“It’s Not OK That Your Employees Can’t Afford to Eat”

What’s Going on in the Workforce?

“It’s Not OK That Your Employees Can’t Afford to Eat” Seems basic, and yet the Harvard Business Review apparently needs to tell people this…

Prompted by the fast food strikes of early December, investing site NerdWallet took a look at how long it takes an hourly worker to earn the hourly pay of their CEO, and found that the typical retail employee would need to work OVERTIME for 2.65 months to earn what their CEO does in an hour.

$45 million will buy you a machine that can process 1500 chickens in an hour, which is 10X faster than doing it by hand. Trigger warning—watching this video might turn you into a vegetarian.

I don’t think they’ve figured out how to get the food to your table without a server yet, but here’s a video of the Chili’s “replace a waiter” tablet in action.

The question of whether humans will largely be replaced in the workforce by robots is one that is hotly debated by economists of our time. Here’s a quick video lesson on the economic debate about industrialization by contemporary & classical economists.

You’ve probably got a lot of things to worry about in the legislative arena. If you’ve got space in your brain for one more—here’s the a suggestion: start caring about open spectrum auctions.

Geeking Out

Wanna better way to crowd-source than Kickstarter? RocketHub claims that you’ll get the money that is raised, regardless of whether you meet your goal.

It’s an artificial eye, printed in 3D. I really don’t have anything more to say.

From Partners

The National Institute on Retirement Security has a new report out, documenting that people of color in the US are more likely to be severely challenged in preparing for retirement.

Save the date! The New Economics Institute is holding a gathering for folks working in/on the New Economy in Boston, June 6-8, 2014.

Next year’s US Worker Cooperative Conference will be in Chicago, May 30-June 1.

Reputation, reputation, reputation

Software that aids in facial recognition has its upsides and downsides for sure. On one hand, it’s much easier for governments, corporations, and just plain creepy people to spy on us (or to attack us in public ways that are only possible with the web). On the other hand, it can be a tool to fight things like child labor. Want to avoid easy recognition by computers? Try some of these ideas for ‘face to anti-face.’ Looks like Lady Gaga might be on to something…

Organizing Theory

If you missed it live last week, check out this interesting discussion between Peter Murray of Accelerate Change & Dave Karpf, GWU professor, about different tactics for scaling social change.

The Singularity Approaches

This seems much more appealing to me than Google Glass (maybe because I’ve been struggling to figure out if you can even wear Glass, if you wear glasses)—hi rez displays for regular glasses.

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

“…approaches that really don’t even question the role of private capital in generating shared innovation – before and beyond the trend of the so-called “Sharing Economy” – only can offer simplistic interpretations.” If you want to read a great analysis of the tensions that are being created in the sharing economy by influxes of venture capital, look no further than this post by @meedabyte.

Do you have an idea for a sharing economy app? This new service wants to make it easy for you to bring that idea to fruition, even if you can’t code. (Though take it from me, folks, a technical co-founder can be a good thing!)

Now here’s a sharing economy idea I can get behind—Ikea Switzerland doesn’t want you to be alone at Christmas.

Final Thoughts
“You’ve probably heard of FICO scores, which serve as credit ratings in the United States. The company that created FICO scores–Fair Isaac Corporation–is now working on creating a Medication Adherence Score, which is exactly what the name suggests. The company won’t disclose the details behind the score, but it uses certain variables–such as how long a person has lived at one location and whether that person has owned a car–to measure the likelihood of taking proper medications. The current plan is to use this information to send vulnerable patients email reminders to take their medication, but of course such numbers usually evolve to serve multiple functions. Doctors will send away some of the very worse patients, in part to avoid wasting their time, in part to avoid the feeling of failure, and in part to protect their own performance ratings.”

Tyler Cowen, Average is Over

Don’t ship the beta…

Geeking Out

When I hear that Google is buying robotics companies, the first thing I wonder is…are they gonna ship the beta? Or should we demand that each one be programmed with the understanding “Don’t Be Evil?”

Will you ever be able to download and print a house? The folks at Wikihouse think you will.

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

Iceland’s government has announced that it will write off €24,000 of every household mortgage in the country, in order to boost household income. Shockingly, the world financial community considers this a bad plan.

Are you thinking about setting up a co-working space, or just renting out an empty desk in your office? Here are some best practices, from Shareable. And while you’re at it, why not kick down some coin for Shareable, so they can hire an organizer to build a Sharing Cities Network.

Are you interested in where the money that’s funding the sharing economy is coming from? You might wanna check out this new report from the Knight Foundation on the funding of civic tech…not great news for those of us who care more about improving voter technology than shared housing…but Ashton Kutcher fans, take heart—he is a source all his own, and he’s funding at a higher source than any foundation named.

There’s a real tension between the folks in the sharing economy who are interested in promoting sharing, and the ones who are simply interested in producing profits. Here’s one of the more profit-minded fellows. And here’s one of the more sharing-minded ones.

