Germany’s Merkel Needs To Ask Tough Questions at NATO Summit

5 comments

Posted on 1st September 2014 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

, , ,

Via Anti-War

MEMORANDUM FOR: Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany
FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)
SUBJECT: Ukraine and NATO

We the undersigned are longtime veterans of U.S. intelligence. We take the unusual step of writing this open letter to you to ensure that you have an opportunity to be briefed on our views prior to the NATO summit on September 4-5.

You need to know, for example, that accusations of a major Russian “invasion” of Ukraine appear not to be supported by reliable intelligence. Rather, the “intelligence” seems to be of the same dubious, politically “fixed” kind used 12 years ago to “justify” the U.S.-led attack on Iraq. We saw no credible evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq then; we see no credible evidence of a Russian invasion now. Twelve years ago, former Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, mindful of the flimsiness of the evidence on Iraqi WMD, refused to join in the attack on Iraq. In our view, you should be appropriately suspicions of charges made by the US State Department and NATO officials alleging a Russian invasion of Ukraine.

President Barack Obama tried yesterday to cool the rhetoric of his own senior diplomats and the corporate media, when he publicly described recent activity in the Ukraine, as “a continuation of what’s been taking place for months now … it’s not really a shift.”

 

Obama, however, has only tenuous control over the policymakers in his administration – who, sadly, lack much sense of history, know little of war, and substitute anti-Russian invective for a policy. One year ago, hawkish State Department officials and their friends in the media very nearly got Mr. Obama to launch a major attack on Syria based, once again, on “intelligence” that was dubious, at best.

Largely because of the growing prominence of, and apparent reliance on, intelligence we believe to be spurious, we think the possibility of hostilities escalating beyond the borders of Ukraine has increased significantly over the past several days. More important, we believe that this likelihood can be avoided, depending on the degree of judicious skepticism you and other European leaders bring to the NATO summit next week.

Experience With Untruth

Hopefully, your advisers have reminded you of NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen’s checkered record for credibility. It appears to us that Rasmussen’s speeches continue to be drafted by Washington. This was abundantly clear on the day before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq when, as Danish Prime Minister, he told his Parliament: “Iraq has weapons of mass destruction. This is not something we just believe. We know.”

Photos can be worth a thousand words; they can also deceive. We have considerable experience collecting, analyzing, and reporting on all kinds of satellite and other imagery, as well as other kinds of intelligence. Suffice it to say that the images released by NATO on August 28 provide a very flimsy basis on which to charge Russia with invading Ukraine. Sadly, they bear a strong resemblance to the images shown by Colin Powell at the UN on February 5, 2003 that, likewise, proved nothing.

That same day, we warned President Bush that our former colleague analysts were “increasingly distressed at the politicization of intelligence” and told him flatly, “Powell’s presentation does not come close” to justifying war. We urged Mr. Bush to “widen the discussion … beyond the circle of those advisers clearly bent on a war for which we see no compelling reason and from which we believe the unintended consequences are likely to be catastrophic.”

Consider Iraq today. Worse than catastrophic. Although President Vladimir Putin has until now showed considerable reserve on the conflict in the Ukraine, it behooves us to remember that Russia, too, can “shock and awe.” In our view, if there is the slightest chance of that kind of thing eventually happening to Europe because of Ukraine, sober-minded leaders need to think this through very carefully.

If the photos that NATO and the US have released represent the best available “proof” of an invasion from Russia, our suspicions increase that a major effort is under way to fortify arguments for the NATO summit to approve actions that Russia is sure to regard as provocative. Caveat emptor is an expression with which you are no doubt familiar. Suffice it to add that one should be very cautious regarding what Mr. Rasmussen, or even Secretary of State John Kerry, are peddling.

We trust that your advisers have kept you informed regarding the crisis in Ukraine from the beginning of 2014, and how the possibility that Ukraine would become a member of NATO is anathema to the Kremlin. According to a February 1, 2008 cable (published by WikiLeaks) from the US embassy in Moscow to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, US Ambassador William Burns was called in by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who explained Russia’s strong opposition to NATO membership for Ukraine.

Lavrov warned pointedly of “fears that the issue could potentially split the country in two, leading to violence or even, some claim, civil war, which would force Russia to decide whether to intervene.” Burns gave his cable the unusual title, “NYET MEANS NYET: RUSSIA’S NATO ENLARGEMENT REDLINES,” and sent it off to Washington with IMMEDIATE precedence. Two months later, at their summit in Bucharest NATO leaders issued a formal declaration that “Georgia and Ukraine will be in NATO.”

Just yesterday, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk used his Facebook page to claim that, with the approval of Parliament that he has requested, the path to NATO membership is open. Yatsenyuk, of course, was Washington’s favorite pick to become prime minister after the February 22 coup d’etat in Kiev. “Yats is the guy,” said Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland a few weeks before the coup, in an intercepted telephone conversation with US Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt. You may recall that this is the same conversation in which Nuland said, “Fuck the EU.”

Timing of the Russian “Invasion”

The conventional wisdom promoted by Kiev just a few weeks ago was that Ukrainian forces had the upper hand in fighting the anti-coup federalists in southeastern Ukraine, in what was largely portrayed as a mop-up operation. But that picture of the offensive originated almost solely from official government sources in Kiev. There were very few reports coming from the ground in southeastern Ukraine. There was one, however, quoting Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, that raised doubt about the reliability of the government’s portrayal.

According to the “press service of the President of Ukraine” on August 18, Poroshenko called for a “regrouping of Ukrainian military units involved in the operation of power in the East of the country. … Today we need to do the rearrangement of forces that will defend our territory and continued army offensives,” said Poroshenko, adding, “we need to consider a new military operation in the new circumstances.”

If the “new circumstances” meant successful advances by Ukrainian government forces, why would it be necessary to “regroup,” to “rearrange” the forces? At about this time, sources on the ground began to report a string of successful attacks by the anti-coup federalists against government forces. According to these sources, it was the government army that was starting to take heavy casualties and lose ground, largely because of ineptitude and poor leadership.

Ten days later, as they became encircled and/or retreated, a ready-made excuse for this was to be found in the “Russian invasion.” That is precisely when the fuzzy photos were released by NATO and reporters like the New York Times’ Michael Gordon were set loose to spread the word that “the Russians are coming.” (Michael Gordon was one of the most egregious propagandists promoting the war on Iraq.)

No Invasion – But Plenty Other Russian Support

The anti-coup federalists in southeastern Ukraine enjoy considerable local support, partly as a result of government artillery strikes on major population centers. And we believe that Russian support probably has been pouring across the border and includes, significantly, excellent battlefield intelligence. But it is far from clear that this support includes tanks and artillery at this point – mostly because the federalists have been better led and surprisingly successful in pinning down government forces.

At the same time, we have little doubt that, if and when the federalists need them, the Russian tanks will come.

This is precisely why the situation demands a concerted effort for a ceasefire, which you know Kiev has so far been delaying. What is to be done at this point? In our view, Poroshenko and Yatsenyuk need to be told flat-out that membership in NATO is not in the cards – and that NATO has no intention of waging a proxy war with Russia – and especially not in support of the ragtag army of Ukraine. Other members of NATO need to be told the same thing.

For the Steering Group, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity

  • William Binney, former Technical Director, World Geopolitical & Military Analysis, NSA; co-founder, SIGINT Automation Research Center (ret.)
  • David MacMichael, National Intelligence Council (ret.)
  • Ray McGovern, former US Army infantry/intelligence officer & CIA analyst (ret.)
  • Elizabeth Murray, Deputy National Intelligence Officer for Middle East (ret.)
  • Todd E. Pierce, MAJ, US Army Judge Advocate (Ret.)
  • Coleen Rowley, Division Counsel & Special Agent, FBI (ret.)
  • Ann Wright, Col., US Army (ret.); Foreign Service Officer (resigned)

Monks and Martyrs: A Controversial Perspective on Dissent in 21st Century America

2 comments

Posted on 27th August 2014 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

Two months ago, I highlighted a powerful video from Warren Pollock in the post: Video of the Day – The Religion of Consumerism. Today, I am highlighting another one of his videos.

