Tom Toles by Tom Toles

Tom Toles

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  1. Ira Nayman

    Ira Nayman said, about 1 month ago

    We could always use better humans…

  2. Quipss

    Quipss said, about 1 month ago

    Societal investment towards mechanization should be considered. Trying to tax equity of others will work in the short term but long term state investment allows for a base line to government revenue.

    A 40 hour work week is not slavery. However it is an arbitrary line to decide that every person should work 40 hours a week.

    Forcing people to compete with robots for mundane labour is a pointless endeavor. Structuring the economy so that everybody is skilled is not a good long term plan. Not everybody needs to be an engineer, doctor or scientist. Not is every person able to do the work required.

  3. Robert Landers

    Robert Landers said, about 1 month ago

    @Quipss

    A truthful post, but it raises the question of just exactly how do we pay for the literally millions of our fellow human beings that will be out of work due to this mechanization?


    I think this is at least one of the most important questions of our time, if not the most important!!

  4. Michael wme

    Michael wme said, about 1 month ago

    Read Player Piano written in the ’40s.


    In ’29, a stock bubble burst, and the fat in the economy was slimmed. With the new, automated factories, only 75% of the workers were needed, and unemployment remained above 15% until two brilliant economists, a Prof Tojo from Japan and a Prof A. Schickelgrüber from Germany, came up with a stimulus program that got everyone to work from ’41 to ’45.


    Player Piano was written with the idea that, with the two professors having died untimely deaths and their stimulus plan terminated, and with improvements in automation, by 1970 or so, 99% would be unemployed. Orwell was right, but a few years too early. So give Vonnegut a few more years, and the world will probably look much like Player Piano.


    Which should finally help to alleviate the most painful and persistent problem facing America today: the Servant Problem.

  5. Doughfoot

    Doughfoot said, about 1 month ago

    It was once thought that automation would free mankind to pursue things more meaningful than mere the drudgery of work.


    Alas, several problems have appeared. (1) Those who own and have don’t want to support those who don’t have and don’t own. (2) Absent the absolute need for work, most people don’t pursue education and creativity. Most people spend all their time consuming junk food, television, or other drugs. Many of the rest, who are determined to be different, seek meaning in anti-social behavior (crime and anarchist politics). (3) Those who have and own, or those who are still working but no longer in an occupation that gives them the feeling of satisfaction or security are both now acquiring the bad habits mentioned in (2).


    It seems to me that the absolute necessities of human life lived decently are food, shelter, medicine, community, and meaningful work (whether paid or unpaid), which last includes the idea of liberty: the feeling that one is in control of one’s own fate. Community norms and freedom are both needed, though they are essentially opposed to one another, or at least in tension with one another. You can’t even be a nonconformist, unless there is a norm to which you can refuse to conform!



    What seems to me to be the big danger in modern society, is the growing feeling that things just don’t make sense, that actions and behaviors have no predictable or meaningful result. And the result is that way too many people out there are trying to force the world into a specific and narrow mold, into conformity with their own specific and narrow ideology.


    We seem less able that before to understand the need for a balance between the need for individual liberty (not the same as license, as the old dead white men knew) and the need for community. The ideal is free choice in all things for everyone and nevertheless an organically appearing consensus on things of importance. That’s what you have in traditional societies. Little coercion, but little variability. Well, we’re never going to see THAT again. So what does a society look like that has people in it of wildly different tastes and values that still manages to get alone with a maximum of peace, security, meaning, and liberty for all?

    I don’t see many asking that question, let alone offering a vision or an answer. Certainly not the libertarians, who seem to come closest to trying: but they are too hung up on point number (1) above, and seem unable to get past that one thing. A system of universal health insurance, it seems to me, to be one of the most liberating things there could be, both for individuals and businesses. Yet “libertarians” view of liberty is so narrow they are the first to oppose it. Go figure.


  6. Doughfoot

    Doughfoot said, about 1 month ago

    @Michael wme

    Never read Player Piano. I didn’t realize it was so old, published in 1952. I should read it.

  7. MangeyMoose

    MangeyMoose GoComics PRO Member said, about 1 month ago

    Nikola Tesla once remarked that technological advances and progress are not the same. Technology is progress only when is benefits mankind, and that there are many technological advances which hurt mankind.

    I heard this on a special program about him about a year ago. I tried to find the exact quote, but could not.

    Quipss and Robert Landers have correctly addressed a major issue facing all societies today. Has anyone in our congress given any thought to those millions who will not find a viable livelyhood as automation and computerization perform the work of many? (let alone, shipping jobs out-of-the-country) I think not. Our tech advances almost daily, by leaps and bounds, faster than our ability to comprehend it, and understand its practical use. ie: people using cell-phones or texting while driving, in a theater or church, or standing in a line. It’s bothersome to others, but imposed on us by a lack of self-restraint & common manners. Technology has given us the cell-phone, and each will use it as he/she wants to, no matter how it may affect others. More & more of our young students must learn the many computer languages and skills demanded by corporations, or they will be left behind. We are turning away from the Arts and Humanities, and are developing a society of Technocrats.

