While most of us was kids many years ago, there was a storyline in a futuristic sci-fi comic called 2000AD. It went something like this. A couple of men were going around smashing up machines and robots all over Mega-City and eventually one person was called in to catch the criminals. In came Judge Dredd into the story, to save the day.
After some words and actions from Judge Dredd which filled a couple of pages, the storyline saw him in time, catch up the the criminals in the act of their latest destruction. Dredd of course arrested them. As was his character designed in the comics, he was the arresting officer, he was the one man jury who could find other characters guilty – and he could also sentence them thus to punishment for their crimes. This, he would do storyline regular.
This particular storyline was written that Judge Dredd sentenced the men smashing up machines and robots, to many years of hard labour. The story punchline was though, the men were very grateful, grovelling on their knees in thanks for being given such hard labour – in other words, for gaining actual real work. They thanked Judge Dredd for being so gracious for giving them work to do and not instead, leaving them to a life of mind numbing nothing. As the Judge Dredd said in the last caption, words to the effect… “Even Judges can be merciful!“
Then we come to what is all too real in life…
It’s been announced that more job losses are on the way care of AIB, Allied Irish Banks (see HERE). This was sadly inevitable as more and more customers have seen over the last few years, a numeric rise of cash machines not just as street outside ‘hole in the wall’ fixtures but also as internal bank facilities. As the machines available also increased indoors, the number of counter staff has dropped also over time. The latest 150 jobs lost being a sign of the times we live in.
The banks could say that there is other reasons for letting 150 staff go – and they could be right too. AIB is most certainly also not the only bank operation to be dropping staff numbers like swatting flies without great thought. Other institutions are all at it, to some degree.
Machines don’t look for pay-rises. Machines don’t cause union trouble. Machines don’t have to pay child support, rent or have to sleep. They just exist to serve with little complaint (until they break down). In the long run, they are the far cheaper option for a business. Human workers are one step closer to being designers of their own work demise. This is not just the Ireland we live in today. This is the world we live in today.
The Judge Dredd storyline as outlined above, has quietly haunted the founder of UnitedPeople for many decades (as has another: “The cry of the last whale” – but that’s a tale for another day). As a kid the storyline then, was foretelling of the future. Now that kid of the past, is grown up and seeing that past become 150 latest persons, real present. A Judge Dredd storyline has come back to haunt.
In truth, what can we do? The directors of banks seek high profit over people. Humans have designed the programming of machines – built the machines – then physical installed them. As we have done so, we are dooming the employment prospects of our fellow man or woman. Bank directors rake more eventual profits.
In real life, there is no happy ending to the tale, for the storyline has yet to come to its ultimate conclusion – but it’s coming! Will humans one day be left begging for work, even if it is hard labour and physical draining? Who knows – but many fear for the future and an old comic storyline, like writings of George Orwell, could also become all too accurate.
It’s a scary thought…