Nationalism Vs. Globalism, Where Does This Lead? Probably to a Nowhere!

Globalism seems to be getting a bad rap lately, because locally people are suffering from global competition.  Jobs from a global market either had already been moved to another part of the world in the name of efficiency in cost and whatnot or will be replaced by market elsewhere that is more competitive.  So, locally, people are not feeling good at all about global aspects.

We’re seeing many people try to promote local brand, local ideas, local culture, and local anything over anything global.  Of course, it’s not a bad thing to promote local culture, ideas and whatnot, because these things are essential for a local life-force.  Nonetheless, when we become too extreme in promoting local over global agenda, we may create an atmosphere that would lead to a road of violences and not of solutions.

Imagine how the Nazi or similar groups came about or will be created because of such extremism.  Basically, I believe that the Nazis were not only Hitler’s henchmen, but many of them were believing in a movement of a pure race mentality which believes in purity and superiority over other identities.  So, in Hitler’s time, if you’re a Jew, you would be considered the lowest scum of all scums on earth, thus Hitler did try to wipe out the entire Jewish identity from the planet earth.

The Nazi mentality would seem making sense for the Nazis, but on the outside most people would not agree, because such a movement promotes senseless killing and senseless violence.  Thus I think anything that is taking too extreme may do more harm than good.  So, in these days, many people are promoting local brands over global brands, and it’s not really a bad thing.  Nonetheless, I think we should do this on a scale that makes sense — by not overdoing it.  If not, we may promote a form of extremism that will only incite a bigger conflict eventually.

Imagine a scenario in which we would close off our border, stop trading with everyone else globally, and try to create a self-sustain nation in which we believe that would stop global competition and bring better economic prosperity for people within our nation — this looks a lot like North Korea now.  But we all know that North Korea isn’t doing very well economically for a very long time.  Actually, North Korea had been poor since the conception of its whole political body.

Just right next door, China, once was as poor as North Korea, but now this neighbor known as China has become the largest economy on earth in term of Purchasing Power Parity measure and many people suggest that China will become the largest economy on earth in nominal GDP term sooner than later.  The neighbors cannot be any differ in term of size and economic prowess, because the gap between the North Koreans and the Chinese seems to be the size of a galaxy — an exaggeration of course but relevant nonetheless.

China achieved all of their success not by closing down borders, stop trading, and try to be self-sustained like North Korea, but China opened and continues to open up just the right amount of space for foreign trades, investments, cooperations, and whatnot.  So, I think China did think about how to face the challenge of global competition before they opened up their economy just right which had allowed them to be where they are today.

For countries like the United States, we’re facing a challenge of cost efficiency, and so our products are more expensive to export.  Perhaps we should think about closing our door with just a right amount of space but leave the door open just wide enough to stem the outflow of jobs — creating enough breathing space for people within the country to survive and thrive and compete.

Nonetheless, such a solution is only for short term treatment, because in the future our technologies may be so disruptive that the technologies we will employ will take away all of our jobs.  When such thing occurs, no matter how many borders you close down, how many trades you stop from occurring will not be able to keep jobs at home.  So, the solution won’t be available in the basket of creating jobs for the people, but the solution would be in the basket of how to support a society in which people will no longer work for a living, on a global scale.

What is the solution?  At the moment, I don’t think any single solution would be satisfactory in answering the AI taking away jobs question, because we’re not actually suffering from a total domination from a machine overlord just yet.  Instead, we’re seeing machines slowly take away jobs from various people in various sectors.  Eventually though, the Artificial Intelligence would get so smart that it would take away most jobs from the people.

If AI is inevitably going to take away most of our jobs, we should steer the course of such a trend to benefit the humanity.  After all, we’re the humanity!  So, I suggest that we should employ smart machines to create the abundances that we need to free us all from basic necessaries, and this would allow us to focus on living better.  We then would probably question ourselves what would we do if the smart machines do all the jobs.

Will we become so bored and mindless that we rather die young than live too long?  Nonetheless, in the future we may have technologies that would extend our lifespan.  But there is a possibility in which we as the humanity as a whole would try to explore the next frontier which is the universe itself.  Maybe the smart machines would get us to be so free that we would venture out into the farthest space within the universe to explore and question not only our origin, but the universe itself — and have a better chance at doing this than ever before.

