Amazon has developed a whole new way to shoplift with zero consequences.
You're still paying for whatever you're "stealing." If you didn't watch it, essentially Amazon Go is a store that replaces all checkout systems with technology that charges you as you shop through your smart phone. When you're done, you walk out, no line, no punching in the wrong key code so that your asparagus rings up as peanuts. It's less interaction with people. It's more convenient, cuts down on both labor cost and loss prevention (both from deviants at self checkouts and employee theft), which could potentially lower food costs.
I find this "face of the future" stuff very disconcerting. Not because it relies on technology but because it removes another human element. Sure, there are still going to need to be people to stock these stores (for now) but what jobs are created by a technology like this? Am I missing it somewhere? Is this a new opportunity for tech support, programming and white collar outfits, does anyone fill the spot that cashiers were in? Certainly, Amazon wasn't the first business to do this, and blue collar work is the tip of the iceberg.
Assuming that these new jobs are available, who are they available to? What kind of training do you need and how available is it to those who would potentially be unemployed by something like this? Maybe no one, the jobs would just shift from cashier to stocking. I don't know, I've never worked in a grocery store, and I probably won't apply to work at a Futuremart.
My job history has been pretty spotty most of my life. Right now I'm trying to set up a business that I wouldn't really be able to explain to anyone what it is, and before that I was trying to figure out how to do that, so most of my work history has been somewhere between vague and day job. That's an opportunity I have, and part of that opportunity comes from the fact that I live in Denver. This city isn't struggling.
We have invented a new economy. Not only did legalizing marijuana give us a whole new industry of jobs, it also gave us tourism appeal, not to mention an attraction for other business ventures to set up shop here. Work-from-home, tech companies, a lot of white collar came in with all of this green, and with them came the cash to start up a plethora of cottage industries.
Denver is brimming with breweries, small batch green chili stands and farm-to-table restaurants. We have clothing boutiques, apothecaries and farmers markets. We are a city who's economy has surged. We have enough tax revenue to improve social issues (whether or not they get done is up for debate) Denver is aggressively liberal and knows it. We can afford to shut down our main streets to protest our government. This is a city of children.
I bring this up, but it wasn't always like this. and that history is reflected in the names of our neighborhoods, in the infrastructure of our buildings. In 1925, Colorado was all but ran by the KKK. Famously, Mayor Ben Stapleton was an outspoken and endorsed klansmen. The Klan also nominated the Secretary of State, representatives in the House and Senate, a Supreme Court judgeship. They had influence in city councils. Effectively, they ran Colorado, the state now voted most likely to make a craft beer its state bird.
There are a lot of frightening parallels between the rise of the KKK in 1925 and the current political rhetoric. Klansmen weren't focused on being anti-black so much as they were touting a "return to Protestant values." That meant their main target wasn't necessarily racially based, but demonstrated a religious intolerance focusing primarily on Catholics and Jews. The Klan's new message heralded a return to Americanism, to law and order and fair election. They chastised celebrities and new media as purveyors of loose morals.
In a way, the Klan was touting that they would make America great again.
What does this have to do with Futuremart? Well, nothing, they're apples and oranges. What they can both illustrate, however, is the effect of progress. The movement of the KKK had died out about 2 years later; their attempt to "return to American values" wasn't any more effective than my disdain for a company replacing people with technology. These views are becoming relics, and they are becoming so because they do not progress.
We can't go back to the values of Protestantism any more than we can go back to living in the trees or dismantle the robots that took jobs. No matter what the most ideal path, it's an impossibility simply because we can only build on history, and it's unidirectional. History doesn't repeat itself, it reiterates like waves, it has momentum. For every great rise there is another fall, and assuming we can avoid one or the other by setting the clocks back is pretty naive.
I'm not suggesting that it's wrong to fight the powers you don't agree with. It's not the fight I'm concerned about, it's the outcome. You can't put up a fight that will win, in the long run, without there being an outcome that moves civilization forward. When we focus on our nightmare of leadership, or our social or economic issues, we can't simply be on course to take them down; we have to have a course of action or we'll just continue down the same current any way.
It's Tuesday morning, and I am very tired. The week has barely nudged into its beginning and I'm already looking down the remainder like it's the barrel of a gun. This is the haziest time in my life when it comes to knowing what the future may hold or feeling like I have any control over it. Am I going to be one of the relics, unable to qualify for work as work becomes more selective? Am I one of the millions of unnecessary humans? Hard to say.
Despite my disdain for our new economy, it exists and I have to coexist with it. Despite feeling powerless against a political system I have barely woken up to, I exist within it. Inevitably, they will both run their course and I will run with them. It's hard not to view this movement of history as one that leaves a lot of us washed up.
What is progress? It is advancement, it is growth. I think we could argue in the context of time it is simply moving forward. It's our choice to participate and how, regardless of where we're taken. I just wish I had some idea of where that meant I was going.
Looking at how groups work as a whole rather than as individuals. Or something like that.