The Robot Revolution: Union-backed policies destroy human jobs, replacing people with intelligent machines

The Robot Revolution
Union-backed policies destroy human jobs, replacing people with intelligent machines [PDF here]

By Steven J. Allen and Alec Torres

Summary: Labor unions and their left-wing friends are imposing a host of laws and regulations that are dramatically raising the cost of hiring workers. Minimum wage laws, Obamacare requirements, and many other policies are causing businesses to rethink new hires. Even expensive robots and other forms of non-human labor begin to make sense to strapped companies. Who will suffer the most under the new regime? The least skilled and the poorest—the very persons who were supposedly going to benefit from the new laws and regulations created. Call it “the War on Jobs.”

New technology creates jobs. The invention of the lightbulb puts candle makers out of work and the invention of the automobile puts buggy-whip makers out of work, but more jobs are created in the new industries than were lost in the old ones.

Until now, perhaps. The nature of the U.S. economy is changing. To a greater degree than ever before, politicians and bureaucrats and activist groups are working to make it too expensive for businesses to hire people for many jobs.
Who will get those jobs? In many cases, robots.

Mechanical men
The term “robot” comes from Continue reading →

Share this post!

Cuba, implacable enemy of the Free World

[Continuing our series on deception in politics and public policy.]

How did the Soviets, with their pathetic, poverty-creating, “Progressive” economic system, keep fighting the Cold War decade after decade? What kept them in the game long after the U.S. and its Western allies should have won?

The answer: deception. The Soviets systematically deceived the West to make it appear that they were stronger than they really were and that they were interested in peaceful competition with the Free World.

As a result of Soviet deception, the West acted timidly toward the Soviets until the Reagan Era. Indeed, prior to President Reagan and Prime Minister Thatcher, most Western leaders seemed less interested in defeating the Soviets than in currying favor with them. “We win. They lose,” as Reagan once privately described his Cold War strategy, seems simplistic, but, in fact, it represented a complete turnaround—a change that signaled the beginning of the end of the Soviet Empire.

For decades previously, the Soviets often went unmolested as they worked to implement their plan for victory. (There were exceptions: We stood up to them in Vietnam, until we stopped doing so.) The Soviet victory plan included these elements: control of space and opposition to the development of space-based missile defense; a massive, secret program for the development of biological weapons such as anthrax, smallpox, and plague; and domination of the Third World.

Cuba was critical to that last part. The Castro dictatorship, which presented itself to the world as unaligned, was actually the Soviet Union’s partner, its surrogate in its effort to bring the Third World under its control.

Today, in the wake of the Obama administration’s surrender to Cuba, it’s time to take a look at the role played in the Cold War by the murderous dictatorship of Fidel Castro.

In this guest column, Ana Almeida, the Capital Research Center’s Haller intern, looks at one of the Soviets’ techniques that bamboozled the West, the use of Cuba as a surrogate for Soviet involvement in the Third World. – SJA

—-

 

“Active measures is the Soviet term for a form of political action aimed at foreign public opinion, political elites, and decision makers.” “The Soviet term active measures describes a wide variety of deceptive techniques to promote Soviet foreign policy goals and undermine those who oppose Soviet actions.” — Richards J. Heuer

The USSR released large-scale strategic deception campaigns against the U.S. sphere of influence throughout the Cold War. The term “active measures” (aktivnyye meropriyatiya) describes a wide variety of deceptive techniques to promote Soviet foreign policy goals and  undermine the enemies of communism. Active measures undertaken by the KGB include agents of influence, propaganda, and disinformation that amplified communist influence and presence internationally. The history of Soviet-Cuban relations reveals that Cuba—as a proxy state for the Soviet Union—fostered the Soviet big strategy of spreading pro-Moscow communism worldwide. Continue reading →

Share this post!

No, they don’t read the studies

[Continuing our series on deception in politics and public policy.]

Every day as I read through stacks of dead-tree and virtual newspapers, I come across studies. Lots and lots of studies.

The ones on controversial issues are, in the vast majority of cases, critically misreported, fatally flawed, or downright fraudulent. Either the news story based on the study exaggerates or otherwise misrepresents the results, or the study is broken (it has a logical flaw in its design or execution), or it was never actually done in the first place. (Yes, sometimes researchers just sit there and invent the results.)

Allen’s Law: 95% of studies as reported in the news media are fake. Continue reading →

Share this post!