Here’s one from the anti-solidarity files. You may remember when Jack Welch famously wished he could put every GE plant on a barge, so he could float it to the country with the lowest standards? Well, what if we put all the 1% on a cruise ship. For life? You might note, they plan to build a school system.

From Partners

Will you be in Brussels next week? Fight austerity & free trade, by blocking the EU summit.

How do we develop more ways to finance the New Economy? Dollars & Sense looks at what’s going on, in the US and abroad.

Reputation, reputation, reputation

It’s funny to me how the same companies that are complaining about
government surveillance are perfectly happy with private sector surveillance. In related news, don’t turn on iBeacon when you’re in the Apple Store. If  you haven’t figured out yet whether you’re worried about either the government OR corporations having unlimited access to your data—this post from the ACLU might tip the scales.

This writer posits: what if local governments, who want to collect taxes on sharing economy industries like AirBnB & Uber also agreed to host review sites for local hotels & taxi services?

Organizing Theory

Want to do some in-depth reading and thinking about improving locally-based coops? Check out this new report from the UK.

And another new UK coop report—this time about how can we make local media work better?

The Singularity Approaches

Sure, car-sharing is nice. But what if you’d rather bike? Sometimes, you might need a little extra energy to get around—so robotocize your bike! And why not top that off with some gloves with turn signals on them? (I know those are going on my Christmas wish list next year).

Right now, digital piracy is a problem mostly for goods that are content-based—like movies and music. But in a world of plentiful 3D printers, will you be able to pirate everything?

What’s Going On in the Workforce?

We’ve shared a couple of articles about the increase of gaming & data mining by recruiters. Are those kinds of tools baking more inequality into the system?

Some say robots are causing it, others say it’s the decline in US workers’ bargaining power—these economists blame the decline in US income on the fact that freelancing & outsourcing has occurred in higher-payroll jobs.

You probably saw a lot about last week’s fast food strikes in your daily news clips—but did you know that Korean women held a strike against precarious work in the food service industry on November 29th?

Final Thoughts

If polarization happens first among the electorate, and only later in Congress, then voters are driving it, in which case it might merit another, better name: “representation.” If it happens first in Congress, and only later among voters, and especially if it’s a consequence of legislators answering to special interests and campaign contributors rather than to voters, polarization in some instances might be more aptly called “corruption.”

Jill Lepore, “Long Division” New Yorker, 12/2/13

Try the Mystery Meat…

Organizing Theory

Try the mystery meat. Want to engage young people in a campaign? Try asking them to upload photos of their school lunch…

Networked Labour is an effort that emerged from a conference in May 2013, to improve the online networking of the international labor community. In this blog post, they talk about the online tools they use to create community & exchange ideas.

Are you running a campaign where you need to find email addresses for many corporate executives? You might wanna talk to this guy.

Here’s a new book that offers how-tos for organizers in the building trades.

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

Ecuador is asking their citizens to help write a new law—about free & open software. Is open-sourcing the opposite of lobbyist-sourcing?

I’m pretty sure that talk of a Grand Unified Global Income Tax will bring the black helicopter-fearing crowd out of the woodwork. Still, from a policy perspective, this new paper is worth reading.

Do you want to make sure that your shopping habits line up with your activist beliefs? Try this app, the next time you’re at the grocery store. Or anywhere, really.

The Singularity Approaches

Do you know how to identify one paper shredder over another? Probably not. The systems at Google do, of course. The weird part is, no one really programmed them to do it. So how did it happen?

If you were hiding under a rock on Sunday night (or still in a tryptophan coma), you may have missed the announcement that Amazon wants to launch (pun intended) drones to deliver packages, as early as 2015. But is delivery dominance their real mission?

Reputation, reputation, reputation

If my life’s going to have a ‘personal dashboard,’ shouldn’t I be able to monetize myself in some way? And no, I’m not talking about Klout Perks. If you’re a programmer, you can have keep your data private—I’m not sure how an amateur user would.

If you follow me on Twitter, you already know that I think Snapchat is the devil. Need more evidence? Turns out those naked selfies don’t really get erased from your phone…

From Partners

ICYMI, TechPresident had a great write-up on coworker.org last week.

LabourStart is holding their annual conference in Berlin, next May. I’ll be kickstarter-ing a ticket any day now…

Geeking Out

Worried that you’re going to regret that drunken tattoo? Try programmable e-ink under your skin, instead.

What’s Going on in the Workforce?

If there’s one thing I wish that people in the economic justice movement would learn from tech folks, it’s how to work asynchronously & in different places, using technology.

Organizing security guards? Say hello to the $6.25/hour robot night watchman.

Is globalization causing a decline in labor standards? These academic researchers say yes. (Non-paywalled, earlier version here.)

Is Silicon Valley really that different from the rest of corporate America? Claims of meritocracy notwithstanding, it looks amazingly similar to the Fortune 500…