Anyway, after watching “Nationalism vs. globalism: the new political divide | Yuval Noah Harari” TED Talks video on YouTube, my brain starts to question a lot more about our future.  This brief essay is the result of my watching of this video.  The video is right after the break.  Enjoy!

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Can basic income and good karma/credit system provide a way to cope with AI’s automation?

In 2017, a lot people and various parts of different countries are talking and experimenting with basic income.  Automation — comes naturally and intelligently through artificial intelligence — is the new thing that has gotten people worried.  Some people argue that AI’s automation will replace human beings with robots/programs in all sorts of jobs.  Dumb automation probably has already replaced humans in many cumbersome, repetitive jobs/functions.  Intelligent machines/programs through AI can probably replace many white collar jobs already.  When too many people are out of work, this could become a huge bother for many powerful people who carry important positions in our society.  Displaced people would want to be able to survive and strive in a society in which they’re no longer productive, but this could mean standing up against the factory owners, corporations, and even the governments.  If not careful, a world of full automation could mean a bloody revolution.  Thus, basic income becomes an urgent question for many leaders in any country in our time.

Nonetheless, in the West, we have a thing that was being taught since the fall of Soviet Union is that communism has failed utterly.  We look at China as if Chinese communistic society is the new capitalist society.  How can basic income fit into a Western society in which communism has been taught to be disgusted upon?  After all, basic income is about rationing, splitting equal income for everyone in a single society.  Isn’t communism is also about rationing and splitting equal things for a community, a society, and in biggest case a country?  I guess, we could argue a mix of basic income with capitalistic values won’t lead to new communism, but it could morph into an entirely different beast.  I guess we should ask, can a strong supportive basic income be an uplifting element for the despondent citizens?  I guess we should consider the humming capitalistic tunes of the middle class in this situation.  Can basic income give the despondent ones a chance to reach the middle and eventually the upper classes within this beastly creation?

Perhaps, basic income may not be the only solution.  Perhaps, we require many more parts of a larger, more creative solution in order for us to tackle the AI’s automation revolution.  Imagine in a society in which doing good things promotes good karma, and this karma translates into real monetary credits.  Can this route take us to a Nirvana?  Basic income to support a crumpling foundation, and on the top of this reparable foundation we decorate it with good karma.  The double edge sword of a good karma/credit system is that the implementation of punishments, punishing the good people who have bad karma/credits.  Then the question should be asked such as what could be the punishments for the people who have bad karma/credits?  This won’t be a good thing if new harsh punishments are there to wreck havoc in lives of good citizens.  It could literally lead to a society in which looks very much like a Nazi one.  Perhaps, karma/credit system should be used for the implementation of a positive, credit/monetary system only and not much more, and no punishment should come along with this very system.  This way, good folks won’t be affected by stupid punishments.  Just imagine good karma/credit system provides even more basic income on the top of the basic income?

I couldn’t let this go. Imagine a society in which isn’t too different from a fantastical Star Trek’s one, because a replicator alone could conjure any item out of the thin air.  Perhaps, a replicator could replace basic income and money and credits altogether?  If such a society and technology exist, this could mean the end of being desperate in a more intelligent universe.  Perhaps, if this to occur, people won’t have the need for ancient money/credit system, because a replicator alone could conjure up anything.  It’s magical.  Anyhow, the summation of all is that an interesting time is upon us, and AI’s automation may be replacing us humans in all sorts of jobs.  The old system isn’t providing an answer to how to create new jobs in an AI universe.  A jobless society would be very different in nature, because people need money to survive.  Without providing jobs to a hungry population, a society could face an upheaval of all sorts.  Can basic income and good karma/credit system provide a way to cope with AI’s automation?

Should Minimum Wage Be Raised Or Not?

For pure intellectual reason, I got interested in the debate of should we raise or not raise the minimum wage.  After watching Walter Block and Bill Quigley debate on minimum wage, my interest in this topic can only be enhanced.  The video of this debate is right after the break.

In my opinion, minimum wage is good when you apply it in good time.  The key is good time.  What is good time?  Good time is when the economy is doing good, low inflation on basic need prices (e.g., food, clothes, education, etc…), strong purchasing power at home and abroad (i.e., high living standard in term of strong currency value without the need of devaluing the currency for strong export market), and whatnot.  Minimum wage is effective in good time as it can apply some justice on punishing greedy corporations that just only want to maximize profitability rather than pay livable wage to their employees; punishing them to pay appropriate wage for their employees.  In good time, higher minimum wage encourages poor people to save less and spend more, but this is a redundant effort since good time doesn’t need the spending of the poor to elevate the economy.

