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Gates Warns of Software Replacing People; Greenspan Says H-1Bs Fix Inequity 516

Posted by samzenpus
from the man-with-the-plan dept.
dcblogs writes "Bill Gates and Alan Greenspan, in separate forums, offered outlooks and prescriptions for fixing jobs and income. Gates is concerned that graduates of U.S. secondary schools may not be able stay ahead of software automation. 'These things are coming fast,' said Gates, in an interview with the American Enterprise Institute 'Twenty years from now labor demand for a lots of skill sets will be substantially lower, and I don't think people have that in their mental model.' Meanwhile, former Federal Reserve Chair Alan Greenspan believes one way to attack income inequity is to raise the H-1B cap. If the program were expanded, income wouldn't necessarily go down much, but it would go down enough to make an impact. Income inequality is a relative concept, he argued. People who are absolutely at the top of the scale in 1925, for instance, would be getting food stamps today, said Greenspan. 'You don't have to necessarily bring up the bottom if you bring the top down.'"
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Gates Warns of Software Replacing People; Greenspan Says H-1Bs Fix Inequity

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  • by gnoshi (314933) on Sunday March 16, 2014 @11:13PM (#46502539)

    Extending on Greenspan's idea, you can reduce inequity by having the top 0.01% take all the money from the remaining 99.99%. All that demonstrates is that having low inequity as your sole target is stupid.

  • by UPZ (947916) on Sunday March 16, 2014 @11:20PM (#46502555)
    I hope that Mr. Gates sees that 'software replacing humans' even if accelerates is a problem only in the current model of capitalistic society. In this capitalistic society, humans have to compete with automation and software. We do have the resources to feed, clothe and shelter everyone on this planet. I think it's time to start talking about moving past a capitalistic economy. Otherwise, in search of never ending profits, we will destroy the people and environment around us.
  • More H-1Bs? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Old VMS Junkie (739626) on Sunday March 16, 2014 @11:23PM (#46502571)
    I can't see the logic with this one. Off-shore even more well-paying jobs to low-cost replacements in third world countries? How does that fix income inequity? The H-1B visa is being perverted by big business. It was intended to bring skill workers to the US, presuming that at least some percentage of them would stay and add to the economic engine. In practice, these visas are used by shell companies to bring migrant workers here to train, then return to their off-shore operations centers, taking permanent positions with them. Greenspan is correct only in the theoretical use of the H-1B, not in it's actual practice.
  • Greenspan? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PPH (736903) on Sunday March 16, 2014 @11:24PM (#46502579)

    I thought he'd been laughed out of Washington DC following the mortgage securities fiasco.

    former Federal Reserve Chair Alan Greenspan believes one way to attack income inequity is to raise the H-1B cap

    Econ 101 - Supply and Demand. You just increase the supply and prices go down. So, what does Al think the 'bottom' is? H-1B visas for tech workers hit the middle class. The bottom is the fast food, dishwasher, gardener, etc. That's the people who wade across the Rio Grande. Fast food restaurants and farms don't go through the H-1B process for labor.

    How about we import some lower priced talent for the executive offices? That'll fix inequality. Seriously, I've seena number of situations where corporations on the edge of failure were sold to foreign firms and are now being run quite profitably. Same factory, same tools, same unions. Better managers.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 16, 2014 @11:32PM (#46502605)

    a few decades ago to shift some gravel or move some snow it took a crew of people with shovels. now, one guy in a skid-steer. dozens of people doing paperwork fixed by software. auto manufacturing relies on robots. technology kills jobs all the time. and technology is exponential, we can expect to remove huge swaths of jobs in the coming years. our economy is going to have to shift. we need robots doing everything for us but we need them to be in some way financed so that they can do the work without the bulk of the population dying of starvation. if that means rebellion against robocorp, or richman inc, then so be it :)

  • Re:Fuck that (Score:5, Insightful)

    by s.petry (762400) on Sunday March 16, 2014 @11:35PM (#46502619)

    Exactly! Anyone that can't see how his logic is broken should ask a friend to read it to them while they polish their red tipped cane. Increasing H1B imports, when companies pay these people less than they do college graduates, helps the US economy how? An executive getting a big fat bonus check by keeping 100 US citizens from working does not help out our economy, and _can not_ help our economy.