While this one is no less interesting, it’s likely to be quite a bit more controversial. He poses questions that philosophers have no doubt pondered from the very first moment human beings came together to organize into centralized political structures.

Namely, what is the responsibility of a citizen in a society in which the majority is ruled by a small minority? By living passively within this system has a citizen de facto given his or her consent to the minority? If so, is that citizen therefore ultimately responsible for the fate of the society as a whole?

Mr. Pollock has some very strong opinions on the matter. While I I wouldn’t have chosen the examples he did (Ferguson and Gaza) to make the point, it is clear what he is trying to do and who he is addressing. He is talking to people who are already awake and aware of the criminality and corruption of the current status quo, and he is trying to spark strong political action within them. He realizes something that I also recognize, which is that while a reasonable percentage of the population is already greatly dissatisfied with the status quo, only a tiny fraction of that minority are actually willing to make the sacrifices needed to usher in a paradigm shift. As a result, those who do make the sacrifices generally become martyrs while their fellow citizens play it safe. As long as everyone plays it safe, nothing changes.

I did not share this video because I agree with the way he presents the argument, but rather because the questions he poses are very important ones. Moreover, I believe that without a doubt “the powers that be” do adhere to this philosophy. They think that any population so apathetic about its collective condition deserves what they get. So they will continue to pillage everything in sight until enough people get together to stop them. Equally important, history does demonstrate that when enough people rebel the status quo always falls.

In Liberty,
Michael Krieger

THE RUSSIAN – UKRAINE WAR HAS BEGUN

17 comments

Posted on 22nd August 2014 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

, , , , ,

Russia is in the process of annexing East Ukraine. Make no mistake about it. Putin doesn’t think NATO or the U.S. has the balls or ability to stop him.

Next move is Obama’s and the feckless European apparatchiks.

One wrong move and we could have World War III on our hands.

Via Vineyard of the Saker

The significance of the Russian decision to move the humanitarian convoy into Novorussia

I appears that the Russians got tired of waiting.  I suggest that you all carefully parse the Statement of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs I posted earlier today.  This is an interesting document because besides an explanation of the Russian decision to move it, it is also, potentially, a legal defense or an unprecedented Russian decision: to overtly violate the Ukrainian sovereignty.  Let me explain.

First, the case of Crimea was also a “special case”.  The Russian were legally present there and, in the Russian rationale, all the “Polite Armed Men in Green” did was to protect the local population to make it possible for the latter to freely express its will.  Only after that will was expressed did Russia agree to formally re-incorporate Crimea into Russia.  So from the legal Russian point of view, none of the Russian actions in Crimea included any form of  violation of Ukrainian sovereignty.  I know, most western analyst will agree, but that is the official Russian stance.  And official stances are important because they form the basis for a legal argument.

Second, the aid which Russia has been sending to Novorussia has been exclusively covert.  Covert operations, no matter their magnitude, do not form the basis for a legal position.  The official position of Moscow has been that not only was there absolutely no military aid to Novorussia, but even when Ukie artillery shells landed inside Russia did the Kremlin authorize any retaliation, again in (official) deference to the Ukrainian national sovereignty.

This time, however, there is no doubt at all that the Russians did deliberately and officially chose to ignore Kiev and move in.  Now, in fact, in reality, this is clearly the logically, politically and morally right thing to do.  But in legal terms, this clearly a violation of Ukrainian sovereignty.  From a legal point of view, the Ukies had the right to keep the Russian convoy at the border for another 10’000 years if they wanted and Russia had no legal right to simply move in.  What apparently happened this morning is that the Ukie officials did not even bother showing up, so the Kremlin just said “forget it!” and ordered the trucks in.

Not only did the Russians move in, but they did that without the ICRC whose personnel refused to go because of the lack of security guarantees from Kiev. The Russian response to that lack of security guarantees was a) to order this unarmed convoy in and b) to clearly state in the official statement:

We are warning against any attempts to thwart this purely humanitarian mission which took a long time to prepare in conditions of complete transparency and cooperation with the Ukrainian side and the ICRC. Those who are ready to continue sacrificing human lives to their own ambitions and geopolitical designs and who are rudely trampling on the norms and principles of international humanitarian law will assume complete responsibility for the possible consequences of provocations against the humanitarian relief convoy.

Again, from a logical, political or moral point of view, this is rather self-obvious, but from a legal point of view this is a threat to use force (“complete responsibility for the possible consequences”) inside the putatively sovereign territory of the Ukraine.

The US and their main agent in Kiev, Nalivaichenko, immediately and correctly understood the threat: not only did this convoy bring much needed humanitarian aid to Lugansk, it also provided a fantastic political and legal “cover” for future Russian actions inside Novorussia.  And by “actions” I don’t necessarily mean military actions, although that is not clearly and officially possible.  I also mean legal actions such as recognizing Novorussia.  From their point of view, Obama, Poroshenko, Nalivaichenko are absolutely correct to be enraged, because I bet you that the timing, context and manner in which Russia moved into Novorussia will not result in further sanctions or political consequences.   Russia has now officially declared the Ukie national sovereignty as “over” and the EU will probably not do anything meaningful about it.
 
That, by itself, is a nightmare for Uncle Sam.

Furthermore, I expect the Russian to act with a great deal of restraint.  It would be stupid for them to say “okay, now that we violated the territorial integrity of the Ukraine and ignored its sovereignty we might as well bomb the junta forces and move our troops in”.  I am quite confident that they will not do that.  Yet.  For the Russian side, the best thing to do now is to wait.  First, the convoy will really help.  Second, it will become a headache for the Ukies (bombing this convey would not look very good).  Third, this convoy will buy enough time for the situation to become far clearer.  What am I referring to here?

The Ukie plan has been to present some major “victory” for the Sunday the 24, when they plan a victory parade in Kiev to celebrate independence day (yup, the US-controlled and Nazi-administered “Banderastan” will celebrate its “independence”… this is both sad and hilarious).  Instead, what they have a long streak of *very* nasty defeats during the past 5-6 days or so.  By all accounts, the Ukies are getting butchered and, for the first time, even pushed back (if only on a tactical level).  That convoy in Luganks will add a stinging symbolical “f**k you!” to the junta in Kiev.  It will also exacerbate the tensions between the ruling clique in power, the Right Sector and Dmitri Iarosh and the growing protest movement in western Ukraine.

Bottom line: this is a risky move no doubt, probably brought about by the realization that with water running out in Luganks Putin had to act.  Still it is also an absolutely brilliant move which will create a massive headache for the US and its Nazi puppets in Kiev.

The Saker

PS: I heard yesterday evening that Holland has officially announced that it will not release the full info of the flight data and voice recorders of MH17.  Thus Holland has now become an official accomplice to the cover-up of this US false-flag operation and to the murder of the passengers of MH17. This is absolutely outrageous and disgusting I and sure hope that the Malaysian government will not allow this.  As for Kiev, it is also sitting on the recording of the communications between the Kiev ATC and MH17.  Finally, the USA has it all through its own signals intelligence capabilities.  So they all know and they are all covering up.  Under the circumstances, can anybody still seriously doubt “who done it”?

RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY STATEMENT ON THE START OF THE DELIVERY OF HUMANITARIAN RELIEF AID TO SOUTHEASTERN UKRAINE


The endless delays hampering the initial deliveries of the Russian humanitarian relief aid to southeastern Ukraine have become intolerable.

