Friday, October 3, 2008

Check THIS out

We were at the grocery store the other night and realized they'd taken out a big manager's counter area and, in this large space, were now Automated Check Out Stands. A guy who works there approached us and walked us through.

I said "you know, this machine's going to take a lot of jobs away."

"No," he says, "it's not!"

"Your union dues at work! Good luck." I responded.

The next time I went alone and tried to do exactly what he told me...."weigh your stuff, scan it, run your card through, you're done." I did it JUST right! Except nothing happened and I finally had to go to a cashier because I'm not mechanically inclined! MOST people would have been 'done'.

Will this hurt jobs? Some might say "the people who make those machines are now employed." That isn't going to help the cashiers at my local Ralph's, trust me. Not unless they count on people like me who do better with people than machines. I'm sure that monster in the picture above and I are NEVER going to get along!



Anonymous said...

Well, here’s a startling revelation: Corporations do not exist to provide jobs. They exist to make a profit. Since labor is the first or second most costly aspect of operating a business, responsible executives will seek to reduce those costs whenever possible.

We are not living in the “industrial revolution.” People who started working one or two decades ago may find that the same technology they enjoy at home (surfing the web, playing video games) will replace them in the workplace. After they have lost their jobs to modernization, they have two options: they can sit home and feel sorry for themselves and become Democrats by demanding the government do something, or they can go back to school and learn a new skill. Either way, it is an individual decision and one that they will have to live with. Bottom line . . . it isn’t my problem, and nothing I should have to pay for.

One final “observation.” Our educational system, controlled by elitist socialists, discourages student interest in the trades and crafts. Losing 159,000 jobs in a single month ought to prompt educationalists to reconsider their idiotic premises. But it won’t. School counselors will continue telling kids they are losers if they pursue a vocational/technical training program – comical since the last time I checked, automotive mechanics make a lot more money than college professors do.

Anonymous said...

Hi Z,

Mustang is absolutely right.

The Socialist mindset permeates our culture.

I just wrote a blog quoting Khrushchev how they would advance socialism/Communism... and Obama is the answer to his "prayer, such as it might be"

However, when your clerk denied that his job would disappear, you proved him right when you gave up and went to a cashier. ;-)

Maybe that is the union plan.. confuse it enough and they will keep their jobs.

In Christ,


Z said...

No, Mustang, corporations do not exist to provide jobs, but that's why the American success of capitalism is waning...and so badly viewed by SO many people. Abuse of employeees. I think more companies could do better for their employees with incentives like profit sharing, etc. Not mandatory, nobody should legislate that, but it's something to consider, don't you think?

I feel strongly about retraining largely for the reason you describe so well...people who are replaced by modernization are going straight to the gov't (US) for their livings, not retraining. I believe McCain is big on better and more comprehensive job training (and retraining), which I admire.

I think people/jobs, DO matter. I'm totally WITH YOU on the subject of training for jobs for people who haven't gone to college: I regard that in a better light than most Americans do, too, as I've lived in Europe and see very viable jobs in other than college-trained positions; In Germany, for example, you're not looked down upon for having gone to a trade school because their schools are TOUGH and you must get a certificate to even go to work FOR an auto mechanic and THAT auto mechanic who hires you has REALLY stringent training and guidelines before he can open up. It's RESPECTED there. One mustn't go to HARVUHD to be regarded with respect.

I guess there's a happy medium, as free market and liberty-oriented as I am, but I do worry that automation does take jobs and I only ask the question because those machines couldn't be there without union approval; tacit or direct, we all know that. I wonder about this. 'protecting employees'? I just saw those machines, thought UNIONS? and wondered about the connection.

Jack, I did prove him doubt about it! I can't be so stupid that nobody else is at my level; there will always be people who aren't inclined to use a machine. Or I GUESS that's true..who knows? 3 year olds use computers these days, more's the pity.

Thanks, guys.... I love the conversation (I wish it was in my living room, but maybe that's what our blogs really are!?)

Anonymous said...

The machines don't work with alcohol and tobacco purchases either! You STILL need to have a "manager" come over and type in a code. But the bagboys stay busy.

BTW here in FL the grocery stores employ the mildly retarded as bagboys and girls. I think it's a GREAT idea. One of the girls here at the local Winn Dixie gets SO excited when she sees my ugly mug that she jumps and gives me a hug. She's a sweet girl.
Do they do that in CA? I THINK the stores get a tax break of some sort for employing the mildly retarded, but I'm not sure.


Anonymous said...


... it's something to consider, don't you think?

Sure I do. Notice there is a difference between well-managed, successful companies and those who are hanging on by their finger nails. I think its a matter of leadership ... if you take good care of your people, they'll take good care of you. On the other hand, union-run working environments are remarkably similar to Soviet factories where lazy, incompetent, drunken, sullen employees spend more time filing grievances than they do producing goods. No one wants to put up with that ... other than unions, of course.

