Category Archives: Labor

The Brave New World Of Artificial Intelligence, by Frank Miele

Will ChatGPT replace writers? This writer hopes not. From Frank Miele at realclearwire.com:

As a journalist and commentator, I have closely followed the development of OpenAI, the artificial intelligence research lab founded by Elon Musk, Sam Altman, and other prominent figures in the tech industry. While I am excited about the potential of AI to revolutionize various industries and improve our lives in countless ways, I also have serious concerns about the implications of this powerful technology.

One of the main concerns is the potential for AI to be used for nefarious purposes. Powerful AI systems could be used to create deepfakes, conduct cyberattacks, or even develop autonomous weapons. These are not just hypothetical scenarios – they are already happening. We’ve seen instances of deepfakes being used to create fake news and propaganda, and the use of AI-powered cyberattacks has been on the rise in recent years.

Another concern is the impact of AI on the job market. As AI-powered systems become more sophisticated, they will be able to automate more and more tasks that were previously done by humans. This could lead to widespread job loss, particularly in industries such as manufacturing, transportation, and customer service. While some argue that new jobs will be created as a result of the AI revolution, it’s unclear whether these jobs will be sufficient to offset the losses.

If you aren’t worried yet, I’ll let you in on a little secret: The first three paragraphs of this column were written by ChatGPT, the chatbot created by OpenAI. You can add “columnist” to the list of jobs threatened by this new technology, and if you think there is anything human that isn’t threatened with irrelevance in the next five to 10 years, I suggest you talk to Mr. Neanderthal about how relevant he feels 40,000 years after the arrival of Cro-Magnon man.

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An Age of Decay, by Chris Buskirk

This a bleak but all too accurate assessment of where the U.S. is now. From Chris Buskirk at amgreatness.com:

This essay is adapted from “America and the Art of the Possible: Restoring National Vitality in an Age of Decay,” by Chris Buskirk (Encounter, 192 pages, $28.99)

The fact that American living standards have broadly stagnated, and for some segments of the population have declined, should be cause for real concern to the ruling class.

America ran out of frontier when we hit the Pacific Ocean. And that changed things. Alaska and Hawaii were too far away to figure in most people’s aspirations, so for decades, it was the West Coast states and especially California that represented dreams and possibilities in the national imagination. The American dream reached its apotheosis in California. After World War II, the state became our collective tomorrow. But today, it looks more like a future that the rest of the country should avoid—a place where a few coastal enclaves have grown fabulously wealthy while everyone else falls further and further behind.

After World War II, California led the way on every front. The population was growing quickly as people moved to the state in search of opportunity and young families had children. The economy was vibrant and diverse. Southern California benefited from the presence of defense contractors. San Diego was a Navy town, and demobilized GIs returning from the Pacific Front decided to stay and put down roots. Between 1950 and 1960, the population of the Los Angeles metropolitan area swelled from 4,046,000 to 6,530,000. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory was inaugurated in the 1930s by researchers at the California Institute of Technology. One of the founders, Jack Parsons, became a prominent member of an occult sect in the late 1940s based in Pasadena that practiced “Thelemic Magick” in ceremonies called the “Babalon Working.” L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology (1950), was an associate of Parsons and rented rooms in his home. The counterculture, or rather, countercultures, had deep roots in the state.

Youth culture was born in California, arising out of a combination of rapid growth, the Baby Boom, the general absence of extended families, plentiful sunshine, the car culture, and the space afforded by newly built suburbs where teenagers could be relatively free from adult supervision. Tom Wolfe memorably described this era in his 1963 essay “The Kandy-Colored Tangerine Flake Streamline, Baby.” The student protest movement began in California too. In 1960, hundreds of protesters, many from the University of California at Berkeley, sought to disrupt a hearing of the House Un-American Activities Committee at the San Francisco City Hall. The police turned fire hoses on the crowd and arrested over thirty students. The Baby Boomers may have inherited the protest movement, but they didn’t create it. Its founders were part of the Silent Generation. Clark Kerr, the president of the UC system who earned a reputation for giving student protesters what they wanted, was from the Greatest Generation. Something in California, and in America, had already changed.

