Fear of Life (was Microsoft, Automation)

Lee Daniel Crocker (lcrocker@mercury.colossus.net)
Fri, 1 May 1998 12:33:30 -0700 (PDT)

It seems to me that what these Microsoft-monopoly and automation
threads have in common is that they engange in reasoning by fear
rather than optimism. The automation thread, for example, is based
on the ridiculous premise that someone whose job is replaced by
a robot will become unemployed--clearly contrary to the evidence
that no machine have ever taken a job without creating five.
Work is after all, by definition, those activities you perform
for the benefit of others; even if you enjoy those activities, it
is generally the case that you are doing them to gain trade goods
to enable you to do something you like even more. Therefore,
"losing one's job" to a machine should be a cause for celebration!
You have been loosed from the bonds of labor; even better, other
people have been as well. Your human talents are now free to
pursue other fields, likely to be more lucrative and with less
work because of the benefits of automation. The more machines
there are in the world, the less work humans have to do to keep
a high standard of living. The homeless of today eat better than
the kings of yesterday precisely because of automation.

A similar fear is that of industries kept in place by government
coercion, such as copyrights and patents. It is assumed that
those industries--publishing, music, software--will be decimated
if those "protections" are removed. That's absolutely right--and
equally cause for celebration, as the human spirit of creativity
is released from the bonds of labor, free to create and influence
all other industries toward an even higher standard of living,
more art, more writing, and more software.

Nothing could be better for writers than to lose their present
coercively-supported jobs and be freed to create as they wished,
or use their creative talents in new ways. Nothing could be
better for the government price-supported wheat farmer than to
lose his subsidy and be freed to use his talents in more
productive ways. Nothing could be better for the politician
than to be voted out of a job and be freed to use his consensus-
building talents in a profitable enterprise.

All of these people living in fear of losing their coercively-
supported or manual-labor jobs are creating their own misery
for no reason, because what they fear most is precisely what
will give them what they most long for--wealth, freedom, and
personal satisfaction.

I personally work in the publishing industry full-time. If
copyrights were abolished tomorrow, I'd lose my job at this
magazine--and some other new industry that could use my skills
would hire me at twice the price. So why the hell would I
want to hold onto this archaic monopoly when it is holding
me back?

Lee Daniel Crocker <lee@piclab.com> <http://www.piclab.com/lcrocker.html>
"All inventions or works of authorship original to me, herein and past,
are placed irrevocably in the public domain, and may be used or modified
for any purpose, without permission, attribution, or notification."--LDC