John Florez: Technology disrupting our way of life

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  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    July 21, 2013 1:41 p.m.

    It is high time that Karl Marx be let into mainstream economics, not because he had all of the answers (he didn't) but rather because he studied the employer-employee relationship more than any other economist. I've read Marx most of my life and know how important he is. But mainstream economics in the U S remains completely ignorant of him because capitalism is so afraid of him, and any economist who wants a job had better not show any familiarity (I know firsthand). This is not the place to discuss abstract economics, but note that Marx sought to answer an interesting question: in an economic system (capitalism) where exchange mostly involves commodities of equal value, where do profits come from? Any discussion of relative wages must include Marx. Mr Florez, you should have a look.

  • one vote Salt Lake City, UT
    July 20, 2013 9:43 p.m.

    Give it twenty more years, this is nothing.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    July 20, 2013 5:55 p.m.

    The fact remains that complainers complain and doers do. If workers think that they are being cheated, they can look for another job. If a group of workers think that they are being oppressed, they can pool their money and start their own company. This is America. Rich people have no more claim on working hard than do poor people. Great personal growth comes to those who use their computers to find information and to train themselves Technology is more affordable than ever. You don't need an IBM mainframe to compete in the computer world. One of my customers used a $40 Raspberry computer as a way to show point of sale videos.

    But, it is so much easier the complain and tell everyone that it's all the rich man's fault, or the schools fault, or the phase of the moon.

    If you really believe that all should have an equal share, then work hard enough that you can be the giver and not the taker; then, and only then, will you prove your point.

  • 10CC Bountiful, UT
    July 20, 2013 5:05 p.m.


    in my experience, the Monday Flu is less of a problem than workers who have kids, and the kids get sick. Lay off those workers, buy another machine, problem solved.

    Or, rather, problem shifted, profitability is least for awhile.

  • Ultra Bob Cottonwood Heights, UT
    July 20, 2013 3:52 p.m.

    When you look at the world through a microscope you can exclude all the facts that you need to make your argument. What if your worker who works just ten hours a week on a “job” is also a teacher working with children not just her own and many other things to support her community.

    Compared to the worker who has the youth and ability to advance himself working 40 hours and spending another 20 hours in his personal preparation. In the business picture the 40 hour person is worth more to business. The ten hour person is worth less to business. But which is worth more to the society of humans.

    The system that values the worth of an individual according to the amount of money he has or earns is not a good way to value a human being. A religious person might say that a person has certain rights of life, liberty and happiness just because they are a part of the society. Does membership in a society mean a person is a part owner?

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    July 20, 2013 1:24 p.m.


    Are you assuming that you should always be paid MORE because you're trained? Why?

    Example: A machine shop has five employees, each earning $30,000 per year and each is running a machine that costs $15,000. Let's say that the machine lasts three years before major costs are incurred. To produce "widgets", the business has to pay $195,000 for wages and depreciation. The owner gets tired of employees having "Monday flu", so he decides to buy two machining centers for $225,000 each with a three-year-life and to train his two best employees to run those machines. Because the employee is actually a "machine tender", he decides to NOT give them a raise but to also NOT cut their salary.

    The owner pays $15,000 more per year for the same number of widgets, but no one stays home with the "Monday flu".

    Three people, who thought they were "too skilled and too valuable" to be fired are looking for work because they took advantage of their employer and wanted him to pay them for going to work with a hang-over.

    Get trained. Work hard. Add value.

  • 10CC Bountiful, UT
    July 20, 2013 12:30 p.m.


    I know of very few people who are unwilling to change, to adapt, to work. (Some people are mentally ill, or have other conditions. They depend on charity.)

    My great grandfather was a blacksmith. That occupation is long gone, of course, as are many others. But he did not have to relearn new skills multiple times. Today's rate of change is accelerated.

    As technology becomes more disruptive in healthcare (eg, IBM's impressive Watson computer applied to diagnosing medical conditions) there will be lower demand for physicians, which could actually drop healthcare costs. As potential physicians see much shorter potential career lengths, the justification for all that education is diminished.

    The exception, of course, are those few who will participate in the creation and enhancement of Watson, who will be able to amplify their abilities displacing thousands of current physicians.

    We've always seen employment adapt to technological displacement, but there's no economic law that says this must always occur. This particular gap between productivity and employment has persisted for 13+ years, and is widening.

    As the merry-go-round accelerates, more people are thrown from it. What do they do?

  • J Thompson SPRINGVILLE, UT
    July 20, 2013 12:15 p.m.