As for Morgan's comment, the US does employ a lot of retarded people. I can think of 535 of them right off the top of my head.

Anonymous said...

Mustang wrote:
"As for Morgan's comment, the US does employ a lot of retarded people. I can think of 535 of them right off the top of my head."



MathewK said...

In instances like this, it comes down to the customer, i prefer the human interaction, some people prefer the machine.

I don't care if it's more profitable to the corporation, they might not exist to provide jobs, but i don't exist to provide them with profits either. They can put as many of these machines as they want to, i ain't interested.

Anonymous said...

Z hits on a subject which obviously hits on the core of social-economic issues of our times, with Mustang particularly hitting on several very poignant points relating to those. I have thought about these issues for a long time, and there is not enough space and time to elaborate on those at this point.

So, here is my completely non-PC summarized observation, whereby I take a position kind of "in the middle of the Atlantic".

1. I got used to the "baggers" e.a. since it provides work for people who might otherwise find none (and yes, I like the fact that slightly retarded people are employed). If we had those baggers in shops and busboys in restaurants in Germany, the unemployment rate would immediately drop to 5%.

2. It is clear that our societies are in progress of change from industrial to service. That is particularly true for the U.S., since the education system and the unions have managed to increasingly avoid vocational training (see Z's very good comments about that), that has led to demolition of the mid-size industrial companies. There are just not sufficient qualified trained and motivated people available because they subscribed to Bisexual or Mexican Studies (does anybody but the Democratic Party hire those?). It is just no accident that high quality machinery products come from Germany (sophisticated vocational training), and the mass products come from East Asia (motivation).

3. The high level education system in the U.S. is the envy of the world. However, the "normal" education system does generally not produce anymore sufficient quality and knowledge - the "everybody is equal" approach has only one effect, water down education and bring it down to lowest common denominator. The consequence is obvious: The U.S. has a very well developed hi-tech industry, and a wide spread low-cost service industry, and not much in between any more.

4. So, the concern is the education level, destroyed by socialist teachers and professors, and unreasonably high salary levels caused by the unions, together with an increasing entitlement thinking fostered by the Democrats (which equals to socialists/communists these days), which together have destroyed the industrial basis of the U.S.

5. The solutions: (a) Exchange the 535 people in Washington. They are worth nothing. Completely. (b) Reform education. (c) Entice industry with incentives and lower taxes. (d) Remove bribery from Washington by law. (e) Demolish socialism.

6. To come back to Z's article: Given the fact that the people are dumbed down, industry has no chance but use increased automation. Unless the education system is changed, the U.S. will have to cope with an increasing amount of undereducated people. Come to think about it: Why then do we need to have these illegals coming in? LOL.

7. Mustang's statement is right: What do we have to do with that, and why do we have to pay more taxes to cope with that?
We shouldn't, at least mot more than now.

That is why the country cannot afford Obama. A guy with that many skeletons in the closet couldn't run for office in Germany, and shouldn't be able to do that here.


Z said...

MK...I'm with you!

MR Z..I'm with you, too!! (in ALL ways!!!!LOL!) Thanks for that comment, makes a lot of sense.

Mustang, you are THE BEST...535, indeed....we should make THEM bag for a day or two...they have the same IQ as the mildly retarded kids my local grocery hires, TRUST me. But not the kindness and WILLINGNESS TO DO A GOOD JOB!!

Morgan, glad to see you work too hard!!
YOU should be in the well as Mustang (and Mr. Z!)

Anonymous said...

Z, you just lost a service that was provided for you. You are doing a job that you're not getting paid for and the market is going to make more of a profit because you're doing someone's job.

Of course people will lose jobs, and the customers will take their place for free.

So, the question is, are they lowering their prices? I'll bet not.

Now, I understand markets make a profit, and that's fine. But, the quality of service that you've enjoyed has just declined, and you're paying the same prices for less quality.

I suppose we're going to have to get used to this, and with it, get used to a decline in service and quality, while others will lose their jobs and do God knows what.

It isn't a question of whether a business is there to provide jobs, it's a question of how much our quality of life in America is to decline.

For instance, if you go to the doctor because your sick, will you settle for seeing a nurse, when you want to see a doctor? It's more cost efficient so why not? This is already done in some HMOs. You have a nice low co-payment, but it costs you in a decline of quality care.

I see this as pervasive, and inevitable. Our standard of living is being lowered along with our expectations, a little at a time, but being lowered, it is.


(((Thought Criminal))) said...


You should collect UPC bar codes from your favorite generic products and scan them on to sticker paper, and use these stickers to cover the bar codes of the more expensive brands of the same weight you take to the self-checkout.

Over time, the cost of inventory shrinkage will force the store to hire people to examine your "purchases" or price the market out of ever being able to afford a widespread adoption of package embedded RFID tags and scanners.

Or, you can be happy that your groceries are cheaper and someone who chose to be educated in electronics and computer technology is making good money keeping those automated cashiers running.

(((Thought Criminal))) said...