As I noted in another posting:
"Right. I will have to address that last issue in another blog posting. How did we get snookered into believing that it was "progress" for a typical family was to have two working spouses, working 50-60 hours a week each (as opposed to the 40 hours our Fathers worked) to have the equivalent standard of living of 40 years ago? Under the rubric of gender equality, I think we were snookered into working twice as hard, just to have a mound of crap parked on our lawns and electrical gadgets in our homes. But that is a subject for another posting."
And while it is true that we emit a lot of carbon (because we have the world's largest economy - only China emits more) what some conservatives didn't like about the deal was that it punished the US more than other countries, and gave "developing" countries a free pass. Whether you agree with this logic or not isn't the point - the point is, the country that exploits it workforce and exploits the environment is, sadly, at an economic advantage over the county that doesn't.
So France's 35-hour workweek experiment was doomed to failure, as those hardworking German neighbors (and their Turkish foreign workers) are clocking in a full 40 hours.
But still, I wonder how this will play out. And maybe robotics is one explanation for the rise in income inequality. And where this leads us is an interesting question. What happens when we have an entire factory run by robotics? A factory built by robots? The person who controls that factory, through ownership or other economic power, would have almost infinite wealth. Robots building robots, with the only human intervention being directing them what to build and where to deposit the checks.
We could go two ways with this, in the future. Robotics could be the revolution to raise all of us out of poverty, and create a utopia of low-cost products, clean city streets, and citizens who work at creative pursuits, for only hours a day, if they chose. Or it could divide the world into those who have and those who have not.
And in a way, maybe this future is already here. There are increasingly a larger and larger number of people making craft things and performing services, as opposed to working in factories with machines. There are few jobs in the automated brewery that pumps out lite beer by the tanker-full. But America's appetite for micro-brew pubs seems hardly to be whetted. Manufactured goods are cheap and durable, but people still treasure hand-crafted artisan products, made one at a time by real people. A neighbor in New York makes handmade shoes in a small factory - their biggest market is in Japan, where "hand-made" craft items from America are in high demand. In an economy of perfect machine-made things, hand-made has a cachet.
It will be interesting to see where this all goes. Dystopian future, or a utopia for us all? And how will we know when we get there?