Pearl's Paradise

"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled teams yearning to breath free…"

December 1, 2017
by Steve Pearl

The GOP Tax Plan Will Fail Because it Ignores the Impact of Automation

To everyone who wants to believe the overly-optimistic economic growth assumptions the GOP is using to promote their “1% Welfare” tax plan, consider this tidbit from this morning’s news…

General Motors plans to deploy a fleet of fully autonomous taxis by 2019.

This isn’t sci-fi anymore, friends.  It’s real. Within a decade, as a seismic technological shift hits the transportation industry, tens of thousands of taxi, Uber, and Lyft drivers will lose their jobs. Full-stop. Soon after that, the same shift will hit the trucking and logistics industries and the ripple effect upon low-skill American workers will be even more catastrophic.

Within our lifetimes, human obsolescence will become the norm, not an aberration.

Transportation and logistics are not the only industries where automation will have a profound, job-killing impact.  Robotics are reaching into every aspect of our daily lives.  Soon, naively simplistic campaign platitudes like, “We’ll bring back coal jobs!”, (about 75,000 workers in total in an industry that was already decimated by cheap natural gas), will be utterly meaningless when millions of under-skilled Americans are forced to hit the bricks in search of meaningful employment.

At a time when this country should thoughtfully and wisely prepare for the imminent arrival of such a robotics-heavy future, aggressively mustering visionary social will to invest in education, innovation, and job retraining ahead of the catastrophe, the Republican tax scheme would only make higher education that much less affordable and out of reach for those who need assistance to adapt and innovate.

What do you think large corporations will do with the piles of cash the Republicans will hand them when this tax cut goes through?  Will they suddenly become uncharacteristically magnanimous and hire more employees?  Will they generously hand out big raises to the employees they already have?

Or will major manufacturers and corporations automate further, relentlessly driving down production and supply chain costs by replacing expensive human labor, thereby putting hundreds of thousands of taxpayers out of jobs as they drive up share value, taxpaying Americans upon whose unemployable backs the weight of government funding will fall, all because the GOP tax plan would let corporations off the hook for their historical part of fueling government revenues?

The answer, my friends, is that big companies will not add human labor unless it makes them a profit. The future is clear. The way to increase profit will will not include expanding human labor when every indicator is that self-driving, fully automated everything is the way to slash costs.

Make no mistake, growing the economy and increasing corporate profit will be driven by adoption of automation, not by a significant growth in worker productivity, as the GOP tax plan presupposes.  Many economists believe we have already reached the tipping point at which human productivity cannot increase appreciably beyond its current levels.  Such a bleak scenario, in which human labor becomes fundamentally “obsolete,” does not substantiate the mythic wage growth claims that the GOP is counting on to sell this scheme to middle-class Americans, people who are desperate for high paying jobs.  It is in the GOP’s near-sighted interest, therefore, to ignore this risk altogether and cram through a legislative “win” at all costs before the end of the year.  The GOP’s short-sighted legislative “win” could very well bankrupt our country under crushing national deficits and debt, only to drive us further into the equivalent of economic indentured servitude to debt-holding countries such as China and Saudi Arabia.

November 9, 2016
by Steve Pearl

Making Peace Amidst the Chaos

Christians shoulder an enormous responsibility in the aftermath of this election. Some Christians celebrate this as a victory. Others lament it as a loss. Either way, God calls all who believe in Jesus Christ to be peacemakers and mediators in times of great crisis.
Here are a few thoughts about how Christians can become peacemakers and mediators in this time of deep division within our country.
  1. Don’t gloat. If your candidate won, your candidate won. Do not forget that by some estimates 60% of the people who voted for the winner did so more out of hatred for the loser, not because they thought the winner was a great candidate. Both candidates had historically high unfavorable ratings.  There was no “winner” in this election, only a “victor.”  History has shown us that those who do not respect and embrace the voice of the losing minority – especially when it represents nearly half the country – risk losing the power they fought so hard to attain by the very next election.
  2. Don’t whine. If your candidate lost, your candidate lost. Like it or not, your neighbor just sent you (and the rest of the country) a soul-piercing message with their vote. You may not like that message, but you would do well not to ignore it. Now it is time to move on, to engage in constructive dialogue with your neighbor, and do the hard labor of pursuing your passions for your causes without whining or complaining.  The job of winning converts to your cause just became monumentally more difficult due to the viciousness of this campaign.
  3. In every meeting and in every conversation, be gracious in speech and deed. No matter how difficult it may seem at the time, hold your tongue (and your keyboard) when provoked. Elevate your rhetoric above the rancorous partisan divide and do everything in your power to seek common ground before battleground. Ask questions and seek understanding before demagoguery. Leave demagoguery for the politicians and instead reach out to people you don’t understand or to whom you do not relate so you can understand them better.
  4. Live your life according to the guidance of Scripture, not our perverse, repugnant, Reality TV culture. Re-read Romans 12, Micah 6:8, Galations, James, 1 Corinthians, Matthew 5-7.  Take your pick. The Bible is full of guidance for how we can live our lives as salt and light to a dark, craven world. Do not put false hope in those who, by the evidence of their life’s work and their words, do not share your faith. Do not let your steadfast commitment to the hard work of a life in Christ become watered down as the powerful and mighty tickle your ears with words that may sound appealing, but ultimately lead to destruction.
  5. Seek the wise counsel of other Christ-followers, diligently pursuing fellowship with those who would hold God up for the world to see and who embrace their own brokenness at the foot of the cross. Seek out and bond with earnest believers, whether you understand their political bent or not. Build fellowship up within the church, becoming of one mind in Christ even if we are not of one mind in politics.
  6. Look in the mirror and be ready to take accountability when you use rhetoric that you know is intended to inflame, not defuse.  If you are a Christian, the Holy Spirit is your guide, pricking your conscience when you are about to open your mouth and launch a crushing salvo.  Yes, there is a time for inflammatory rhetoric. There is also a time for words that bring peace. The Bible makes it clear that all who call on the name of Jesus Christ will face attacks and abuse for our commitment to God and holy living. Let’s be certain we are not attacked and abused simply because we brought it on ourselves out of arrogance, fear-driven hatred, or selfish ambition. Save your inflammatory rhetoric for the times when it is need most; for when the marginalized are further marginalized by a society steeped in fear and suspicion, for when the poor are made poorer by those who could not care less, for when the weak are discarded because they cannot contribute as much as the strong, for when the powerful are falsely lauded to curry their favor, and for when the humble are ignored because they choose to seek God’s power over the power of man.
  7. PRAY! PRAY without ceasing, seeking a heart molded and crafted by Christ, lifting up the name and person of Jesus Christ so high that you become a mere speck in the background and all that remains is His heart and His presence.
We are imperfect creatures, sinners saved by grace alone. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Now it’s up to us to show the world the joy that comes through a life sold out to Christ.
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