Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Automating a Workforce

The recent exponential increase in technological development has made the automation of workforce a more feasible reality. In the article “Fully Automated Luxury Communism,” Brian Merchant dispels apprehension towards an automation by proposing a Utopian like society which communally shares control of an automated workforce provided by the government as a non-profit service. Merchant illustrates the viability of his society by providing examples of companies such as “Uber,” the taxi service working towards full automation. Merchant strengthens his argument including diverse sources backing up his claim, but fails to address obvious criticism such as the necessary assimilation of the entire society to ensure the benefit is shared equally. In theory, this could be a Utopian society. However, the diversity of America, or any society in the world, will create great challenges as total assimilation is virtually impossible without a totalitarian government. The process of automation in society is undeniable, however converting a society to a foundation of automation would be virtually impossible. Another obvious flaw in the “FALC” argument is the lack of job market in a fully automated society. Automating the blue collar job market would create greater government dependency within the population and decrease government revenue from taxes. The lacking workforce could lead to various potential indirect effects such as an economic shift to fit such an automated society. Without revenue and a population supporting the economy, the local economy would likely collapse creating many long-lasting negative effects. The process of automation in society will naturally occur with the advancement of technology, however redefining society based on its automation could likely be adverse and will require extensive research to be deemed viable.  

Monday, March 23, 2015


In the past few years, technology has been a major source of controversy in several first-world societies. The majority of objection to technological advancement comes from those who worry about the potential damage that our ever-advancing technology could cause in our economy and our inter-personal relationships. Others, such as members of FALC (Fully Automated Luxury Communism) argue that technological advancement is not something to be afraid of, it should be embraced. Members of FALC believe that technology is our future, and that we should encourage the widespread use of technology in work environments, even if that means technology almost entirely replacing humans. While I recognize the validity of FALC’s arguments, their idea of “luxury communism” lacks credibility. A society completely run by technology is very new concept, and is not supported by the proper research and social experiments that would reveal all of it’s shortcomings. Logistically speaking, if FALC were to implement they’re ideas, which would require establishing an entirely new economy, they would need to provide an answer to countless questions and problems that realistically would take years to answer and stir endless controversy. I believe the most pressing and provocative question that would need to be answered is, who would be in charge of all of these robots- our government or private enterprises? The answer would potentially determine the role that technology would play in our every day life.  Not only do I think that establishing an entirely new economy is unpractical, I believe it is theoretically wrong. Technology has already taken over our everyday lives in terms of communication, however the idea that we could potentially rely on technology for almost everything that is needed to sustain life and our overall well-being is frightening. Not only is technology constantly malfunctioning and completely unreliable, it is untrustworthy… A certain degree of human involvement in the work place and in society is necessary to maintain quality control and accessibility. Another concern that I have about a “fully automated luxury” society stems from the overwhelming and inevitable job loss that would occur. If jobs are being taken over by technology, people may have no way to make money, which makes attaining any form of “luxury” impossible. Although the idea of technology doing all of human’s dirty work is appealing, establishing luxury communism will never be practical, and would never be able to support a functioning economy.

Working Robots

The idea of a robotic workforce and a world without labor may seem ideal but it comes with a price. As technology has progressively advanced over the years, many people have been planning for robots to come take place of humans and do their jobs. By making this actual reality, many people will find themselves left out of a job and maybe a home. With that being said, the government would then have to pay those employees personally in order to compensate for their lost income. That in hand brings a bigger political aspect in the argument on whether or not to move forward with this plan of “Fully Automated Luxury Communism”. Another major factor to consider before turning over our world to a bunch of robots is that with so many newly unemployed people the government might want to consider the amount of crime rates increasing and possibly the cases of obesity and other health issues with so much free time. As we have seen many times before history continues to repeat itself, so who’s to say that ten to twenty years from now people won’t have this same conversation again about a new and improved robot or some other type of advanced technology to take over the old robots. Though the idea of FALC may sound appealing and meet the eye at first, I think it’s only temporarily amusing. After a while people are going to become tired of just sitting around and such a uniform repetitive day a wish to continue working. Overall, I think it’s totally possible for this to one day be reality but there still are a few problem areas that should be worked out with factories that choose to use this route and some major considerations that need to be made in the government and workers union. Just keep in mind that there will always be something bigger and better right around the corner and will again change how people think and operate.