    This line of crap is almost as pathetic as the "jobs American's won't do" crap. Both of those are simply excuses to pay foreigners less money than a company would have to pay a US employee due to minimum wage laws. Just Google "h1b visa abuses in the US" and read the first few results.

    I won't bother Billy Bashing in this, his comments were not so bad for a change and I just bashed him yesterday for claiming Snowden was no hero.

  • by russotto (537200) on Sunday March 16, 2014 @11:36PM (#46502627) Journal

    "We cannot manage our very complex, highly sophisticated capital structure with what's coming out of our high schools," said Greenspan, former chairman of the Federal Reserve."

    That's a red herring, because we don't need to; we need to manage it with what's coming out of our universities.

  • Re:Greenspan? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by plopez (54068) on Sunday March 16, 2014 @11:36PM (#46502633) Journal

    There are a number of mines and chemical plants where I grew up. In the 80's as Americans shifted to selling fraudulent securities and "brand management" some of these were bought out by overseas companies. The workers of the the plants that did not get bought out were envious. The management improved that much. The people I knew working there would say things like, "I don't care who buys us out; Germans, French, Japanese, or whoever. As long as we get rid of American management".

    Note that pay and benefits did not change, but the reports I got was things got more streamline and logical with less focus on punishment.

  • by rsilvergun (571051) on Sunday March 16, 2014 @11:38PM (#46502637)
    There have been a _ton_ of advancements that become available when you have money. Medical Science has advanced to the point where we can do maintenance on the human body and improve it in general. This can be as simple as your kid's braces, or as complex as resurfacing your hip so you can walk without a cane in your 50s.

    Also, what's "necessary" is defined by employers. If I'm going to function as an office worker I'm expected to have a car, cellphone, college education, etc. If I don't have these I become unemployable... I lose access to all of the benefits I described above.

    Also, why in God's Green Earth are we talking about regressing to the 1920s? When did we give up on progress? When did poverty become an acceptable condition? When I was a kid we'd already sent a man to the moon. Keeping kids out of poverty seemed simple by comparison...
  • by AlphaWolf_HK (692722) on Sunday March 16, 2014 @11:38PM (#46502641)

    One perfect example of this I see on a daily basis is the expectation that one should either live independently or live in a single family household. This is a common thing in the US, but it is extremely uncommon throughout most of the world, even in other first world countries. In most of the world it is rather common to have 2 or more families to a single household, and generally that household will be physically smaller than the typical US household.

    People sometimes wonder why rent is high in some areas (see the whole Google bus thing.) That's why (well that and SF refuses to permit building more real estate or even building upwards to meet the growth needs of the population, which is really a bonehead move.)

  • by Cryacin (657549) on Sunday March 16, 2014 @11:43PM (#46502665)
    Here's a better idea Mr. Greenspam. How about we make your pay equal to everybody elses? (My insulting consulting invoice is issued by the way)
  • by ATMAvatar (648864) on Sunday March 16, 2014 @11:44PM (#46502673) Journal

    Also, why in God's Green Earth are we talking about regressing to the 1920s? When did we give up on progress? When did poverty become an acceptable condition?

    It became acceptable (to those making the statement) around the time it became obvious that you cannot concentrate the wealth of the world much more than it already is without placing most of the population into poverty.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 16, 2014 @11:45PM (#46502677)

    How about we just shoot the motherfucker in the head?

  • by Guppy06 (410832) on Sunday March 16, 2014 @11:47PM (#46502691)

    "If we're not going to educate our kids, bring in other people who want to become Americans," said Greenspan, in arguing for an increase of H-1B workers.

    H-1B is not a path to citizenship, apparently by design. Green card holders can say "Screw you, I quit" without deportation, which is not what companies want when they reach for H-1B's.

