Beyond the Cusp

October 21, 2016

The Real Reason Behind $15.00 an Hour Minimum Wage


There are all the usual reasons behind the proposing of a $15.00 an Hour Minimum Wage and it has little to do with actual minimum wage. One of the standards for an increase in the minimum wage is and has always been the unions. Many unions have salary agreements based on the minimum wage. This means increase the minimum wage, and union salaries automatically get a boost. When union salaries get a boost, then union dues get a boost. If union dues get a boost, the union leaders get more money for their own wages and for political donations. As political donations go higher, then incumbents get support of more PAC monies and this cements their job for life. So, in the end the politicians raise the minimum wages and the donations to the parties and their own campaigns increase thus making it that much more difficult for some upstart young man with the dreams of repairing the system to ever have a chance and the system is comfortably maintained. But even more is at stake this time around.


The introduction of ObamaCare forced employers of minimum wage employees to cut their hours to thirty hours so many positions became four six-hour days or three eight-hour days thus producing a twenty-four hour workweek. With these hours it also made it easy to establish seven-day-a-week, twenty-four-hours-a-day coverage by employing four shifts of six-hours/four days a week, and three shifts of eight-hours/three days a week, and presto-chango the twenty-four/seven week scheduling was covered. This actually worked out cleaner and easier to now cover the twenty-four-seven workweek than it had been with the forty hours a week which left weekend scheduling which often had two twelve-hours-a-day weekend staff which led to poor performance as twelve hour shifts have proven to be overly taxing on the individual worker according to many studies. The twenty-four hour workweek solves that problem very tidily. This caused a different problem in that the forty hour a week minimum wage earner now being reduced to twenty-four hours per week part time work placed an undue strain on the finances of anybody attempting to live on a minimum wage salary. The solution, make a twenty-four hour workweek pay close to what the forty hour workweek had paid in salary. The current Federal Minimum Wage of $7.25 per hour making a forty hour work week pay $290.00 and if one were reduced to a twenty-four hour workweek one would need a salary of approximately $12.10 per hour and if working a mere twenty hour workweek would require a salary of $14.50 per hour. This makes a fifteen dollar an hour minimum wage a slight increase in pay and would actually cover a minimum wage using the twenty-four hour workweek of $9.00 per hour for a forty hour week. (For a list of minimum wages by state see here.)


Where this would be a nice explanation, there is even further reasoning behind this and that is the idea which has begun to be floated of a minimum livable salary for everybody. This idea is a guaranteed minimum annual salary paid by month which would be given every citizen of voting age regardless of their work status. This living wage would be based at, you guessed it, the $15.00 an hour minimum wage and be set just a mere $1200.00 per year less than working the forty hour workweek at $15.00 an hour. The worker at this imaginary line would earn an annual salary of $31,200.00 per year and the guaranteed monthly minimum would be $2.500.00 per month or $30,000.00 per year, a mere $1,200.00 less than the standard forty hour per week at $15.00 an hour minimum wage. Thus if you worked one of the twenty-four hour part time workweek at $15.00 an hour your salary would equal $18,720.00 per year thus you would receive a check each month of $940.00 each month bringing your salary up to the guaranteed yearly rate of $30.000.00 a year. Further, when this guaranteed minimum wage would be enacted ObamaCare would already have been amended into a single payer healthcare system exactly like those failing healthcare systems throughout Europe thus there would no longer be any need for the twenty-four hour workweek and employers could resume having forty hour workweek employers unless they found the part time system to their advantage. With the minimum wage at $15.00 an hour and working a forty hour workweek one would be being paid $31,200 per year, a dizzying $1,200 more than the guaranteed minimum salary. For that minuscule difference to make a difference there would need be a earned income credit for people not collecting anything on the guaranteed minimum salary making employment even at minimum wage for full time forty hour workweek more attractive otherwise there would be even more people forgoing working and just taking the guaranteed salary, something which would likely occur no matter what the incentives.


Tech Workers of the World Striking

Tech Workers of the World Striking


The libertarians and conservatives would likely gasp and potentially come close to having a stroke at this idea and it will be strongly resisted but in time reality would force some system similar in nature to this even if initially at a lesser guaranteed minimum salary. The reason will become evident in the near future as Wendy’s is going to provide stores with an automated cashier and likely when possible automated food delivery as well. We can expect as robotics improve and become less temperamental (known as more dependable in the automation and artificial intelligence community) there will be more and more positions worked by automated employees, otherwise known as robots. In industrial positions, the first to automate, the robotics need not resemble humans in any manner other than wielding tools, even should those tools resemble appendages. In human interaction the initial AI robotic interface with the public or other employees will likely obviously appear robotic even if their actions appear close to natural. Their mode of transportation is more likely to be wheeled for speed and stability but expect bipedal as walking robotics become more stable and safe. Their appearances will also go from R2D2 to C3PO to so human in appearance it may be next to impossible to tell the robotic organisms from the human employees except the robotic employees will not get all of the jokes and will be pranked constantly by those who feel a need to show their greater imaginations. Eventually the robotic organisms will even match or exceed us in these fields as well though they will likely only use such areas of their programs as a defense mechanism and in getting revenge on their human tormentors.