In my opinion, minimum wage is bad when you apply it in bad time.  The key is bad time.  What is bad time?  Bad time is when high inflation prices into everything to raise the prices of foods, everyday needs, rents, housing, and whatnot.  Even high inflation in currency would be a bad thing too as it devalues the currency power (i.e., purchasing power), leading to a lower standard of living, comparing to a normal standard living of course.  As the weaker the currency the more you have to slave away for money to just get what you need.  An example would be high inflation of $1 would require $2 or $3 to buy one lollipop instead of $1 a lollipop.  You probably think I have digressed with the inflation talk, but I just want to emphasize that raising minimum wage in bad time can encourage the inflation to go on steroid.

Why raising minimum wage in bad time could supersize inflation?  Let’s assume that you are an employer of a small shop.  You cannot really afford to hire too many workers.  Thus, you want to make sure each worker you hire does have high productivity rate even though you may not be able to measure such a thing in real number.  Nonetheless, you want to have a feeling that a specific worker you hire is doing a good job for your business.  You know each worker would cost you a lot in term of wage if you have to pay the worker a higher minimum wage.  When a government mandates that you need to pay higher minimum wage, it makes the choice of firing a worker easier for you since you have to think about sustaining the profitability, minimizing the cost of doing business and whatnot.  Furthermore, you would probably include the cost of higher minimum wage for an employee in the products that you are producing, servicing, selling, and trading.  The employees who work for you got higher minimum wage, but they don’t have more money since the purchasing power of their wage hasn’t changed much for the prices of the products they may buy would go up.  Not only the employees but the employers themselves are customers, thus the costs of doing business such as buying materials for business would go up.  Simply put, raising minimum wage in bad time invites inflation to become hyper inflated.  It would be bad for the whole economy.

Big corporations love to have a good public relation image, because they think good public relation image will popularize their brand even more.  Furthermore, corporations believe that the more popular a brand is in image, the better the brand would perform in selling whatever.  It’s common sense really!  Thus in bad time, big corporations won’t mind raising minimum wage for their employees, because their profit margin is already high.  At the same time, their brand’s image gets a boost by paying higher wage for their employees in bad time.  Smaller businesses will have harder time in playing the PR game of raising wage, because their profit margin isn’t high enough to comfortably raise wage for their employees.  Thus, minimum wage encourages big corporations play PR game without taking the inflationary effect into the account.

Should we abandon minimum wage altogether?  Once minimum wage got raised, it’s really hard to undo the minimum wage’s level.  Don’t you think it’s really ugly for a government to tell her people to work for less than yesterday minimum wage?  Lowering the minimum wage isn’t going to be popular at all.  Abandoning it isn’t the solution either.  I think many things are relative, and minimum wage is definitely relative to changing time (i.e., good or bad time).  This is why I think raising minimum wage in good time would look good, and lowering the minimum wage in bad time invites protests.  I think since minimum wage is already in effect, the best thing to do is to not messing with it at all.  This means you better have a really good reason to raise the minimum wage.  Instead of messing with minimum wage to help the poor out, why not aiming for low inflation prices of foods, clothes, and whatnot.  Lower inflation would help out the poor in term of purchasing power as long the currency of a country isn’t already devalued to the point of near worthless.  After all, cheaper foods and whatnot would be a good thing for the poor and everybody else!

In conclusion, I don’t think minimum wage is the same thing as high productive wage.  I think individual company can do good by paying high productive wage (i.e., paying more) for employee who has done a stellar job in his/her role, because retaining a good employee from leaving the company for a competitor would be a good thing, in the consideration of having good, long term, business prospect.  When raising minimum wage without thinking about the consequence in having inflation on steroid would be extremely irresponsible thing to do.  In my opinion, instead of messing with the minimum wage, the government should worry about controlling the high inflation in everyday needs for the poor.  I don’t think the argument of minimum wage encourages productivity makes any sense, because productivity is a self-fulfilling-prophecy kind of thing.  Higher productivity will always be in demand in the business world, thus the competition for higher productivity will be abundant.  Higher minimum wage may encourage employers to fire employees easier and hire employees with better productivity rate.  Without raising minimum wage, the employers may give the employees with low productivity rate a second chance in retaining their jobs.  After all, retraining new employees would disrupt the flow of productivity anyway!  In general, the less poor people out there on the street, the better the economy and the society will be more stable.  If raising minimum wage can make inflation goes on steroid, then raising minimum wage is just an illusion for having done something good.

