A murder of … crows. Part 2, the future unraveled

.. Damn, it’s hard to write when whiskey’s in da’ house.

               As I mentioned in Part 1, every local service is demand limited. If your home is in Dublin, you can’t (or well, shouldn’t) get hot pizza delivery from Sweden. You can’t get an affordable oil change (for your car, damn it) from a company operating in Thailand. For everything else, there’s Mastercard (if they don’t screw up with selfies, that is).. Everybody gets what they want, except for the ones physically providing the service. You know that but choose to ignore it. Removing barriers in providing those local services is murder on the paycheck of those who actually need the money.

               Who needs the money anyway? Well, how about a single mom/dad juggling two kids and four mortgages? How about somebody who screwed up on their college application and learned Latin or Ancient Greek instead of going for engineering like logic would’ve demanded? How about anybody who made a big mistake early on (like a big loan for a big house before the markets fell and maybe lost their job) or had a life-changing unfortunate event and now can’t catch a break? Get the picture? Yeah, there’s plenty more where that came from. Anybody wanting to raise themselves from poverty by pulling at their own bootstraps can be included here. And things don’t look too good for them.

               You know why a part-time on-demand gig turns into a full-time job? At first, because of money. People need money, whatever their end-objective is. So they’ll turn to it. I would, hell, I sometimes have. But there’s a catch. If those in need get good money for their time, and that happens if you’re early on board, word also goes out to others because people who hit rock-bottom will usually help their kind and less-fortunate, and in the end, those who aren’t actually in need of money will join too. And no, not the good ones, those already have good jobs or can get one anytime they want. I’m talking about those who are blessed with bad managers, who work for crappy companies or the ones with one foot in the HR department. Now the first two I have no problem with, not everybody is the right person in the right place at the right time, I know I wasn’t the first three or four jobs I had. But then there’s the toxic employees, the leeches, the incompetent and other such characters who can’t be fired because they’re … well, a legal liability for their employer. Not all of them have the will to try to make it on their own, but many actually do – because, as you well know, stupidity and self-confidence usually go hand in hand. Now those people who’d so far climb the corporate ladder by walking on the bodies of their back-stabbed coworkers, they’re the one we ought to fear. They’ll join because it’s considerably more money without the hassle of supervision. They’ll spoil everything, because they can and because it’s their second-nature. If they were willing to make money by sabotaging their colleagues, they’ll be willing to sabotage their competition too. And since nobody interacts that much with their driver or pizza delivery manager, they can’t make a bad impression that fast on their customers. But they can and will kill the market for years to come for anybody else in the business who isn’t like them.

               You have to remember, in this business (the service industry that is, and if that isn’t an oxymoron I’ll eat my shorts, grumble grumble, mmgh), employees are not an asset but a liability, an expense. A computer can sell something reasonably well (I mean, what’s Amazon if not that), can translate, can do voice to text conversion and other stuff like that without asking for benefits, paid vacations, healthcare and insurance. And won’t complain at overtime, now that’s a big plus sign if I ever saw one. So why have employees? Because computers aren’t yet that reliable. So what’s the temporary compromise? Contractors, of course. Easy to fire, too. Well, at least until the AI singularity.. Hell, even banks fire their tellers and make use of ATMs and other stuff like that, all designed to cut jobs cost.

               Mark my words, kids. The future isn’t in the usual stuff they teach in schools, the future is in imagination, farming and manufacture. And no, not cars, gadgets and the like. You can get parts from China, assemble them using a hundred robots and a handful supervisors and still get tons of profits. I mean, manufacture of the specialised, trade-secret protected parts you can’t outsource anywhere because they’ll get copied in a heart-beat. Farming is easy, but we’re dealing with living things therefore there’s going to be plenty of jobs there even if they put a drone over every square kilometer or inside every cow’s .. barn. But the best bet for everyone is in imagination, something nobody even knows what it is, let alone how it works. And it can’t be duplicated by a computer. Imagination? It’s a big thing, so let’s say content creation. Programming, research, design (especially industrial design) and psychology, now those will go long. Unfortunately, none of that can be done without hard work and dedication.

               Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t think capitalism is that bad, I don’t think greed is bad either. But there’s a fine line between saying “profits are good” and  “profits, whatever the price”, especially if the one saying it isn’t the one paying the price. Hell, the sort of communism they’re making people ask for is even worse. You know, from everybody according to their capabilities, to everybody according to their needs. Everybody should have broadband internet, facebook on their personal 10 foot brand flagship and Uber a phone-call away. Then again, what if I’m basically an idiot (which, sometimes, I actually am, I just spent half an hour wondering how to open a box of Wilkinson Classic razor blades, sheesh) giving out single digit productivity and I want a 4k 180 cm smart telly? Who’s going to tell me no? I’m also not criticizing progress, I love it. I love indoor plumbing, I couldn’t live without one. Or 4 ply toilet paper, let’s not forget that one.. What I’m saying is, well, we need better education, especially when it comes to decision-making. We need better ethics and more critical thinking, as I’ve already mentioned in a previous book article. We need to stop thinking with our arseholes and use that bloody empty space between our ears for a change. It isn’t a question of what we can do (because we bloody can do a whole damn lot), it is a question of choice, of choosing something by weighing in the consequences of our actions first. Even if that means choosing patience over profits.

               An educated citizen probably can’t outperform a state of the art computer, but he or she can choose between a product or service provided by a law-abiding company, made by fairly compensated employees over one assembled by workers paid with 1 euro per day on the back of a cargo ship in international waters or on factories so horrible even the word “sweatshop” can’t do them justice, with parts using cobalt ore dug by malnourished kids in third world countries, mass producing everything from Iphones to Burberry. Who cares about working conditions if the profits are high and the customers don’t care? Just outsource to China. Or Bangladesh. Hell, why not North Korea? An educated customer can make better choices. They can choose ethics over money and if they want to help those kids or workers, they know they can but in a different way. I mean, why so much business with dictators or countries with human rights violations through the roof? Because the poor need the money? Nobody ever thought to help them directly, bypassing the pockets of corruption? Oh yeah, that’s mighty christian of us, but we better send the refugees back and build walls around our homes, that’s the logical way to go.. Apparently we need laws and justice for everybody else, just as long as our god-given right to keep up with the Joneses is not affected. That’s how them idiots think: the law’s important and mandatory for everybody else but optional if we’re talking about me. If it’s about me and I don’t happen to like it, then it’s illegal and that law should be changed.

               I mean, what’s worse, looking at a shop’s display with a few decent quality items that you can afford or looking at one with lots of luxury items you can’t afford? Is that really a choice? Do we really have to have the latest Iphone? Does that really justify voting for politicians who promise us lower prices if the direct consequences of having lower prices are fewer jobs and lower wages? Why is that even a choice? Why do we agree with smug idiots who feel entitled to cheap everything, right now without even pondering whether that’s helping or harming us on the long run? Think, people, think. If lower prices for things we don’t really need equals fewer money in our pockets, more poverty and worse living conditions, why not go for the third choice, the one involving new politicians and better law enforcement? No? Yeah, I’m a damn communist, daring to snipe at the foundation of capitalism, because the option I’m offering isn’t limiting profit margins (not by a long shot) but teaching our children (and ourselves) to understand the consequences of our actions. Ethics? Never heard of her.

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