04 January 2018

Don't ask for a raise or we'll replace you with a robot that will work for free

In the news today is a story warning us not to implement a living wage because the pay rises will mean more jobs being lost to "automation".

The living wage being the minimum amount you need to actually live in the UK without government subsidies. Quite of a lot of people in full-time employment are still dependent on govt handouts to make ends meet.

Anyway, the gist of the story is:  Don't ask for a raise or we'll replace you with a robot that will work for free.

But the thing is that about 15 years ago New Labour opened the floodgates to migration from Europe flooding the UK with cheap labour from Eastern Europe. The results are that we are now leaving the European Union, we have the lowest economic growth of any country in the EU (on a par with Greece and worse than Italy!).

In other words its an empty threat that we know will backfire spectacularly.

Falling wages and rising personal debt has meant that there is a demand crunch - rising inflation is only making it worse. Unemployed people don't have much to spend and they tend to spend it on rent and food. Landlords and budget supermarkets do OK, but no one else who relies on the real economy does.

If you replace all the workers with robots who do not earn anything, but also do not *spend* anything, then the robots will make products that no one can afford and you go out of business. It's a race to the bottom. Meanwhile top CEOs are being paid 120 then average wage, to win this race to the bottom.

The only rational policy for a government is to aim at full employment, at rates of pay which provide for what everyone needs and a little more. If employers won't pay employees a living wage then the government has to legislate to make them. Yes, shareholders dividends might be a littler smaller, but fuck em, they're probably not even paying tax on their income.

The irony for those conservative business people who favour small government is that their refusal to offer a fair wage for a fair day's work is the biggest impediment to small government there is. Welfare would be minimal if there were jobs for all and fair pay and conditions. It is the greed and intransigence of business people that fuel the need for big government.

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