A lorry convoy with many hundreds of tonnes of humanitarian relief aid, urgently needed by the people in these regions, has been standing idle for a week now on the Russian-Ukrainian border. Over this period, the Russian side has made unprecedented efforts in all areas and at all levels in order to complete the required formalities. We have met all conceivable and inconceivable demands of the Ukrainian side and have submitted to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) exhaustive lists of food, drinking water, medications, essential items and diesel generators due to be delivered to Lugansk, where they are urgently needed by women, children and the elderly. These people are experiencing the horrors of daily artillery attacks and air strikes that have resulted in an increasing number of killed and wounded and destroyed the entire vital infrastructure in the area. Time and again, we met requests to check and recheck the shipment route, to coordinate procedures for the shipment’s delivery, and have signed the required documents with the ICRC. We have provided all essential security guarantees and have ensured similar guarantees on the part of the self-defense forces. These guarantees apply to the Russian convoy as well as other humanitarian relief aid being sent to Lugansk by the Kiev authorities.

At the same time, Kiev has delayed granting its formal consent required by the ICRC for several days, while repeatedly inventing new pretexts and stepping up attacks on Lugansk and Donetsk that involve military aircraft and heavy-duty armored vehicles, targeting residential areas and other civilian facilities. Over the past few days, the Ukrainian side has been launching ballistic missiles, including the deadly Tochka-U missiles, ever more frequently.

On 21 August, the situation appeared to have been resolved when the Ukrainian authorities finally informed the ICRC of their readiness to start clearing humanitarian shipments for prompt delivery to Lugansk. The Ukrainian side officially confirmed its unconditional consent for the convoy to start moving during a phone conversation between the Foreign Affairs Ministers of Russia and Ukraine. On 20 August, customs clearance and border control procedures were launched at the Donetsk checkpoint. On 21 August, however, this process was stopped, with officials citing much more intensive bombardment of Lugansk. In other words, the Ukrainian authorities are bombing the destination and are using this as a pretext to stop the delivery of humanitarian relief aid.

It appears that Kiev has set out to complete its “cleansing” of Lugansk and Donetsk in time for the 24 August Independence Day celebrations. It seems increasingly credible that the incumbent Ukrainian leadership is deliberately delaying the delivery of the humanitarian relief aid until there is nobody left to deliver this aid to. Quite possibly, they hope to achieve this result prior to the planned 26 August meetings in Minsk.

Russia is outraged by the blatant external manipulation of the international experts involved in preparing this operation. An endless succession of contradictory and mutually exclusive signals and messages we have been receiving is a true indication of behind the scenes games for purposes that have nothing to do with accomplishing a set humanitarian objective. Those who are holding the reins and hampering efforts to save human lives, to mitigate the suffering of sick and wounded people neglect the basic principles of society. We have called on the UN Security Council to promptly declare a humanitarian armistice, but these proposals are being invariably blocked by those who pay lip service to universal human values. Last time, this happened on 20 August, when the United States and some Western members of the UNSC declined to issue a statement in support of a ceasefire during the delivery of humanitarian relief aid to Lugansk by Russian and Ukrainian convoys.

We hereby state once again: All the required security guarantees regarding the passage of the humanitarian convoy have been provided. The ICRC has officially recognised these guarantees. The delivery routes are known, and they have been checked by an ICRC mission. The documents have been drawn up. The shipments have long been ready for inspection by Ukrainian border guards and customs officers who have been waiting at the Donetsk checkpoint in the Rostov Region for a week now. The capitals that display heightened concern for the situation in southeastern Ukraine are well aware of this. The endless artificial demands and pretexts have become unconscionable.

It is no longer possible to tolerate this lawlessness, outright lies and inability to reach agreements. All pretexts for delaying the delivery of aid to people in the humanitarian disaster zone have been depleted. The Russian side has decided to act. Our humanitarian relief convoy is setting out towards Lugansk. Naturally, we are ready to allow ICRC officials to escort the convoy and to take part in distributing aid. We hope that representatives of the Russian Red Cross Society will also be able to take part in this mission.

We are warning against any attempts to thwart this purely humanitarian mission which took a long time to prepare in conditions of complete transparency and cooperation with the Ukrainian side and the ICRC. Those who are ready to continue sacrificing human lives to their own ambitions and geopolitical designs and who are rudely trampling on the norms and principles of international humanitarian law will assume complete responsibility for the possible consequences of provocations against the humanitarian relief convoy. (emphasis added by me – the Saker)

We are once again calling on the Ukrainian leadership, as well as the United States and the European Union, which are exerting their influence on Kiev, to promptly launch negotiations in southeastern Ukraine and start complying with the accords formalised in the 17 April 2014 Geneva Statement by Russia, Ukraine, the United States and the EU on stopping the use of force, mitigating the humanitarian situation and immediately launching nationwide dialogue that would involve all Ukrainian regions.

source:  http://www.mid.ru/bdomp/brp_4.nsf/e78a48070f128a7b43256999005bcbb3/8cbbd5bfe558c6e344257d3c003d4df0!OpenDocument

A Warning From 1995 About the Repeal of Glass-Steagall

2 comments

Posted on 22nd August 2014 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

,

Guest Post by Jesse

 

Here is a reprint of a warning that was published in the NY Times in 1995 about Robert Rubin’s and Alan Greenspan’s misguided attempts to overturn Glass-Steagall.
Any reasonably informed student of economic history ought to have understood this argument.
There was a well-funded, decade long campaign led by the Banks to overturn Glass-Steagall.  A lot of propaganda was written, and lot of political connections were made, and a lot of money was spent.
Too many were willfully blind. Some through their devotion to utopian ideology.  Others through devotion to their careers.  And even more just kept their heads down and hid their noses in their books and reams of irrelevant data.
And for the most part they still are, with many caught in a credibility trap.
Until the music stops.
NY Times
End Bank Law and Robber Barons Ride Again
 Sunday, March 5, 1995
To the Editor:
Re “For Rogue Traders, Yet Another Victim” (Business Day, Feb. 28) and your same-day article on Treasury Secretary Robert E. Rubin’s proposal to eliminate the legal barriers that have separated the nation’s commercial banks, securities firms and insurance companies for decades: The American Bankers Association, Senator Alfonse M. D’Amato, Representative Jim Leach and Treasury Secretary Rubin are gravely misguided in their quest to repeal the Glass-Steagall Act.
Their contention that insurance companies, commercial banks and securities firms should be freed from legislative obstructions is predicated on fallacious, historically inaccurate statements. If the Baring Brothers failure does not give them pause, a history lesson is our only hope before the Administration and bank lobby iron out their differences and set the economy back 90 years.
The argument that American financial intermediaries will become “more efficient and more internationally competitive” is false. The American financial system is the most stable, most profitable and most dynamic in the world.
The notion that Glass-Steagall prevents American financial intermediaries from fulfilling their utmost potential in a global marketplace reflects inadequate understanding of the events that precipitated the act and the similarities between today’s financial marketplace and the market nearly a century ago.
Although Glass-Steagall was enacted during the Great Depression, it was put in place because the Aldrich-Vreeland Act of 1908, the blue-sky laws following 1910 and the Federal Reserve System of 1913 failed to keep the concentration of financial power in check.The investment climate that ultimately led to Glass-Steagall was one filled with emerging markets, interlocking control of productive resources and widespread bank ownership of securities.
Ever since railroad securities began driving secondary capital markets in the late 1860′s, “emerging markets” have existed for investors looking for high-yield opportunities, and banks have been primary agents in industrial development. In the 19th century, emerging markets were scattered throughout the United States, and capital flowed into them from New York, Boston, Philadelphia and London. In the same way, capital flows from the United States, Japan and England to Latin America and the Pacific rim — today we just have more terms to define the market mechanisms.
The economy and financial markets were even more interconnected in the 19th century than now. Commercial and investment banks could accept deposits, issue currency, underwrite securities and own industrial enterprises. With Glass-Steagall lifted, we will chart a course returning us to that environment.
J. P. Morgan and Andrew Mellon made their billions through inter locking directorates and outright ownership of hundreds of nationally prominent enterprises. Glass-Steagall is one crucial piece of a litany of legislation designed to place checks and balances on the concentration of financial resources. To repeal it would be tantamount to bringing back the days of the robber barons.
The unbridled activities of those gifted financiers crumbled under the dynamic forces of the capital marketplace. If you take away the checks, the market forces will eventually knock the system off balance.
MARK D. SAMBER
Stamford, Conn.
Feb. 28, 1995
The writer is a management consultant specializing in business history.

