The following letters are in response to the May editorial column, “Technology's double-edged sword.”
Admiring Mayan methods
Thanks for raising the issue of how advanced technology can impact employment levels. Awareness of the larger issues often goes wanting in our society. In my 30-year career as a consulting engineer and small manufacturer in a rural area, I've had to perform many different kinds of engineering work. As a result, I receive a wide variety of trade magazines. In a few of these, I've seen an uptick in the willingness to discuss larger issues and your magazine is part of that.
The Mayan civilization made the key decision to allow wheels to be placed on children's toys and nowhere else. This technology restriction allowed them to provide jobs for all able-bodied citizens, who simply carried loads on their backs as they walked on a very good road system across the empire. That's how they solved this problem, and it gave them more than a thousand years of service.
We're not going to do that, not with wheels, and probably not with any type of technology. But there are ways to leverage our skills. Understanding the time value of money, opportunity cost, and return on investment for both the private and public sectors would be a step towards a long-term strategy for the survival of our civilization. And for this particular tough time? How about simply enabling job sharing?
Charles Greenwood, P.E.
Beware of rhetoric
It's true that many occupations have become more high tech, but this does not mean that masses of people should be forced out of jobs. Our tax dollars are used to subsidize people not to work through unemployment, welfare, disability, and other programs. Many people either use these programs as a permanent crutch or outright milk the system while participating in the cash economy to make additional money under the table. Remove the crutch (at least after a short time of helping people get on their feet), and we might be amazed at how many people can find jobs and work. Legal workers would displace the illegal aliens now doing a lot of these jobs, especially if this is coupled with actual enforcement of our immigration laws. Those who would like to have a permanent, dependent underclass to vote for them would like you to believe that technology is a boogeyman. You know which party subscribes to this. Do not fall for their rhetoric.
I am withholding my name because I do not seek attention, but I am a responsible engineer working for a machinery company based in the U.S. We employ all kinds of people, and our customers hire people from all walks of life to staff their factories.
Name withheld by request