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Pulling America Back from the Precipice, by Matthew Brouillette

A rarity: a public company CEO who is both intellectually forthright and a capable writer. From Matthew Brouillette at realclearwire.com:

It’s not often than a CEO of a large, publicly traded company speaks bluntly in public about politics and political power. So, both “surprising” and “refreshing” describe energy executive Nick Deiuliis’s new book, Precipice: The Left’s Campaign to Destroy America (Republic Book Publishers).

Deiuliis, a chemical engineer and attorney by training, is director and chief executive officer of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-based CNX Resources Corporation, one of the largest natural gas exploration, development, and production companies.

In addition to penning Precipice, Deiuliis is a prolific writer on topics ranging from the American Civil War to professional sports to the Federal Reserve to music. When he’s not writing, he hosts “The Far Middle,” a weekly podcast that tackles topics including energy, business, politics, culture, sports, and more.

In short, Deiuliis does not fit the stereotype of the CEO of a publicly traded company.

As an energy leader, Deiuliis is an unapologetic advocate for his industry, and he makes a strong case that abundant and affordable energy is indispensable for developing and prosperous civilizations.

But his book’s subtitle – “The Left’s Campaign to Destroy America” – best captures Precipice’s focus, which extends far beyond the energy industry. Deiuliis identifies four categories of members of modern society: “Creators,” “Enablers,” “Servers,” and “Leeches.”

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Three Strikes, You’re Out! By Bill Bonner

Workers of the world are getting poorer in real terms (purchasing power after inflation) for the first time this century. From Bill Bonner at bonnerprivateresearch.com:

More on the government’s middle class massacre…

 
 

Bill Bonner, reckoning today from Baltimore, Maryland…

It looks like the post-Thanksgiving shopping binge was not nearly as successful as hoped. Here’s The Wall Street Journal:

Sales at bricks-and-mortar stores over Thanksgiving weekend fell short of prepandemic levels and were behind last year’s totals, another sign that Black Friday is losing its status as the crucial kickoff to the holiday-shopping season.

“It used to be people would wait in line from midnight for the stores to open at 4 or 5 a.m….”

What happened? 

Hot off the press is a report from the UN’s International Labor Organization. It tells us that for the first time this century, workers of the world are getting poorer:

This year’s ILO Global Wage Report… shows that, for the first time this century, global real wage growth has become negative while real productivity has continued to grow. Indeed, 2022 shows the largest gap recorded since 1999 between real labour productivity growth and real wage growth in high income countries. While the erosion of real wages affects all wage earners, it is having a greater impact on low-income households which spend a higher proportion of their disposable incomes on essential goods and services, the prices of which are increasing faster than those for non-essential items in most countries. 

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Illegals Protected In New York, American Workers Menaced By Congress, by John Derbyshire

Why immigrate legally? Why work? Why not have the Americans take care of you? From John Derbyshire at unz.com:

Just when you’re thinking things couldn’t get any crazier on the immigration front, … they get crazier.

In last week’s podcast I noted the lavish benefits being showered on illegal aliens by New York City politicians—at the generous expense of New York taxpayers, of course.

And yes, it’s gotten crazier. I’ll just read a couple of paragraphs from the story in Wednesday’s New York Post.

A pair of Albany Democrats from New York City want taxpayers to pick up as much as $300 million in legal fees to help illegal immigrants fight deportation—despite worries it could also help potentially “dangerous people” stay in the country.

[Inner quote.] “We have a moral obligation to make sure that new Americans have legal representation. Otherwise, the odds are without a lawyer they’ll be sent back to their country of origin and could face dire circumstances, including death,” [end inner quote] state Sen. Brad Hoylman (D-Manhattan) said of legislation he is sponsoring alongside Assemblywoman Catalina Cruz (D-Queens).

Legislators estimate the effort would cost $300 million once fully funded, with supporters pushing for a $55 million down payment next year.