The Obama Dark Age

24 comments

Posted on 20th August 2014 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

,

obama-8-4-13

The arrogant President Obama suggested in an interview published in the New York Times on Saturday that you need to be a lawyer to understand the U.S. Constitution. This is precisely what I mean about law. It is always someone’s interpretation because it is impossible to ever write anything and have it mean a single thing.

Obama made the outrageous suggestion that only lawyers understand the Constitution that is reminiscent of the Dark Ages when that very same proposition was argued as to when the Bible could only be read by priest – never the average person.This was the Dark Age when people could not read and Obama has done everything possible to destroy the foundation of law and the Constitution clearly in his mind because it means only whatever he says it does.

Obama’s outlandish statement was made when talking about members of Congress who have argued he does not have the constitutional authority to unilaterally suspend enforcement of parts of the Obamacare law. To set the record ABSOLUTELY STRAIGHT, Obama is without question WRONG!!!!!! He has the power to veto a law, but to suspend a law. The Constitution provides no such discretion whatsoever.

The New York Times even asked Obama if he “consulted” with “his” lawyer when making that outrageous decision to suspend the employer mandate, which would require businesses with more than 50 employees to buy them health insurance, and which was supposed to take effect on Jan. 1,  2014. Obama’s arrogant dodging of the question illustrates the dangerous position he has place the country in.

“[I]f you heard me on stage today, what I said was that I will seize any opportunity I can find to work with Congress to strengthen the middle class, improve their prospects, improve their security,”

“But where Congress is unwilling to act, I will take whatever administrative steps that I can in order to do right by the American people.”

“And if Congress thinks that what I’ve done is inappropriate or wrong in some fashion, they’re free to make that case,” Obama added.  “But there’s not an action that I take that you don’t have some folks in Congress who say that I’m usurping my authority.  Some of those folks think I usurp my authority by having the gall to win the presidency. And I don’t think that’s a secret.”

“But, ultimately, I’m not concerned about their opinions–very few of them, by the way, are lawyers, much less constitutional lawyers.”

Obama was merely a lecturer on constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School from 1992 to 1996, and a senior lecturer from 1996 to 2004. He is by no means a specialist in Constitutional Law. There is no question that he does not have the power to pick and choose when mandates are enforced, contrary to the law. As President, he has sworn to faithfully execute the law of the land – not enforce whatever he like or not. That very position would nullify the entire Congress and mean that the United States is a dictatorship, not a Republic. There would be no purpose to elections whatsoever if the President is exempt from the law and the Executive branch has the duty to enforce the laws that only the people can introduce through their pretend representatives in Congress,

Suspending the deadline for the Obamacare mandate that requires large employers to provide health insurance for their workers that was supposed to begin on Dec. 31, 2013 was a political decision that he does not want to take effect until he leaves office for it will cause serious rise in unemployment. Any company with even slightly more than 50 employees will fire all excessive to avoid such expenses. Others will split companies and still others will hire temp employees if not move to contract status rather than employee status. This will also set in motion the end of pensions.

Obama’s argument that only LAWYERS can understand the Constitution is so arrogant it is just unbelievable. George Washington presided over the convention that drafted the Constitution and established the presidency and he was not a lawyer. Therefore, how can there be a Constitution if those who drafted and voted on the Constitution were not lawyers? Is the entire thing just babble?

This is yet another example of the arrogance of Obama and the very wrong path this man has taken the country down and this is not even about left and right politics. This is the great expanded power of Stalinistic surveillance he has supported and endorsed that is inconsistent with criticism the actions in Ferguson, and his Dark Age view of the Constitution illustrates he sees himself with the power of dictator and does not respect the separation of powers of the idea that the people have any role in government.

Outside the Box: AI, Robotics, and The Future of Jobs

1 comment

Posted on 20th August 2014 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

Outside the Box: AI, Robotics, and the Future of Jobs

By John Mauldin

 

This past week several reports came across my desk highlighting both the good news and the bad news about the future of automation and robotics. There are those who think that automation and robotics are going to be a massive destroyer of jobs and others who think that in general humans respond to shifts in employment opportunities by creating new opportunities.

As I’ve noted more than once, in the 1970s (as it seemed that our jobs were disappearing, never to return), the correct answer to the question, “Where will the jobs come from?” was “I don’t know, but they will.” That was more a faith-based statement than a fact-based one, but whole new categories of jobs did in fact get created in the ’80s and ’90s.

However, a new Wall Street Journal poll finds that three out of four Americans think the next generation will be worse off than this generation.

Barack Obama’s former chief economist Larry Summers began this chant of “secular stagnation.” It’s a pessimistic message, and it’s now being echoed by Federal Reserve Vice-Chair Stanley Fischer. He agrees with Summers that slow growth in “labor supply, capital investment, and productivity” is the new normal that’s “holding down growth.” Summers also believes that negative real interest rates aren’t negative enough. If Fischer and Fed chair Janet Yellen agree, central bank policy rates will never normalize in our lifetime. (National Review Online)

As the above-cited article asserts (and I agree), the term secular stagnation is a cover-up for the failure of Keynesian policies which, as my friends Larry Kudlow and Stephen Moore note, began in the Bush years and were doubled down on by the current administration.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who is pursuing a career as a social commentator after dominating the NBA boards for so many years, tells us that Ferguson (which is on all the news channels all the time) is not just about systemic racism; it’s about class warfare and how America’s poor are held back.

Jared Dillian over at the Daily Dirtnap notes that the militarization of the nation’s police forces has been an issue for a number of people for a long time. Exactly why does some small community in Connecticut need grenade launchers? Seriously? But he does make a point about the news cycle and trading:

The key here is the press. Journalism is such a powerful force, a force for good or bad (often bad), but if you look at Radley Balko, here was a journalist who had a pet issue (which really made him a polemicist) and he kept writing about this issue over and over again, but nobody really cared. He had a small, but loyal following. Now he has a very large following, because this issue just blew up on national TV, and now everyone is interested in it, like, why does my police department have a tank? And so on. So it went from being a non-issue to a big issue – overnight.

So this is what happens: now that it is at the forefront of the consciousness of the press, any time they hear about an incident like this, they will report on it. And it will seem like police militarization is everywhere. Before it seemed like it was nowhere. The only difference is that now, people will be reporting on it! It’s not like this wasn’t an issue before Ferguson. It was a huge issue before Ferguson. But now, everyone is talking about it. People are interested in hearing about it. And journalists will report on things that people like to hear about.

But here is the great part. Our friend Radley Balko, the expert on police militarization, the guy who has studied it his whole adult life, wrote a book on it, is the leading authority, does he get to be the leading voice on police militarization? No. There are plenty of other opportunists around who just latch on to whatever is the new new thing and position themselves as the expert on it. I guess what I am trying to say is that the guy who is short the whole way up and is finally right at the top is actually worse off than the guy who is just right at the top. Think about the financial crisis. The cemeteries are full of the bodies of money managers who were smart and early and short all the way up. It really is about being in the right place at the right time.” (The Daily Dirtnap)

I think having a national conversation about the militarization of police is probably a good thing. We all support the police, but more than a few of us are becoming a little uncomfortable with the number of SWAT teams in our communities. A little balance here and there might be a useful thing.