A World Run by Technology

There has been a lot of discussion about technology over the past years and lately focusing on how far should we allow technology to advance. Basically, how much is too much technology? According to Brian Merchant there is no such thing. Many people like Merchant would argue that I only disagree with this because I am afraid of the word communism or just do not fully understand what a world run by technology would entail. However, I beg to differ, just the phrase “a world run by technology” alone should make people cringe. Merchant uses points about how factories are shedding jobs and many jobs are at risk of being taken over by technology to somehow “support” his argument, however, for me it clarifies that technology is not the answer. Yet some readers may challenge my view by insisting that technology is one hundred percent the way to go and that there is no better answer for the world’s problems. Humans are so unique and regardless of religious or political views everyone can agree we are unique creatures who were given so many advances from our vast intricate brains, our structurally advanced body’s, down to our hard working and determined spirits and I believe we were given these qualities for a reason and we should value and use them. We as humans have more to offer than a brain capable of creating technology that will perform every task for us. I agree that robots or self-driven cars would be totally cool and maybe readers could argue that self-driven cars would result in less car accidents and I would love to listen, however, it is just not realistic that this will happen. In a perfect world maybe life would be easier if technology did everything for us, however, there is no way to test the effects it could have. The consequences greatly outweigh the rewards in this situation. Although I grant that Merchant has valid points regarding that technology is helpful, I still maintain that there is such thing as too much technology and at some point a line needs to be drawn.

Concerning Communism

For the most part I would like to think that "Fully Automated Luxury Communism" could actually take off, or actually be possible. The argument for these robots and machines to replace humanity's "dirty work" is a concept that is both intriguing and borderline concerning. In the idealism for FALC seems to have a relatively large following though I see some probable concerning aspects that would have to be worked out in order to proceed into making this fantasy world a real robot utopia. For starters, who would be responsible for purchasing and maintaining these cyber workers? If you say private corporations then my continuing question would be as to what these machines true quality of work is: nothing quite beats items made by hand with "love and affection." In a more public sense what companies would be granted exclusive rights to maintain equipment available to citizens using driverless-cars driven for public transportation, and who is to say their products are more reliable than others? Further we live in a democratic capitalist society which doesn't allow for competition. Thus, either these companies who lay off workers to use robotic technology instead would have to provide their ex-employees with monetary sustainment for life, or the government would have to provide for these individuals in the society who doesn't need humans to do their work. Secondly, where would money coming from government programs to help individuals who had been replaced come from if they have no income to pay taxes with. Lastly, what would become of the population of individuals who live in this "utopia"? With little to no stimuli to keep them busy, focused, and driven for a common goal, such as financial stability, individuals are more likely to become bored. With this boredom can cause acting out, crime, irrational actions, lack of concern for a common welfare. This idea of FALC could potentially be a positive one, but I see too many outlying factors and questions for this idea to have a true chance at this point in our societies.


