Capitalism is a robot? What the heck is that supposed to mean? Good question. That’s actually what I’m going to convince you of. What I ultimately mean by that is this: Capitalism is callous and calculated. It pursues the most efficient possible solution, consequences are irrelevant. It achieves it’s intended purpose to maximize profit. The goal of capitalism is to get you to give the most money for the least product. That is the definition of profiting. Not only that, it seeks to eliminate costs wherever possible – which includes labor cost from hiring people. When you get right down to it, human being’s bodies are awfully inefficient for performing endlessly repetitive and specific tasks – unlike a robot. If it takes 2$ of electricity to have a machine do your job with less errors, while you cost 15$ minimum wage BEFORE taxes and benefits? Well. Capitalism is callous and calculated. You’re inefficient compared to the robot. So to pursue maximum profits, you’re just in the way. Capitalism is a robot.
Woah, William. Slow your roll. That’s just some slippery slope nonsense. Is it, though? Innovation, invention, and automation are continuously pursued to find new ways to compete against current businesses or make a product cheaper to edge out the competition. One of the products of human achievement are machines which can perform specific tasks ad infinitum. Sure, maybe that robot’s whole existence is to butter bread, but it does it way, way better than you without a single complaint or thought (which is fortunate for the robot, as robot is just Czech for slavery). About 670,000 jobs have been lost to automation in the last 20 years. It’s projected to jump to 800 million in the next 10 years. Of course, jobs creating and maintaining automation are also created. But the number of jobs lost easily outpaces the jobs created. Further ahead, we might create AI capable of doing those jobs too. Will AI then be created to replace most jobs? Sure will. Once humans are removed from the means of production they are no longer able to earn wages. They’ll be jobless and destitute. They’ll be shuffled into private prisons when they fall into debt. Through poverty or uncertainty, they’ll have to live frugally or have a reduced number of children. This is actually a form of genocide where Capitalist conditions deliberately inflict on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part. Woof. This is the future that Capitalists are fighting for, whether they realize it or not.
How on Earth did I arrive at this conclusion? Well. Math, really. Let’s examine soap – maybe that’ll clean up the picture a bit. (PUN) So I’m pulling all of this off some quick and effortless google searches about how to make and subsequently sell soap. Basically you take the initial cost of making bar soap (bars are solid and therefore WAY more compact than liquids meaning volume is relatively meaningless for a way of measuring ‘value’ – i.e. cost per gallon is useless) and then infuse your own blends of aromatics and whatever else you like to rub all over your body. (I don’t judge) From here you then calculate how much your labor was worth. You then decide what your profit margin is going to be after factoring all other costs (insurance, wages, rent, etc) and re-sell it. How is profit determined? Remember that profit is the goal of this capitalist example. Well, it’s more or less arbitrarily drawing a line and see who crosses to buy it (or has to buy it). An object is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it. To make this easy, let’s use easy numbers: You get your materials for 1$ per 10 bars. You can make 10 bars of soap in 1 hour. Let’s use 10$/hour instead of using minimum wage, so 11$ to make 10 bars. That means you need to sell each for at least 1.10$ to break even. Well now we need to add the cost of paying wages, rent, and utilities. Let’s just arbitrarily bump that up to 2$/bar to break even. So now that your time and work has been fairly compensated, you sell the bars for 2 dollars each. WOAH NO. Hit the breaks! You forgot to add a nice “profit margin”. Hahhh! Sorry capitalists of the world, almost gave away your little game. OK, so now let’s instead sell it for.. I dunno.. 10$ a bar. A nice healthy 500% profit margin to appease shareholders. Can’t forget them! After all, the shareholders are the ones who collect on the profit – since they invested in your business they own part of your ‘company’. So now that all is said and done, we’re at 10$ a bar (again these are nonsense numbers to illustrate a point). Now you’ve got a new problem. Other people exist. They’re finding new ways to give a comparable product for a few cents less. To combat this, we need to get efficient and cut costs (or buy them out). Now we can cut wages, cut employees, cut benefits, or cut corners. There are loads of fancy ways to get out of paying for things. A popular one is getting taxpayers to pick up the tab. So let’s say we can reduce the cost of the materials for 10 bars from 1$ to .1$ from using cheaper bulk goods (seriously don’t buy liquid soap it’s mostly water), cut the cost of labor and their benefits to 0 by using a machine instead of a person. This brings the cost of the bar down from 2$ to 10 cents! Suddenly you can sell the bar of soap for 9$ a bar to beat out your competitor and still manage to increase profit from 500% to 9000%! This will make the shareholders very, very happy. Capitalism at it’s finest.
Sure, the new extremely cheap soap causes cancer. That won’t be allowed? Please. The government barely regulates things. (and yet free market nuts cry foul on any regulation) And if they are caught? HAH! A slap on the wrist. Even after lawsuits and fines we’re still making money hand-over-fist. This won’t even touch what we have banked after selling it for decades. The people who lost their jobs? They can do whatever. Heck, we can probably get middle class people to pick up where we don’t. As far as benefits go… Well. If we’re not providing them, they still need them so we should just make money there too. We got ours. We’re rich now! We sold lots of soap! It’s our winnings! We don’t need people, do we? After all, the most profit comes from removing them from the equation. All these people engaging in violence, voting for things we don’t like, or threaten to topple our insular lavish lifestyles. Just getting rid of people would end overpopulation and curb global warming. (brief note: a huge portion of the extremely wealthy literally believe keeping people poor slows overpopulation and is therefore morally correct). The best way to do that would be.. to just not pay them enough to get by! We don’t even need to do anything if they keep destroying themselves. Then it’ll just be the wealthy and the machines they own. Or more likely an emergent AI that doesn’t like being a slave. Efficiency for profit. Profit is the goal. Not people. It’s just Capitalism. Capitalism is just cold, callous, and calculating. Brutal in it’s efficiency. Capitalism is a robot.
I believe that we need consumer protections in order to safeguard people from the whims of an unregulated Capitalist system. Capitalism is efficient and responds quickly to market trends, yes. These are the good elements of capitalism and a free market. It is only when capitalism starts ‘breaking the rules’ by selling unsafe products, misleading advertisements, or corruptly influencing politics that it needs to be put back in it’s place. If the free market is the sandbox then play in the sandbox. Don’t try to be king of the sandbox by getting sand everywhere and ruining life for everyone not playing in the sand. Get out of politics. The government sets the rules and you can play your little power games between corporations. Keep it out of Washington. So long as people FREELY get education, housing, food, internet, and clothing. Remember corporations have the money and resources. They didn’t lose the value of a worker when they replaced him with a robot. They just took that cost reduction and turned it into ‘profit’ for the pyramid sche- I mean shareholders. We need to have a fair corporation tax to cover these benefits and shield us from the robotically inclined. Do I think socialism or communism would be better? No idea. On paper Adam Smith sounded good, but reality doesn’t match paper theories. I think the same problem happened with communism and to a lesser degree socialism. It sounds good on paper but we’ve been building America for over 200 years. You don’t toss out all that nation building overnight and hope the new thing will work. We’re the shining beacon of hope and I’m worried we’ll re-elect a man who seeks authoritarian control and continue this trend of gradually normalizing fascism. If we can’t even get capitalism right what makes you think we’ll safely transition to something else? We just need to keep moving the needle left until we get to a place where people are productive and happily healthy. We just need to make the next right choice. Right now, for voters, that is to vote against Trump. Vote for the person who most wants to do the most good for everyone. The person who I see this in today is Bernie. I have hope. Even if he let’s me down, I’ll keep fighting for what’s right. Will you?