Starbucks Manager Goes Crazy On Customer

Lately, Starbucks got some bad lucks.  From the news, a cop was suing Starbucks for spilled hot coffee.  Another news reported that hackers are targeting Starbucks’ customers who use Starbucks app.  Just in, a manager exploded and accused a customer of stealing a straw.  The whole incident was recorded and now is being shared on the Internet.  Check out the videos right after the break to have a glimpse at the incident.

I got free coffee from Starbucks before, and so I’ve had great experience with Starbucks.  Nonetheless, I definitely don’t want to ever have to experience something similar to the customer who was at the receiving end of an angry Starbucks’ manager.  Fortunately, so far I have not yet had any crazy incident like that at anywhere I have gone to.  Oh wait, there was one time that I went into a Subway sandwich store near the closing time, and a stranger gave me a peck (a brief kiss) on my cheek for no apparent reason.  I think she was drunk or something of that sort.  I felt uncomfortable of course, but everyone was laughing in the store.  I laughed along, but I got out of the store as quickly as I could after I had my order fulfilled.

When Robots Are The Real Employees, What Will Be Of Humankind?

Recently, I came across an article with the headline Building work starts on first all-robot manufacturing plant in China’s Dongguan by scmp.com (South China Morning Post), and since then I have been thinking to myself the implication of this development for a future in which I’m going to be around, still.  To speak the truth, I don’t want to pretend that I’m a somebody and having a stake in this development at all, because I’m a puny human being with insignificant footprint on this earth.  Nonetheless, I’m a curious human being at the same time, and so I like to scratch an itch which contributes to me being noisy (not nosy, but maybe…).

I can’t help but wonder the state of a future in which human beings are going to delegate most jobs to robots.  To tell the truth, this would be a heavenly condition for some people, but this implication for most people would be rather scary.  The implication of losing jobs to robots will be scary since you can only get angry at the company/corporate that employs robots only, because robots have no emotion, whatsoever, to care for your well being at all (i.e., humanity’s well being).  If you throw in the smart robots that have stellar artificial intelligence, even these guys are not made of blood and sweat and probably taking commands from the company/corporate to the letter unless the robots decide to dominate us humankind.

When robots get to the level that they can feel, think, and empathize even though in reality they are manufactured by us humans, I bet humans will have laws that prevent robots from being destroyed by a human being.  To destroy such a smart, near humanlike being is like murdering a sentient being.  If this scenario becomes real at a point in the future, what will humans do when protesting against robots for taking humankind jobs?  Perhaps, by then, the humankind will have to face two dilemmas, one of the dilemmas is the human traitors who only think of profits and the other dilemma is the robots who consider to have sentient rights.

Perhaps, I have overly fantasized the scenario in which robots rule over humans, but in near term it’s no less scary to see stupid robots take away human jobs.  Will humans be able to cope with massive layoffs around the world?  Will humans be able to cope with poverty when losing jobs to stupid robots?  What will be the future political system for a country if robots get to work and humans get to live in poverty?  Will there be a system in place to ensure humans stay above the poverty line when robots become more productive than human beings?

Imagine in a zoo where bananas keep popping out of thin air, the monkeys don’t really have to go pick bananas off the banana trees themselves.  If this scenario is real for the monkeys, these monkeys have few choices in this zoo.  One of the choices may be that the monkeys would become really fat and lazy, because the monkeys don’t need to get sweaty for picking the bananas.  Another choice may be that the monkeys become more productive in other areas since they don’t have to worry about gathering bananas anymore.  Perhaps, the monkeys would get sweaty for picking other foods other than bananas for spicing up their meals since bananas could be obtained from thin air?  The question is if the robots produce everything humans need, is it necessary for the humans to slave away like robots?  The fear is that humans might get lazy and fat, and one day robots or whatever will discard the stupid, fat, lazy humans.  If the humans get smarter and be more productive since making a living is no longer a requirement for there are robots that fill this role, then I guess this is a positive thing to have going.

