Technology is great, I love it, used correctly it is a great boon to society. However when it is used in the extreme for the purposes decreasing costs and increasing profits, it can destroy rather than uplift society.
Before anyone decides to shoot me down on this, do some research. World wide, and this is not only pertinent to South Africa, salaries have barely kept up with the rate of inflation in the last ten years, whilst the salaries and bonuses of CEOs has increased by sometimes up to 400% along with the share holders profits.
In the end such greed is self defeating because with growing unemployment, high cost of living, in many cases people barely being able to keep up with inflation, this system of greed will eventually turn around and bite itself in the backside.
The consumer market will decline for lack of funds, and eventually bring the whole house of cards down with it. Blaming "minimum wage" as an excuse does not always fly, not when you take a good hard look at the figures.
And before you start accusing me of being a Communist or EFF, I am not. Ok? All I am asking for is a fair deal, for all concerned, not where 1% is coining it hand over fist while 99% can barely keep up with the cost of living and the middle class is being progressively destroyed.
And what is more this is not a race issue either. Ok? The 1% in South Africa is rainbow coloured, as is the 99%. Ask around. The figures will surprise you.
Part and parcel of this destruction is the introduction of technology to replace people.
Years ago the petrol companies, and yes... for once they were the good guys, took a decision not to have self service petrol pumps. If they had chosen to go this route thousands of petrol pump attendants would have lost their jobs. On a trip to the UK my host proudly pointed out that they did NOT have petrol attendants like we do in South Africa. I then asked her, "How many jobs have been lost and how many people are living on social security as a result?"
Years ago a South Africa developed a system where you could push your trolley through a scanner, it would read all the bar codes automatically and you could pay your grocery bill through a slot machine. In their wisdom the grocery stores, and yes... for once they were the good guys, took a decision not to have self service payment at the tills. If they had chosen to go this route thousands of tellers would have lost their jobs.
I cannot say the same for many other industries. More and more people are replaced by machines, jobs are lost, corporate profits increase dramatically, workers salaries do not and what is more the job market shrinks. This creates an unbalanced society. Compounding this situation is large corporate companies buying up every private industry in sight, Wall Mart being one example, small businesses are declining by the day and little is done to encourage and help the youth to create and contribute to the country through small business development.
The result? The job market only consists of large corporations and government posts, which in turn are replacing people with technology. This is a train smash waiting to explode.
Added to this is the government's addiction to outsourcing. Not only do we pay taxes for services, the fuel levy being one example, but we have to pay over and above this in the form of Toll fees to use the freeways. And even worse, this outsourcing in many cases then goes to offshore companies. E Toll is one example. There are more.
Not only are government and private sector jobs lost through outsourcing to offshore companies, but revenue is leaving the country, South African revenue going to line the pockets of individual, private companies in other countries, when in many instances we have the investors, the ability and the capability of doing it ourselves.
The E toll, wonderful technology that it is, does not create jobs, drains the population of their wealth, this wealth then leaves the country never to return, reducing our GDP. This is not investment in the country, this is rape. Another example is companies that invest in South Africa but are not listed on the JHB stock exchange, but are only listed offshore, where the average South African cannot easily invest in the resources of their own country.
Eventually this short sightedness has got to turn around and bite itself in the backside.The consumer market index will decline due to lack of income in order to to pay for all these gadgets and toys that replace people, and bring the whole house of cards down with it. Growing instead of declining poverty will be the result.
Surely we have the maturity and the intelligence to work out a win - win solution and not resort to a winner takes all to the detriment of the whole society? Surely when offshore companies invest in this country a balanced and fair deal for all concerned can and should be worked out? Surely technology can be used to improve our lives rather than be used to destroy it? Surely small business development should be a priority rather than an after thought? Empowering the private sector instead of destroying it? Big is not always better and a machine cannot replace the warmth and friendship of a human being.
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