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Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Destructive Destruction

Silverfiddle Rant!
Apologies to John Prine

Daddy won't you take me back to Muhlenberg County,
Where good jobs are boomin' and men get good pay.
I'm sorry my son but you're too late in askin'
Mr. Jeff Bezos' website done hauled them away.

You can’t bring those Sears jobs Back

Is retail dead, destined for the obituaries along with the whale blubber industry that was replaced by kerosene lamps, which were replaced by the lightbulb?

What kind of new economy will give people meaningful work as technology ends up doing so much of what humans used to earn their living doing?

Is free money for everybody a solution? How would that work if nobody is working and paying taxes to fund it?

Will the world end up Silicon Valley’s vast domain, with the giants handing out monthly vouchers for us to shop at their company stores?

Bust the Trusts?


  1. Truck drivers are making up to 100K a year last I read. The trades are not going away to be replaced to any extent by machines. Try getting someone to do anything around the house. Plumbers getting 80 bucks an hour.
    People are going to have to be willing to commit to getting an education whether trade or otherwise. Just what people have been doing since the industrial revolution.
    We should thank our lucky stars that we have moved on from the yoke of an agrarian society.
    Looking back in time, free time for members of a society promote innovation and wealth which trickles down to all members- at least up to now.

    Now we have society members who are unwilling to contribute to the whole and whose expenses are born by others.
    I for one, love Amazon. The quality of my life has improved immensely. I love the movies and having whatever i need delivered to my door in no time.
    But then, I love the lightbulb as well and giving up whale oil.

    1. Bunkerville,
      Home delivery is one of the joys of 21st Century life. I sometimes avail myself of grocery home delivery, too.

      I hate shopping in a physical store of almost any type -- a bookstore being the exception.

  2. But busting up Amazon will diminish our aggregate efficiency as a an economic society... the goal is an economic efficiency of 1.0 (the totalitarian state).

  3. We cannot know what the future holds in terms of employment opportunities. What we do know is that change is a constant factor in a free-market economy. Technology is part of this, of course ... but so too are changes in our society and culture, and I suppose also, the environment. I read one prediction some time ago stating that today’s kindergarten children will eventually work in fields that do not current exist. Along with this, among the occupations that exist today, most positions will undergo changes that will demand retraining. Some of these occupations will disappear altogether. This is a natural progression through the ages, and it will challenge us in the way it always has, all the way back to when people left the farms to find their way in the urban settings and worked for mere cents per hour.

    I think you’re right to say that Amazon will have a large role to play in this shift, but Sears has been failing for a very long time and I think it was only a matter of time before they went the way of Montgomery Ward and Western Auto. Yet, according to the Department of Commerce, e-commerce sales is just under 10% of the total of retail sales. This tells me that it will be a while before Amazon takes over the entire retail market. Even if Amazon completely automates its operations, people will still be needed to manufacture their warehousing and delivery robots.

    Personally, I can’t imagine that anyone wants to work in retail. It’s a tough job, the pay is low, advancement is difficult, and many store managers are little more than figureheads. The real decisions are made far higher in the chain of command by corporate executives that may not have even spent a full day in a retail store. What does worry me about the future is the fact that our schools today are failing tomorrow’s workers. Our high school graduates are eligible for no more than a minimum wage job. Today, if anyone wants a decent wage, they need a minimum of a two- or four-year college degree. The starting salary for a journalist in Boston is under $30,000 a year; the college bill is around $120,000 —but my point is that in terms of reasonable expectations, there is a very wide gap between the unskilled and under-educated high school graduate and the college graduate. The non-college bound student with no desire to continue his or her training will be confined to serving up fast foods. Given this discussion and future prospects, I have to say that American public schools have failed us ... and yet, no one is doing anything about it. Maybe this is why Bezos prefers robots to workers.


    1. Mustang,
      American public schools have failed us

      No doubt!

      I see the evidence thereof every day.

  4. [SORRY for this OFF-TOPIC POST, but TODAY happens to be an OCCASION I feel it vitally important to MARK with the MEASURE of DIGNITY COMMON DECENCY DEMANDS:]


    ____ Barbara Bush (1925-2018) ____

    Beloved source of character and strength.
    An asset to her family and our nation
    Refreshing for her lack of agitation.
    Barbara liived a good life of great length.
    A life patrician, gracious, down-to-earth
    Regal, yet a quintessential mother
    A fount of strong opinion like no other,
    But muted, disciplined, and tinged with mirth.
    Unusually poised in public life
    She had a kind of beauty very rare
    Happy to have prematurely aged
    Resplendent in her crown of snow white hair
    In no way mean, her mind always engaged
    Proud, yet humble,and always the ideal wife.

