2026 and All That

There are lots of articles around at the moment about the future of work. They pop up in my timeline frequently, often accompanied by videos of futurologists at conferences outlining their vision of work in the 2020s and beyond. There’s something funny going on, though, because I seem to be hearing two very different stories without much overlap between them.

The story I hear coming out of management conferences and any number of consultants’ websites is all about how technology will revolutionise the workplace, how it will empower us and enable us to have more fulfilled working lives. It will trash hierarchy too, as we’ll all have access to so much more knowledge and information. Technology will force the democratisation and devolution of corporate decision making. Generation Y feature strongly in all of this. After all, they (and even more so, the next lot) won’t stand for hide-bound ideas of status and power. They want purpose in their working lives. And, of course, they have a different idea about what the workplace means. They are happy to work anywhere and want the flexibility to choose when and how they do their work. Unless your organisation gets hip to all of this, daddio, the Millenials won’t want to come and work for you.

In other places, though, I hear something very different. There will be technological change alright but, far from breaking down social barriers, it looks set to create new ones. This is the story of factories without people, of vanishing jobs, of a hollowed out labour market and of workers sliding down the skill ladder as the robots move up it. It is a vision of vast profits with few employees,  falling real incomes for all except a skilled elite and the disappearance of the jobs that used to help people improve their skills and income. Far from democratising and devolving power, this raises the prospect of some people being shut out of it altogether. At worst, the accumulation of advantage over the next couple of generations could entrench inequality. Earlier this year, the UK Commission for Education and Skills published a report on work in 2030. It came up with four scenarios all of which had something in common: for those without skills or accumulated wealth, the outlook is bleak.

Yesterday’s Resolution Foundation report was the latest in a number of recent studies to highlight the ongoing polarisation of the labour market.

Screen Shot 2014-10-30 at 12.26.01

The report comments:

Such trends seem to correspond to structural changes in the UK labour market. These developments involve Britain – along with other advanced economies – experiencing a steady polarisation between high-skilled, white-collar and low-skilled, low paid jobs as a result of new technology replacing repetitive “routine” tasks that were previously fulfilled by middle-wage workers.

There seem to be two very different narratives here. One barely acknowledges the other.

In the shiny future of tablet-touting hipsters chilling out in coffee bars and turning the old fuddy-duddy organisations on their heads, there is very little mention of the displaced downwardly mobile workers. There’s not even an acknowledgement that the tech villages of the future, with their hubs and hangouts, might need security fences to protect them from the aggrieved masses. This isn’t just a question of ideology. The Economist, which is a long way from being a left-wing agit-rag, ran a series of hard-hitting articles earlier this month on the hollowed out labour market. Even the MoD cited rising inequality as a potential cause of instability in its Strategic Trends paper earlier this year:

Unmanned systems are increasingly likely to replace people in the workplace, carrying out tasks with increased effectiveness and efficiency, while reducing risk to humans. This could ultimately lead to mass unemployment and social unrest.

When Generals and Majors are citing the displacement of workers as a potential security risk, it’s probably safe to assume that this is more than just the obsession of a few well-meaning lefties. And yet there are articles, videos and entire conferences on the future of work in which it barely features. It’s almost as though it’s all happening somewhere else. Or, perhaps more importantly, to someone else.

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40 Responses to 2026 and All That

  1. rogerh says:

    Mmm, I reckon a good number of the hipsters will find their hip new ideas don’t sell. Remember ‘Tomorrow’s World’ – all those wizzy ideas headed straight down the drain ably cheered on by the DTI.

    So, if I were a government with a slew of highly employed folk on one side and another slew of non-employed folk on another I would seek to tax Peter to pay Paula. The snag is that CleverCo Inc etc might set up its operation in say Thailand with the staff coffee shop on the beach. Nice weather, cheaper housing etc and all one’s mates from uni. Not so good for HMG, tax take falls further. But look on the bright side, house prices might fall and become rentable to incoming migrants. But still less income to HMG and all the other European governments – all in the same boat.

    Perhaps there will be a great rotation, Stanford and Harvard and Cambridge move off to Beijing and the smokestacks move to Europe and California. Less cheerfully the smokestacks might well move to Africa leaving Europe and the US as a sort of medieval society with castles, barons and peasants.

  2. SK says:

    Basic Income please.
    Needed ASAP.