Regarding Ferguson, It’s the Pravda that Counts

Deeption


[Continuing our series on deception in politics and public policy.]

It’s one of the ideas that Donald Trump gets wrong: He thinks of Political Correctness as an effort to avoid giving offense, one that is taken to such an extreme that it stifles debate. Yes, many people use the term in that sense, but that’s a watering-down of the original concept.

Political Correctness in not an extreme avoidance of offense; it is a form of deception. That’s the type of Political Correctness that today dominates politics, the academic world, and the news and entertainment media.

The term has its origin among Communists, who believed that truth was whatever served the cause of the party and its patron, the Soviet Union. Pravda— Правда, Truth—was, you may recall, the name of the Communist Party’s official newspaper in the Soviet Union. Everyone knew the paper was full of lies, yet, in the Communist sense, it was indeed truthful. It told the tales that advanced The Cause. (In the Islamic world, there’s a similar concept called taqiyya, under which deception is justified if it has a holy purpose such as bamboozling the infidels.)

Today, many people use the term ironically, arching their eyebrows when they say it or marking its use with air-quotes. The Communists didn’t mean it ironically.

Today, Political Correctness is the quote-truth-unquote that advances the cause of the Left. Continue reading →

Share this post!

Polls and Debates and Unintended Consequences

[Continuing our series on deception in politics and public policy.]

The world of public policy is full of messes created by government.

During World War II, the federal government imposed wage-and-price controls, which forced businesses that needed to increase employee compensation to do so by providing benefits such as health insurance, which tied people’s healthcare coverage to their jobs, which created a big problem when large numbers of people began changing jobs every few years (creating gaps in their coverage and worsening the “pre-existing condition” problem) and when large companies found themselves liable for the skyrocketing costs of employee and retiree healthcare. Meanwhile, the government forced hospital emergency rooms to treat people who lacked insurance, which encouraged many people to use ERs as their primary source of care. Together, those policies created a supposed crisis that was exploited by advocates of healthcare rationing to bring about a bureaucratic takeover of the healthcare system, which will deny modern healthcare to generations of Americans unless that takeover is reversed.

The federal courts outlawed the use of general intelligence tests to make hiring decisions (claiming that they discriminated based on race), which forced companies to substitute college degrees for IQ tests as a measure of intelligence, which actually increased the disadvantage of disadvantaged groups (they would have done better with the IQ tests), which led to the increasing use of so-called “affirmative” racism in college admissions on the ground that it was the only way to ensure that certain groups got a fair chance at getting the college degrees that would lead to good jobs, with the result that many people now assume that, say, an African-American with a college degree is less smart than a “white” person with the same degree. (See the racist insults that the Left hurls at Justice Clarence Thomas.) Meanwhile, as college degrees became more valuable—as those degrees were being used increasingly as criteria for good jobs—politicians and bureaucrats expanded student loan programs, which removed the main restriction on the cost of a college education (that the cost of a college education couldn’t be so high as to be unaffordable to the typical student). When it came to college tuition and fees, the sky became the limit, so tuition and fees doubled and tripled, trapping young people with huge debts. And when those debts can’t be paid, taxpayers will make up the difference, at least up to the point that the debts for Social Security, Medicare, federal guarantees for corporation pensions, federal guarantees for government pensions, and all the other unfunded or underfunded liabilities come together to bring down the whole system. (See Greece.)

They call such results “unintended consequences,” although any intelligent person could foresee these courses of events. In other words, they shoulda seen it coming. (For the record, I did; I wrote a paper in 1978 predicting what would happen on healthcare and one in 1993 predicting what would happen with the cost of college.)

…which bring us to this week’s Republican presidential debate.

Fox News, sponsor of the first primetime debate of the 2016 campaign, announced months ago that it would limit the debate to the top ten candidates according to national polls. (Candidates who don’t make the cut will participate in a second-tier debate earlier in the day.) This use of polls is silly, of course. Polls at this point in a presidential contest have little value in predicting the most serious contenders. When there are 17 serious or semi-serious candidates, most of the candidates are in single digits, with, typically, seven or eight of them bunched within a range of six or seven points. The standing of a given candidate can swing wildly based on random news events and the random fudge factors that are inherent in polling. Worse, using polls to determine the members of the top tier opens the entire system to manipulation—for example, candidates timing their announcements or making outrageous statements or getting into fights solely for the purpose of getting a short-term bump into the first tier.  Continue reading →

Share this post!