    I am going to the library today, to see if they have Kurt’s “Player Piano”. Thanks, Michael wme.

  8. masterskrain

    masterskrain GoComics PRO Member said, about 1 month ago

    Seriously, how many jobs have been lost in just the auto industry through the use of robotics?
    I’d LOVE to know exactly how many men worked on the assembly line in 1960 Assembling Chevrolet Suburbans, as compared to how many work on the same line today, assembling the 2014 version of what is basically the same type of vehicle.

  9. emptc12

    emptc12 said, about 1 month ago

    @MangeyMoose

    For many years, PLAYER PIANO was considered the best of Vonnegut’s books. It appeared in several Modern American Authors classes when I was in school. I found it dry and boring (i.e., teachers approved of its literary merit) and you might be disappointed by it. I prefer the several more flamboyant books that Vonnegut wrote, such as THE SIRENS OF TITAN and CAT’S CRADLE. After SLAUGHTERHOUSE FIVE. Vonnegut’s output was dominated and, to my mind, spoiled by his insistence on inserting details of his problems with depression.

  10. Cerabooge

    Cerabooge said, about 1 month ago

    Robert Landers: we pay for the people put out of work through automation by arranging for the entire population to be owners of the automated processes. Right now, all of that accrues to a tiny portion of the population. Corporate-ruled governments (like now) are destructive of societies, but government-ruled corporations could provide the benefits of automation to all.

  11. Doughfoot

    Doughfoot said, about 1 month ago

    @masterskrain

    In 1909 it took 300 man-hours to build a motor car. By 1930 than was cut to 90 man-hours. Today, the average is about 30 man-hours, though cars are far more complex than they were in 1930.

  12. ARodney

    ARodney said, about 1 month ago

    One way would be to do this the way Alaska does — everyone gets a guaranteed income (yes, paid for by taxes). Ideally, one that brings them up just above the poverty level. Whether they’re disabled, unable to find a job, drug addled, retired, or just plain lazy. To improve from that level, you’d need to work. The economy would be in much better shape if everyone who needed something could afford to buy it (as noted last week by Standard and Poors), and the fact that jobs like coal mining and industry have been replaced by machines would not matter so much. Conservatives think everyone should move into upper management, and can’t see the impossibility of that. Just because orchestra conductors get paid more than musicians, it doesn’t make sense to tell every musician to become a conductor.

  13. Balto Bill

    Balto Bill said, about 1 month ago

    “Alaska – everyone gets a guaranteed income”

    But, but, Socialism … How did Ms.Palin allow something like that to happen?

  14. hippogriff

    hippogriff said, about 1 month ago

    MangeyMoose: In his 1947 book, The Two Cultures, Churchill’s science adviser, C.P. Snow said, “Science and the humanities have diverged to the point that they can’t even speak the same language. As a result, we are getting humanities with no basis in reality, and science without morals.”

  15. old1953

    old1953 said, about 1 month ago

    It’s a real new economy coming, and it’s not going to be anything like the old one at all. It will NOT be in any sense classic capitalism or communism or socialism, though doubtless it’ll be called all three for social promotion purposes. And it will inevitably be based on a simple idea, that a pipeline is of limited size and has two ends. To put more in the production end, you have to take more out from the consumption end. The US has screwed the pooch big time by restricting consumption via low wages and faux hatred for “gubbmint welfare”. (I say faux hatred because I have never seen anyone yet refuse a government grant – doubtless such people exist and doubtless they get vast attention from some organization or other, but I’ve never met one personally. They are apparently quite rare in real life. BTW, go ahead and make your noisy claims, but be aware that I assume anyone boasting about personal matters of any sort on the Internet is lying enormously.) You can’t have real growth without growth in consumption – but you also can’t have real growth without raw materials. Those facts point the direction the robots will take us in – ultra cheap robot labor will enable the mining of landfills and old appliances for raw materials that have already been refined but are expensive to take apart with hand labor. Did you know Europe has piles of old refrigerators and air conditioners that reach the sky? Yup, regulations say they have to dispose of the old freon refrigerants in such a complex way nobody tries to get rid of them, but robots will make it economic to recover several million tons of metal there. Robots will be mining the landfills and making the goods, but humans will have to consume them. That consumption will have to be encouraged, and advertising is about worn out. Forced consumption of some kind? Or major social projects, such as space or lunar colonies? We CAN burn off a lot of consumption by throwing stuff away in the MidEast, but the public seems to be rather tired of that one, not to mention it gets a lot of people killed. So it’s either massive public undertakings or just flat out “YOU WILL CONSUME” – either by govt giveaways or by fiat order. Given the resistance to the ACA, I’d think the massive undertakings would be more popular, but the politics of the US keep surprising me.

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