  3. GrumpyLecturer says:

    Never forget that employers do have a choice on how new technologies are applied and utilised in the workplace and the extent to which employees have control over that technology.
    This choice has never been actually exercised by employers on a societal scale in the past technology has been employed to devalue and deskill work and where possible to replace labour.
    However, the choice still remains for employers to either use technology as an aid to employees or to deskill, devalue or replace them.
    Unfortunately, in a capitalist system employers loyalty is to themselves or to shareholders in a pursuit of profit in a system where labour costs are ‘nearly always’ considered too expensive.
    Capital can relocate those repetitive, low skilled manufacturing jobs to nearly anywhere in the world. Those jobs which have to remain in the home country are those to which capital often apply technology to undermine labour.
    Small examples being self-service checkouts in supermarkets, bank branches devoid of human beings that resemble casino halls with one-arm bandits.
    The technology and employment debate is one which has never really been open to meaningful discussion as technology is deemed as ‘progress’ and ‘inevitable’ and that employers ‘choice’ as to its use comes under those two headings.
    If the current discourse around technology and the Employment Relationship is held within a Human Resource Management (HRM) set agenda then I am assured little to no discussion will take place. The ‘happy happy’ world of HRM would never stoop so low as to discuss employers utilising technology to deskill and devalue work.

  4. Reblogged this on 101 Half Connected Things and commented:
    The problem with most of the writing on the future of work is that it is done by hipsters in coffee shops. That’s the future of some work…the rest of it – might not be so wonderfully Starbucks.

  5. hrgem says:

    Much of the future of work debate forgets those people to whom work really is a place that they go and not a thing that they do. I work in a traditional manufacturing business. People standing on a line doing stuff with their hands. No coffice for them.

  6. biffa says:

    Two things.

    First, if the labour market is hollowed out, people replaced by tech and all that, then who remains with the necessary wages to buy the stuff that ever more efficient industry produces? It’s mad to assume that the anticipated middle classes of BRIC (or whatever they’re known as theses days) will not also experience the same thing. Won’t consumption based capitalism eventually eat itself?

    Second, the reality of these technically adept, millennial, coffee bar working businesses is that many of them are financially catastrophic. Low pay (often no pay) and a precarious month to month existence. If this is the future, then count me out!

    • Rick says:

      It’s an interesting question Biffa. Will fewer people having a large enough disposable income mean that capitalism fails or will the top, say, 25% spend enough to keep the economy afloat. It may well mean that economic growth slows down but, as Piketty says, are the very rich all that bothered by that? After all, if you keep getting richer in a slowly growing economy, your share of the pie (and all the power and status that comes with it) just keeps getting bigger.

      • John says:

        There is an answer to the question “Who buys the products” to keep capitalism going?
        The answer lies not in the spending of money but in the making of money.
        Historically, goods were produced and then sold to earn money-income for capitalists.
        However, today’s technology makes it possible to earn income without making anything.
        In particular, speculating on commodity markets largely cuts out all of the human beings.
        On-line traders world-wide can trade and amass paper fortunes without ever seeing anyone.

  7. David says:

    Well said hrgem , the GrumpyL’s appear to inhabit some antideluvian world devoid of actually making stuff . Of course that ‘stuff’ is usually roundly disparaged as having no place in their pristine lives especially as it might involve ‘getting grubby’ type work . That’s the intelligentsia for you .
    When I put my house and savings on the line to , yet again , invest in new techknowledgy I didn’t do it to throw well paid and skilled (and friends) out of work but simply to give my customers what they wanted , well , demanded actually , and STAY IN BUSINESS because ‘no metal gets cut until a sale is made’ and no customer will wait longer or pay more for it than it has to . This is , of course , another grubby concept not experienced by many of the responders here but I tell you , it’s scary and unfair for everybody involved . What it certainly is not is any kind of “ism” . Would that it was .
    The predictions quoted in the article have been around most of my working life and will certainly and gradually happen .
    What we should be doing is not sniping at the easy capitalism / socialism targets but trying to figure out workable and reasonably equitable solutions , but trust me on this , there ain’t no simple “ism” that will do it . I’ve briefly lived with one of the more extreme alternatives , and closeup it’s far far more uncomfortable and demeaning for the ‘have nots’…..which but for the grace of god go i .
    So , may I humbly (!) suggest less political grandstanding and more grubby hands of experience comments , not of course , available to all .
    It’s probably of no interest but I’m just about to leave one “People’s Republic” to enter another , where of course they have a solution for every ill ! There’s not many of them left , I wonder why …..

    • Rick says:

      David, the key word there is equitable. Most of us would be happy to work less, but we are less happy about getting a smaller share of the income as a result. I’m beginning to think, as SK said above, that some sort of basic income is the logical conclusion of all this.

      Won’t be popular for all sorts of reasons but if the alternative is social breakdown….

