producer or in liquid form can play the same game with governments: do as we say or else. Billions of dollars can be moved from one nation to another in a few seconds with a few taps on the keys of a terminal. Technology can be transmitted electronically in words and diagrams and codes in a matter of moments. Managers can be transported physically to the other side of the globe within twenty-four hours. Unions and nations are flat-footed losers in a contest with these fleet-footed financial folk. A second Keynesian measure for stimulating the economy is to have the central bank the Federal Reserve board in the United States loosen the money supply. But how much of a stimulus will such easier credit be if consumers purchase goods made in other countries? As Raymond T. Dalio, president of Bridgewater Associates, an economic consulting firm, sees it according to the 4/28/85 New York Times “if the Fed eases credit to spur the economy, it may have limited impacts. Consumers may borrow more money, but with the dollar still strong spend more on imports.” The third Keynesian measure is to reduce taxes to spur buying and investing. But if such cuts do not stimulate the economy in part for reasons already noted then the government ends up with greater deficits, with an ever rising portion of the federal income going to service debts, with rising interest rates, with an overvalued dollar, with falling exports and rising imports, with greater unemployment in sum, with even more of a “labor surplus society.” The trio of Keynesian cures was prescribed for domestic economies that were, more or less, selfcontained. While the remedies are not totally invalid for countries today, they have lost much of their earlier potency. But even at an earlier time, the Keynesian trio had only limited value as Keynes himself noted in The General Theory. If the government was not to be called upon too often to borrow to save the system, it was necessary to rectify the inherently irrational and inequitable distribution of income under capitalism. Without income redistribution, the system would overtax the state. A more just distribution was not only desirable for ethical reasons but was necessary for economic reasons. A degree of such redistribution has taken place in the capitalist world because of the economic and political presence and power of organized labor. The so-called “iron law of wages” a virtual given for Adam Smith and Karl Marx was repealed by the struggles of unions. Minimum wage laws, unemployment insurance, social security, housing supplements, and family support were additional ways in which working people were able to lift themselves out of the iron cage. The question is whether there will be, in the future, any force strong enough to play the role that organized labor has played in the past. American labor is concerned as are unions in other countries for the very obvious reason that it is their very own life that is involved. But viewed more conceptually and comprehensively, our total society ought to be worried because, in the absence of a presence pushing for distributive justice, we can indeed expect what Marx predicted: an immiserization of the masses that may not end up with socialism but with bloody anarchy. The elimination of a counterforce to capitalist “greed” is more of a possibility today than it has ever been thanks to the robot and to the globalization of the economy. The “robot” can give us the “labor surplus society.” The same technological magic that sires the “robot” is giving us a world economy in which giant multinational multi-product corporations need not listen to the plaints of their employees. Indeed, they dare not listen, lest their competitors beat them in the marketplace or pirates drive them from control of their own corporations. The same technology, however, can also pulverize, atomize, castrate the “working class.” The notion of “alienation” at work has been stirred by automation, cybernation, and Charlie Chaplin. Man is a whirling speck on huge gears. In recent years, mountains of manuscripts have described this dehumanization of the person as a process where man must move to the tempo of the machine, define his or her chore by the machine, and now learn to think like the machine. A continuation of Gus Tyler’s “Labor at the Crossroads” will run in the next issue of the Observer. AlRe American Income Life Insurance Company EXECUTIVE OFFICES: P.O. BOX 208, WACO, TEXAS 76703, 817.772-3050 BERNARD RAPOPORT Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer THE TEXAS OBSERVER 21
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