The System Won’t Survive the Robots

SystemWontSurviveRobots

It’s really just a matter of time; the working man’s deal with his overseers is half dead already. But there’s still inertia in the system, and even the losers are keeping the faith. Hope dies slowly, after all.

Nonetheless, the deal is collapsing and a new wave of robots will kill it altogether. Unless the overseers can pull back on technology – very fast and very hard – the deal that held through all our lifetimes will unwind.

We All Know the Deal

We usually don’t discuss what the “working man’s deal” is, but we know it just the same. It goes like this:

If you obey authority and support the system, you’ll be able to get a decent job. And if you work hard at your job, you’ll be able to buy a house and raise a small family.

This is what we were taught in school and on TV. It’s the deal our parents and grandparents clung to, and it’s even a fairly open deal. You can fight for the political faction of your choice and you can hold any number of religious and secular alliances, just as long as you stay loyal to the system overall.

This deal has been glamorized in many ways, such as, “Our children will be better off than we are,” “home ownership for everyone,” and of course, “the American Dream.” Except that it isn’t working anymore, or at least it isn’t working well enough.

Among current 20- and 30-year-olds, only about half are able to grasp the deal’s promises. That half is working like crazy, putting up with malignant corporatism and trying to keep ahead of the curve. The other half is dejected and discouraged, taking student loans to chase degrees (there’s more status in that than working at McDonald’s), or else they’re pacified with government handouts and distracted by Facebook.

The deal is plainly unavailable to about half of the young generation, but as I noted above, hope dies slowly and young people raised on promises are still waiting for the deal to kick in. It’s all they know.

Regardless, the deal has abandoned them. It has made them superfluous.

Here’s Why

Put very simply, the deal is dying because two things can no longer coexist:

#1: New technology.

#2: A system geared to old technology.

Let’s start with new technology: New machines and methods have made so many jobs obsolete that there aren’t enough to go around. Both North America and Europe are already filled with the unemployed or underemployed children of industrial workers. But at the same time, we are suffering no shortages; we have an overflow of stuff and a double overload of inane ads trying to sell it all. And there’s something important to glean from this:

Where goods abound, additional jobs are not required.

We don’t need more workers. Machines are producing plenty of stuff for us, and this becomes truer every day.

Item #2 is the system itself; let’s confront that directly too: The system was designed to reap the incomes of industrial workers. Everything from withholding taxes to government schools was put in place to maximize the take from an industrial workforce. Whether purposely or simply by trial and error, the Western world was structured to keep industrial workers moving in a single direction and to reap from them as they went. Call it “efficient rulership” if you like, but the system is a reaping machine.

Technology, however, has advanced beyond the limits of this machine; it has eliminated too many jobs. At the same time, regulations make it almost impossible for the superfluous class to adapt. Nearly everything requires certification and starting a business is out of the question; fail to file a form you’ve never heard of and the IRS will skin you alive.

This system, however, will not change; the big corps paid for the current regulatory regime, and they still own their congressmen.

Enter the Robots

You may have seen this image (it comes from NPR’s Planet Money), but look again anyway. I count 28 states in which “truck driver” is the most common job. As inexact as this map may be, it makes a point we can’t really ignore: What happens to all these truck drivers when self-driving trucks pile on to the roads? And you may count on it that they will; automated trucks will be safer and cheaper and will use less fuel. So, millions of truck drivers will be dropped out of the deal, and probably fairly soon.

jobs_map

On top of that, the very last refuge for the superfluous class – fast food – is experiencing its own robot invasion. Wendy’s just ordered 6,000 self-service ordering kiosks to be installed in the second half of 2016, and KFC’s first automated restaurant went live April 25.

Is There an Answer?

“The deal” is very clearly failing. At the same time, the system is utterly unwilling to change; the people in control are making too much money and hold too much power. The impoverishment of a hundred million people in flyover country won’t move them to give it up. Their system, after all, funnels the wealth of a continent to Washington, DC, in a steady stream… and they’ve bought access to that steam. The system will be defended.