    In the context of income inequality, Greenspan put the H-1B program in his light: If the program were expanded, income wouldn't necessarily go down much, "but I bet you they would go down enough to really make an impact, because income inequality is a relative concept.

    H-1B's are competing for the bottom. Executives don't bring in indentured servants to be their own replacement, nor are meaningful numbers being placed into "rock star" slots (rock stars can command perks like actual green card status anyway). H-1B's only drive down the wages of the bottom, not the top, exacerbating wealth disparity.

  • by rtb61 (674572) on Sunday March 16, 2014 @11:53PM (#46502719) Homepage

    Well, that is not quite true and quite frankly points out what kind of a bullshit artist Greenspan is. Basically the 1% of the 1920 owned a lot of capital assets like properties, farms, business, shares, jewellry, even what are today vintage auto mobiles and these would all have adjusted to inflation accordingly and they would be exceedingly wealthy based upon today's standards and today's property and business values. So Greenspans statement is 100% total crap.

    When you own the means of production, the means of generating wealth you are never poor, until it is stripped away from just after a bloody and ruthless revolution.

    What these asshats are alluding to is the truly disposable workforce. When you are no longer of use to psychopathic capitalism you are disposed of, parked in concentration camps for the unemployable, only let out for chain gang style mass labour projects. These are very evil people as they make no mention of reduced working hours with increased pay against productivity gains, more time for leisure and free education, with the contributions to society spread out to take into account automation.

    All these fuck heads see, is automation, ahh no expensive work force more profits for me. With no concept of who they are going to sell the shit to, other than that workers must accept significantly reduced status unless their existence is sponsored by an employer. These people are a real and present danger, a threat to humanity.

  • by PPH (736903) on Monday March 17, 2014 @12:04AM (#46502775)

    "We cannot manage our very complex, highly sophisticated capital structure with what's coming out of our high schools," said Greenspan, former chairman of the Federal Reserve.

    That complexity and sophistication turns out to have been a game designed to keep worthless securities moving in the derivatives market. Standardized, regulated OTC derivatives was something Greenspan fought against. And then later admitted that he'd messed up. Standardized derivative contracts are the sorts of things that don't take Wall Street geniuses to generate. That becomes a clerical function that the average banker/broker can handle.

    if we don't actually address the problems in our education system here in America.

    One of the biggest problems of our American higher education system is the practice of injecting funds into the system as student loans. Loans that push the demand side of the higher education market up, causing an endless cycle of bigger loans and higher tuition. As a side effect, securitized student loans provide the investment market with a near zero risk of income due to the difficulty of loan discharge through bankruptcy. Another gift to the 1%.

    Provide more direct assistance for tuition, effectively making the government a 'single payer' in the market with more clout to hold tuition and other expenses down.

  • by matthewv789 (1803086) on Monday March 17, 2014 @12:10AM (#46502799)
    I disagree. I think we would fix a ton of other problems that are strongly resistant to other solutions if just about the only thing we did focus on was income inequality. The problem is, right now, we don't do anything at all about income inequality except allow it to get worse every year for the last 40 years.
  • by jafac (1449) on Monday March 17, 2014 @12:11AM (#46502811) Homepage

    who knew, Greenspan was a proponent of what is essentially "soft-slavery".

  • Re:Greenspan? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by careysub (976506) on Monday March 17, 2014 @12:17AM (#46502829)

    I thought he'd been laughed out of Washington DC following the mortgage securities fiasco.


    As long as you are saying what serves the interests of Big Business and people of fabulous wealth, inherited and otherwise, you will always be a respected commentator whose words command solemn attention, and be widely reported.

  • Re:Move. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by artor3 (1344997) on Monday March 17, 2014 @12:20AM (#46502843)

    Holy shit, how can people be so clueless. You think an unemployed programmer should just pack up his family, ditch his mortgage, and move to fucking Vietnam to work for a dollar a day? When is he going to find the time to learn a language, while he's struggling to feed his family? How's he going to afford the trip? What makes you think his chosen country will even allow him to immigrate in the first place? What makes you think there will even be jobs there, if the problem is technology making human labor unnecessary?

