Robots only! China manufacturing plant to reduce human employees by 90%

By He Huifeng -

Construction work has begun on the first factory in China’s manufacturing hub of Dongguan to use only robots for production, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

A total of 1,000 robots would be introduced at the factory initially, run by Shenzhen Evenwin Precision Technology Co, with the aim of reducing the current workforce of 1,800 by 90 per cent to only about 200, Chen Xingqi, the chairman of the company’s board, was quoted as saying in the report.

The company did not give a figure for the investment in the factory, but said its production capacity could reach a value of 2 billion yuan (US$322 million) annually.

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In two new studies, Harvard economist Raj Chetty and his colleagues found that where poor kids grow up has a huge effect on how much money they earn as adults.

The table above lists the 50 U.S. counties that have the biggest effects on kids’ incomes as adults. The numbers, based on the new research, show how much growing up in a given county affects a child’s annual income as an adult.

Where Poor Kids Grow Up Makes A Huge Difference

Graphics credit: Quoctrung Bui

This is a must-read piece from Richard Rothstein on the history of government policies which created the isolated, inescapable poverty we see in places like inner city Baltimore. Note that the publisher, the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) is a left-leaning think tank: Blaming government programs for economic problems like poverty is not the default here. But that’s exactly what this article does—and how:

It was not a vague white society that created ghettos but government—federal, state, and local—that employed explicitly racial laws, policies, and regulations to ensure that black Americans would live impoverished, and separately from whites.

Baltimore’s ghetto was not created by private discrimination, income differences, personal preferences, or demographic trends, but by purposeful action of government in violation of the Fifth, Thirteenth, and Fourteenth Amendments. These constitutional violations have never been remedied, and we are paying the price in the violence we saw this week.

Like Ta-Nehisi Coates in his enormous article for The Atlantic last year, a major focus here is federal housing policies from the Twentieth Century, which systematically forced black Americans into the worst housing available. Coates’ piece is a tour de force, but Rothstein features a devastating three-paragraph summary by Rutgers University’s Beryl Satter of the effects of redlining and other intentionally discriminatory government housing policies:

Because black contract buyers knew how easily they could lose their homes, they struggled to make their inflated monthly payments. Husbands and wives both worked double shifts. They neglected basic maintenance. They subdivided their apartments, crammed in extra tenants and, when possible, charged their tenants hefty rents. …

White people observed that their new black neighbors overcrowded and neglected their properties. Overcrowded neighborhoods meant overcrowded schools; in Chicago, officials responded by “double-shifting” the students (half attending in the morning, half in the afternoon). Children were deprived of a full day of schooling and left to fend for themselves in the after-school hours. These conditions helped fuel the rise of gangs, which in turn terrorized shop owners and residents alike.

In the end, whites fled these neighborhoods, not only because of the influx of black families, but also because they were upset about overcrowding, decaying schools and crime. They also understood that the longer they stayed, the less their property would be worth. But black contract buyers did not have the option of leaving a declining neighborhood before their properties were paid for in full—if they did, they would lose everything they’d invested in that property to date. Whites could leave—blacks had to stay.

The ramifications here are enormous. Contra the “they should work harder like our ancestors did” narrative that many white Americans espouse, we might well marvel that any black Americans succeeded in joining the middle class given the decades of active legal opposition they often met from every level of government.

Rothstein notes that the effects of these government policies are still very much felt today:

Nationwide, black family incomes are now about 60 percent of white family incomes, but black household wealth is only about 5 percent of white household wealth. In Baltimore and elsewhere, the distressed condition of African American working- and lower-middle-class families is almost entirely attributable to federal policy that prohibited black families from accumulating housing equity during the suburban boom that moved white families into single-family homes from the mid-1930s to the mid-1960s—and thus from bequeathing that wealth to their children and grandchildren, as white suburbanites have done.

It is terrible to imagine how different cities like Baltimore might look today were these policies never implemented.

And what about those kids who go to the library to use the computers? Chances are greater than zero they’re there to do homework and research on those time-limited computers, not access ebooks to read on a screen. Kids and teens are not going to go to the library to read these digital books If they’re able to get to the library at all — itself a challenge for low-income families due to the cost of transportation, the need for people to be working, the way hours work at public libraries that already put limits on these stretched-to-the-max families, the pesky need to have an identification, the restrictions likely placed on the under-18 crowd when it comes to borrowing digital devices (due to liability and replacement costs) — they’re there to get work done for school.

Or, they’re there as a place to get away from their wealth of responsibilities, stresses, and the unbelievable weight of pressures on them.

Because for poor kids, the library is a lifeline. It’s how they get the work they need to get done done. It’s how they’re still on the track when their more financially stable peers are lapping them in fancy shoes and nice track pants. For poor kids, even more than their peers, the library is also their quiet place of refuge.

Digital books, even donated in vast quantities, do not help poor kids. They are yet another barrier keeping them from getting to the places they want and deserve to be.

“Between January and December of 2014, while Seatac’s business owners (and their customers) were absorbing the cost of paying minimum wage employees $15, unemployment decreased 17.46%, falling from 6.3% to 5.2%. It turns out that you CAN increase the minimum wage (even in large increments) and increase overall employment at the same time.”

Economics 101: lower unemployment by raising wages.

Can it be called violence when corporate globalization and a Wall Street-triggered recession wipe out middle and working class jobs? Can it be called violence when state and city governments are cutting taxes so hard to draw business that they can no longer afford to build parks and recreation programs that provide positive outlets for youth without money? Can it be called violence when students in overcrowded classrooms in under-resourced schools don’t have the textbooks they need? Can it be called violence when families are torn apart as their fathers are incarcerated with ridiculous mandatory minimum sentences as part of the failed drug war? Can it be called violence when the only jobs available are in the service industry whose minimum wage requires single parents to work 80 hour weeks to stay afloat?
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Consider the following fact: The last time a Republican president created an average of 1 million jobs a year over the course of his presidency was nearly three decades ago, under Ronald Reagan. When the the 2016 election comes around, a full 44 percent of voters will have entered the workforceafter that period of time. Then consider that Barack Obama has created 7.35 million jobs since taking office, and will almost certainly cross the million-per-year threshold. And that, for many Americans, the last time the economy was working for them was under Bill Clinton.

The data is unequivocal: The economy performs far better under Democrats than Republicans. Here’s why