      • Basic income for what, though? To be unproductive? To live as nothing more than a parasite? The system can redistribute income easy enough but that does not resolve the essential problem which is that it results in a world of keepers and kept.

  8. Gareth Jones says:

    We are all sleep walking into this and at a macro level we are all complicit in this too. We all want the cheaper mortgage, nicer car, better food choices, the best for our kids etc etc yet we recoil in horror when reminded of the reality of what it takes to deliver this ‘life’ we live. It serves no purpose whatsoever to continually suck it up one one hand and complain on the other. We need to either do something collectively or shut the fuck up in my view. Id prefer it that we did something in an organised fashion rather than wait for an uprising and the worst that can come from “social unrest”. If we think the human race can be an unpleasant bunch then wait until we get pushed too far. The problem is that when it happens, it wont just be those that we identify as the core abusers that will suffer.

    In terms of work, when i graduated in 1988 a cover photograph of an issue of People Management from that summer showed an empty highway system, with the headline that went something like “Work in 2020”. The message was that technology advancements would mean we would all be working part time as thats all that would be needed. Clearly, thats crap. The more time we save through tech, we fill with more work. Its not sustainable for all the reasons you mention here.

    When it comes to talking about work and the future of it, like pretty much everything else in life, its the professional majority that have the voice. Commis chef’s and dishwashers don’t design kitchens, or the restaurants they work in. Factory workers don’t put on conferences about global logistics. Logistics managers do. And as i saw last week, shop assistants and the disabled don’t put on conferences about the future of work – designers, consultants and architects do. And they play to the purse holders. And thats not joe schmo who lives in the arse end of nowhere, who spanks 50% of his income on travel because he has to work in a retail outlet, on zero hours, in central London but cant afford to live nearby. Oh, and because he is the only one prepared to work in such conditions and for such low money, the chances are he/she is Polish/Italian/Romanian/Albanian etc etc. We have devalued skilled and unskilled work to the point that it carries some sort of social stigma if you are not a ‘professional’.

    If we want to make any fundamental changes at all, we need to change the system. Radically. And we cant look to the current political or commercial infrastructure to do this, there is too much self interest built in to make any real change. Change starts with us, not them. Until we are prepared to push that through, then its pretty pointless talking about it over and over.

    Great post as always.

    • Who’s the “us” that rebels though? If it isn’t the elite because they’ve got a vested interest in maintaining the present system, and it isn’t the masses who do not concern themselves with such things until they partake in social unrest, who pre-empts the social unrest you want to avert? “Us” would appear to lack the power and the numbers to be effective.

  9. GrumpyLecturer says:

    In reply to David I have spent the vast majority of my life in industries in which I and millions of others ‘got their hands dirty’ unfortunately those industries are no longer with us they have moved abroad. I would suppose in a quest for the sun, sand and beaches that these countries abound in not the cheap labour. On the point of ‘isms’ all I have to say is that an ‘ism’ is but just an idea on paper the only danger at that stage is a possible paper cut. The trouble with any ‘ism’ is when an individual or group of individuals adopt a particular ‘ism’ for their own particular ends. So the problem is usually not to be found in the ‘ism’ it is to be found in the people that misuse the ‘ism’.

    When the business world finds and adopts an ‘ism’ that genuinely addresses the interests, equally, of employers, employees and customers then possibly the world may become a better place. In the meanwhile ideology whether we like it or not does ‘rule’ in debates about employment.

  10. John says:

    There needs to be fresh thinking, both in political as well as industrial and commercial terms.
    Ultimately, these developments highlight the fact that capitalism as we know it has no future.
    What is needed is new political thinking based on a new form of social organisation.
    The development of new forms of technology offers the prospect of a good life for everyone.
    As SK points out above, what is needed is a society in which a basic income is given to all.
    Beyond that, we need to envisage a money-less society in which all individual needs are met.
    The UK operated a largely planned economy during World War Two.
    It has been said that the population was fitter and better fed than ever before – and since.
    Apart from the Green Party, I know on no other political party seriously considering these issues.
    It is time that the other mainstream political parties seriously address this situation.

  11. Dave Timoney says:

    The two narratives do overlap, assuming you treat both as ideological constructs. The “revolutionary” and “disruptive” character of new technology has long been used to justify the erosion of labour rights. In effect, social change has been recuperated as the driving force of industrial change, rather than its consequence.

    Millenials (who don’t, of course, actually exist as a group other than as a birth cohort) are not willing to “work anywhere”, nor do they demand flexibility and greater purpose. Human nature has not changed. Most “hipsters” are just as keen on a steady, well-paid job, and to find purpose outside of work, as their parents and grandparents’ generations.

