6.17.2005

 

Wal-mart moves one step closer to Manna

Wal-Mart store tells workers to be ready to work any shift

From the article: Think about what this means. If you have children who you take care of when they are out of school, you cannot work at Wal-Mart. You cannot abandon your children at home if Wal-Mart calls one day and orders you to come to work. If you are taking a class to try to get the education you need to stop working at Wal-Mart, you cannot simply walk out of class if Wal-Mart happens to call. Therefore you cannot work at Wal-Mart. If you have a medical condition that requires you to receive treatment on a weekly basis, you cannot work at Wal-Mart - you cannot walk out of the dialysis center just because Wal-Mart has called.

And yet, the move in this direction is completely obvious and predicted in the book Manna. Here is what the book says in Chapter 2:Also:This is exactly the trend that we are witnessing. Wal-Mart is the nation's largest employer, so its policies are replicated at thousands of businesses. Employees become, in essence, slaves.

Comments:
A company's saving money does not necessarily correspond to unemployment.

That would only be the case if there were no other options.

If there are alternatives, then people being fired or inconvenienced is irrelevant because they will be able to find other jobs. You’re not thinking 4th dimensionally :-)

You should study the history of monopoly to find the vast majority of cases occur with government intervention, which I'm assuming is being advocated here with the doom and gloom scenarios. Telephones, railways, aviation, power, steel, automotive...each were pushed towards monopoly at some point by government action.

So I see little chance of a single system taking over like Manna. And that is such an important part of all these collected pieces of evidence being bad.


Here I should note that the only people you would punish by eliminating the kinds of jobs Wal-Mart provides are the unskilled. You would hurt the poorest in America if you made it illegal to make a profit while employing them. This is especially true if you consider the opportunity cost of not increasing their skill set with on-the-job training.
 
Wal-Mart recently opened a new supercenter here (which replaced a regular 'small' Wal-Mart. The local paper reported that they received 5000 applicants to fill 500 jobs. They can just cycle through all of applicants through every 10 months. That means no one will be there long enough to qualify for health care or unemployment payments, but since they will probably be rehiring former employees they won't have high training costs. The cost savings should be huge. Looks like its a good time to buy Wal-Mart stock.
 
If competition drives cost endlessly down and productivity up then you have human labor working for just food and water and robots working for free. Humans need to have fun, they are not automation. Until the machines produce all goods and services for free (mining the asteroid belt), we’ll have half the people wanting survival and fun only the lucky ones and the others wanting to steal from the labors of others. For me, I’m working hard for 100% automated labor force!
 
You should avoid assigning value to labor that isn't there.

It isn't that these folks don't get unemployment or health benefits because Wal-Mart is mean. It is that they don't really give labor of enough value to warrant them.

In addition, not having health insurance isn't the same as not getting health care. Prevention, like a good diet and exercise (both of which are dirt cheap) is worth plenty, as is out-of-pocket systems combined with catastrophic health care coverage (both of which can be cheap).

But yes, it usually is always a good time to buy Wal-Mart. Certainly better than GM.
 
being a slave is a state of mind, not necessarily a socio-economic condition. often people enslave themselves with bad habits and attitudes and end up at the mercy of others because they have no control over their own lives.
 
Wal-Mart posts huge profits. Someone there is creating that value. It is difficult to objectively determine who is actually creating that value. Wal-Mart executives seem to think that the store associates are creating none of it and therefore shouldn't be rewarded. On the other hand, policies like this one seem to be statements that worker availability is key to creating value at Wal-Mart. That seems hypocritical to me.
 
So, if I understand right, here is the summary of arguments, as it stands:

Marshall Brain: Manna systems will be integrated with each other. You'll work for Manna, because there won't be anything else.

Ivan: Monopolies only ever come because the government did something.

Marshall Brain: Automation will first make all human physical labor valuless. Soon after, all human mental labor will be valueless as well.

Ivan: Well, it's people's own damn fault if they don't do anything useful.

Marhsall Brain: These people are stuck. They can't go to school, because they have to be available on-demand, otherwise they're homeless.

Anonymous: Slavery is just a state of mind.
 
The assumption they can not go to school is correct.
But schools will be able to go to them.
If Manna manage all jobs, it will require teachers to be available when needed as is for other workers.
 
I agree with that:

If we can build a schooling and certification system that works online, then people could "go to school" in the time between Walmart calls.

There, they can train to be software testers and tech support.

I am still uneasy about where all these jobs are going to come from, though: CNN is still talking about the jobless recovery.

People's desires may become more complex, but I haven't seen evidence that it's leading to creating more jobs than technology is destroying.

-- Lion
 
Technology is SUPPOSED to destroy jobs. Jobs are bad, they take away from play time. We develop technology because people view work as a curse: it's even in Genesis.
 
If jobs are so bad, you can stop working one tomorrow. No need to wait for technology.
 
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