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Mechanisation

Rationalisation In Agriculture

 The March issue of the International Labour Review contains two very interesting and informative articles on Rationalisation in the U.S.A. and Canada, "The Economic Depression in North America ” and "More Mechanisation in Farming.”

 In the United States, between the years 1919 and 1929, the output per head in manufacturing industries increased by 45 per cent. In agriculture the output increased by more than 25 per cent., and as a consequence during this time three million workers left the land to seek employment in the towns.

 So much is American capitalism in the grip of rationalisation, that American capitalists estimate their costs and profits on the basis of providing a complete re-equipment of machinery every two or three years.

Book Review: A Striking Coincidence

 Although written by a man who lived too early to have studied Marx (and who, in addition, stated, he was no economist, and merely wished to learn from the public men of his day) the following analysis of the causes of the misery following upon the close of the Napoleonic wars is as applicable in its main points to-day as when written over a hundred years ago.

Cooking the Books: But Who Owns the Machines?

‘STEPHEN HAWKING Says We Should Really Be Scared of Capitalism, Not Robots’ wrote Alexander C Kaufman, the Business Editor of the Huffington Post, last 8 October. Hawking didn’t actually use the word capitalism but he might as well have done:

‘If machines produce everything we need, the outcome will depend on how things are distributed. Everyone can enjoy a life of luxurious leisure if the machine-produced wealth is shared, or most people can end up miserably poor if the machine-owners successfully lobby against wealth redistribution. So far, the trend seems to be toward the second option, with technology driving ever increasing inequality.’

In one sense we are already in this position of being able to produce ‘everything we need’. Not that machines operated by robots could now produce this on their own, but  in the sense that machines operated by human labour could. But the outcome will depend on who owns the machines.

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