    Similarly, the pessimism about dark factories and robots ignores the reality of society’s response to technological change over the last 35 years. Gareth suggests “The more time we save through tech, we fill with more work”. Not so. What we actually do is use technology to fill up time with distractions that (hopefully) justify our continued employment. The productivity gain has largely gone to capital in the form of increased profit, but a part has also gone to labour in the form of time (not, you’ll note, wages).

    We got rid of typing pools, but the consequence was a loss of 10% of the day to reading irrelevant emails. Despite computerisation, we employ more accountants (i.e. people who were once called “computers”) than ever. We have invented a whole slew of new jobs, mostly in the areas of marketing and HR, that cannot be meaningfully measured (see ‘On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs’, by David Graeber). Our “poor” productivity performance, which predates 2008, is not a reflection of underwhelming modern technology (a la Robert Gordon), but of the relative success of society’s current “double movement”.

    If the 19th century was about organising labour to tame capital, the 20th was about developing the welfare state as an institutional compromise between labour and capital. Since 1980 we have been in a transitional state, marked by collaboration (shoring up middle-class bullshit jobs as working-class roles are offshored) and the dismantling of the welfare state as a precursor to a parsimonious basic income (which allows superfluous labour to continue as active consumers and so keep the whole show on the road).

    “The future of work” is, as it has always been, a contest for power between capital and society fought out in the field of sci-fi. The valorisation of commitment (work anywhere), flexibility (do anything) and individual purpose (there is no such thing as society) is pointing to a future in which jobs are valuable sinecures available only to the chosen few. The dystopia of dark factories is as much a worry that for many of us the only jobs going will be as de facto servants to those few. The final irony is that underlying the futuristic tropes of flying cars and robots is the fear that history may be going into reverse.

  12. David says:

    Those industries have not moved abroad for the sun sand or fun (I can confirm there’s a distinct lack of those in China) they’ve gone there for cheaper production (labour and capital) costs because none of us will pay what it would cost to make it here . It’s ‘our’ decision . WE are to blame , if blame is what your looking for and I notice that in these columns , it’s usually someone else’s fault . Well I’ll try to set a new trend here by admitting that as a pensioner I’m now a net ‘taker’ in the economy . A leach on society if you like ! Theres a posh economists term for it but I prefer the notion of a leach really .
    My own thriving company was thus threatened and I watched sales nosedive all the way to Asia . So I had no choice but to use very expensive techknowledgies to retain as much production here as humanly possible and ignore the easier option of ‘offshoring’ (awful word) . Inevitably that meant making good friends redundant in order to lose the even more expensive techknowledgy of humans . That was a very painful experience the scars of which still linger . Interestingly those employees all did well , eventually , and we remain friends .
    It’s not and never has been some devilish plot to do us workers down its simply the market place . Wish I could make that sound more technically interesting with some long words but I can’t and wont because that would be , and is , bullshit . We may not all be in ‘it’ together , but we sure as hell are in that dystopian nightmare of the market place together , well as near as dammit all , and no amount of wish lists of revolution , uprising or tea breaks will alter it one bit . I absolutely agree that thinking about it and where ‘its’ going has me reaching for the bottle but that never solved anything really so just get used to it , nobody promised it would be fun…..it’s merely (merely?) the result of shifting economies . China , after all , is merely returning to its normal position at the top of the worlds GDP listing . I believe it only slipped from that position during the last 200 years or so and for the prior 18 or 19 centuries was way ahead in production and wealth . If you want to change things with minimal bloodletting on the streets (less fun I admit) may I suggest checking where that product or consumable is made / grown and don’t spend your money on it . Anyone remember that toe curlingly awful Made in Britain campaign where we all exhorted to buy shoddily made and designed stuff just because it was made here ? The market wouldn’t and didn’t stand for it . The result ? Loads of pain caused mainly by crap British management until the lesson was learnt . The market rules and is an unforgiving place .
    My word , don’t we have a lot to say about this ! To paraphrase my old journeyman , if talking was doing we’d have had this lot sorted by tea , sorry , coffee break…..latte anyone ?

  13. Genuine question… how does all this sit with the undoubted fact that SOMEONE, probably in the low income groups, at least, without all the bells and whistles, will still need to feed the baby, clean the house, take the kids to school and look after grandma (not to mention the unemployed young adults), somehow?

    I’m with you, Rick, on the divisions in the formal labour market probably becoming bigger still, but there is it seems very little analysis of how the domestic (home, not homeland) labour market will – or even does – interface with the outside-world market, formal or informal.