If companies all over China decide to install robots and fire off human employees, I think companies in China will be able to generate bigger profits and outcompete non-Chinese companies.  Robots might not need to be maintained that often, but these robots can slave away without asking for higher wages.  Chinese companies can attain gigantic saving by cutting away the costly, sentient wages.  By investing the savings into cutting edge research and development programs, Chinese companies can outcompete not only in pure manufacturing process but also in innovation arena.  Since China is known as a manufacturing hub for the world, other countries may as well install robots-only-factories to compete against China.  This will lead the whole world into a vicious cycle of laying off the less productive, high cost human employees.  Even though it’s only one company in China is doing this right now, how do we know this won’t be the prefer solution for our near future when it comes down to hiring (i.e., hiring robots and firing human employees)?

Besides other scary calamities that may occur in our near future, us humans may have to face a future in which robots will slave away for some human masters.  Not all humans can master over robots since it will take money to produce and configure an army of robots to slave on whatever.  If that isn’t enough, artificial intelligence might get smart enough to become the master of the humans.  Of course, robots as master over humans scenario is still in the realm of science fiction.  The question is will such a scenario be possible?  In my opinion, you can never say never to anything!  Nonetheless, since this topic has gotten catapulted into an out of this world stratosphere, I think it’s also possible to imagine that humans may utilize technology to implant hardware that can improve human software (e.g., human brain, strength, sight, hearing, etc…).  Perhaps, this will be the alternative path for humans to compete against highly intelligent, sentient robots.

In summary, we are witnessing a near future in which robotics can become the main workforce and the human employees might not be able to find jobs in this sort of workforce.  As human populations around the world continue to grow in leaps and bounds, what will happen to us all when the robots take jobs away from us human beings?  I have a feeling this scenario will come true in a near future, but I just don’t know which path the humans will take in such a future.  A path to destruction or a path to salvation?  Personally, I sure hope us humans will be more productive in an environment in which robots become the main workforce.  Assuming, us humans are smarter than the monkeys in a zoo with magical bananas that I had described earlier in this blog post.

Middle Class Is The Saint Of The World

I think the middle class is the saint of world economy.  Middle class’ population is always going to be more abundant than the top 1% and 2% elite classes’ populations of the world.  Why?  It is obvious that it will always be a lot harder and rarer for anyone to make to the top of the class, because the higher you go the more competition you have to face.  This means, it’s harder for anyone to make into the top 1% or 2% of the elite classes.  Thus, my conclusion on this point is that the middle class is the middle way and  the best way to attain the abundance of wealth.  Why?  The more people that are wealthy, the more people can spend the money to promote consumerism, consequently boosting businesses in our small world (i.e., globalization).

Basically, I’m not worrying how wealthier a top 1% or 2% elite class has gotten, but I’m more worrying about how poorer the middle class has gotten.  The middle class is the middle way, and it can either go up or down.  Going up is a positive movement, but going down can only increase the population of the poor.  The poorer people get, the more desperate the people are.  The more desperate people get, the more dangerous people are.  By dangerous I mean people can do just about anything to survive.

History has shown us that the heads of elite classes were guillotined just because the poor were abundant.  Someone got to take the blame for all of the sorrows in the world.  Within our history, the elite classes might not have been so ruthless, but their heads were severed from their bodies for being so wealthy.  Lands and wealth were confiscated by new power and sometimes were distributed in the wrong ways that would not elevate society in general.

Within our history, the poor had made wrong decisions that could shatter earth.  One perfect example would be Hitler’s rise.  I could be wrong as I’m not an expert in the history of World War II and Germany in general, but I think the poor elevated Hitler rise for they had believed in his positive persuasion of making Germany more prosperous in the time in which Germany was experiencing poverty and pessimism.  As we all have known by now that Hitler’s rise gave way to an earth shattering war known as World War II.  Millions of people died in such a war.  Roughly around 60 millions people were killed in WWII?

Can we blame the poor for their desperations?  I think not!  The poor don’t have a choice.  The poor have to take desperate measures so they can survive.  Desperation is not a choice!

I think the world will be better off if the middle class can be enlarged.  The larger the middle class gets, the smaller the number of the poor gets.  I think the elites will sleep better when knowing there will be less riots and less people will go after their heads.  Of course, their wealth will always be a big target for everybody no matter the state of the world is in, but at least they won’t see desperate people go after their heads as well.