[OPE-L:8309] Re: Electronics and Value

From: gerald_a_levy (gerald_a_levy@msn.com)
Date: Fri Jan 10 2003 - 21:16:54 EST

Re Paul C's [8304]:

> (snip, JL) world wide a see no evidence of 'labourless'
> production.

There are already numerous examples of factories without
any direct living labor required -- e.g. flexible manufacturing 
systems producing robotics.  The question is: will this trend be 
generalized?   To date, FMSs have only typically been 
applied in cases of batch manufacturing.   Will this production 
system be diffused over the rest of industry and, if so, how
long would that diffusion period be likely to take?  There is
a strong body of empirical studies which demonstrate that
industrial technologies are diffused over a relatively long
period of time, often several decades.  I think it would be
reasonable to anticipate that the price of the component parts
of the FMSs will continue to decline over time and the 
technical kinks and transitional problems will continue to
be resolved.   It seems reasonable therefore to suggest that
over time (how long a time is anybody's guess) this production 
system will be extended into more and more branches of production.
Does this mean that _all_ branches of production will be fully
automated?  Of course not.  There are, after all, counter-
tendencies at work as well, e.g. manufacturers can employ
workers at lower wages  _rather than_  investing in fully automated
production facilities. So long as there is mass poverty  regionally and/or
internationally and an IRA at home and abroad, this will continue 
to be a very powerful counter-tendency.  

State policy may affect this as well: in the past, many governments
have told international corporations that if they want access to their
markets, they must produce commodities domestically.  There are
a number of empirical studies which suggest that this is an important 
causal factor leading to plant relocations and internationalization of
production facilities.   These same states could very easily modify 
existing policy be insisting that a certain quantity of  workers must be 
employed domestically in relation to the value of commodities sold 
on domestic markets.   Corporations wouldn't like such a protectionist 
requirement, but they might decide that the market is too important a 
source of possible revenues to forego.

Solidarity, Jerry

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