    Given the ways that women’s positions, like those of others with less power, have shifted in response to the economics of the invisible hand, I’d like to see the futurologists take a look at this. There may be some surprises….?

    Thanks as ever for an interesting commentary,
    Hilary

    • John says:

      I recall reading somewhere some time ago that the fastest growing sector for relatively insecure low-paid employment was in the service sector. Put simply and in old-fashioned terminology, this inidicates a growth in employment of a new servant class of workers in our society.
      In some ways, it is almost as though the hand of time is being remorselessly turned back to a much earlier time; one in which a tiny elite (the 1%?) ruled over everything and a massive low-paid servant class did all the mundane manual work required, with a very small middle class / skilled manual element overseeing routine activity which glues a society together.
      This may have implications for migration as people from more insecure economies may come here seeking such work. It may have implications for home layouts, e.g. we may need to modify homes such that rooms in the tops of houses are available for in-house servants to occupy.
      I am not so much thinking of 5 or even 10 years from now in this scenario but such a scenario could well be applicable within 15 or 20 years from now.
      Regrettably, ever since the 1980s onwards, we have been witnessing this scenario coming into existence slowly but surely. Right now, central government just about has sufficient resources to continue maintaining a social welfare system – but can it continue indefinitely? I don’t think so.
      What are the implications for women?
      Look at women’s roles 100 years ago – that may provide some sort of clue, I imagine.

      • Thank you John; and yes, I imagined the response might be along these lines (which, regrettably, are probably near the truth for many women in the future…?).

        But I also asked myself whether the invisible economy – that provided / organised / produced mainly by women without pay at all – has been factored in by the futurologists? I’m not sure they are very good at balancing that all-too-elusive, gendered, and invisible, triple bottom line.

        Any thoughts, anyone? Thx again.

        • John says:

          Hilary: you are right, of course.
          Women’s work (as some see it) has never been properly valued.
          Much depends upon social attitudes towards what women actually do within society.
          The fact that even now – more than 40 years since the passing of the 1970 Equal Pay Act – women still – on average – earn around 15 per cent less than their male co-workers is something that needs real explaining. See http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/womens-business/10513636/Gender-pay-gap-widens-with-women-earning-an-average-of-5000-less-reports-ONS.html.
          There is also another dimension, which is that female unemployment rates will get lower than male unemployment levels over time, which causes resentment among unskilled male workers.
          I don’t think it will ever get as bad as it once did as in Mexico – where there were a spate of murders of young well-paid women resulting from the NAFTA Agreement – but there are bound to be pockets of male unemployment in future as young men perform more poorly in education.
          As the srtikemag article I have mentioned above points out, one way to tackle all this would be to reduce the numbers of hours worked per day or week but how many enlightened employers will be prepared to start something like this off? It took long enough to get flexible working hours introduced and I would not be surprised if that initiative has been rolled back under austerity.

  14. No Chips Left Behind says:

    Many great comments to another cracking blog. Let me try to add to the conversation by adding a few well-established strands without, I hope, subverting the discussion.

    The future of work is also about, I think, really, the future of how we organise ourselves as a society.

    Is the rise of UKIP a symptom of the economic changes we see in Rick’s chart – that those of us not engaged in high paying occupations think that Nigel Farage offers the answer? So, is UKIP not just another flash-in-the-pan far-right political party that will collapse to a crescedo of racially-motivated violence; and whose support will fall because people start instead voting for the British version of Golden Dawn?

    With a global recovery that has disproportionately benefited the rich, will Britain turn into the situation like the one I see in America (where ‘tackling inequality’ becomes ‘class warfare’ and ‘disenfranchising people who won’t vote for me’ becomes ‘combating voter fraud’) where the rich seem to be have succeeded in creating an oligarchy whilst making every believe they live in a democracy?

    But of couse, in Britain, we live in a meritocracy. http://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2012/may/22/social-mobility-data-charts

    I recall reading, many years ago, about portfolio careers. I thought it was complete balderdash then. Maybe I was wrong. Maybe Drucker meant the hipsters in Rick’s blog as well as people who move from one fixed-term contract to another, people with multiple low-paying sometimes zero hours contract jobs.

    So, I wish I could be a dissenting voice, arguing that’s it’s going to be less bleak in the future; I’m afraid I can’t but would welcome to read anyone who can.

    @ John Timomey, one swallow doesn’t make a summer but my company tried operating without high-level (ie expensive) HR and Finance bullshitters and found that to compete in a global market, it had hire more of them.