‘Last thing we need’: Pols want NYers to pay $300M so illegal migrants can stay , by Zach Williams , NY Post, November 30, 2022.

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Unhappy Marxist Thanksgiving, Everyone! By Thomas DiLorenzo

The pilgrims didn’t have much to be thankful for until they discovered that capitalism and free markets work well. From Thomas DiLorenzo at lewrockwell.com:

In recent years the unhinged Marxist Left in “higher” education along with the hard-Left pop communists in the teachers’ unions have been preaching that Thanksgiving is a celebration of genocide, mass murder, and imperialism.  The Pilgrims murdered all the Indians, they say, and then sat down and treated themselves to big feast to celebrate their feat.  They even invented the elementary schoolish word “Thankskilling” to describe it.  (Send your kid to a university and he, too, can learn to sound like an uneducated Marxist moron for the rest of his life).

In reality, if the Pilgrims had anything to celebrate it was the destruction of an early form of socialism that allowed them to survive and prosper.  When the first settlers arrived in Jamestown, Virginia in May of 1607 they found incredibly fertile soil and a cornucopia of seafood, wild game, and fruits of all kinds.  Nevertheless, within six months all but 38 of the original 104 Jamestown settlers had starved to death.  Two years later the Virginia Company sent 500 more settlers and within six months 440 of them were dead by starvation and disease.  This became known as “the starving time.”  The Massachusetts Pilgrims fared no better.  About half of the 101 people who arrived on Cape Cod in November of 1620 were dead within a few months.

In 1611 the British government sent Sir Thomas Dale to serve as the “high marshal” of the Virginia colony.  He immediately recognized the problem:  The Virginia Company had adopted a system of agricultural socialism under which everything grown or produced would go to a “common store” and divided equally among all  the family groups.  The man who worked hard sixteen hours a day would be given the same remuneration as the man who did not work at all.  Dale’s solution was to establish property rights by allotting three acres of land to each man, who was still required to pay a fee to the Virginia colony (most early American immigrants were indentured servants) but then could keep everything else for himself and his family.

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Are Robots and AI Really Going to Displace All Workers? Probably Not, by Robert Blumen

Replacement by robots sounds plausible, until you give it a couple of minutes of thought. From Robert Blumen at mises.org:

Among the components of the World Economic Forum’s Great Reset are a drastically reduced population and the replacement of human labor with robots and artificial intelligence (AI). The question immediately comes to mind: can robots and AI really make all the stuff for the elites after they have gotten rid of the people?

Because a plan has been formulated and described does not mean that it is possible to realize. The plan may contradict laws of logic or reality, or assume the existence of resources that do not exist.

Podcaster and journalist James Delingpole, speaking to investigative journalist Whitney Webb on October 23, 2021, discussed this topic with his guest. I have transcribed several minutes from their conversation, edited for concision:

Webb: The fourth industrial revolution. One of the main pillars of that is automation and artificial intelligence. We’ve already seen that with corporate behemoths, like Amazon’s efforts to replace human workers with robots. Starbucks is piloting their AI barista with plans to have at least one in most if not all locations…. How long until humans are gone entirely? That’s in a retail setting.

In the UK Tesco recently joined the cashier less checkout. It’s all done on your phone. You scan when you enter the store. Everything is tied to you, your unique digital identifier with the corporation. You can just walk out of the store. How convenient that you didn’t have to walk by a cashier at all.

We’re going to see this happen in big ways in manufacturing. Chile is one of the biggest producers of copper in the world. In the northern part of Chile, the economy is driven by mining…. They are automating the mining here [in Chile]. Most of Chile’s middle class in the north work in the mining industry. They are about to all be cut out….

