Fmr. McDonald’s USA CEO: $35K Robots Cheaper Than Hiring at $15 Per Hour

English: A Quarter Pounder w/Cheese from McDonald's, as sold in the United States. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Soon to be made by a robot near you!

Well, of course, it is. That’s simple common sense, and government can try, but the market wins every time. Look I wrote about this a bit over two years ago, here, and if anything has changed, it’s not for the better.

Here’s the takeaway quote for you:

“I was at the National Restaurant Show yesterday and if you look at the robotic devices that are coming into the restaurant industry — it’s cheaper to buy a $35,000 robotic arm than it is to hire an employee who’s inefficient making $15 an hour bagging French fries — it’s nonsense and it’s very destructive and it’s inflationary and it’s going to cause a job loss across this country like you’re not going to believe,” said former McDonald’s (MCD) USA CEO Ed Rensi during an interview on the FOX Business Network’s Mornings with Maria.

He also said this, which is also true, although in truth we’d be better off if we simply left it to the market.

“I think we ought to have a multi-faceted wage program in this country. If you’re a high school kid, you ought to have a student wage. If you’re an entry level worker you ought to have a separate wage. The states ought to manage this because they know more [about] what’s going on the ground than anybody in Washington D.C.,” he said.

Here’s the link along with the warning that it’s got an autoplay video on it. It’s a good video, though.

via Fmr. McDonald’s USA CEO: $35K Robots Cheaper Than Hiring at $15 Per Hour | Fox Business

Look none of this is rocket science done with a slide rule, it’s simple common sense. I realize that politicians with common sense are an endangered species, but this will harm those who are already hurting the most, especially our minorities. Strange, I’m a conservative white guy, how come I care more about those young black guys than all the liberal Democrats (and Bernie Sanders) put together?

Why, Indeed?

 

Then and now

Directors_of_the_Union_Pacific_Railroad_on_the_100th_meridian_approximately_250_miles_west_of_Omaha,_Nebr._Terr._The_tra_-_NARA_-_530892Well, we’ve all seen the movies and TV shows about building railroads in the nineteenth century, the armies of men, the towns, usually called “Hell on Wheels’ for good reason. and all the rest. The picture above is from my neighborhood, and without that railroad, there wasn’t any purpose for anybody to live out here, except maybe to hunt buffalo.

But we don’t build railroads like that anymore, Here’s how it’s done now

But if you were paying attention, you noticed those rails weren’t drilled to bolt together. That’s because there is a better way.

And, by the way, those armies of men, and the women who followed them, had to find other ways to make a living over the years, just like is happening now to many of our low skilled laborers, a few highly skilled and paid men, with the proper machinery, can do a better job, and do it cheaper than a horde of unskilled employees. And that means lower prices for us all.

How (Real) Capitalism Works

English:

English: (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A couple of interesting things here, relating to capitalism, and just how very far we’ve come in the last few hundred years.

First off Deidre McClosky is in the process of explaining how we got so rich. From the Spectator, UK.

Deirdre McCloskey has been at work for many years on a huge project: to explain why the world has become so much richer in the past two centuries, and at an accelerating rate since 1945. This is the third and final volume in the series. In it she argues that ‘our riches were not made by piling brick on brick, bank balance on bank balance, but by piling idea on idea’. The Great Enrichment, which she dates from 1800 to the present, depends on the spread of ideas of liberty, seeded in a series of ‘egalitarian accidents’ in European politics between 1517 and 1789.

The liberalism she describes operates in a very narrow free zone, hemmed in by what she calls the ‘clerisy’ — critics on left and right alike who do not accept a full version of liberalism — and roughly a third of the text sees McCloskey, vorpal sword in hand, slaying the dragons of the state. But she’s fighting enemies from the past: her side has won the battle. Globalisation, neo-liberalism, the expansion of monetary assets and instant internet communication have spawned a new world order without any state powerful enough to contain it.

A couple of notes here, unless I’m mistaken, she’s referring here to classical liberalism, not the socialistic nonsense we hear now on both sides of the Atlantic. And she has much right, although I find the adjective European, misleading at best because it has little to do with Europe, it is the classical form of the British and American ‘rule of law’ that has made it so. There’s a reason why the industrial revolution happened first in that ‘nation of shopkeepers’ and then why they financed it here. More later on that.

