When Foy worked

Still thinking about the Foy solution for automation, I looked up some 1960 government studies on automation. At that time business and labor were mostly working together to protect skills and workers. Businesses understood that labor would strike hard if they fired workers unnecessarily, so businesses behaved decently.

The study predicted correctly that file clerks and bookkeepers would be kicked out by desktop computers, which were already starting to appear in 1960.

It predicted wrongly that retail shops would be decimated. It turns out that customers prefer dealing with human clerks. Grocery stores finally tried self-service checkouts about 10 years ago. Even at the height of “virus” insanity, with distancing and muzzles violently enforced, most people still preferred the human contact.

Amazon is NOT a success case for automation. Amazon is doing EXACTLY the same thing that Sears and Penneys were doing for 100 years. The switch from paper mail and landline to email and cellphone is NOT automation, just a different mode of distant communication. Amazon knocked out Sears by monopolizing and extorting suppliers and corrupting legislatures, not by increasing automation.

The one thing that’s missing in these 1960 studies is offshoring, which was ALREADY UNDERWAY in electronics. The government and corporate and union spokesmen who were writing the document knew what was happening, but chose to scapegoat the relatively small effect of automation to distract us from the national suicide of offshoring.

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