    @Hilary Burrage, I think the living wage concept addresses your question. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-20204594

    • Thanks No Chips, but am puzzled by your thought that the Living Wage (a *concept* with which of course I am familiar) addresses the issues. My problem is that most *analysis* is ungendered – and so misses quite a lot of relevant factors.

  15. Angry Grandparent II says:

    The problem is that in essence, it has gone all one way without the tempering of essential socialistic needs, to a point where the whole system is driven by pure greed and profit, where companies are actively evading tax and are ignoring governments, the people, the workers, unions etc as their primary duty is to the shareholder and themselves.

    If we consider a 100 years ago, there was almost a complete opposite that very nearly went too far in socialistic policy, the chocolate barons and other altruisic philanthropists of the great Victorian Britain embraced an all new vision of not paring the workforce, forcing the workforce to longer hours and lesser pay but started taking social responsibility for them in forms of housing, retirement and pension housing, fair wages and hours, the ability to fairly negotiate terms for workers and employer and the real ability of both sides to keep to their agreed terms without fear or threat of strike. It shows a completely different landscape to the one we see today.

    This of course spread, in areas where it was resisted, the unions took the baton, in areas where it was accepted freely, whole swathes of Victorian Britain entered into a hitherto unknown stage, where worker and boss, state and citizen were actually talking and working from the same page.

    Of course the venal companies resisted to the last drop, matchstick companies refused to drop what had become almost forced slave labour and with a high turnover of employees, a massive casaulty and death rate of child and adult labour with little reward other than a paupers grave, these last bastions of despotic proto-capitalism lasted well into the 20th century as did the poor houses and work houses, the Irish “laundries” but became adept at hiding themselves til they were finally eradicated by a general public who really wasn’t accepting these terrible means of living and one by one they fell.

    A new era enveloped Britain, Europe and America, that of gainful and worthwhile employment, the right to own your home on simple terms, that governments prided themselves that every citizen had a job, the sick were cared for, the man in the street had rights of justice in employment, family and more and this bargain was still fairly evident in the 1970’s.

    A new breed or should we say an old breed, some of old powerful families, who didn’t quite take to this “democratic” new world, the people who in the US admired the fascism movement in Italy and installed, financed Hitler into power, the same people who tried to overthrow the democratic government of America in 1933 to install a carbon copy of the Italian and German governments, it failed but only just. To them socialism was their enemy, these were the 1%, the Fords, the Rockefellers, the Louisiana forebears to the Bush clan, they didn’t believe in the shared wealth and have over the generations exerted enormous resources into defeating anything socialistic, they are today very evident and very much in power too.

    And so whether in the UK, the US or Europe, since the 1960’s a concerted pattern has emerged, the destruction of the union paramount, the removal of employment rights, the rights of the man, things like aid, once freely given as gift to assist poorer nations, became more and more nooses or means to exploit these nations to tie them into extremely unfair terms, aid is seen in the public eye still as a generosity of the 1st world yet people who know, understand it is a device and means to impoverish nations further.

    The American “empire” which itself is now in the fall of its height, in its twilight knew it had to break the British empire, join with it, control it and you start to see these long laid plans in new lights, is it a coincidence that these elite Americans put their money behind a man who they wanted to break the British global control with? The dedicated way that America withheld itself from the outbreak of war, the insult and damage caused by sending Joseph Kennedy to the UK as ambassador and the subsequent expulsion of him when it was discovered he was openly supporting the IRA, seeking to encourage them to embrace the Germans offer of help, seeking to encourage them to forego their ceasefire during WWII, the passing of British secrets and military policies or movements to Von Ribbentropp was the final end and Kennedy was sent home in disgrace which nearly broke the friendship between America and Britain at that time, it was a scandal that never happened.

    To me, I can see its all steps in a plan, whether the early stages of usurping the British empire, the growth of the massive US corporations, the sense too of these corporations that criminality was not beneath them, whether we look to Thomas Watson of IBM’s abetment of Hitler to murder of union and others in South American states by drinks companies suggests that America and its companies were willing to cross lines that the British companies would not.

    With this corporate power growth, businessmen who enjoyed a certain “influence” gained real political power in areas of modern life, as the unions were crushed, the rights of employees were equally squeezed, as each step was taken, a hard fought for or attained aspect of our modern era was lost, Thatcher an entrenched believer in corporate power all but destroyed the British unions, her political descendants last year first suggested ever of people surrendering their very basic employment rights, it is her political descendants that have brought in secret crimes, secret courts, have removed the expectation of a decent home, decent school, decent healthcare, justice has become more negotiable the more money or power the individual has, children are sought for as a commodity in trade sold across the nation in fraudulent adoption markets and it is these political descendent who have empowered the agents of the state above and beyond any other in history. It is now a crime to strike unless it is on “their” terms, it is a crime to protest unless you book an appointment and the government says it is OK, corporations quite easily remove odious protests outside their industries that produce weapons used against civilians.