[…] The world today produces 70 times more goods and services worldwide than in 1800. McCloskey gives imaginative examples of the improved standard of living by looking at the products in one’s room, starting with ‘the 20 ballpoint pens stuffed into a mass-produced coffee cup, pens and cups greatly cheapened after the second world war’. I have just that on my desk. Citizens of the most prosperous half of the world are hundreds of times better off than they were even in 1900 or 1945, and that standard of living is spreading quickly to the poorer places on the planet. A small refrigerator at Home Depot today costs 15 hours of work: at Sears in 1956 it cost 116 hours.

The history of western capitalism does owe a great deal to the onward march of ideas of liberty. But it’s not the whole story. The greatest expansion of capitalism, the Chinese economic miracle, has taken place under a very restrictive communist regime.

Except the Chinese form of capitalism bears about as much resemblance to real capitalism as does that of Mussolini. I wonder what the Chinese could do if the government got out of their way. And finally:

Unbridled liberalism on a global scale today has little in common with its portrait in this book. It has exploded its limiting conditions to make the whole world economy a giant speculative game. It looks, to this member of the clerisy, to be a threat to the society that spawned it.

All from: How capitalism really works

And that’s one problem with the British, and increasingly, with us as well. We’ve forgotten how we got rich, and now we’re getting poorer because we aren’t doing those things anymore. Instead, we’re copying the Chinese, God help us!


You’ve likely heard that Beyoncé’s clothing line is produced in Sri Lankan sweatshops. Well, that’s a shame, It’s also what happens in every single industrializing country, not excluding the UK and the US. When labor is plentiful and jobs are few labor gets paid less, always. And by the way, if Trump gets his tariffs, those jobs won’t be coming back, but the prices will be going up probably far more than the tariff rate, and a good many of those sweated seamstresses (who in actuality make far more than most of their neighbors) will revert to the real minimum wage, which is $0. And there is this.

In 2001, Nobel Prize winning economist Milton Friedman Paul Krugman, whose written some of the most effective defenses of so-called sweatshops — “bad jobs at bad wages are better than no jobs at all” — explained why these efforts were insanity:

In 1993, child workers in Bangladesh were found to be producing clothing for Wal-Mart, and Senator Tom Harkin proposed legislation banning imports from countries employing underage workers. The direct result was that Bangladeshi textile factories stopped employing children. But did the children go back to school? Did they return to happy homes? Not according to Oxfam, which found that the displaced child workers ended up in even worse jobs, or on the streets — and that a significant number were forced into prostitution.

When VICE reached out to a Sri Lanka labor expert, no doubt expecting him to describe some soul-crushing hellhole, it got a pretty tepid response. “MAS [the factory] are essentially top of the range in terms of labour conditions in Sri Lanka,” Dr. Kanchana Ruwanpura of the University of Edinburgh told VICE. “They’re brilliant factories in terms of the build space and the attention they usually pay to the codes they work with. However, I would say that when it comes to wages and freedom of association, MAS don’t do a very good job.”

So, after having to grapple with two inconvenient facts — 1) that salaries at MAS are better than prevailing wages in Sri Lanka, and 2) that the factory is probably a relatively modern and safe place to work[…]

Lots more on this at: Beyonce’s ‘Sweatshops’ Do More For The Poor Than You Ever Will

And that is the pure and unvarnished truth. It’s not optimum but it’s better for these people than it ever has been. So why would we not want to help them? As Daniel Harsanyi says in the article:

In fact, if you want to help the world’s impoverished, you should probably buy her products. The more demand there is for tight-fitting, overpriced celebrity clothing lines, the more factories Sri Lankans will have to work in. As those workers have more choices, salaries will rise and so will the quality of life. This competition will impel employers to increase productivity and, if Sri Lanka doesn’t revert to its old ways, the economy will grow. The children of these workers will turn to white-collar professions. And before you know it, factories will be taken over by automatons and the Sri Lankan middle class will grumble about how the Indonesians are stealing their jobs.

This process might not sit will with the empathetic American liberal, and it might not happen as quickly as we’d like, but it’s how the world works.

 

Viking longship sets sail for North America

Jörgen AskMy main computer is down, so I’m on my laptop, which is not as amenable for writing, so for the present, posts will be rather simpler than normal.

But since yesterday was Norwegian Constitution Day, we’ll start with some history from the Northland.

The Draken Harald Hårfagre (Dragon Harald Fairhair, named after the first King of Norway), an ocean-worthy Viking longship, set sail early this morning from Norway on a daring voyage that will retrace the steps of great explorers like Erik the Red and his son Leif Erikson, the first European to cross the Atlantic and set foot on the American continent.

Dragon-Harald-Fairhair-under-construction..