    ~ FreeThinke


    1. I watced the entire funeral today not expecttng much, but found it tremendously moving. The elegies given by former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, retired Senator Alan Simpson, and George W. Bush were extraordinarily well phrased and beutifully delivered in the unique style of each speaker.

      I found John Meachum's expertly crafted encomium to the late president to be notably fulsome, self-righteous and palpably insincere. Oh Meachum said ALL the "right" things, and with uncommon eloquence, but –– unlike the others mentioned above –– his delivery was stilted, oftent smarmy, and fairly bristling with virtue-signaling. His underlying message appeared to be "See what a remarkably Good Guy I am!"

      Most of the service was wonderful, but it went on FAR too long with a series of tedious anticlimactic events including some notably BAD, highly UNSUITABLE music, and long drawn-out religious rituals that seemd "tacked on" to an otherwise splendid event that SHOULD have ended quickly after George W. Bush gave his touching, heartwarming address praising his late father with warmth, good humor, great dignity and composure till the very end when his voice shook and almost broke with emotion when he said something like this: No one could have had a better set of parents than I. They will always be very much mssed, but I take comfort in my belief that my Dad and my Mom are together again rigt now holding hands just as they did all years of their marriage."

      The love and deep mutual respect demonstrated by the Bush family is a beautiful, frankly inspiring thing.

      I have to admit I was disappointed to the point of becoming angry in the presidencies of both the Bushes, I wanted them to be more incisive, more combative, and less respectful of our enemies both at game and abroad, but combativeness was never their style. They believed in –– and never failed to practice –– the virtues of MODESTY, GENTILITY, CIVILITY and FORBEARANCE –– qualities all but lost in the maelstrom of undiciplined hyper-emotional, bilious, self-righteous bombast dminatng the poitical scene today.

      At times the Bushes' approach may have seemed weak, but it wasn't –– not really. Appearances are often deceiving. Much of the time it takes greater courage, stronger character and more self-discipline to hold one's emotions in check than to let it all hang out as common louts do who are always getting into pointless barroom brawls, loud, sometimes violent domestic quarrels, and the ridiculous exchanges of unsults an verbal feuds we too often indulge in here in the blogosphere..

      I don't have to agree with everything a person says, believes or does to give him respect and find him admirable.

      Whatever George H. W. Bush may have lacked as a POLITCIAN he more than made up for as a MAN.

      May he rest in peace and joyful reunion with his wife, his baby daughter who died so tragically of ancer at the age of three, and all his loved ones who passed on before him.

  5. One after the other, retail stores are closing...everywhere. I keep wondering what'll happen to the real estate...those buildings. Who wants them? What happens to Main Street, USA, which is now AMAZON.COM? ...which is now BIG AWFUL BOX STORES?

    Dear Readers....I just got news that our dear buddy, Jersey Jack, has passed away.....He was quite ill and in terrible pain for a long time, but was a fighter till the end, as shown in my blog post honoring him today. Please come leave a message to Jack. thanks.

  6. Something from Bastiat about putting tariffs on sunlight so the candlemakers are protected....

    1. TC,

      Point well taken.

      The relevant question is, does our government foster a free market that allows new ideas and new industries to bloom, or is it a suffocating regulatory state that snuffs in the cradle spontaneous human activity that in every previous juncture of human history always found a way?

      If you want to read a hilarious and scary article about how Socialist Democrats would address the issue, read this:

      The Democratic Party Wants to Make Climate Policy Exciting

      When will the Democrat Party come clean and finally declare itself a politburo?

      It is frightening to me that supposedly-responsible people seriously discuss such "ideas," when they should be discussing them from behind the walls of a nuthouse.

    2. Meh. We've reached the point where someone has to be paid big bucks to keep the general public's fecal matter residue and bacteria from colonizing the touchscreens of self service kiosks at McDonald's.

    3. @ SF

      Brain washing pure and simple.

  7. Good question Silverfiddle. As technology advances, possibly exponentially, AI will eventually be doing the lion's share of work. Thus the opportunity to earn a living in the conventional sense will disappear.