    In America it has become far, far worse, police are killing with impunity, corruption and cronyism has become the expected standard and norm, politicians are elevated into power because of their vast fortunes and corporate sponsorship which is reciprocated in return for further union crushing and further removal of rights of the individual, in the US, the corporation is considered a living entity with rights EQUAL to that of any man, that a corporations profits can be measured against the life of a human being and so forth.

    And what we are sleepwalking into here in the EU especially, is the bare fact that a corporate grab of power of unforeseen magnitude is underway and there is nothing we can do about it, that here in the UK or France etc, the same rules in the US will apply, that a corporations rights are paramount, that a right to profit can be measured against the life, wellbeing or rights of a citizen, that governments who object to these corporations can be held hostage via special apparatus that are outside of the law but are disguised as edifices of law so the corporations can be seen to adhere to their law whilst making it all but impossible for the governments to resist. If the TTPA goes ahead it spells the end of the democratic rights of billions of people and we will be at the mercy of greedy powerful corporations who will have absolute control of whole sections of our society in what will become a feeding frenzy on what we have fought for or attained here.

    In ten years time, I suspect that the final attacks on employment rights in general, the right to protest, the right of health and safety at work, the very right to lay down tools or to refuse illegal activity and action will be destroyed, it will be all about profit, maximum profit, minimum cost and in the years to come, the spectre of Henry Kissinger’s useless eaters, NSA#200, the deliberate thinning and culling of the human race will show once again and ask yourselves this… who will be able to stop it from happening? Perversely, it could be future argued that under these new TTPA laws that to even resist vocally to such may be a crime and that is where the TTPA will go, at the moment it is about financial punishment but it will in the end become about political power and destruction of democracy.

  16. Dipper says:

    Forty years ago when mainframes could first do linear optimisation it was felt we would not need politicains because we could measure all the variables, put them in a mainframe, and get the optimised solution out. But now we know so much better, and understand that algorithms are what we need instead (I’m being ironic, because obviously algorithms will have a mass of problems that need people to monitor and resolve them).

    The history of computing is of constant underestimate of how many people will be employed in the sector and an overestimate of what computers unaided can do.

  17. David says:

    Rik , thanks for your comment and forgive me if I’ve misunderstood but isn’t that (basic income) what are refered to as the various ‘benefits’ ? That’s a genuine enquiry and not meant with any kind of facetiousness. I am ,of course , the beneficiary of several very generous unfunded and non means tested ones myself so wouldnt dream of questioning anyone else’s nose in the trough as long as they’d also made a few worthwhile contributions !
    If it’s just throwing more dosh at some intangible and unsolvable problem in the hope it’ll go away then I think it’ll follow the well worn course of so many other similar schemes and simply come back to bite said thrower on the bum . I also think that many of the net payers (that’s most of us here) will quickly reach one of two conclusions , either choose another tax regime or have a crack at the social breakdown . Surely the increased tax take will hit all levels of income not just those who are perceived to be the enemy , ie , ‘The Wealthy’ . As you said , it won’t be popular and one persons ‘equitable’ is another’s theft .
    Definitely my last word …..

    • John says:

      Green Party policy on Citizens’ Income – http://policy.greenparty.org.uk/ec.html#EC732

      EC730 A Citizen’s Income sufficient to cover an individual’s basic needs will be introduced, which will replace tax-free allowances and most social security benefits (see EC711). A Citizen’s Income is an unconditional, non-withdrawable income payable to each individual as a right of citizenship. It will not be subject to means testing and there will be no requirement to be either working or actively seeking work.

      EC731 The Citizens’ Income will eliminate the unemployment and poverty traps, as well as acting as a safety net to enable people to choose their own types and patterns of work (See EC400). The Citizens’ Income scheme will thus enable the welfare state to develop towards a welfare community, engaging people in personally satisfying and socially useful work.

      EC732 When the Citizens’ Income is introduced it is intended that nobody will be in a position that they will receive less through the scheme than they were entitled to under the previous benefits system. Children will be entitled to a reduced amount which will be payable to a parent or legal guardian. People with disabilities or special needs, and single parents will receive a supplement.