Warship to Warship. The Viking ship Draken Harald Harfagre,the World's largest Viking Longship,alongside the Royal Fleet Auxhiliary replenishment ship Fort Rosalie,berthed in West Float,Birkenhead,were the Draken has been berthed at Liverpool Victoria Rowing Club during it's stay. The ships departure was cancelled from Sunday and will now leave Monday 4th August weather permitting.

Warship to Warship. The Viking ship Draken Harald Harfagre,the World’s largest Viking Longship,alongside the Royal Fleet Auxhiliary replenishment ship Fort Rosalie,berthed in West Float,Birkenhead,were the Draken has been berthed at Liverpool Victoria Rowing Club during it’s stay. The ships departure was cancelled from Sunday and will now leave Monday 4th August weather permitting.

Sponsored by Norwegian businessman Sigurd Aase, construction on the vessel began in 2010 in Haugesund, Norway. It isn’t an exact replica of an extant Viking ship. While replicas of excavated ships have been made, they don’t work very well on the ocean because the originals were burial ships. They could be rowed, but they weren’t meant for the ocean voyages that took the Vikings across half the world. So instead of relying exclusively on archaeological remains, the builders of the Draken Harald Hårfagre combined traditionalNorwegian boatbuilding knowledge, a living craft with deep roots going back to the Viking era, with archaeology — the 9th century Gokstad shipwas one particular inspiration — and descriptions in the Norse sagas. It is an open clinker-built ship with an oak hull, Douglas fir mast, hemp rigging and a silk sail. At 115 feet long, 27 feet wide with 50 oars and a 3,200-square-foot sail, the Draken Harald Hårfagre is largest Viking ship built in modern times.The aim from the beginning has been to create an operating Viking ship. That means roughing it in a serious way. There’s no under deck where the crew can rest and take shelter from the elements, just a large tent where 16 people at a time sleep in four hours shifts. The only space underneath the deck is a shallow space just large enough to carry ballast and food. The food is cooked is an open air kitchen on the deck, the ancestor of the galley discovered on the 15th century Dutch cog that was raised earlier this year.

via The History Blog » Blog Archive » Viking longship sets sail for North America

And even a video! Of the Dragon Ceremony!

Now that strikes me as very neat. Looks pretty shipshape to me, and likely to work just as well, as the ones a thousand years ago, when my ancestors were the terror of the world, from Vinland to Constantinople, and beyond. Or have you forgotten The Varangian Guard was mostly comprised of Vikings, at least until William the Conquerer supplemented its recruiting amongst Anglo-Saxons.

And speaking of 1066 and all that, in France they are attempting to establish whether Rollo, the first Duke of Normandy (although he was referred to as the Count of Anjou) came from Norway or Denmark.

Scandinavian researchers have exhumed the bones of two direct descendants of Rollo, the 10th century Viking founder of the Duchy of Normandy, in an attempt to answer the long-debated question of whether Rollo was Danish or Norwegian.

Historians have differed on the matter of Rollo’s national origins since at least the 11th century. Norman historian Dudo of Saint-Quentin (ca. 965-1043) said in his Historia Normannorum that Rollo was the son of a “Danish” king who was exiled and made his way to France, but at the time Dudo was in the employ of Richard II of Normandy who was allied to the Danish king Sweyn Forkbeard. He had a dog in the hunt, as it were, and cannot be considered reliable on this question. Goffredo Malaterra, a monk in Sicily writing in the late 11th century, said Rollo hailed from Norway. In the 13th Norwegian-Icelandic sagas Heimskringlaand Orkneyinga, Rollo appears as Ganger-Hrólf, the son of Rognvald Eysteinsson, yarl of Møre in western Norway. (Rollo is a Latinization of Hrólf.)

With these conflicting and vague sources, historians have argued the point for centuries. It matters because of how important Rollo was to European history. His raids along the Seine so bedevilled Charles III, aka Charles the Simple, King of Western Francia, that he finally bought Rollo off with huge tracts of land between the city of Rouen and the mouth of the Seine in exchange for him switching from raider to protector. He appears in only one primary source: a charter from 918 which mentions the lands ceded to Rollo and his “Northmen on the Seine.” It seems Rollo ruled those lands as Count of Rouen until at least 927 after which his son William I Longsword acceded to what would become known during his rule as the Dukedom of Normandy, after the Norsemen who founded it. William Longsword’s son was Richard I of Normandy. Richard I’s son was Richard II. Richard II’s son Robert I was the father of William the Conqueror.

More at: Descendants of Rollo, Viking founder of Normandy, exhumed

You’ll notice that whether Rollo was Danish or Norwegian, and simply because of my background, I hope for Norwegian, paying him the Danegeld didn’t work all that well for Charles the Simple, in any case, nor did it ever in England.

