Tom Toles by Tom Toles

Tom Toles

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  1. Ira Nayman

    Ira Nayman said, about 2 years ago

    We could always use better humans…

  2. Quipss

    Quipss said, about 2 years 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 2 years ago


    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. Doughfoot

    Doughfoot said, about 2 years 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.

  5. Doughfoot

    Doughfoot said, about 2 years ago

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

  6. MangeyMoose

    MangeyMoose said, about 2 years 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.

  7. emptc12

    emptc12 said, about 2 years ago


    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.

  8. Cerabooge

    Cerabooge said, about 2 years 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.

  9. Doughfoot

    Doughfoot said, about 2 years ago

    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.

  10. ARodney

    ARodney said, about 2 years 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.

  11. Balto Bill

    Balto Bill said, about 2 years ago

    “Alaska – everyone gets a guaranteed income”

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

  12. hippogriff

    hippogriff said, about 2 years 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.”

  13. echoraven

    echoraven said, about 2 years ago

    looks about right…

  14. The Wolf In Your Midst

    The Wolf In Your Midst said, about 2 years ago

    What’s everyone worried about? The rich will be fine! And it’s not like the rest of the population would rise up or anything; they’ll be happy to starve to death in favelas and cardboard boxes, secure in the knowledge that those few who are worth anything (i.e. have money) will carry on.

    And if not, well, the rich can always pay half the poor to kill the other half, or something….

  15. MangeyMoose

    MangeyMoose said, about 2 years ago

    To emptc12, and anyone else who might want to read PLAYER PIANO by Kurt Vonnegut:
    My small-town library did not have it, but the librarian got on her COMPUTER and found a copy in another library several towns away. It is being sent here for me to pick up in 2-3 days. Your library can probably do the same for you.

    Maybe I, too, will find it boring, but since it is pertinent to a subject that concerns all of us, whether we know it or not, and since Michael wme mentioned it, I will read it. Then I can come back on GC and pontificate some more!

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