    No, you know what he can, should, and will do? He'll fucking murder you, and take your stuff. If your world view relies on the underclass laying down and dying for your convenience, you're going to be in for a rude, and fully deserved, awakening.

  • Re:Fuck that (Score:4, Insightful)

    by careysub (976506) on Monday March 17, 2014 @12:29AM (#46502883)


    The only problem I have with immigration is non-working ones who effectively leech off of the dole system and take advantage of our birthright citizenship loophole (which few countries have.) So called anchor babies by being a citizen automatically entitle their parents to welfare benefits...

    So basically you hate the people who exist in your fantasies. I am sure a good fantasy-hating makes you feel all warm inside.

  • by CommanderK (1078087) on Monday March 17, 2014 @12:32AM (#46502895)
    How does this "true communism" you speak of differ from the one that's been tried, and has failed over and over and over?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 17, 2014 @12:55AM (#46502975)

    It became acceptable (to those making the statement) around the time it became obvious that you cannot concentrate the wealth of the world much more than it already is without placing most of the population into poverty.

    To be more clear: you cannot accumulate wealth into a small group of people faster than the economy grows on the whole without invoking a zero sum game. The current leeching of the economy by the wealthy is faster than the economy is growing which is only sustainable through wealth transferral instead of wealth creation.

  • by Mabhatter (126906) on Monday March 17, 2014 @01:05AM (#46503015)

    remember this is the same Bill Gates that helped pioneer the 'Perma-Temp" and the two-tiered employee systems.... The ones where the "good" employees have the great perks while the "grunts" don't even get to call themselves "employee" and get passed from shady temp agency to temp agency every 3-5 years.

    The problem isn't upgrading skills, it's reducing the hours per week so more people can work full time and making a big culture shift away from the era of "work addiction" and 50+ hour weeks. Companies would rather pay Bill Gates 3/4 of your salary than pay another employee... he's been laughing and rolling in sacks of money for 3 decades because of that tendency.

    I truly don't think these guys understand the economics involved. the per capita wages in most of the USA is in the $40k range from low to high depending on region. They are so disconnected from the idea of money as anything except a "score card" they have no concept of what regular people do with it.

  • by gnoshi (314933) on Monday March 17, 2014 @01:07AM (#46503021)

    Actually, I mostly agree with you. The point I was trying to make was that simply aiming to decrease inequity is a silly goal if you don't have broader constraints such as 'so everyone can afford to eat'. The reason behind wanting to make that point was that if it is considered an improvement for inequity to decrease as a result of pushing middle wages down by allowing more H1Bs, then maybe it could be extended to minimising inequity by making almost everyone dirt poor.

    I think that reducing inequality by pulling in the top and bottom ends does have a whole range of benefits.

  • An overview, IMHO: (Score:4, Insightful)

    by fyngyrz (762201) on Monday March 17, 2014 @01:13AM (#46503043) Homepage Journal

    Most of the poor get richer slowly as technology raises their standard of living. Those controlling the system get richer much faster as they reap the same benefits, along with the majority of the usable output of the poor. Some kind of a despised, often disenfranchised class is maintained to focus the anger of the population away from those controlling the system. Almost everyone advances; the gap grows ever larger. It has always been this way; likely it will always be so.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 17, 2014 @01:34AM (#46503093)

    it could be extended to minimising inequity by making almost everyone dirt poor.

    You do understand that IS the point of all this?

    In case it hasn't been clear to you, there's been a class war happening all along, with the precise goal of disempowering 99% of the population and (re)turning society to a kind of neofeudalism.

    This statement from Greenspan is basically his way of hanging a "Mission Accomplished" banner across the bridge of his office.

  • by fyngyrz (762201) on Monday March 17, 2014 @02:13AM (#46503209) Homepage Journal

    You demonstrate complete ignorance of what a true state of desperation is. Any society that allows its citizens to become desperate has abandoned any chance at a peaceful existence, regardless of the delicious flavor of its rhetoric. Keep an eye on the constantly growing convicted felon class for profound examples.