Perhaps the biggest issue which is overlooked in this article lies in the political mesh and foundation of this concept as a whole. Though it's mentioned that there is a political aspect or background to this idealistic notion, it's not brought up as a real, practical issue with which supporters of this movement are going to have to work around. It's easy to say that the ideas of a world without labor or a people wholly united are negative, but there absolutely would be sacrifices made in the process, and convincing those who hold different sociopolitical/world views would be nearly impossible. Not only that, not having those people along for the ride would take away from this prospect greatly, if not ruin it entirely. There will always be men and women who choose to fight for a capitalistic society—to some, this is simply the most appealing way for a society and an economy to function. Missing cogs in a machine such as this one are going to take away from the big picture in a vital way. What good is a laborless society if someone around the corner is offering a better product? At that point, the whole issue becomes messy and even more political. The whole concept of capitalism undermines entirely what luxury communism seeks to do. There are some nice concepts to daydream on, with these ideals and any other sort of utopian complex—equality (and perhaps even less labor for humans) is something we can strive for and view as an objective good for society. But you're not gonna get everyone on board the boat to abandon these strongly ingrained capitalistic and individualistic worldviews (not to mention fear/loathing of communism). Even if the majority agreed, it leaves room for exploitation by those who want to play outside the rules of the game. It's fine to believe that this brand of luxury communism is a natural progression of things, but the truth is that it will never be practical in a first world which is inhabited by many who despise communism or who would look to cheat the system.

Blog Comment for Fully Automated Luxury Communism

I anticipate that many of the students in our class (as well readers of this article) may find that this reading is incorrect. So my “naysayer” will be those that have objections to the text. I strongly agree with the points the article makes with its objections to Capitalism and share its hopeful message. However, many readers might argue that the reading is far too radical and that communism/socialism is directly opposed to the America Ideal. Surely, Capitalists and Americans the like are likely to respond by saying, “A society of shared wealth and resources will never work because those at the bottom are likely to take advantage of the situation, while those at the top who are providing the wealth and resources will react by stopping production. Under Communism, we all fall down.” So is the proposal of the reading realistic? Will it be able to function when we take into account human free will and inclination towards greediness? Yes and yes though the response is justified considering how we Americans have grown to detest Communism in all forms. The argument from the Capitalists does not taken into account the “Fully automated” portion of this type of Communism. With machines providing all wealth and resources, there would be no tainting of the system by human will. Research and development would still occur (believe it or not people do those things without financial incentive) to allow for even more efficient means of production. Besides, the American system is not directly opposed to socialism: consider welfare programs, the push for a larger minimum wage, and financial services for Education. In sum, I do not think the arguments against Fully Automated Luxury Communism are justified, but rather come out a deeply ingrained fear of past attempts of other forms of Communism.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Nickel and Dimed

After reading Barbara Ehrenreich’s essay “From Nickel and Dimed” she provides an understanding on the struggle of having a difficult job but still having a bad pay.  What I like the most about this essay is the fact that she knows how to explain and provide images on how hard it can be for someone to live like the way they do. And how little we pay attention to these problems. Society portrays the poor or the lower class people as lazy and not being able to get a job. But the truth is, even if they do get a job they might not have the money to buy a uniform, transportation, etc. She uses a maid as an example to illustrate a lower class person with a job. And the character in the essay mentions how the company gets paid $25 dollars an hour but the maids only get paid $6.65 for each hour they work. Which doesn’t make sense; they have these hard jobs but get paid so little. They get paid to go to a house, clean their mess and they have to clean in a certain way but not receiving enough money. We judge the people who are in poverty but we tend not to help and we still end up judging them. What we also do not understand is that the economy is getting worse but we are still getting paid minimum wage. So of course for some people it is hard to provide for themselves, imagine having to provide for a family and how difficult it could be. This reading can give people a good understanding on how even if someone has a job it can still be difficult to get out of poverty. It is not impossible but it can be very hard to and that is what society needs to understand. Everybody has a different life, some people are born into being rich wealthy and some are born into the poverty side. And some people have to work for their money but some people are getting handed that money.