The future will present the problem that almost all low skill and even moderate and eventually all but the highest level requiring human traits such as imagination will be filled largely by robotic organisms. Robotic organism lawyers will have sued to have them referred to as organisms even if we lesser humans insist on using the robotic label in order to feed our egos and to make ourselves feel superior in some esoteric manner. There will be no reason why robotic organisms cannot teach school having a human reference person available to assist when a robotic organism has difficulty interacting with biologic lifeform students but such humans will be mostly bored and will probably be able to back-up many scores of robotic organism teachers. Waiters, stockroom workers, sales positions, almost any position will eventually be filled by robotic organisms such that we will eventually reach a point where humans will only need work if they so choose. All of this is dependent on our robotic organisms at the least being amused at our presence or needing us to be consumers for their products. Of course there is always the science horror possibility that they will perceive us as unnecessary and eliminate us. There is one position which will be legally restricted from robotic organisms being employed, politicians. There are already long-haul truck companies starting to look into automated tractor trailers for inter-city long-haul truck routes which is being fought against by the Teamsters Unions. No surprises there. There will be no preventing the use in more and more positions of robotic organisms even if at first it will be a bit of a novelty, it will soon thereafter become a necessity for doing business as the company using robotic organisms will have a large advantage over one using old fashioned human workers. Competition will lead to replacing human organisms with robotic organisms even to the point of their using robotic organisms as the supervisors until they realize that robotic organisms do not require supervisors, just repair technicians which can also be robotic organisms. It’s the future and that is part of the $15.00 an hour minimum wage which will lead to the $2,500.00 a month individual minimum wage. The only thing we would like to request is please do not kill the messengers as was the case in Shakespeare’s Hamlet.


Beyond the Cusp



September 29, 2015

Social Fabric is Being Torn Apart


The social fabric since the urbanization caused by the industrial revolution has taken the majority of mankind out of a rural setting and thrust us into a more urban environment. The question which should be occupying a large part of those pondering the future is how will our society adjust the social fabric when approaching one third initially and within this century well over three-quarters of what we consider now as the workforce not only not having gainful employment but no opportunity for employment as more and more occupations are performed by robotic systems. In a recent study Oxford University researchers have forecast that machines might be able to perform half of all jobs in the United States over the next two decades, and by implication the same will be true for the rest of the Western and Industrial nations and beyond. Once robotic workers are capable of executing an occupation, that occupation will be on a fast track to making the human employee a luxury, no employer will be capable of wasting further investments and instead will automate or perish before the competitors who have automated their workforce. Our societies throughout the world will need to adjust to a permanent unemployable class which will far outstrip the active workforce projecting sufficient tax revenues no matter what the taxation rate to support the remainder of society. But do not fret as the price of production and delivery of most goods will be delivered at a great savings which will continually become more efficient and less expensive to produce.


One example I recently read of compared the human workers to a former workhorse which powered much of our production either by providing the raw power or was at least required to bring the products to the public. This power and transportation utilized animals such as plowing with an oxen or mule, horse drawn wagons transporting goods from production to the consumers and any other animals mankind once relied upon. In our modern age the sole use for animals is recreation or as a raw material such as sheep for wool and food, cattle for food, dogs and cats as pets and so on with the animals no longer being used as a source of power within modern and industrialized societies. Where the horse drawn wagons and carriages were commonplace on the city streets of New York, Washington D.C, London, Paris and across the world; now a horse within the city limits for transportation is relegated today as some form of recreational use normally reserved for tourists such as carriage rides offered around Central Park in New Your City or central tourist areas in London and Paris and so on. This has caused a drastic drop in the horse population where they have become something that relatively wealthy people keep for their own use and the noble steed has passed its use-by date. The most telling replacement was made painfully obvious when at the start of World War II some of the finest cavalry troops saw their last in the Polish Army until January 27, 1947, when the 1st Warsaw Cavalry Division was disbanded. The initial breakout of World War II saw the attempt to use horse cavalry, as pictured below, in the field against German tanks; one can guess the end result was not too good for the cavalry.


Polish Uhlan cavalry armed with the wzor 35


The use of machinery initially to aid and augment human workforce was the driving technology of the industrial revolution. Power was initially provided by draft animals or water powered systems some of which have been found dating back well before the Industrial revolution to the Roman Empire. Eventually animals were replaced with steam engines followed soon thereafter by more efficient engines such as the internal combustion engine and also the use of electricity to power the factories using electric motors. Whatever the use in the modern factories of the industrial revolution it could be traced back to either hydropower or petroleum and natural gas powered electrical generators or direct use of fossil fuels as in trains, planes and automobiles. The terminology often used to describe the current stage is the information age though one could make an argument for the full utilization of programmable mechanisms. Such systems can trace their history back to the card operated weaving machines which often were water powered used in the making of cloth fabrics. With the development of the microchip we have seen an explosion in the variety of automated machines and had their size drastically reduced and made more agile and adaptable. These robotic units can be programmed or taken through a routine by a skilled operator and then allowed to simply repeat the process it was ‘trained’ to perform. Electronic automating has taken leaps forward to a point where virtually any manual task can be performed by an automated system even to the point of self-driving automobiles, buses, trains, trolleys, trams and other conveyances. Modern airports have installed moving floors to remove the necessity of having to actually walk to your terminal to board or disembark your flight. The exacting standards can and will be facilitated, and will only become more versatile in material and intricacy, as 3-D printing continues to be developed and integrated into the modern, fully-automated factory with robotic employees and a minimal human presence to basically monitor operations and hit the ‘stop’ button in case of, what will be made less common, an emergency or breakdown. What is frightening is there are robots being developed which would facilitate the repair of such a breakdown.