So, forget about orderly reform. Certainly there will be talk of reform, and plenty of it… there will be promises, plans, and a small army of state intellectuals dedicated to keeping hope alive. But the system will not reform itself. Did Rome? Did Greece?

If there is to be an answer, it will have to come from the ‘superfluous’ people… but that discussion will have to wait for another day.

Don’t Blame the Robots

One last point: Don’t make the mistake of blaming technology for all of this. Technology is doing precisely what we want it to do: It’s killing scarcity. And that’s a very, very good thing. Without technology, we all go back to low-tech farming. And if that possibility doesn’t alarm you, you really should try it for a month or two.

Technology is moving forward and should move forward. The death of scarcity is to be welcomed. Our problem is that we’re chained to an archaic hierarchy of dominance with a deeply entrenched skimming class. Either we get past it or we go back to serfdom… or worse.

* * * * *

If you’ve enjoyed Free-Man’s Perspective or A Lodging of Wayfaring Men, you’re going to love Paul Rosenberg’s new novel, The Breaking Dawn.

It begins with an attack that crashes the investment markets, brings down economic systems, and divides the world. One part is dominated by mass surveillance and massive data systems: clean cities and empty minds… where everything is assured and everything is ordered. The other part is abandoned, without services, with limited communications, and shoved 50 years behind the times… but where human minds are left to find their own bearings.

You may never look at life the same way again.

Get it now at Amazon ($18.95) or on Kindle: ($5.99)

TheBreakingDawn

* * * * *

Paul Rosenberg
www.freemansperspective.com

What Genius Thinks of Education

As I compiled the thoughts from geniuses last week, one group of thoughts that I left out – simply because there were so many of them – were the thoughts of geniuses on the subject of regimented education. Thus, today’s list.

education

As I compiled the thoughts from geniuses last week, one group of thoughts that I left out – simply because there were so many of them – were the thoughts of geniuses on the subject of regimented education. Thus, today’s list.

Again in this area, the brightest men and women reach a surprisingly consistent set of conclusions. And again, we’ll begin with Einstein:

Albert Einstein

  • It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education.

  • School failed me, and I failed the school. It bored me. The teachers behaved like sergeants. I wanted to learn what I wanted to know, but they wanted me to learn for the exam… I felt that my thirst for knowledge was being strangled by my teachers; grades were their only measurement.

  • I learned mostly at home, first from my uncle and then from a student who came to eat with us once a week. He would give me books on physics and astronomy.

  • Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.

Baruch Spinoza

  • Academies that are founded at public expense are instituted not so much to cultivate men’s natural abilities as to restrain them.

Marshall McLuhan

  • Anyone who tries to make a distinction between education and entertainment doesn’t know the first thing about either.

Ivan Illich

  • School is the advertising agency which makes you believe you need the society as it is.

Bertrand Russell

  • Men are born ignorant, not stupid; they are made stupid by education.

Mary Wollstonecraft

  • There is not, perhaps, in the kingdom, a more dogmatical, or luxurious set of men, than the pedantic tyrants who reside in colleges and preside at public schools.

Agatha Christie

  • I suppose it is because nearly all children go to school nowadays, and have things arranged for them, that they seem so forlornly unable to produce their own ideas.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

  • Truth has to be repeated constantly, because Error also is being preached all the time, and not just by a few, but by the multitude. In the Press and Encyclopedias, in Schools and Universities, everywhere Error holds sway, feeling happy and comfortable in the knowledge of having Majority on its side.

  • A teacher who can arouse a feeling for one single good action, for one single good poem, accomplishes more than he who fills our memory with rows on rows of natural objects, classified with name and form.

Celia Green

  • Education by the State is a contradiction in terms. Intellectual development is only possible to those who have seen through society.
  • It is easier to make people appear equally stupid than to make them equally clever, so teaching methods are adopted which make it practically impossible for anyone to learn anything.

