A jarring recent post in The Atlantic raises that very question. Charles Davi, a New York-based capital- and derivatives-markets lawyer, crunches sets of numbers and comes to this conclusion: "People are becoming less valuable to companies."
Part of his analysis examines the wage-growth differential in various income brackets (the rich are getting richer scenario) but it also looks at Moore's Law and the growth of containerized shipping.
People do matter, but the amount that people matter doesn't necessarily match up with their sense of entitlement. Nobody inherently owes me a living, a job or benefits of any sort. If what I do doesn't match up with what the world needs, than I'm out of luck. Of course it doesn't seem fair that what the world needs can change so fast and leave so many people without good jobs, but that's the way the world works.
Companies have to do the same thing. No one owes any company anything except in exchange for the good or services provided. Companies become irrelevant and go out of business if they don't provide something that the world needs.
Companies only matter to the extent that they provide something that people need and people only matter (to companies) the the extent that they provide something that the company needs.
Humans are adaptable because we live in a world that requires it. Those that don't adapt become irrelevant. No. It's not easy, but as intelligent people, we should understand that and be willing to change as necessary as long as we are on this earth.
@Drew: "If God came down and said he would destroy the planet if we didn't end any substantial or authorized use of fossil fuels within five years, do you think we couldn't get this done?"
Interesting question. I couldn't say one way or the other, bet I'd tend towards being pessimistic (a pessimist is an optimist with experience...)
"Where there is a whip, there is a will, my slug."
Love the LOTR quote, maybe that is what the human race needs? I often wish God WAS like this....
This is an oddly philosophical but interesting discussion for these forums.
Here's my 2 cents: Smart companies recognize that their employees are their most valuable assets. Automation and increasing efficiencies will continue to reduce the number of employees needed to deliver the company's products or services, but without talented and motivated employees, the company has no products or services.
Notice that the note in the Labor Share graph excludes 'government transfers', then look it up in Wikipedia.
"Examples of certain transfer payments include welfare (financial aid), social security, and government making subsidies for certain businesses (firms)."
The lefts solution to wage inequality is government redistribution of wealth but then they leave it out of calculating wage inequality. Labor is making less and less directly from their employer because of more and more of their salary is coming indirectly from the government.
Persistently there are two factors left out of these conversations. 1) If companies don't have employees, there is no-one making money to be their customers. 2) When a critical mass of people become unemployed they will either set up their own economy, that excludeds the existing one, or they will violently tear the existing one down, so they can meet their own needs. Either way the path our economy is currently taking is inherently self destructive. That is what we need to figure out. We need to start thinking in terms of "Sustainable Prosperity for Everyone", and how do we get there. A myopic corporate view won't do it. Our culture will not survive if a large percentage of the population can't make ends meet. Any economic path that results in an increased division between the rich and the poor will fall apart in the long run.
I've never seen a robot take home a paycheck (er, I mean have one autodposited in their bank account), and I have never seen one one eating a burger at Wendy's...although now that they have the Baconator, you never know.