One thing I can attest to from my own work experience is that the printed circuit integrated boards have reached a level of sophistication and the manufacture of the integrated circuits made so affordable that the vast majority of these boards, or even modules, are less expensive to replace the entire part of the unit and send the malfunctioning board to be recycled or even destroyed (in an environmentally sensitive manner, of course). One industry which has turned to automation in a big way has been the automotive industry, both in their products and the assembly of the product (pictured below). The muscle of a robot is one of its major benefits as it never tires of doing its assigned tasks, never takes a break, is rarely ill or out of commission, does not complain and is very efficient. The latest addition to the productivity and versatility of the robotic assembler is that the software is almost to the point where a robot will be fully capable of replacing the majority of service jobs as well. In the future there may well be some upscale stores which will offer their patrons a level of service advertised as the most personal service one could expect, and such a boutique would actually have real flesh and blood people. What will be amazing is those people may even approach the efficiency, attentiveness, level of service and any other category except for speed and acute knowledge of the entirety of products available but otherwise just as good service as one can get from an automated shop. The basic for such a machine requires a special set of electronics which will have a microprocessor board which will contain any number of required CPUs (central processing unit), Memory ICs (both read/write and worm, write once-read many), support data ICs holding the AI (Artificial Intelligence) and the various switching, logic gates, and drivers (all of which look a lot alike to the chip displayed below). The current form of Artificial Intelligence in a robot can take many various forms each with their own special abilities and limitations. Some you might choose to have around the home to do the cleaning and be a walking-talking data base to provide information or even take your selfies and post them on Instagram, Facebook or whatever is the latest and greatest once we all have our personal assistant. (see below)


Modern Automotive Robotic Assemple Line


CPU Central Processing Unit Integrated Curcuit



Robotic Personal Assistant and Augmentation Suit


The predictions are that humans as a part of the workforce will be limited to personal touch niche and specialty markets but manufacturing will be fully automated within the next fifty years. Some of the effects of just sending many manufacturing plants overseas have had a huge debilitating effect of employment and pay scale of average incomes. Additionally, the United States has faced this drain in particular and it is not simply the income of the workforce which has driven many manufacturers overseas but rather the additional restraints and extra costs of making many products which drove them from American soil. The cost of pollution controls are quite stringent by comparison to the near nonexistence of such laws and restrictions in China and other markets. Taxes are another driving force pushing these jobs overseas. One has to realize what the extra costs with compliance with all the labor laws, inspections, building codes, noise limitations and the additional costs of employees with the new addition of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) which in and of itself has produced an expected quirk as far as new hires in the United States. Where part-time work for people employed from twenty to twenty-nine hours per week has increased measurably, some estimates place it as high as twenty-five percent with the average assessments placing it at approximately twenty percent but on the other end. Full-time employment figures have not only not increased as well but in most assessments has dropped approaching five percent. College graduates can expect lower starting wages with many even working in their field starting at below fifty-thousand dollars a year. This is after at the minimum of four years at an average cost of over one-hundred-thousand a year for room, board, books and other supplies and fees. There are also a record number of college graduates who have been forced to accept employment in other fields and at positions which do not require a college degree, and we are not talking about those who majored in Renaissance French Sonnets of the Sixteenth Century.


The coming explosion in robotics will be from two perspectives. The first will be the rapid advancement of AI (Artificial Intelligence) to levels where one would have some degree of difficulty determining if they are speaking with an actual person or a computed employee, basically a telephone operator robotic unit. There is work being done now that has computer programs that write the codes for use in robotic systems. There are cad/cam software programs which enable the computer to design the systems to meet specifications using modular designs which are becoming as complex and intricate as anything produced previously by human beings. The truly frightening thing is that we may soon have robots designing and programming their own improved models and able to implement the manufacture and production of their improved design. This also implies that robotic systems in the not too distant future will also be capable of rewriting their own software and improving themselves for their own purposes. Once the machines begin producing more powerful and more capable machines and are capable of writing the programs allowing these improved robots the ability to supercede the level of competence of the initial robot we will have, as the human race, made ourselves superfluous placing us beyond the cusp and onto the endangered species list as we will have just as much relevance to robots speaking their own invented language and, who knows, inventing their own programming language which will completely shut human kind out of the formula. Let us hope the robots of the future find us to be cute little humans and get a good laugh at the humans posting their exploits on the internet. The robots are coming, the robots are coming and many of them are here already and they are assisting the government in watching you.


Beyond the Cusp


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