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Does More Technology Create Unemployment? [pdf]

Conservative economic thinkers tend to disparage persons who fear the rapid advance of technology by labeling them "Luddites." This term is both unfair and inaccurate. The real Luddites, of the early 1800s, were uneducated working people who destroyed textile machinery and other symbols of advancing technology, which, despite their efforts, were to move the broad spectrum of humanity above the subsistence level for the first time. Today's proponents of economic activism are typically not of the working class and are usually quite well educated.

What the Luddites Really Fought Against

(SmithsonianMag) - Technology is everywhere, and a recent headline at an Internet hu-mor site perfectly captured how difficult it is to resist: "Luddite invents machine to destroy technology quicker."

Robert Reich: Human capital is capital too!
A Solid Investment: Making Full Use of the Nation's Human Capital

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Thu May 22nd, 2014 at 01:59:35 PM EST
Well, it'd be silly to pit Piketty against Reich. Both reckon that skills should matter. Piketty shows that tradeable capital has consistendly received the lion's share. In his book, he states that when he says "capital", that does not include what some people call "human capital". But clearly, given a choice, he'd side with the humans.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi
by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Thu May 22nd, 2014 at 02:02:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
On the historical aspect, pre 20th Century, one of the most enduring themes in 19th Century literature has been the wastrel or prodigal who squanders away his inheritance or the heiress who falls into the clutches of a husband with a penchant for projection. This should be at least some portion of a process of destruction of capital of which Piketty's rates of return would have to be in excess. Does he deal with this in any way, to minimize or limit its effects? Or is it that in a macro view this does not matter in that one man's loss is another's gain? I have trouble seeing a major difference between destruction of capital as the result of a war and as the result of large scale squandering, such as on follies and gambling. A store of wealth that is liquid can still be intact to the gold franc, but it is dispersed into the hands of the multitude in unit quantities it is not available for capital expenditures on any scale.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri May 23rd, 2014 at 05:28:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
He does mention that there is always a chance that a heir will dissipate the capital -otherwise, it would just keep concentrating. But whereas a war will dissipate everyone's capital, a wastrel heir will only dissipate one.

Besides, it may be a common theme in literature, but let's not overstate the ability of someone to squander immense wealth. Someone with €50 billions would be hard pressed to gamble them away.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Fri May 23rd, 2014 at 05:45:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Someone with €50 billions would be hard pressed to gamble them away.

True enough. But then as now, few would even get the opportunity. Entails then and trusts now. But I do recall a number of wealthy individuals who managed to turn great fortunes into small fortunes, but this was often associated with financial crises.  

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri May 23rd, 2014 at 07:45:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A technology revolution has always a social-political impact. The question is how the benefits are distributed, how that can be affected. The utopias of all people enjoying technology benefits with more leisure are missing the power dynamics, obviously.
by das monde on Wed Jun 11th, 2014 at 04:31:34 AM EST
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