But to bring us back to robotics and automation, Kareem and others do point out that the social fabric of this country (and of the entire developed world) is more fragile than we would like it to be. And while the country had 50-70+ years to adapt to increasing automation on farms from the 1870s onward, and survived that transition, the radical restructuring of what we think of as work that is going to happen in the next 20 years is going to be far more difficult. Especially when everything is on the news.

The report that is today’s OTB is from Pew Research and Elon University and runs to 67 pages. I have excerpted about six of those pages, which highlight some of the key takeaways from thought leaders among the 1,896 experts the authors consulted with, some of whom think robotics will be a huge plus and others who are deeply concerned about our social future.. (You can find the whole study at http://www.pewinternet.org/2014/08/06/future-of-jobs/ plus links in the first few pages of the report to other fascinating subjects on the future. Wonks take note.)

The vast majority of respondents to the 2014 Future of the Internet canvassing anticipate that robotics and artificial intelligence will permeate wide segments of daily life by 2025, with huge implications for a range of industries such as health care, transport and logistics, customer service, and home maintenance. But even as they are largely consistent in their predictions for the evolution of technology itself, they are deeply divided on how advances in AI and robotics will impact the economic and employment picture over the next decade.

The countries that are winners in the coming technological revolution will be those that help their citizens organize themselves to take advantage of the new technologies. Countries that try to “protect” jobs or certain groups will find themselves falling behind. This report highlights some of the areas where not just the US but other countries are failing. Especially in education, where we still use an 18th-century education model developed to produce factory workers for the British industrialists, putting students into rows and columns and expecting them to learn facts that will somehow help them cope with a technological revolution.

Finally, I note that our views on the future impact of robotics and automation have a tendency to take on a religious tone. While everyone can marshall their “facts,” the facts mostly get used to conjure up speculations about the future. This is not unlike some of the arguments I heard in seminary. Are you post-millennial or pre-millennial? Do you see a William Gibson post-apocalyptic world coming, or a bright Ian Banks future where technology is our servant and has freed us of the mundane drudgery of needing to work to survive ?

The transition we are engaged in is likely to be volatile, no matter what your religious (I mean scientific) opinion of it is. But one of the joys of my life – and I hope of yours –is that I get to live through it. This week’s Outside the Box is my hopefully helpful way of getting you think about these important issues.

This weekend was only partially aided by automation. We went out to my friend Monty Bennett’s ranch in East Texas, where he runs a wildlife game reserve. He has animals from all over the world. I think I saw more gemsbok at his ranch than I did when I was last on a South African safari. And to my great delight I saw a red Indian deer that had one of the most magnificent racks of antlers I’ve ever seen on any animal anywhere. And if the local redneck hunters knew about the size of the racks on his whitetail deer, he would have trouble keeping said two-leggeds from climbing the 8-foot fence that surrounds the property. (Please note, I grew up not far from Monty’s neck of the woods, where redneck was not a pejorative term.)

Have a great week, and remember that robots need jobs too.

Your wanting more automation in his life analyst,

John Mauldin, Editor
Outside the Box
[email protected]

Stay Ahead of the Latest Tech News and Investing Trends…

Click here to sign up for Patrick Cox’s free daily tech news digest.

Each day, you get the three tech news stories with the biggest potential impact.


AI, Robotics, and the Future of Jobs

By Aaron Smith and Janna Anderson

Key Findings

The vast majority of respondents to the 2014 Future of the Internet canvassing anticipate that robotics and artificial intelligence will permeate wide segments of daily life by 2025, with huge implications for a range of industries such as health care, transport and logistics, customer service, and home maintenance. But even as they are largely consistent in their predictions for the evolution of technology itself, they are deeply divided on how advances in AI and robotics will impact the economic and employment picture over the next decade.

Key themes: reasons to be hopeful:

1) Advances in technology may displace certain types of work, but historically they have been a net creator of jobs.

2) We will adapt to these changes by inventing entirely new types of work, and by taking advantage of uniquely human capabilities.

3) Technology will free us from day-to-day drudgery, and allow us to define our relationship with “work” in a more positive and socially beneficial way.

4) Ultimately, we as a society control our own destiny through the choices we make.

Key themes: reasons to be concerned:

1) Impacts from automation have thus far impacted mostly blue-collar employment; the coming wave of innovation threatens to upend white-collar work as well.

2) Certain highly-skilled workers will succeed wildly in this new environment—but far more may be displaced into lower paying service industry jobs at best, or permanent unemployment at worst.

3) Our educational system is not adequately preparing us for work of the future, and our political and economic institutions are poorly equipped to handle these hard choices.

Some 1,896 experts responded to the following question:

The economic impact of robotic advances and AI—Self-driving cars, intelligent digital agents that can act for you, and robots are advancing rapidly. Will networked, automated, artificial intelligence (AI) applications and robotic devices have displaced more jobs than they have created by 2025?

Half of these experts (48%) envision a future in which robots and digital agents have displaced significant numbers of both blue- and white-collar workers—with many expressing concern that this will lead to vast increases in income inequality, masses of people who are effectively unemployable, and breakdowns in the social order.

The other half of the experts who responded to this survey (52%) expect that technology will not displace more jobs than it creates by 2025. To be sure, this group anticipates that many jobs currently performed by humans will be substantially taken over by robots or digital agents by 2025. But they have faith that human ingenuity will create new jobs, industries, and ways to make a living, just as it has been doing since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution.

These two groups also share certain hopes and concerns about the impact of technology on employment. For instance, many are concerned that our existing social structures—and especially our educational institutions—are not adequately preparing people for the skills that will be needed in the job market of the future. Conversely, others have hope that the coming changes will be an opportunity to reassess our society’s relationship to employment itself—by returning to a focus on small-scale or artisanal modes of production, or by giving people more time to spend on leisure, self-improvement, or time with loved ones.

A number of themes ran through the responses to this question: those that are unique to either group, and those that were mentioned by members of both groups.

The view from those who expect AI and robotics to have a positive or neutral impact on jobs by 2025

JP Rangaswami, chief scientist for Salesforce.com, offered a number of reasons for his belief that automation will not be a net displacer of jobs in the next decade: “The effects will be different in different economies (which themselves may look different from today’s political boundaries). Driven by revolutions in education and in technology, the very nature of work will have changed radically—but only in economies that have chosen to invest in education, technology, and related infrastructure. Some classes of jobs will be handed over to the ‘immigrants’ of AI and Robotics, but more will have been generated in creative and curating activities as demand for their services grows exponentially while barriers to entry continue to fall. For many classes of jobs, robots will continue to be poor labor substitutes.”

Rangaswami’s prediction incorporates a number of arguments made by those in this canvassing who took his side of this question.

Argument #1: Throughout history, technology has been a job creator—not a job destroyer

Vint Cerf, vice president and chief Internet evangelist for Google, said, “Historically, technology has created more jobs than it destroys and there is no reason to think otherwise in this case. Someone has to make and service all these advanced devices.”

Jonathan Grudin, principal researcher for Microsoft, concurred: “Technology will continue to disrupt jobs, but more jobs seem likely to be created. When the world population was a few hundred million people there were hundreds of millions of jobs. Although there have always been unemployed people, when we reached a few billion people there were billions of jobs. There is no shortage of things that need to be done and that will not change.”

Michael Kende, the economist for a major Internet-oriented nonprofit organization, wrote, “In general, every wave of automation and computerization has increased productivity without depressing employment, and there is no reason to think the same will not be true this time. In particular, the new wave is likely to increase our personal or professional productivity (e.g. self-driving car) but not necessarily directly displace a job (e.g. chauffeur). While robots may displace some manual jobs, the impact should not be different than previous waves of automation in factories and elsewhere. On the other hand, someone will have to code and build the new tools, which will also likely lead to a new wave of innovations and jobs.”

