Intel's Ronler Acres Plant

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Sunday, November 20, 2016

The Return of Amenhotep

Cheops Pyramid with Camel
I'm thinking about business and unemployment and I think I figured out why we have problems.

We start with a stable situation. Everybody's a farmer, everybody works, everybody eats, everybody has a house to sleep in, everybody works hard, everybody dies young.

Then somebody comes up with an idea. Could be most anything. We sharpen our scythes every day instead of just once a week, we use scythes made of iron instead to lead, we work together in teams to harvest one field at a time instead of everybody struggling alone with their own field. I don't know, could be anything.

So now we don't need quite so many people doing the work. Small changes might not actually put anyone out of work, it might just make things a little easier for some people.

It's when you get a disruptive technology, like a combine, then things get messy. Now all the people who used to work harvesting the crops are out of work, but the price of bread has fallen so that almost everyone can afford to buy it instead of making it, well, everyone except those people who aren't working anymore because their jobs have disappeared.

To build a combine, or any other disruptive technology, takes a sizable capital investment and entails a certain amount of risk. Not all business ventures succeed, so people are leery of investing in them, which is to say that there isn't enough money to gamble on new ventures to keep everyone employed all the time.

During WW2 and during the 1950's, things might have been different. There was a huge amount of money being invested in new production machinery, and a lot of the machinery was very elementary, at least as it is seen from today. To look at it another way, it didn't take a whole lot of capital to start a factory that would employ a thousand people, probably one percent of what it would take today. Sure there's been inflation, but the machinery has gotten a lot more complex and a lot more expensive.

And it doesn't last as long. I'm going to venture that to say that half of the factories we build these days are obsolete before they are halfway through their expected lifespan, and thus, while they may have paid off their build costs, they are not going to generate all the profit that was expected.

This is how wars get started. It's also how the communists get started. You've got a mass of people with nothing to do. They are probably better off than they were, they have bread to eat that they didn't have to make, but they don't have anything to do. And they see or hear about other people putting jam on their bread and they want some jam too, but they don't have a job, so no jam for you.

So then some demagogue comes along and says 'we deserve jam, too' and we're going to stir up shit until we get what we want. And the unemployed, because they have nothing better to do, jump right in on that program.

So the moral of this story is that if you are going to introduce a disruptive technology (like sending all of our assembly jobs to China), you need a program to keep the newly unemployed busy, and it needs to be a program they can believe in, not something everyone despises and denigrates.

And that's why the democrats lost. There isn't anything of substance in liberal policy, nothing you can hang your hat on. It basically all boils down to 'let's be nice to each other', and people basically got tired of listening to that horseshit. We want something to do, and if you're not going to give us something to do, well, we'll go find something to do. Devil finds work for idle hands as they say, and that's how riots get started and whole sections of town get destroyed. It's not because people are broke or unemployed, it's because they don't have anything to believe in.

Our scientific / capitalist society is founded on doubt: will that work? Well, let's try it and find out. People operate on faith, faith that what worked yesterday is going to work today, because most of what we do we do on autopilot, there is very little that requires conscious thought and besides, there are distractions and distractions use up most of our quota of daily thought. That's why it can be very difficult to get a drone, someone doing a repetitive job, to actually think about your problem: they are hoarding their mental energy for important stuff, like lunch, or their boy/girl-friend.

Personally, I am in favor of bringing back the sun god, and the belief that everyone needs an enormous stone tomb. We need to start a program for building pyramids like they did in the old days, by hand. It would give the unemployed something to do, and more importantly, something to believe in.

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