Hardworking and Struggling

Nickel and Dimed written by Barbara Ehrenreich provides an insight to those who work in blue collared professions, but still seem to be struggling to make enough money to provide for their day to day lives. This article, which seems to be an autobiography of some sort, follows a newly hired housecleaner in a large corporation, and how she ensued extremely hard work conditions, like following strict rules and dealing with difficult clients. Her main purpose to get across was the fact that many people work hard at their jobs, but still seem to find themselves impoverished. With Ehrenreich’s opinion being stated, I seem to agree with her on the basis of poverty being seen so differently by every person. A lot of our viewpoints of poverty are of those sleeping on the street are there for their own wrongdoings, rather than just being dealt a deal of misfortunes. Not only does she explain her own misfortunes with acquiring enough money to buy some food to fulfill her throughout the day, but she gives an insight on how her co-workers also struggle with the ability to provide for their own needs as well for their families. Her main purpose for producing this reading was to give those who are not in a situation where they wondered if they were going to be able to scrape enough money up for food, while working a less than minimum waged job, an insight to this hard life. It is clear that Ehrenreich has a strong feeling about blue-collared jobs and the impoverished lifestyle that can still go along with it. From my point of view, this reading allows us to think of all the different types of poverty that goes around us. Poverty ranging from living in the streets to someone in a house but barely making ends meet

Sweating for Every Nickel and Dime

After reading the passage “From Nickel and Dime“, Ehrenreich is surely right about the hard struggle people from lower class deal with because it sheds light to the difficult problem of economy. Yet, people from the upper class are being ignorant to the situation of the struggle lower class workers face every day. They close to their own perfect world and ignore the fact that while they are enjoying their rich lives; on the hand, people that are in need of jobs are willing to do the upper class responsibilities at home or in general duties people have. In the passage of Ehrenreich, she gives a perfect example about the process a lower class person gets a job. In this case, she gave the example of maids, which is a low wage paid job. At the beginning of the passage, she is explaining the restrictions and rules of being a maid. Afterward, the new house cleaner is introducing the procedures and requirement that have to be down before they are able work as house cleaner. She also mentions how the company she is working for are taking advantage of woman’s economically. She mentions how the company get way more money than what the maid gets paid. The company gets paid $25, but the maid gets paid less than 50 percent of the profit. However, that is not the worst part of the problem, working as a maid requires that person to diminish their dignity, and be able to live with not even having enough money to pay for their own lunch in their breaks. Ehrenreich is able point out that regardless of the job a person works in, it should be consider respectful. Even, if the job is not the most well paid or is an embarrassing job, that person deserves every nickel and dime because that job required sweat and a lot of effort. At the end of the day and a long week working as a maid, the women is able adjust to her job and set her mind in a positive way to feel conformist working in that job. This passage proves that people living on minimum wage or even lower leads to people living in poverty and not being able to get out of it because of the fact that they are stuck in their financially problems.

"Nickel and Dimed" Response

In Barbara Ehrenreich’s essay “From Nickel and Dimed” she explores the life of being a maid living beneath the cost of living. Ehrenreich makes a subtle but effective claim in stating that poverty is tangible for hard working people that work these minimum wage jobs. It is not merely just a number or a few coins. The maids exemplify the working class people. For them poverty is not having enough to eat or make lunch or not having enough to scrape up two dollars to get job supplies. I tend to agree with Ehrenreich’s view. She sheds light on a bigger topic of poverty. It seems as though people are so quick to judge the poor as lazy or attribute their lack of wealth to their own misdoings. Yet, this particular essay highlights the notion that even the hardest working people sometimes are dealt a bad station in life. Ehrenreich herself in fact, sounds extremely intelligent to be someone who works in a maid service. This counters the idea of those who suggest that even bettering ones education will always bring to fruition all their desires and the wealth that comes with it. The fact of the matter is that sometimes in life people are dealt terrible hands. From the outside looking in, it seems easier to judge someone based on success stories alone, that are sometimes our own. It is much harder to empathize with someone’s plight that is not and never has nor will be our own. We are given an opportunity to live vicariously through this woman in Ehrenreich’s essay so that we may begin to grasp an understanding for the hardship. The woman notably, does not complain, but describes. She like so many others seems to have accepted her station in life. She even is left to question just how poor her coworkers really are. It is important to note, most people would like to think of the poor as ignorant, reckless, often time minorities, seeking a payout so that they may carry on with the criminal and disdainful lives a someone else’s expense. However, by generalizing we disregard those who diligent workers who deserve every nickel and dime earned and then some.