(Thereby creating jobs in other sectors – my comment)

Ludwig von Mises is unambiguous in asserting that power in the free market lies entirely with the consumer.
“The consumers patronize those shops in which they can buy what they want at the cheapest price. Their buying and their abstention from buying decides who should own and run the plants and the farms. They make poor people rich and rich people poor. They determine precisely what should be produced, in what quality, and in what quantities.”
It’s not the franchisees who are the hard hearted ogres, Mises says, but their self serving patrons:
“They are merciless bosses, full of whims and fancies, changeable and unpredictable. For them nothing counts other than their own satisfaction. They do not care a whit for past merit and vested interests. If something is offered to them that they like better or that is cheaper, they desert their old purveyors. In their capacity as buyers and consumers they are hard-hearted and callous, without consideration for other people”

Therefore, fast food workers seek to subvert the labor market and use the “political means” to improve their wages.  That is to employ State coercion to force employers to raise the pay scale.
What the strikers fail to see are the consumers who will eat elsewhere and the Burger Robot who will eat their jobs entirely.
Not too long ago, investor and media personality Peter Schiff intercepted Walmart shoppers asking them if Walmart employees deserved better pay.  Soft hearted Americans answered “yes”.  When he followed up by asking if they were willing to pay 15% higher prices, the cheap bastards said “no way”.  Clearly they preferred money in their own pockets rather than those of Walmart workers.
In his new book, Please Stop Helping Us, How Liberals Make It Harder For Blacks to Succeed, Jason Reilly exposes how government meddling makes the poor poorer and keeps them that way. During a recent interview on Reason TV, Reilly addressed the minimum wage head on.

reason: Young blacks without skills, like all young workers who have relatively low skills, are they priced out of the labor market and then they just can’t get work? Or are you saying that it’s anti poverty programs that allow them to get by…
Jason Riley: Well it’s a number of factors. One is, yes, pricing people out of the labor force. When you make it more expensive to hire people, fewer people get hired. And you are particularly hurting less skilled, less experience workers by raising the cost of hiring them. Now the left sells this as an anti-poverty program, but most poor households are in that category because they have no workers, not because they have workers that are paid too little. You can’t confuse poor households with households with minimum wage workers. And a lot of that confusion results in trying to use the minimum wage as an anti-poverty measure.

Returning to our original “heavenly” premise, we see that by promising heaven on earth, welfare statists create a living hell.  

Ironically, in the former workers’ paradise of the East, robots are replacing workers in Chinese factories.  Even former commies turned fascists see that the consumer is king and that you must innovate and cut costs to compete.

Related Posts:

Burgers and Bullets
Of The Employees, For The Employees And By The Employees

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