The “dignity” of no job

Anti-jobs crusaders believe that no job is better than a job that requires long hours, or that doesn’t provide the right set of benefits, or that is too messy or too menial or otherwise unsuitable for people like themselves. From the point of view of privileged, comfortable elites, it’s clear: If you take such a job, you’re being exploited by some greedy businessman. Why take a job like that when you could live off welfare, food stamps, and a myriad of other programs for low-income people? Continue reading →

Share this post!

The POW Unhingement

john mc

In 1980, I was a political reporter in Alabama, covering the U.S. Senate race. The candidates were Jim Folsom Jr., son of a former governor, and Jeremiah Denton, who had spent seven years, seven months as a Prisoner of War in North Vietnam.

Alabama hadn’t sent a Republican to the U.S. Senate since George Spencer, husband of famous Latina actress “May” Nunez. After Spencer left office in 1879, no Republican had ever won a statewide office in Alabama (not counting a Senate seat in 1962 that a Republican won but the Democrats managed to steal).

As the election neared, Democrats became frantic that Denton might break the Democrats’ century-old monopoly on the state’s major offices. So the state Democratic Party chairman, George Lewis Bailes, went after Denton’s war record. Denton, Bailes said, was “dumb” to get himself shot down.

Right up ’til the election, the campaign was dominated with talk about what Bailes had said.

Denton won with 50.15 percent of the vote. Bailes resigned as Democratic chairman.

There’s something about POW heroes that unhinges some people. Continue reading →

Share this post!

The Waters of the Sahara, and How Google Handles the Truth

sahara

[Continuing our series on deception in politics and public policy.]

Google is considering ways to rank websites by “trustworthiness” rather than by (relatively) objective standards such as frequency of keywords, upload speed, the average length of visits to a site, and the number of other sites linking to that site (along with the number of sites that link to those sites, and so on).

It’s important. Highly ranked sites appear first in Google results and, obviously, get a lot more visitors. Getting downlisted by Google could kill a website. At the very least it would cripple Continue reading →

Share this post!

Scott Walker vs. the Unions, Part 2: Unintended consequences: Wisconsin goes Right to Work, and Walker seeks a promotion

Scott Walker vs. the Unions
Part 2: Unintended consequences: Wisconsin goes Right to Work, and Walker seeks a promotion [PDF here]

[For Part 1, click HERE.]

By Steven J. Allen

Scott Walker

As the 2014 election neared, and the unions had their third chance to stop Walker, the Governor appeared to be in danger of losing. In mid-October, the RealClearPolitics average of polls had Walker ahead by only 47.7 to 47.3. Given that challengers usually receive the lion’s share of undecided voters, any incumbent polling under 50 percent with a challenger close behind is in serious trouble.

Walker’s opponent was formidable: Mary Burke, who had served as the state’s Secretary of Commerce under former Gov. Jim Doyle, Walker’s predecessor. Burke won the Democratic primary 83-17 over state Rep. Brett Hulsey. Hulsey was considered a gadfly. A liberal, he had reportedly tried to make a deal to join the GOP caucus in the Assembly, then, supposedly to satirize Republicans’ racism, dressed as a Confederate major to greet Republicans attending their state convention.

Burke was rich, the daughter of the founder of Trek Bicycle Corporation, and her wealth was spotlighted during the campaign. Democrats cheered her ability to “self-finance” her campaign. That’s an important quality in a candidate today, given that campaign finance laws make it difficult for people of modest means to raise money for a major campaign. Burke eventually spent a reported $5 million of her own money in the governor’s race.

Republicans questioned Burke’s ability to understand the problems of working-class people and small-business-class people, particularly in light of her attacks on the Tea Party movement. It turned out that, to win her only elective office, Continue reading →

Share this post!

Lost causes

[Continuing our series on deception in politics and public policy.]

I was a child in Alabama at the height of the Civil Rights Movement. One day in 1961, a bus carrying Freedom Riders (people attempting to break the system of segregation in bus travel) was attacked and burned in an incident that started four blocks from my home; I discovered recently that the attack was planned in a meeting hall across the street from my home. The bus burning was so significant that its 50th anniversary was noted with programs on HBO and PBS and a show hosted by Oprah Winfrey.

I remember the day in 1963 on which four little girls were killed Continue reading →

Share this post!