Fred Baker, Internet pioneer, longtime leader in the IETF and Cisco Systems Fellow, responded, “My observation of advances in automation has been that they change jobs, but they don’t reduce them. A car that can guide itself on a striped street has more difficulty with an unstriped street, for example, and any automated system can handle events that it is designed for, but not events (such as a child chasing a ball into a street) for which it is not designed. Yes, I expect a lot of change. I don’t think the human race can retire en masse by 2025.”

Argument #2: Advances in technology create new jobs and industries even as they displace some of the older ones

Ben Shneiderman, professor of computer science at the University of Maryland, wrote, “Robots and AI make compelling stories for journalists, but they are a false vision of the major economic changes. Journalists lost their jobs because of changes to advertising, professors are threatened by MOOCs, and store salespeople are losing jobs to Internet sales people. Improved user interfaces, electronic delivery (videos, music, etc.), and more self-reliant customers reduce job needs. At the same time someone is building new websites, managing corporate social media plans, creating new products, etc. Improved user interfaces, novel services, and fresh ideas will create more jobs.”

Amy Webb, CEO of strategy firm Webbmedia Group, wrote, “There is a general concern that the robots are taking over. I disagree that our emerging technologies will permanently displace most of the workforce, though I’d argue that jobs will shift into other sectors. Now more than ever, an army of talented coders is needed to help our technology advance. But we will still need folks to do packaging, assembly, sales, and outreach. The collar of the future is a hoodie.”

John Markoff, senior writer for the Science section of the New York Times, responded, “You didn’t allow the answer that I feel strongly is accurate—too hard to predict. There will be a vast displacement of labor over the next decade. That is true. But, if we had gone back 15 years who would have thought that ‘search engine optimization’ would be a significant job category?”

Marjory Blumenthal, a science and technology policy analyst, wrote, “In a given context, automated devices like robots may displace more than they create. But they also generate new categories of work, giving rise to second- and third-order effects. Also, there is likely to be more human-robot collaboration—a change in the kind of work opportunities available. The wider impacts are the hardest to predict; they may not be strictly attributable to the uses of automation but they are related…what the middle of the 20th century shows us is how dramatic major economic changes are—like the 1970s OPEC-driven increases of the price of oil—and how those changes can dwarf the effects of technology.”

Argument #3: There are certain jobs that only humans have the capacity to do

A number of respondents argued that many jobs require uniquely human characteristics such as empathy, creativity, judgment, or critical thinking—and that jobs of this nature will never succumb to widespread automation.

David Hughes, a retired U.S. Army Colonel who, from 1972, was a pioneer in individual to/from digital telecommunications, responded, “For all the automation and AI, I think the ‘human hand’ will have to be involved on a large scale. Just as aircraft have to have pilots and copilots, I don’t think all ‘self-driving’ cars will be totally unmanned. The human’s ability to detect unexpected circumstances, and take action overriding automatic driving will be needed as long and individually owned ‘cars’ are on the road.”

Pamela Rutledge, PhD and director of the Media Psychology Research Center, responded, “There will be many things that machines can’t do, such as services that require thinking, creativity, synthesizing, problem-solving, and innovating…Advances in AI and robotics allow people to cognitively offload repetitive tasks and invest their attention and energy in things where humans can make a difference. We already have cars that talk to us, a phone we can talk to, robots that lift the elderly out of bed, and apps that remind us to call Mom. An app can dial Mom’s number and even send flowers, but an app can’t do that most human of all things: emotionally connect with her.”

Michael Glassman, associate professor at the Ohio State University, wrote, “I think AI will do a few more things, but people are going to be surprised how limited it is. There will be greater differentiation between what AI does and what humans do, but also much more realization that AI will not be able to engage the critical tasks that humans do.”

Argument #4: The technology will not advance enough in the next decade to substantially impact the job market

Another group of experts feels that the impact on employment is likely to be minimal for the simple reason that 10 years is too short a timeframe for automation to move substantially beyond the factory floor. David Clark, a senior research scientist at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, noted, “The larger trend to consider is the penetration of automation into service jobs. This trend will require new skills for the service industry, which may challenge some of the lower-tier workers, but in 12 years I do not think autonomous devices will be truly autonomous. I think they will allow us to deliver a higher level of service with the same level of human involvement.”

Jari Arkko, Internet expert for Ericsson and chair of the Internet Engineering Task Force, wrote, “There is no doubt that these technologies affect the types of jobs that need to be done. But there are only 12 years to 2025, some of these technologies will take a long time to deploy in significant scale…We’ve been living a relatively slow but certain progress in these fields from the 1960s.”

Christopher Wilkinson, a retired European Union official, board member for EURid.eu, and Internet Society leader said, “The vast majority of the population will be untouched by these technologies for the foreseeable future. AI and robotics will be a niche, with a few leading applications such as banking, retailing, and transport. The risks of error and the imputation of liability remain major constraints to the application of these technologies to the ordinary landscape.”

Argument #5: Our social, legal, and regulatory structures will minimize the impact on employment

A final group suspects that economic, political, and social concerns will prevent the widespread displacement of jobs. Glenn Edens, a director of research in networking, security, and distributed systems within the Computer Science Laboratory at PARC, a Xerox Company, wrote, “There are significant technical and policy issues yet to resolve, however there is a relentless march on the part of commercial interests (businesses) to increase productivity so if the technical advances are reliable and have a positive ROI then there is a risk that workers will be displaced. Ultimately we need a broad and large base of employed population, otherwise there will be no one to pay for all of this new world.”

Andrew Rens, chief council at the Shuttleworth Foundation, wrote, “A fundamental insight of economics is that an entrepreneur will only supply goods or services if there is a demand, and those who demand the good can pay. Therefore any country that wants a competitive economy will ensure that most of its citizens are employed so that in turn they can pay for goods and services. If a country doesn’t ensure employment driven demand it will become increasingly less competitive.”

Geoff Livingston, author and president of Tenacity5 Media, wrote, “I see the movement towards AI and robotics as evolutionary, in large part because it is such a sociological leap. The technology may be ready, but we are not—at least, not yet.”

The view from those who expect AI and robotics to displace more jobs than they create by 2025

An equally large group of experts takes a diametrically opposed view of technology’s impact on employment. In their reading of history, job displacement as a result of technological advancement is clearly in evidence today, and can only be expected to get worse as automation comes to the white-collar world.

Argument #1: Displacement of workers from automation is already happening—and about to get much worse

Jerry Michalski, founder of REX, the Relationship Economy eXpedition, sees the logic of the slow and unrelenting movement in the direction of more automation: “Automation is Voldemort: the terrifying force nobody is willing to name. Oh sure, we talk about it now and then, but usually in passing. We hardly dwell on the fact that someone trying to pick a career path that is not likely to be automated will have a very hard time making that choice. X-ray technician? Outsourced already, and automation in progress. The race between automation and human work is won by automation, and as long as we need fiat currency to pay the rent/mortgage, humans will fall out of the system in droves as this shift takes place…The safe zones are services that require local human effort (gardening, painting, babysitting), distant human effort (editing, coaching, coordinating), and high-level thinking/relationship building. Everything else falls in the target-rich environment of automation.”

Mike Roberts, Internet pioneer and Hall of Fame member and longtime leader with ICANN and the Internet Society, shares this view: “Electronic human avatars with substantial work capability are years, not decades away. The situation is exacerbated by total failure of the economics community to address to any serious degree sustainability issues that are destroying the modern ‘consumerist’ model and undermining the early 20th century notion of ‘a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.’ There is great pain down the road for everyone as new realities are addressed. The only question is how soon.”

