Thursday, September 15, 2016

Some thoughts on "progress"

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So now the Massachusetts Turnpike is joining the movement to "cashless" tolls, which I see as a euphemism for "no more salaries and sick days and health insurance and no more PEOPLE!" Such is progress.  This progress will have 3 levels of charges from least expensive to most expensive: Massachusetts EZ-Pass, out-of-state EZ-Pass, and the rest. They justify higher tolls by claiming additional costs, but..Free Ride: New Mass. Pike tolling system will allow you to bypass tolls in Springfield, Worcester points out that in many instances short runs on the Mass Pike will be toll-free. Seems to me that charging "others" more will help subsidize this. 

Speaking of the "others", another article, from WVBC5, states "For drivers who lack any type of electronic tolling transponder, the cost of driving from New York to Logan Airport will nearly double from its current $7.10 to $13.40 plus a 60-cent billing fee." Doesn't that sound like a strong push to sell EZPass? Be advised that to get an EZPass, automatic deduction must be started from an account (could be a credit card), and the tolls are actually prepaid with the requirement of an initial payment of at least $20.  They actually take your money up front. 

FYI: With the advent of  "cashless", the Mass Pike toll for the entire eastbound run, end-to-end, for EZPassMA holders will go from $6.60 to $7.65. Talk about the economies of progress. People will pay more even though people will be losing jobs.

I have a NY EZPass, and I got it originally out of a wish to get in shorter lines. 

It won't be long before before your driverless Uber takes you via cashless tolls to visit your college student son or daughter who is just months away from huge debt and no job.  Such is progress.

It has been a while since I began to see "self checkouts" at grocery stores and Walmart and Target, etc., giving you the opportunity to perform the cashiers job at no pay and with no discount. Take a moment to read Self-checkouts: Who really benefits from the technology? courtesy of CBC. 

Amazon's attempts on drone delivery are disguised as "faster delivery" but are actually just an attempt to cut back on the need to pay people such as deliverymen. They are already making their "human" delivery less efficient by frequently bypassing UPS and FedEx and opting for USPS, whereby your items could be ordered Thursday afternoon, arrive at your local post office distribution center Friday, then sit until Monday until your local post office delivery time. Drone technology just might be accepted if the customers see it as a 'speed-up" in delivery.  Delivery times to my home have gotten appreciably longer despite using Amazon Prime.

I see more and more instances of people losing jobs not because of jobs becoming obsolete (such as farriers with the advent of the automobile) but rather because technology has found a way to keep the job but make it robotic.  The only people who can consider some of these changes as progress are the investors, as they see payroll and benefits decrease, increasing their own bottom line.

To read some opposing viewpoints on this issue, check out these two articles:

How Technology is Destroying Jobs from MIT Technology Review

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