John Stuart Mill

  • A general State education is a mere contrivance for molding people to be exactly like one another: and the mould in which it casts them is that which pleases the predominant power in the government or the majority of the existing generation; in proportion as it is efficient and successful, it establishes a despotism over the mind, leading by natural tendency to one over the body.

Ludwig von Mises

  • Education rears disciples, imitators, and routinists, not pioneers of new ideas and creative geniuses. The schools are not nurseries of progress and improvement, but conservatories of tradition and unvarying modes of thought. The mark of the creative mind is that it defies a part of what it has learned or, at least, adds something new to it.

H.L. Mencken

Sigrid Undset

  • I hated school so intensely. It interfered with my freedom. I avoided the discipline by an elaborate technique of being absent-minded during classes.

Abraham Mazlow

  • We know that children are capable of peak experiences and that they happen frequently during childhood. We also know that the present school system is an extremely effective instrument for crushing peak experiences and forbidding their possibility. The natural child-respecting teacher who is not frightened by the sight of children enjoying themselves is a rare sight in classrooms.

Isaac Asimov

  • Self-education is, I firmly believe, the only kind of education there is.

Boris Sidis

  • Our young generation is trained by fear into discipline and obedience. We thus suppress the natural genius and originality of the child, we favor and raise mediocrity, and cultivate the philistine, the product of education, ruled by rod, not by thought.

  • It is time that the medical and teaching profession should realize that functional neurosis is not congenital, not inborn, not hereditary, but is the result of a defective, fear-inspiring education in early child life.

Aldous Huxley

  • Children are nowhere taught, in any systematic way, to distinguish true from false, or meaningful from meaningless, statements. Why is this so? Because their elders, even in the democratic countries, do not want them to be given this kind of education.

Buckminster Fuller

  • Education by choice, with its marvelous motivating psychology of desire for truth and the exercise of this desire for truth, will make life ever cleaner and happier, more rhythmical and artistic.
  • Our greatest vulnerability lies in the amount of misinformation and misconditioning of humanity. I’ve found the educations [sic] systems are full of it.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

  • We are shut up in schools and college recitation rooms for ten or fifteen years, and come out at last with a bellyful of words and do not know a thing.

Buddha

Paul Rosenberg
www.freemansperspective.com

Embracing Adventure and Danger

childrenOne of the worst things that has been done to children over the past generation or two has been insulating them from anything that could possibly have any danger attached. Parents keeping their children under permanent watch has become “what people do.” And it’s a BIG mistake.

I know why the parents have done this, of course – we live in a fear-based culture, and it has rubbed off on them. But the reason they have caved in to fear is not important – what matters is that they have harmed their children.

Children – at some point in their upbringing – need to confront danger; they need to explore; they need adventures.

At one time, parents knew this. It wasn’t too many years ago when parents let their kids go off into the woods by themselves, with rifles. If that was really so horribly dangerous, half of us wouldn’t be here.

Is it scary to watch your children walk into a subway station? Or out into the woods? You bet it is! But you have to do it anyway. Calculate the risks, pick your times, pick your spots, watch them from a distance if you must, but let them go out and face the world.

Remember, fear is merely an impulse, and it can be based on lies, distortions, or even on nothing at all. It’s a crazy thing on which to base your children’s lives.

A new German study shows clearly that adventure shapes the individual. As one of the researchers concluded, “Living our lives makes us who we are.” Your children need to live, and not merely exist inside of a fear-inspired bubble. The study also indicates that exploration and adventure not only affect personality development, but also brain growth.

I’m not alone in this opinion, of course. Here are two quotes from John Taylor Gatto, a home school advocate and one of the finest teachers of modern times (one of the most awarded too, ironically enough):

Sensible children do not wish to be incomplete human beings. And so, when you impose a stage theory of human development upon them, you are, in effect, tormenting them; you’re limiting their opportunity… Don’t be your kid’s enemy, because that’s not a kid, that’s your fellow human being. Be a partner, and enlarge their opportunities.

The easiest way to turn your kids into geniuses, by the time they’re seven, is just to front-load huge amounts of experience, including dangerous experience.

Like Gatto, I believe that the real dangers for your children lie in government schools, and even in private schools that function on the same model. Here’s what Gatto says on the subject:

Growth and mastery come only to those who vigorously self-direct. Initiating, creating, doing, reflecting, freely associating, enjoying privacy—these are precisely what the structures of schooling are set up to prevent, on one pretext or another.

Yes, I understand that people are pushed, economically, to put their children into public schools. If you feel like you’re in that position, make sure that you tell your children how the system is set up to condition them. Teach them that understanding is far more important than memorizing. Back them up if the teachers give them grief. Let people talk about you.

Your children should understand, very clearly, that teachers and principals are just average people doing particular jobs; that they are merely another neighbor to the people on their street. Some of them are good people, others are bad people, and a title is just a title – it means nothing more.

Teach your children to be bold, let them learn how to fall and rise again. Of course you want to let them encounter dangers slowly, and you’d never put them in positions to get truly hurt, but you should be nothing like the über-parents who surveil their children’s every move, in terror that poor little Johnny will encounter something that hasn’t been sanitized for his protection.

I’ll leave you with one last quote from John Taylor Gatto: something that applies both to schooling and the larger world:

After a long life, and thirty years in the public school trenches, I’ve concluded that genius is as common as dirt. We suppress our genius only because we haven’t yet figured out how to manage a population of educated men and women. The solution, I think, is simple and glorious. Let them manage themselves.

Resist the fear, my friends.

Paul Rosenberg
FreemansPerspective.com

I’m sorry

student loanDear young people of America,

I’m sorry. You’re entering a world that has condemned you to slavery before you were even born. No, not the full-blown, work-in-the-fields slavery you learned about in school, but something that has most of the same effects but looks far better: they take half of your life and expect you to thank them for it.

There are actually several parts to your slavery. Today I am speaking of the part you may know best: inescapable student loans.

Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone calls student loan programs “a shameful and oppressive outrage that for years now has been systematically perpetrated against a generation of young adults.”

Taibbi is right, of course, but I think he’s being mild. So, let me be more blunt:

Millions of young Americans have been forced into debt slavery.

Please understand that I am writing for accuracy here, not flamboyance. If you are in student loan debt, you were pushed and you are being held and it is slavery.

Yes, it’s true that you shouldn’t have signed those papers and spent that money, but – and please understand that I speak as a hard core advocate of personal responsibility – the guilt is mostly not yours.

Here’s why I say that:

Setup #1: Something is wrong with you if you don’t

Answer this question: How many times, between kindergarten and the end of high school were you told that you should or must go to college?

Hundreds maybe? And how many times was it simply implied than any decent kid (you in particular) would certainly go to college. Maybe hundreds more?

Setup #2: You’ll live a second-rate life if you don’t

It was clearly and repetitively implied that without a college degree, you’d be left to a second-rate job, a second-rate life and a second-rate spouse. No, they may not have said that explicitly (or they might have), but isn’t that what you were made to feel?

Think about it:

  1. You were conditioned to believe that getting the best girl/guy required you to go to a university.
  2. You were forced to make this choice at 17 years old, just as a flood of hormones had entered your life (making clear decisions much, much harder).
  3. College costs a fortune, but by merely signing a piece of paper, you got all the free money you needed and a clear shot at the mate of your dreams (not to mention lots of wild parties).

Setup #3: “Sign here and it’s all yours”

Here’s how it went:

  • They made you believe that you needed a degree in order to succeed in life.
  • They passed laws that forbade you from getting a good job without an authorized certificate.
  • They made sure that you could only get the certificates through them.

Then, of course, they raised their prices, offered you loans, made sure you could never escape those loans, and pushed you into a decision. You could either sign for the loan – before the deadline – or accept a second-rate life.

That’s called manipulation. In fact, it’s heavy-handed manipulation. A business contract signed under those conditions would be negated by any reasonable judge or jury.

“They Couldn’t Have Done It All On Purpose”

Yeah, they could have, and they did. I know that’s a horrifying thought, but take a look at these quotes from the founding of government schooling in America:

Here’s what Johann Gottlieb Fichte, the founding father of public education, said in his book “The General Nature of the New Education”:

If you want to influence him [the student] at all, you must do more than merely talk to him; you must fashion him, and fashion him in such a way that he simply cannot will otherwise than you wish him to will.

And here’s what William Torrey Harris, former United States Commissioner of Education, wrote in 1906:

Ninety-nine [students] out of a hundred are automata [i.e. robots], careful to walk in prescribed paths, careful to follow the prescribed custom. This is not an accident but the result of substantial education, which, scientifically defined, is the subsumption of the individual.

Just to show that I’m not picking aberrant statements, here’s one more, from Edward A. Ross, who, I am told, was a favorite of President Teddy Roosevelt:

The role of the public official, and in particular of the public school teacher, is to collect little plastic lumps of human dough from private households and shape them on the social kneadingboard.

Make no mistake: you were conditioned by professionals – 6 hours per day, 5 days per week, 40 weeks per year, between the ages of 5 and 18.

No, Mrs. Jones, your wonderful 6th grade teacher wasn’t out to manipulate you, but the people who built the system that controlled both of you were. She just did her best within that system. (And you should be thankful for her.)

Who Did This to You

It’s amazing to realize just how often the people who abuse you are the ones you’ve been taught to respect. And that’s certainly the case here. Your abusers are the majesties of the age:

The education system: We’ve already explained the conditioning of the K-12 system, and the abuses of “higher education” are pretty obvious. Who really thinks that a single class is worth a thousand dollars, or even five hundred? (I’ll ignore the arrogance and abuse of tenured professors for now.)

Higher education is designed to bleed you and your family dry. They have the magic piece of paper that makes or breaks your life, and you’ll do anything to get it.

Politicians: It’s ridiculous to blame parties on this: Blue and Red both play by the same book.

Both political parties have sold you down the river, and they’d do it again. Who do you think wrote and passed the law that you can’t get rid of a student loan even in bankruptcy?

Think about what that means: The loan stays with you for life. And when you die, the banker holding the debt gets first crack at your estate. This is truly a form of debtor’s prison.

The big banks: When you accept a loan from a bank, they don’t take money from someone else’s savings account – they merely write the number on the line and hit Enter – the money is created right there and then. (There’s too much to explain in detail, but that’s the essence of it.)

So, if they created your loan money with the stroke of an Enter key, how is it that they should make you work like a dog to keep up with the payments, make you worry every day for decades, and then take whatever remains from your children when you die?

Look it up if you’re not sure I’m being fair on this point: Get a copy of The Creature From Jekyll Island and read it.

You’ve been abused, my young friends. Sure, walking away from those loan papers would have been a good idea, but your entire life set you up to fold when you were squeezed into that situation.

And make no mistake: the people who conditioned you and wrote the laws and who now squeeze you for money… they knew what they were doing. The situation is confusing from the perspective of the 18 year old, but it isn’t from the perspective of the 55 year old.

These people may have sold you out to maintain their position, to make more money, or merely to keep their bosses happy. But they did sell you out.

What to Do?

First of all, forgive yourself. Yes, you could have done better – and you should never do anything like that again – but you were an 18 or 20 year old kid, facing off against 40, 50, and 60 year old specialists.

Secondly, don’t accept what was done to you as anything but abuse. Call it abuse and don’t back down. There’s nothing communistic or anti-market about that. Manipulation and fraud are not ‘capitalist’ things – they are crimes.

Don’t give the people who did this to you the benefit of the doubt. Once they release you from your financial prison you can think about it, but not until. They did NOT have good intentions, and it WASN’T okay.

Finally, it’s time for you to stop complaining and start doing. Find ways around the abuse; build new systems; act in some productive direction; then adapt as better choices appear.

You have as much intelligence and resourcefulness as any generation that came before you. Use it!

Paul Rosenberg
FreemansPerspective.com