Robert Cannon, Internet law and policy expert, predicts, “Everything that can be automated will be automated. Non-skilled jobs lacking in ‘human contribution’ will be replaced by automation when the economics are favorable. At the hardware store, the guy who used to cut keys has been replaced by a robot. In the law office, the clerks who used to prepare discovery have been replaced by software. IBM Watson is replacing researchers by reading every report ever written anywhere. This begs the question: What can the human contribute? The short answer is that if the job is one where that question cannot be answered positively, that job is not likely to exist.”

Tom Standage, digital editor for The Economist, makes the point that the next wave of technology is likely to have a more profound impact than those that came before it: “Previous technological revolutions happened much more slowly, so people had longer to retrain, and [also] moved people from one kind of unskilled work to another. Robots and AI threaten to make even some kinds of skilled work obsolete (e.g., legal clerks). This will displace people into service roles, and the income gap between skilled workers whose jobs cannot be automated and everyone else will widen. This is a recipe for instability.”

Mark Nall, a program manager for NASA, noted, “Unlike previous disruptions such as when farming machinery displaced farm workers but created factory jobs making the machines, robotics and AI are different. Due to their versatility and growing capabilities, not just a few economic sectors will be affected, but whole swaths will be. This is already being seen now in areas from robocalls to lights-out manufacturing. Economic efficiency will be the driver. The social consequence is that good-paying jobs will be increasingly scarce.”

Argument #2: The consequences for income inequality will be profound

For those who expect AI and robotics to significantly displace human employment, these displacements seem certain to lead to an increase in income inequality, a continued hollowing out of the middle class, and even riots, social unrest, and/or the creation of a permanent, unemployable “underclass”.

Justin Reich, a fellow at Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society, said, “Robots and AI will increasingly replace routine kinds of work—even the complex routines performed by artisans, factory workers, lawyers, and accountants. There will be a labor market in the service sector for non-routine tasks that can be performed interchangeably by just about anyone—and these will not pay a living wage—and there will be some new opportunities created for complex non-routine work, but the gains at this top of the labor market will not be offset by losses in the middle and gains of terrible jobs at the bottom. I’m not sure that jobs will disappear altogether, though that seems possible, but the jobs that are left will be lower paying and less secure than those that exist now. The middle is moving to the bottom.”

Stowe Boyd, lead researcher at GigaOM Research, said, “As just one aspect of the rise of robots and AI, widespread use of autonomous cars and trucks will be the immediate end of taxi drivers and truck drivers; truck driver is the number-one occupation for men in the U.S.. Just as importantly, autonomous cars will radically decrease car ownership, which will impact the automotive industry. Perhaps 70% of cars in urban areas would go away. Autonomous robots and systems could impact up to 50% of jobs, according to recent analysis by Frey and Osborne at Oxford, leaving only jobs that require the ‘application of heuristics’ or creativity…An increasing proportion of the world’s population will be outside of the world of work—either living on the dole, or benefiting from the dramatically decreased costs of goods to eke out a subsistence lifestyle. The central question of 2025 will be: What are people for in a world that does not need their labor, and where only a minority are needed to guide the ‘bot-based economy?”

Nilofer Merchant, author of a book on new forms of advantage, wrote, “Just today, the guy who drives the service car I take to go to the airport [said that he] does this job because his last blue-collar job disappeared from automation. Driverless cars displace him. Where does he go? What does he do for society? The gaps between the haves and have-nots will grow larger. I’m reminded of the line from Henry Ford, who understood he does no good to his business if his own people can’t afford to buy the car.”

Alex Howard, a writer and editor based in Washington, D.C., said, “I expect that automation and AI will have had a substantial impact on white-collar jobs, particularly back-office functions in clinics, in law firms, like medical secretaries, transcriptionists, or paralegals. Governments will have to collaborate effectively with technology companies and academic institutions to provide massive retraining efforts over the next decade to prevent massive social disruption from these changes.”

Point of agreement: the educational system is doing a poor job of preparing the next generation of workers

A consistent theme among both groups is that our existing social institutions—especially the educational system—are not up to the challenge of preparing workers for the technology- and robotics-centric nature of employment in the future.

Howard Rheingold, a pioneering Internet sociologist and self-employed writer, consultant, and educator, noted, “The jobs that the robots will leave for humans will be those that require thought and knowledge. In other words, only the best-educated humans will compete with machines. And education systems in the U.S. and much of the rest of the world are still sitting students in rows and columns, teaching them to keep quiet and memorize what is told to them, preparing them for life in a 20th century factory.”

Bryan Alexander, technology consultant, futurist, and senior fellow at the National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education, wrote, “The education system is not well positioned to transform itself to help shape graduates who can ‘race against the machines.’ Not in time, and not at scale. Autodidacts will do well, as they always have done, but the broad masses of people are being prepared for the wrong economy.”

Point of agreement: the concept of “work” may change significantly in the coming decade

On a more hopeful note, a number of experts expressed a belief that the coming changes will allow us to renegotiate the existing social compact around work and employment.

Possibility #1: We will experience less drudgery and more leisure time

Hal Varian, chief economist for Google, envisions a future with fewer ‘jobs’ but a more equitable distribution of labor and leisure time: “If ‘displace more jobs’ means ‘eliminate dull, repetitive, and unpleasant work,’ the answer would be yes. How unhappy are you that your dishwasher has replaced washing dishes by hand, your washing machine has displaced washing clothes by hand, or your vacuum cleaner has replaced hand cleaning? My guess is this ‘job displacement’ has been very welcome, as will the ‘job displacement’ that will occur over the next 10 years. The work week has fallen from 70 hours a week to about 37 hours now, and I expect that it will continue to fall. This is a good thing. Everyone wants more jobs and less work. Robots of various forms will result in less work, but the conventional work week will decrease, so there will be the same number of jobs (adjusted for demographics, of course). This is what has been going on for the last 300 years so I see no reason that it will stop in the decade.”

Tiffany Shlain, filmmaker, host of the AOL series The Future Starts Here, and founder of The Webby Awards, responded, “Robots that collaborate with humans over the cloud will be in full realization by 2025. Robots will assist humans in tasks thus allowing humans to use their intelligence in new ways, freeing us up from menial tasks.”

Francois-Dominique Armingaud, retired computer software engineer from IBM and now giving security courses to major engineering schools, responded, “The main purpose of progress now is to allow people to spend more life with their loved ones instead of spoiling it with overtime while others are struggling in order to access work.”

Possibility #2: It will free us from the industrial age notion of what a “job” is

A notable number of experts take it for granted that many of tomorrow’s jobs will be held by robots or digital agents—and express hope that this will inspire us as a society to completely redefine our notions of work and employment.

Peter and Trudy Johnson-Lenz, founders of the online community Awakening Technology, based in Portland, Oregon, wrote, “Many things need to be done to care for, teach, feed, and heal others that are difficult to monetize. If technologies replace people in some jobs and roles, what kinds of social support or safety nets will make it possible for them to contribute to the common good through other means? Think outside the job.”

Bob Frankston, an Internet pioneer and technology innovator whose work helped allow people to have control of the networking (internet) within their homes, wrote, “We’ll need to evolve the concept of a job as a means of wealth distribution as we did in response to the invention of the sewing machine displacing seamstressing as welfare.”

Jim Hendler, an architect of the evolution of the World Wide Web and professor of computer science at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, wrote, “The notion of work as a necessity for life cannot be sustained if the great bulk of manufacturing and such moves to machines—but humans will adapt by finding new models of payment as they did in the industrial revolution (after much upheaval).”

Tim Bray, an active participant in the IETF and technology industry veteran, wrote, “It seems inevitable to me that the proportion of the population that needs to engage in traditional full-time employment, in order to keep us fed, supplied, healthy, and safe, will decrease. I hope this leads to a humane restructuring of the general social contract around employment.”