    Interesting comments, but I would like more information. If a worker chooses to work ten hours per week, should he receive wages for working forty-hours? If a worker fails to train himself for advancement opportunities, should he be paid the same rat as those who went back to school on their own dime and prepared for those advancements?

    Should a rich person be made to share his wealth with the not-so-rich? Should you be forced to house another family in your home because the government thinks that you have sufficient room for another family? Should you be forced to give your car to someone else because the government thinks that you have sufficient markets within walking distance to meet your needs?

    Who decides?

    The way it works now is that if you want to prosper, YOU have to work as hard as all those who prosper are working. If you want to earn dividends, YOU have to put that money at risk, just like all other businessmen.

    If you want to be paid for using technology, YOU have to learn that technology.

    The world is willing to pay those who are prepared.

  • Ultra Bob Cottonwood Heights, UT
    July 20, 2013 11:42 a.m.

    All wealth in human terms is created from the mental and physical labor of people. Civilized society brings people together so that they might share and exchange the wealth they have for the wealth of others. While some have the ability to create more wealth than others, all people create the wealth of the society and all should participate in the benefits.

    The reason that there are rich people is because they have been able to take the wealth of others either by wit, circumstances or even dishonesty. The harm they do to society is in their actions to deprive others from acquiring the tools to exchange wealth to the benefit of the others.

    As the world changes the rules for distribution of the wealth need to be changed. We should not operate today with rules 200 years old or even those 2000 years old.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    July 20, 2013 10:38 a.m.

    Religion is not used to force people to redistribute their assets. Religion has no "pick and choose" menu. Those who believe in and follow Christ do not cling to sins and they do not demand that anyone else give them anything.

    Christ gave us the perfect example of handling wealth. He, who has everything in this world and in all creation, will share all that he has ON CONDITION that we accept his ways and live his kind of life. Those who reject his way of life, have no promise.

    In many ways, that is exactly what happens here. People with wealth offer to share that wealth in the form of wages with others according to their ability to use that wealth to produce something of value. Those who bring their technological talents to the table can expect to share in the wealth that they help create. Those who only want to receive without learning, without changing, without overcoming will not receive the benefits hoped for.

    The world changes. If we don't change, we will be left behind. All are invited. Few respond.

  • 10CC Bountiful, UT
    July 20, 2013 9:15 a.m.

    When a broom factory is moved offshore, those workers have very little political clout. They just get jobs at a convenience store, or delivering pizza.

    As technological displacement begins to blunt the career opportunities of the children of physicians and attorneys, this issue may get the attention of the power elite. Combine this with the Brookings Institute survey results that show about half of the religious view Capitalism as being incompatible with the teachings of Jesus, maybe there will be a movement to modify the system.

    Economically, the advance of technology makes productivity rates very high for those who have jobs, but this has not translated into additional employment opportunities, as the breadth of technological advancement affects wide swaths of the economy.

    100 years ago, 40% of the workforce was employed in agriculture; today, 2%. 50 years ago, 30% of the workforce was in manufacturing; today, 10-15%. Today's largest sector is retail sales, but technology is pressing employment downward here, too. Walmart has fewer employees, but 300 new stores. People comparison shop online. Amazon is replacing warehouse workers with robots.

    The productivity-employment gap has persisted since 2000.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    July 20, 2013 9:04 a.m.

    Technology has always "displaced" workers. Should we get rid of the back-hoes, the graders, and all other types of heavy-duty machinery so that men and women can do back-breaking work in the sun and be paid minimum wage? Should we get rid of the combines and let the people go out into the fields with their sickles and scythes where they can break their backs all day long? Should banks close at 2:00 p.m., like they did when I was a boy, so that the employees could balance the accounts by hand? Should we get our news from the Saturday Evening Post, like much of America once did? Should we swelter on the porch and wish for a little breeze on days like today?

    Should we yearn for the days when polio crippled so many?

    Technology has blessed all of us. It has made our lives productive. It has given us products that few kings have ever enjoyed. It has multiplied our talents.

    LEARN to use technology. Bless the lives of others. Be a worker, not a wisher.

  • Ultra Bob Cottonwood Heights, UT
    July 20, 2013 8:52 a.m.

    “Toto, we're not in Kansas anymore.” Dorothy’s words are a very good reflection of the plight of America. Today’s picture of America is not the same as it was 200 years ago.
    A further reflection might be found in the words “you can take the girl out of Kansas, but you can’t take the Kansas out of the girl”.

    We are trying to operate our nation today, using the same rules and formulas of 200 years ago. Our survival will depend on updating the rules and formulas to match the needs of today.

    For the main part, a new way of distributing the wealth created by our society.