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Writing as Microcosm, Part One: Publish and Perish, by John Michael Greer

It’s become very difficult to make much money as a writer, and unfortunately, that statement applies to a lot of other professions and occupations as well. From John Michael Greer at ecosophia.net:

’m not sure how many of my readers have noticed the massive realignment going on right now at the foundations of the industrial economy. Venture below the towering abstractions of notional wealth that fill business websites, all the way to the base, and you’ll find that the whole gargantuan structure rests on certain relationships between individuals and the economy. Most people in the industrial world participate in economic activities in two ways: selling their time and labor to businesses as employees, and buying goods and services from businesses as consumers. That’s the base from which the whole tottering mess rises.

What we’re seeing now is that a growing number of people have lost interest in continuing to fill those particular roles. Intractable labor shortages are becoming the norm in today’s industrial societies. Part of that is a function of the soaring number of people who are struggling with bad health just now—no, we don’t have to get into why that’s happening—but not all of it. At the same time, the consumer side of the equation is also collapsing, and stores are floundering as inventory builds up and sales slump. Quite a bit of that is a function of the wicked blend of inflation and recession that’s got the global economy in its grip, but again, that’s not all of it.

You can catch a whisper of what else is going on if you listen to the frequent rants heard from the managerial class these days about how young people just don’t want to work any more. Talk to the young people in question and you’ll find that quite a few of them are working very hard on projects of their own. What they’re not willing to do is waste their lives working in abusive and humiliating environments to make someone else rich, in exchange for rock-bottom wages, no prospect for advancement, and no benefits worth mentioning. That their reaction comes as a surprise to anyone is a good measure of just how detached our society’s comfortable classes have become from the reality their preferred policies have created.

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A Frank Letter to the Homeless Man Under the Bridge, by Paul Rosenberg

There may be no more cursed position in American business than having to hire employees. From Paul Rosenberg at freemansperspective.com:

This is a re-post from eight years ago. I still feel the same.

I see you standing here, asking for help, about once a week. You are always polite, and I respect that. I’d like to do something for you… something that would matter long-term. Giving you a few notes or coins now and then may be fine, but I’d really like to improve your situation more permanently.

In other words, I’d like to give you a job.

I used to hire people, and I especially liked hiring people who had been denied breaks. I did that whenever I could. If you and I could be transported back in time, I’d hire you. And I’d feel good about it, because I think having a job would do you a lot of good.

That fact is, however, that I can’t hire you, and I’d like you to know why.

I used to run my own contracting firm. I enjoyed the work and I liked being able to drive past a building and say, “I made that.” Having employees, however, was torture. I liked having them in some ways, of course – I liked the guys and it made me happy to see them take care of their families with paychecks that I signed. That was very gratifying. But it wasn’t enough, and there are three reasons why:

#1: Making Payroll

My first problem was simply cash flow. I was solely responsible for having enough money in the bank every week, and that could be nerve-wracking, especially when customers weren’t paying their bills on time. It’s not fun to think that a family won’t be able to buy groceries if you can’t collect your invoices.

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Thanks to the Fed, You’ll Work More This Year to Keep Last Year’s Standard of Living, by Ryan McMaken

Do you have that running-in-place feeling? Having trouble making that last pay check stretch to the next payday? You’re not alone. From Ryan McMaken at mises.org:

According to the establishment survey of employment, released last week by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, total employment increased, month over month, by 263,000 jobs. The job market stays strong,” reads one CNBC headline, and the new jobs print was hailed as a great achievement of the Biden administration by MSNBC pundit Steve Benen.

Yet the employment data is possibly the only data that looks good right now, and that’s not much comfort, since employment is a lagging indicator of the economy’s direction. In fact, if we look beyond the employment survey, what we find is an economy where real earnings are falling, savings are falling, and more people are taking on second jobs to make ends meet.

The first indicator of this is the fact that while total jobs have shown some relatively strong growth, the total number of employed persons has been nearly flat for months, and only last month (September 2022) did it finally return to precovid levels. In fact, the jobs recovery in employed persons took thirty-two months to return to the previous peak. The fabled “V-shaped recovery” promised by advocates of covid lockdowns never materialized. Had there been a V-shaped recovery, employed persons would have recovered to previous peaks by mid-2021. It ended up taking about eighteen months longer than that.

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