  • Re:Move. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jeremi (14640) on Monday March 17, 2014 @02:30AM (#46503279) Homepage

    This kind of Robin Hood-style violence does not belong in a civilized, developed society.

    The society in question -- one that has decided that its lower classes should just lay down and die, because they are no longer economically productive -- is not a civilized, developed society.

  • by sjames (1099) on Monday March 17, 2014 @02:35AM (#46503299) Homepage

    That has always been the problem for AI. As soon as it works, we no longer consider it to be AI, so they get no credit for the accomplishment.

  • Re:Fuck that (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Rich0 (548339) on Monday March 17, 2014 @04:32AM (#46503595) Homepage

    "Jobs Americans won't do" is incorrect when applied to most jobs, but particularly in agriculture, it's a totally legitimate phenomenon. You wouldn't pick oranges for minimum wage.

    I wouldn't write computer software or design bridges for minimum wage either. I guess we need more H1Bs to write software and design bridges, then.

    Who says that people who pick oranges need to be paid minimum wage?

    If you offered $1M/yr to anybody willing to pick oranges you'd have no trouble filling the jobs. If you offer $5/hr then nobody is willing to do the job, apparently. Chances are if you offered $10-20/hr you'd have no trouble filling the post. The price of oranges probably wouldn't change much at all - if they could get a penny more for them they already would be doing so. The guys who own the farm would just make less money.

  • by buybuydandavis (644487) on Monday March 17, 2014 @05:46AM (#46503863)

    Can anyone make any sense of what he was saying?

    The solution to income inequality is to import more labor supply and further depress wages, but make those who *own* the businesses that hire them even richer? What? What is that guy smoking?

  • by Lumpy (12016) on Monday March 17, 2014 @06:50AM (#46504143) Homepage

    No it's not. business owners need to be forced to pay honest wages. Paying people wages that are so low that you can not live even in a squalor home is dishonest (minimum wages below $10 an hour)

    Then you get even more dishonest business owners that pay their book keeper $12-14 an hour. That person went to fucking college and just because she is a woman you think you can pay her a pittance? Sorry, but being a business owner is not about being rich, it's about following a dream and making a living. you DO NOT forsake your employees so you can live more comfortably.

    Right now the environment is ripe for employee abuse and has been for the past 10 years. Luckily I work for a guy that treats the employees right. he lives like the rest of us do, he gives guys raises every 6 months and even gives us all a profit sharing bonus every year 2 weeks before Christmas.

    Want a good corperate example of Greed? Comcast.

    Comcast has so much money they want to buy Time Warner.. WTF? why not put that money into Comcast and upgrade service and infrastructure as well as employee pay levels for the bottom 90% in the company? Every single customer of comcast's HATES the company, the quality of service, and the quality of the product. I have never found anyone that has said "I love comcast, they have the perfect everything!" The only reason they make money is they hold monopolies in 99% of their markets.

    Fix the infrastructure, fix the service, fix your employees, fix the business. THAT is honest business, not what corporate america is doing.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 17, 2014 @10:10AM (#46505469)

    Well, we have record setting high corprate profits as percentage of GDP. Record high return on capital as percentage of GDP, and record low wages as percentage of GDP. The balance of profit/capital return/wages needs to be realigned. This can be accomplished by pushing wages up, or by adding some draconian hard limit on profits and return on capital investments. You choose.

  • by jedidiah (1196) on Monday March 17, 2014 @10:40AM (#46505801) Homepage

    He's a modern day Marie Antoinette. He's trying to conflate decent paid working schmucks with the 1% while completely neglecting the real source of wealth/income inequality in our society.

    When ideas like this lead to bloodshed, he should be at the head of the line.

  • by DriveDog (822962) on Monday March 17, 2014 @11:51AM (#46506547)
    The Terrors are a great reason to never let things get so bad that you end up with that sort of revolution. It's not an argument against the working class knocking off the ruling class, it's an argument against allowing extreme discrepancies to ever occur.

We can predict everything, except the future.