Possibility #3: We will see a return to uniquely “human” forms of production

Another group of experts anticipates that pushback against expanding automation will lead to a revolution in small-scale, artisanal, and handmade modes of production.

Kevin Carson, a senior fellow at the Center for a Stateless Society and contributor to the P2P Foundation blog, wrote, “I believe the concept of ‘jobs’ and ‘employment’ will be far less meaningful, because the main direction of technological advance is toward cheap production tools (e.g., desktop information processing tools or open-source CNC garage machine tools) that undermine the material basis of the wage system. The real change will not be the stereotypical model of ‘technological unemployment,’ with robots displacing workers in the factories, but increased employment in small shops, increased project-based work on the construction industry model, and increased provisioning in the informal and household economies and production for gift, sharing, and barter.”

Tony Siesfeld, director of the Monitor Institute, wrote, “I anticipate that there will be a backlash and we’ll see a continued growth of artisanal products and small-scale [efforts], done myself or with a small group of others, that reject robotics and digital technology.”

A network scientist for BBN Technologies wrote, “To some degree, this is already happening. In terms of the large-scale, mass-produced economy, the utility of low-skill human workers is rapidly diminishing, as many blue-collar jobs (e.g., in manufacturing) and white-collar jobs (e.g., processing insurance paperwork) can be handled much more cheaply by automated systems. And we can already see some hints of reaction to this trend in the current economy: entrepreneurially-minded unemployed and underemployed people are taking advantages of sites like Etsy and TaskRabbit to market quintessentially human skills. And in response, there is increasing demand for ‘artisanal’ or ‘hand-crafted’ products that were made by a human. In the long run this trend will actually push toward the re-localization and re-humanization of the economy, with the 19th- and 20th-century economies of scale exploited where they make sense (cheap, identical, disposable goods), and human-oriented techniques (both older and newer) increasingly accounting for goods and services that are valuable, customized, or long-lasting.”

Like Outside the Box?
Sign up today and get each new issue delivered free to your inbox.
It’s your opportunity to get the news John Mauldin thinks matters most to your finances.

Important Disclosures

ROBOTS DON’T CARE ABOUT THE FAIRNESS OF MINIMUM WAGES

19 comments

Posted on 14th August 2014 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

, ,

The Obama jobs recovery has been driven by part-time, low paying, service jobs like clerks, waitresses, and burger flippers. The “liberal” solution to an economy that only creates shitty jobs is to force employers to pay higher wages to the people performing these menial low skill level jobs. The higher cities, states and the feds raise their minimum wages, the more effort will be put into replacing these workers with robots who are never late, never call in sick, never ask for a raise, and never complain about working conditions. Just a little squirt of oil once in a while and they are happy. Technology will continue to replace low-skill workers until the oil runs dry. If you have no thinking skills, you can probably be replaced by a robot. The liberals will counter this inevitable trend by trying to unionize the robots.

http://www.seriouswonder.com/wp-content/uploads/robot-rights.png

Guest Post by Michael Krieger 

“360 Burgers per Hour” – Meet the Burger Flipping Robot that Could Change Fast Food Forever

Screen Shot 2014-08-13 at 11.14.54 AMPoliticians aside, I think that the vast majority of people pushing for a higher minimum wage are well intentioned. A good example of this is Nick Hanaeur in his recent article about how pitchfork’s are coming for the 0.01%. His article garnered an incredible amount of attention, and rightly so, but was in my opinion greatly lacking in solutions. While he accurately identified the perilousness of the current transformation of America into an undemocratic oligarchy, his primary solution revolved around raising the minimum wage. This is a superficial and largely meaningless answer to a symptom of a very structural problem.

If you want to solve structural problems you need structural solutions, and raising the minimum wage is not a structural solution. In case you missed it, I outlined my thoughts on the matter in the post: The Pitchforks are Coming…– A Dire Warning from a Member of the 0.01%.

 

Equally important, the entire argument of raising the minimum wage cannot be had without discussing the impact of technology. As I and many others have highlighted over the past several years, one of the most troubled segments of the U.S. economy consists of fast food workers. They simply cannot survive on the wages being paid to them by employers and need food stamps, disability and second jobs merely to make ends meet. In theory, raising the minimum wage will help these folks the most, but will it really? I think not.

The main reason is that if employers are forced to pay these employee more, the employers in this industry are likely to move as quickly as possibly to fast-food preparing robots. This isn’t just some pie in the sky fantasy either, there’s a company called Momentum Machines that has already assembled a product that can make a burger in 10 seconds, or 360 burgers per hour. Raw Story recently reported on this and here is what they said:

 

A robot that can make 360 burgers an hour could put many fast-food workers out of a job – exactly as its designers intended.

Silicon Valley-based Momentum Machines developed the device, which is more like an assembly line than a humanoid robot, reported Singularity Hub.

“Our device isn’t meant to make employees more efficient,” said Momentum co-founder Alexandros Vardakostas. “It’s meant to completely obviate them.”

The company says the burger-flipping robot could take the place of two or three line cooks and save restaurant owners about $90,000 a year in salary and benefits.

The robots also reduce liability, management duties, and the space needed to prepare food, the website reported.

Some restaurant owners could use those savings to improve the quality of ingredients – basically offering gourmet burgers at fast-food prices – but others could offer the same quality food at lower prices.

Oxford University researchers predicted in a recent study that 47 percent of U.S. jobs were at risk of being automated within 20 years – especially service occupations, where most recent job growth has occurred.

The folks at Momentum Machines are very serious about their undertaking and boast an impressive pedigree. Its website boasts that:

Our team was trained in mechanical engineering, control systems, and physics at top tier institutions: Berkeley, Stanford, UCSB, and USC. We draw from work experience that includes cutting edge firms such as: Tesla, NASA, Semiconductor Technology Associates,  etc. Our investors are tier one venture firms and we are advised by the best in the restaurant industry. 

Moreover, if Oxford University is correct, up to half of U.S. jobs could be threatened by automation. Raising the minimum wage doesn’t do any good if it causes your job to disappear faster.

As I have written for years, we need radical structural change to address the real root problems in America. These problems including central banking and the Federal Reserves unaccountable power, TBTF banks, corporate interests running Washington D.C., a disappearance of the rule of the law, the surveillance state and out of control intelligence agencies, the militarization of the domestic police force, corruption, and an overly aggressive foreign policy.

Calling for an increase in the minimum wage sounds good, but it is a superficial and ultimately meaningless solution. If we want to be serious about change, we need to seriously and radically address the issues listed above.

In Liberty,
Michael Krieger

HOW WEST PHILLY THROWS A CONCERT FOR PEACE

8 comments

Posted on 14th August 2014 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

, , ,

You really can’t make this shit up. The black people in West Philly throw a peace concert to stop the violence in the city and a dude gets shot to death at the concert. Would it be racist of me to mention there were no white people at this concert for peace? I think someone needs to explain the difference between peace and violence to these fine upstanding citizens of West Philly. Maybe they should scrap the concerts, get jobs, not have kids out of wedlock, stop dealing and taking drugs, and start acting like civilized human beings.

Man shot outside peace concert at Dell Music Center dies

The man shot outside a peace concert at the Dell Music Center on Wednesday has died.

The 20-year-old man died overnight after having been shot in the Strawberry Mansion center’s parking lot at about 8:30 p.m., according to the Philadelphia police homicide unit.

Police say an argument sparked the shooting near the anti-violence concert, called “Philly Support Philly: Peace on the Streets.” The victim was shot in his abdomen and thigh and taken to Temple University Hospital.

No arrests have been made.

The gunman was described last night as being in his teens and fleeing in a white vehicle, thought to be a Chevrolet Impala. Police said they had no additional information this morning about the suspect.

It wasn’t immediately known what the argument was about.

About 600 people were attending Wednesday night’s concert at the Fairmount Park center, located near 33rd and Huntingdon streets.