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Oh come on, like the PNW is some kind of bastion of sociability with its grocery workers.
Everyone's been stuck choosing between huge checkout lines or huge self-checkout lines (watching moms and dads hunt and peck for a good 30 seconds per item is great) which is what the entire target of this concept is.
Reaching contrarianism is so cool, guys.
Speaking of which, this looks like a Trader Joes, not a typical convenience store. A typical convenience store is run by one person. That person is both security guard and cashier. The former is as important as the latter. This changes nothing, as you can't just open up a store and allow people to grab stuff (I would hop the turnstyle, grab a few six packs and I'm off to the party). Which leads to another point -- are they going to sell cigarettes and alcohol? If not, this isn't much of a convenience store (you just threw away your best selling items). If so, then you need at least one human being to make sure the customer is of age. No, you can't rely on the phone (hey older brother, can I borrow your phone -- I'll pay you back).
Anyway, this is just another way to check out. It is fundamentally no different than self checkout, except that is would be faster. This means that a typical store would have a line for customers with these sorts of purchases. Basically a faster self checkout line -- flash your phone, wait for some beeps and walk out. Of course when things go wrong (and they often do) then someone has to be there to fix it.
So at best you have a faster checkout, which means fewer cashiers. This is, again, a trend that started a while ago. But it is a stretch to go from a few cashiers to none and generally speaking businesses aren't interested. If you go from a dozen cashiers to two, it just isn't worth it to worry about those two.
That is the model that will likely lead to great automation in the coming years, and as a result, a bunch of layoffs. Fast food automation is coming, and I'm surprised it isn't here already. If you have ever worked in fast food, or have ever bought fast food during "lunch rush", you know what it's like. There are usually about a dozen people in the store. A couple cashiers running the drive through. Maybe five or six in the main area. Another half dozen or so preparing the food, along with a manager or assistant manager making sure things keep moving.
Now imagine what that will look like in 20 years. Ordering food is automated. You press buttons on a Kiosk, and either put money into a machine, or pay electronically. Food preparation is also automated. So basically you need one, maybe two people to make sure things don't go to haywire.
Of course I could be wrong. Predictions of the future often are. But my guess is that we are about to see a huge wave of automation in the service industry that is similar to what has occurred in farming and manufacturing. How we deal with it, of course, will depend a lot on how much compassion we have for our fellow human being.
And you posted it to a newfangled digital service, the likes of which caused a lot of newspaper industry to be replaced. And you may or may not have used a layout person, a copy editor, and various other people in the old production chain, which means the Stranger is probably produced by fewer people. Who's standing up for the poor displaced and disrupted typesetter? Probably Charles, right?
The likely solution for all of this automation will eventually be a minimum living income for all, but good luck convincing TrumpMerica of this need, because all of these jobs are coming back to America or something something.
Now I've got to go see if my shopping cart is up to $49 yet, for the free shipping
I've always suspected Amazon's retail customer base is deep but not wide (that is, out of the whole world of potential customers it has a relatively narrow range of devoted customers who reflexively purchase almost everything there). Like Apple addicts, I find Amazon addicts often can't provide a solid rationale for why they buy everything Amazon other than that it makes them one of the cool kids.
And for a real world example, look at Alaska with their oil profit share: it works, and they have low-poverty considering how low their economic activity is. Give everyone $20,000 a year and they can work part time for another $20,000 or so and the jobs lost to automation would be offset.
And it is not socialism: everyone gets the same amount, not a straight transfer from rich to poor, and it is funded mostly by land, which is really owned by no one but the human race as a whole.
After all your putting hard working Newsboys out of work...
The problem with the system your describing however is that Inflation would hugely accelerate and soon 20K would be essentially worthless.
Also 20k x 300 Million American's + 6 QUADrillion dollars a year. That's a lot of "land taxes"..
The caricature The Stranger has conceived of the Amazon tech worker is really off the mark. I work there, I know what people there are actually like. I understand the problems Amazon's growth is causing in this city but I don't see the logic in directing the anger at the workers rather than the executives or leadership.
You say that tech workers don't want to have conversations with other members of the community because they don't care...I can only speak for myself but personally that is something I miss. On days where I am not wearing my badge, Seattle is always a fairly pleasant place. If I'm wearing my badge though, I can't count the number of times where people (Uber drivers, barbers, servers, etc.) have been rude for no other apparent reason. The tone of a conversation can change the moment they ask what I do for work. Its usually followed by either passive aggressive comments or an interrogation of sorts ("How recently did you move here?"). A few times I've even been blamed for ruining Seattle.
So now I don't really bother to initiate conversations anymore. I assume people don't want to chat and they probably assume I am the stereotypical yuppie brogrammer that they've read about in The Stranger. How many of you honestly would even want to converse with an Amazon tech worker? This is part of the problem and its not going to change unless people start talking to each other. I get why people are angry but Seattle has been one of the tech capitals of the US for well over a decade, and that will not change. There isn't a way to stop technology.
This villainization has to stop so we can actually find solutions. I actually am very worried about Seattle's culture being lost. I want to keep rent affordable. And I think the loss of jobs due to automation is the single most important issue and needs to be recognized as a crisis. Its role in the loss of manufacturing jobs has led to the election of a racist Authoritarian leader. I don't want to see what happens when the service industry is decimated as well.