    That capitalistic society that was responsible for the explosion of the middle class will be dramatically altered. Perhaps in ways we can't even imagine today. It most certainly will require we think outside the box. Most notably in how we define value in over life. At near 67 and semi-retired I've had a lot more time to think about this very issue. Frankly, Karl Marx may well have been thinking 300 years into the future.

    Good post Silverfiddle. I know my great grandchildren will be living in this environment. If humankind doesn't annihilate itself first.

  8. The Amazon-izing of society is a double edged sword. Convenience is awesome; when deployed and when I can actually get mail, Amazon and other direct-to-door services are a godsend.

    And living rural, even my beloved Tractor Supply Company doesn’t carry half of what I need. From a homesteading perspective, the cost of convenience is sullied by the lack of interaction with folks who are a wealth of experience.

    The “gun store counter” perspective for those who are familiar. All of this contributes in small ways to the spiral of self insufficiency, instant entitlement and the fragility of our economy.

    1. Heh... I opened my Amazon account during one of my extended TDYs in South America. Had never heard of it until I asked my buddy where he was getting all his stuff from.

    2. Amazon Prime is where it's at, if you want what you want right now, and you get a 10% discount at Whole Foods (owned by Amazon). Not a bad selection of streamable movies as well.

      The world has been consumerized by a used book store.

    3. We are but mere pawns to the Talosians...

  9. Speaking of unfair business practices



  10. Replies
    1. Vocational Education is thriving in Mass. A string of highly regarded regional voke schools provide an excellent education which i then supplemented by two and four year schools for many students.
      Demand is exceeding supply but unfortunately, low income students are often losing out and then preyed on by the likes of ECA which works on a business model similar to Trump University.
      Obama did try to shut these guys down and the efforts were partially successful. I'm surprised there are more closings under Sweet Betsy DeVos.

      Anyway, the model for successful voke education has been around for a while and needs to be fully implemented rather than ploughing money into venture capital student loan scams like ECA.

    2. Please stop trying to comment at my blog...you're blocked. But I did want you to know I'd written a story on the N Carolina voter fraud scheduled for 2 days ago but waited till tomorrow, Friday, to publish it because other stories happened. I'm laughing at the very idea that the country's going to think the Republicans are awful for doing fraud (not proven) when 99% of all voter fraud stories are the Dems suddenly finding ballots...all leaning Left. CONSTANTLY. Grow up, Ducky, when we start being even handed on blame, then come whine to my Comment Moderation. Thanks.

    3. One wonders why, despite investigations by Republican Secretaries of State [and wild-ass accusations by Trump and Kobach].....allegations of 'massive' voter fraud on the Left hasn't borne fruit.

      That said, to remedy any issues with in-person voting, ID should be mandatory. If I have to produce it to exercise my 2nd Amendment rights.....there's zero issue with providing it to vote.

    4. the APPRENTICE SYTEM wasprobably THE best way ever devised for a young person to learn a trade. Schools per se are too often unnecessarily expensive, unwieldy and ineffectual.

      We don't nee more buildings to maintain or bureaucarcies to support.

      ON the JOB TRAINING should be where the prefferred method of making people employable.

      That's how i learned to be a newspaper editor and how to produce two monthly journals distributed over a tri-state area.

      My degrees were not in journalism, English or creative writing, but that didn't matter. The excellent education I received in elementary school was all I needed. If I have to say so, myself, I did a helluva good job using native intelligence, an eagerness to "get it right at all costs," and the drive to work long hours without complaint.

    5. Unless you want many good careers.

      - CI

    6. Yeah, providing for ones family is so overrated.......

      - CI

    7. No, getting a Master's so that you can flip burgers at McDonald's with the rest of the Proles isn't the best "family" investment. You'd provide "better" buying a car with the tuition money and Ubering.

    8. Well, I suppose if you’re working at McDonalds, that opinion might have merit. Luckily, I invested “better”, without Ubering.

  11. Do you know what the DOE’s changes were? Reading the CEO letter, I wondered if the company managers should have taken a few of their own business courses.

  12. Here in Northern Virginia, I have more than one student who shouldn't be pushing for a university degree. These students simply don't have the aptitude for such a degree and should be tracked vocational. But their parents won't have it! Square pegs being forced into round holes.

    Even worse, here in the Super Zips, anything but a PhD degree is frowned upon and a social stigma.

  13. I'm reminded of Scrooge contemplating what had become of Fezziwig.

    1. I'm recalling the excellent liberal arts and science education I received 50+ years ago. That and my mamy years in business management has served me and my,family well.


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