When words are not enough…

xkcd-Comic #739

xkcd-Comic #739 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I want to pull away from politics today, so we’ll do something different. So often, we miscommunicate, it’s perhaps even more common in the written word.

Even as close as say, Jessica and I are, and we are very close, indeed, sometimes words are not enough between us, even helped by judiciously chosen emoticons. We don’t misunderstand each other very often, but once in a while, we don’t manage to convey all the meaning that is meant. But we are people of the written word, pretty well schooled in English, and so probably better than most, at writing to each other. Emotions are hard to put into words, though, and if we sometimes fail, it must be quite difficult if one is not as well educated, or as comfortable writing as we are.

So, I was was quite delighted when this showed up from Aeon Essays the other day, and I want to share it with you. Not least because as a friend of ours often says, It’s not so much what you say, or even how you say it, what matters is what is read or heard. Something many of us have trouble with, in my experience. Essay by Thom Scott-Phillips.

‘If you could say it in words, there would be no reason to paint.’ These words are attributed to the realist painter Edward Hopper. Few can paint like Hopper could, but all of us can relate to the feeling that words are sometimes not enough. Having said that, what makes images any better?

Words are, after all, incredibly versatile things. Even one as supposedly simple and unambiguous as, say, ‘rain’ can be used to suggest a multitude of meanings, an infinity of implications. As part of a conversation about my mood, the exclamation ‘Rain!’ can mean something like: ‘Even the weather is bringing me down.’ If, on the other hand, I am making plans for the day, the statement ‘Rain!’ could instead suggest that I should take an umbrella with me. And then there’s metaphor and simile and irony.

Ordinary communication is replete with figurative, non-literal word use. Juliet is the Sun. Time is money. Cognitively minded linguists have documented in detail how metaphor, among other types of figurative expression, is so pervasive in everyday language that we usually don’t even notice it. Societies are not biological organisms, but you wouldn’t know it from our everyday language. We talk of social afflictions, of aplague on society, of the body politic, and of how we should give our nation a shot in the arm. The examples are endless, and this expressive flexibility is powerful. How is painting, or any art form, going to do anything that language can’t?

To answer this question, we need to look at human communication in the round.

As is so often the case, xkcd – a web comic with themes of ‘romance, sarcasm, math, and language’ – puts it best. In a recent strip on the indeterminate nature o­­f language, one of the characters reflects that:

Courtesy xkcd.com

Damn right it is. Even something as supposedly literal as ‘The next train is at 12 o’clock’ could be interpreted in a figurative way (‘Things are really organised and efficient here!’). The technical term is underdeterminacy: my words underdetermine my meaning. And the same is true of other, non-linguistic means of expression. We shrug and point and grunt and scream. Sometimes these behaviours are idiosyncratic and highly context-dependent. Others, like a nod of the head, can be as conventional and formulaic as words are.

Keep reading When words are not enough, gestures or images can say more | Aeon Essays

Lots there, isn’t there? It’s amazing that we manage to communicate as well as we do. It’s also the reason that YouTube, podcasts, and all the rest have become so common, and not only to remind us that kittens are cute! It’s also why we run videos, poetry, and other stuff here. Music and the nonverbal clues often add much to our meaning, or they can detract, and that’s why we select them carefully, as we do our words, mostly.

It’s a failing of many blogs, ones that I may like and agree with, but their tone doesn’t fit with what I want to say, and so, often I don’t feature them, or I use them merely for the idea and write my own post. Part of life, and part of trying to remain civilized, I think. It’s very easy to become angry and discouraged these days, and perhaps it’s warranted. But you know, if we’re angry and discouraged, we’re not going to do our best work, and our missions require our best work if we are to succeed.

So calm down a bit, act rationally, and likely we’ll come through once more, in any case, we’ll have less heartburn.:)

Farewell to the Junglies

326F1B4900000578-3503303-image-a-17_1458591460799

The Sea Kings, pictured flying over Portsmouth Dockyard

The Royal Navy has retired their Sea King helicopters, after 36 years of service.

Pretty much synonymous with the Royal Marines, they served in the Falklands, Bosnia, and Northern Ireland, and in Iraq and Afghanistan.

They are being replaced by the Merlin MK4

They toured the West Country the other day.

over Durdle Door in Dorset

 

over Glastonbury Tor, in Somerset

 

Dartmouth, Devon

 

over Portland Bill Lighthouse in Dorset

via Sea King helicopters make final fly-by before being retired after 36 years  | Daily Mail Online

%d bloggers like this: