Originally published June 24 2015
Massive nationwide social unrest coming as robots displace low-wage workers
by J. D. Heyes
(NaturalNews) You want a $15-dollar-an-hour minimum wage with that Happy Meal? Good luck with that.
In fact, low-wage workers in all industries are facing obsolescence thanks to rising robotics technology. A noted billionaire sees massive social unrest ahead because of these two converging realities.
As reported by Bloomberg News, Johann Rupert, a South African who earned his billions selling expensive Cartier jewelry and Chloe fashion, sees escalating tensions in the future between the rich and the poor as robots, coupled with artificial intelligence, fuel mass unemployment.
"We cannot have 0.1 percent of 0.1 percent taking all the spoils," Rupert, who has a fortune worth $7.5 billion according to data compiled by Bloomberg, told the news service. "It's unfair and it is not sustainable."
Robots, technology will replace unreliable, over-demanding humansRupert, who is the founder and chairman of Richemont -- whose 20 different brands include Vacheron Constantin and Montblanc -- believes that coming advances in robotics and technology in general will cause a cascade of job losses as companies turn to non-humans to perform an array of tasks without the problems of low employee morale, interfering unions demanding too much, and lost productivity due to sick time, vacations, and other human functions and conditions.
During a recent speech at the Financial Times Business of Luxury Summit in Monaco, Rupert said conflicts are sure to arise between social classes, which will make selling luxury items like those he handles much trickier because the rich will try to conceal their wealth in a number of ways to protect themselves.
"How is society going to cope with structural unemployment and the envy, hatred and the social warfare?" he said. "We are destroying the middle classes at this stage and it will affect us. It's unfair. So that's what keeps me awake at night."
Rupert, 65, is a university dropout whose father made big money establishing Rembrandt Tobacco Corp. and then selling it off. In the past, he has criticized other societal constructs.
Nicknamed "Rupert the Bear" because he holds generally pessimistic views on the global economy, he refers to himself as a "reformed prostitute" after having spent ten years as an investment banker. In 2008, he said the collateral damage from the Great Recession was actually still to come.
"We're in for a huge change in society," he said at the summit. "Get used to it. And be prepared."
Rupert is not the only one warning about robots and other technology causing seismic changes in society, resulting in a growing gap between the richest and poorest. This gap has only gotten wider on President Obama's watch, even though he has often claimed that his economic policies are aimed at "helping the poor."
Businesses are not social support mechanismsAs reported by Inc. magazine online, the massive job losses will not be limited to the United States:
The Boston Consulting Group predicts that investment in industrial robots will grow 10 percent a year in the world's 25-biggest export nations through 2025, up from 2 percent to 3 percent a year now. The investment will pay off in lower costs and increased efficiency.
Robots will cut labor costs by 33 percent in South Korea, 25 percent in Japan, 24 percent in Canada and 22 percent in the United States and Taiwan. Only 10 percent of jobs that can be automated have already been taken by robots. By 2025, the machines will have more than 23 percent, Boston Consulting forecasts.
Low-skilled, minimum wage jobs will suffer greatly as well, notes The Wall Street Journal. In addition, the more that workers demand that wages be artificially inflated, the faster technology will replace them.
"Amid a historically slow economic recovery, 1970s labor-participation rates and stagnant middle-class incomes, we understand that people are frustrated," the paper said in an October 2014 op-ed. "Harder to understand is how so many of our media brethren have been persuaded that suddenly it's the job of America's burger joints to provide everyone with good pay and benefits. The result of their agitation will be more jobs for machines and fewer for the least skilled workers."
In other words, businesses are not supposed to be social support mechanisms; they're businesses, and they are designed to be support mechanisms for owners and shareholders.
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