      EC733 Initially, the housing benefit system will remain in place alongside the Citizens’ Income and will be extended to cover contributions towards mortgage repayments (see HO602). This will subsequently be reviewed to establish how housing benefit could be incorporated into the Citizen’s Income, taking into account the differences in housing costs between different parts of the country and different types of housing.

      • Geoff Winn says:

        That all sounds jolly nice. Have you tried doing the arithmetic?

        Try putting an actual number to the “Citizen’s Income”. For comparison, a minimum wage job, 40 hours per week, pays about £13,500 per year.

        Then decide who receives it. All adults? (Over 16? Over 21?) Suppose that’s 45 million people. Now multiply to get the total cost. If the “Citizen’s Income” is as little as £5,000 per year, then you will need 225 billion pounds. If it’s £10,000 per year …

        Will migrants receive it? Illegal immigrants?

        You might try funding that with money recovered from other benefits that you might abolish, like JSA, child support, housing benefit, pensions and so on. The problem there is “it is intended that nobody will be in a position that they will receive less through the scheme than they were entitled to under the previous benefits system”. So the cost of this new system is guaranteed to be higher than the sum of all existing benefits. By how much?

        I followed your link to the Green Party website and noticed a paragraph that says that Citizen’s Income will not be paid to the retired because they will receive a _larger_ Citizen’s Pension. So the cost goes up again. That’s an impressive magic money tree those guys are hiding.

        I actually find the basic idea appealing, in part because it would reduce the cost of administering so many different benefit schemes. However, the arithmetic matters. And right now, no one is presenting anything that adds up.

        • John says:

          Geoff: I am in agreement with what you say.
          Can I suggest you contact the Green Party and request an explanation from them on funding?
          Perhaps you could post a response back here – if you get one?

          • Geoff Winn says:

            Good point. I sent them a note a few minutes ago. If I get a reply I’ll report back.

          • Geoff Winn says:

            I did receive a reply from the Green Party. They don’t include numbers in their policy documents because the numbers change too frequently for their policy review process – which is understandable. They also supplied a link to http://www.citizensincome.org – the Citizen’s Income Trust – which contains far more detail and worked examples. In their FAQ section there is a reasonable worked example under the question “Is a Citizen’s Income affordable?”. There is too much detail to cover here, however I find it encouraging that someone is clearly applying some actual brain cells to the issue and writing down the realistic options.

  18. David says:

    Geoff , you beat me to it . Trying to make any sense of their ideas on the funding defeated me but by all means take up Johns suggestion , you may get a clearer picture than I did . Certainly the prospect of less expensive administration of the ‘Benifits’ (that’s what they are) is appealing requiring (dare I hope) less public employment .
    So really , the alternative was just the tired and failed old idea of throwing dosh at it . Dissapointing that generations keep coming up with the same old idea with a different name , although Citizens Income is certainly one of the more chilling .

  19. A political system is an answer to the question, “How can we organise ourselves more effectively?” with the most successful answer to date apparently being provided by capitalism. For anything to usurp it, it must be better, as in, more effective; it’s all about winners and losers really. Just as organisms evolve via competition, so societies evolve in the same manner. Capitalism is so successful because it emulates biological evolution, money being a token that bestows survivability upon those “fit” enough to acquire more of it. Has there ever been an animal that survived by being kinder unless its kindness bestowed survival advantage as well? I think not.
    Evolution occurs over millions of years and is not a steady progression; species suffer major setbacks which – although alarming to those living, or dying, through it – if survived, leads to greater strength in the long run. As conscious beings we do not want to be subject to the whims of chance and to feel that the system determines our future rather than us determining it. We strive to impose our choice and thus plot our course. But ultimately, the system will move forward even if it proceeds through a period of utter chaos. There is little consolation, for an animal that suffers at the hands of biological evolution, to know that it is by this means that his species – should it survive – will become “fitter” in the long run. Biological evolution does not ask for permission or approval, it does not have to be nice or kind and importantly, it does not need to progress every life form or species; society will evolve along similar lines and for similar reasons. The bigger picture is what matters here; the society that progresses will not necessarily be the one that is most obviously functional now – because on that count, the most harmonious would seem to be what is required – instead it will be the society that is the most robust and can thus survive the upheaval that technological advance might bring.

    • I was interested in the issue you raised, Rick, so I alluded to your post on my facebook page and gave my comment to hopefully spark a debate. It will not, I’m sure, be conducted in the rarefied intellectual atmosphere enjoyed by this blog but you’d be welcome to drop by and give us the benefit of your personal opinion on the matter.

  20. Pingback: The technology zeitgeist: a library of links - martingeddes

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