This blog follows my previous one about the yellow vests movement in France. If you haven’t read it yet, I invite you to do so as it is clear and complete. One idea broadly supported by the yellow vests movement is citizens’ initiated referendums. Public referendums are a means of direct democracy. I thought I should elaborate on democracy before moving on.
Direct democracy versus representative democracy
Direct democracy is a form of government in which people vote directly on the laws of a country. They can submit proposals to public referendums and revoke their representatives when they cease to act in the general interest. Direct democracy works best in smaller countries or at a local level. Representative democracy is a form of government in which people elect representatives who will legislate on their behalf. All democracies today are representative. This form of government is preferred in countries where the great number of people makes direct democracy difficult to implement.
The social contract and the drift towards authoritarianism
The social contract is a philosophical and political theory that is the basis for representative democracy. People accept to give up some of their rights to their representatives - or government, who will legislate on their behalf in order to guarantee their rights and liberties. John Locke, a 17th century English philosopher whose ideas influenced the Enlightenment period, was one of the pioneers of the social contract theory.
When the government and elected representatives can no longer guarantee people’s rights and liberties, the social contract is broken. When democracy fades away, we drift into ‘soft’ authoritarianism. John Locke argues that when this happens, people are no longer bound to the social contract and have the right to take action to replace the representatives or the government in power.
The example of the Athenian democracy
The Greek city-state of Athens became the first democracy in the 5th century BC. Citizens - which didn’t include slaves, women, and men who hadn’t accomplished their military service - were allowed to take part to popular assemblies during which they could debate and vote on every single issue affecting the city. Athens’ direct form of democracy was groundbreaking in the sense that it involved ‘normal people’ in the decision-making process of their city. Unfortunately Athens’ democracy was short-lived and the city fell under Macedonian rule less than 200 years later.
Democracy needs education to work
There was however one limitation to Athenian democracy: education, or lack thereof. Many officials in Athens managed to talk their way into positions of power without the proper knowledge to perform their duties. Socrates, a Greek philosopher who experienced Athenian democracy, criticised and exposed some of these demagogues in public. He would be sentenced to death for it.
Democracy without education leads to populism. This is one of the reasons why we are seeing extreme political groups gaining popularity across the world. Education is the cure for society’s ills and it should be the priority of any government that claims to act in the interest of its citizens. One can argue that most governments today are better off with a dumbed down population.
You may disagree with my following statement but to me, voting should be a privilege, not a right. Giving voting rights to uneducated or uninformed people is like playing Russian roulette. Some thinkers have formulated the idea of a voting licence, similar to driving. While I'm not entirely sold on the idea, I do think we need to open the debate on the importance of education for democracy.
The example of workers cooperatives
A workers’ cooperative is a business that is owned and controlled by its employees. No more middlemen, or stakeholders, to pull the workers' strings. Workers cooperatives are true democratic workplaces. Employees decide on their working conditions, what they produce and how they produce it. They decide what to do with profits, they elect their leaders and they have the power to revoke them.
The side effects of having a business owned by its workers is that better working conditions produce happier workers, which in turn drives productivity up. So far, the data available has shown that workers’ cooperatives are beneficial for local economies, have a higher success rate than standard business structures and are less affected by economic downturns.
I hope you now have a better understanding of the origins of democracy, its different forms and why it is worth fighting for. I welcome any comments or ideas and if you made it to this final sentence, I greatly appreciate your taking the time to read my work.
Unless you live in a cave, you are probably aware of the yellow vests movement that has been shaking France for the last three months. Protesters identify themselves as the « yellow vests », from the high-visibility jacket French drivers are required to carry in their vehicles. What was supposed to be a one-day rally is turning into the most significant social protest of the decade. How has the country of human rights come to this?
The context of the 2017 presidential election
The 2017 French presidential election was somewhat chaotic. The first stage of the election saw centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron get 24% of the votes before proceeding to the second stage, when he got 44% of the votes and became president. People who didn’t vote for him either voted for his opponent, far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, or cast a blank vote, or abstained from voting. Whichever way you look at it, the majority of voters did not want him as their president. Though Emmanuel Macron was elected according to the French direct ballot system, many people question his legitimacy.
Evil Robin Hood
Since his election, Emmanuel Macron has abolished the wealth tax, reformed the labour laws and increased taxes on pensions to offer businesses tax breaks in an effort to boost employment. He is taking from the needy to give to the wealthy, like an evil Robin Hood. While most foreign medias have been praising his style and his reforms, Emmanuel Macron has reached the status of most unpopular president in the history of the country.
The yellow vests movement started following the government’s decision to increase fuel taxes, and diesel in particular. The increase was supposed to finance environment-friendly initiatives. The first problem is that it was the government itself that encouraged people to buy diesel cars in the early 2000’s. At the time, diesel vehicles were thought to be better for the environment. The second problem is that due to unaffordable housing prices, many people moved to the outskirts of the big cities or to the countryside and rely on their cars to go to work.
The tipping point
This was the last straw. With the fuel tax, Emmanuel Macron opened Pandora’s box and let out the repressed anger from decades of political and economic reforms that have pushed the working class, pensioners and students closer to poverty. The word spread out on social media for weeks before the first protest on November 17th. There was a second weekend of protests, and a third. It has now been twelve weeks since the first yellow vests took to the streets.
Citizens' initiated referendums
The demands of the protesters moved from the fuel tax repeal to an all-out anti-government protest over wages and a call for direct democracy in the decision-making process, as opposed to representative democracy. One idea broadly supported by the yellow vests is the citizens’ initiated referendum. Upon gathering enough signatures or supporters, citizens of a country can submit or repeal a law proposal, modify the constitution or remove any politician from office. Citizens’ initiated referendums are already used in the United States, Italy or Switzerland.
Among the protesters’ demands are the increase of the minimum wage, the indexation of wages on the rate of inflation, the inclusion of the citizens’ initiated referendum in the constitution, the control of housing prices, a fairer tax system, a minimum pension, retirement at sixty, the end of privileges for politicians, a ban on the sale of national assets to foreign countries or the human treatment of asylum seekers.
V for Violence
The yellow vests protests have been a display of unprecedented police brutality. To this day, eleven protesters have died, two-thousand have been reported injured and sixty of them have suffered crippling injuries such as the loss of fingers, an eye or a hand. There have been scenes of extreme violence from some protesters too. Still, the government's choice to resort exclusively to force over any attempts at a dialogue has been greatly criticised. Amnesty International and the European Commission for Human Rights have expressed their concerns and have urged the French government to explore peaceful avenues in an effort to prevent further casualties.
We need a resolution
After one month of protests, Emmanuel Macron announced the repeal of the fuel tax and an 8% increase of the minimum wage, in a vain effort to put an end to the protests. His refusal to reinstate the wealth tax, one of the symbols of the protesters' anger, highlights the rift between the people and their representatives. Emmanuel Macron and his government are hoping to see the movement lose momentum and eventually die. The yellow vests already have a foot in the door, but they need more support if they hope to achieve anything significant.
The yellow vests movement is now expanding beyond France's borders, as far as Australia. However, in some countries the only similarity with the French movement is the colour of the protesters' vests, not the ideas or the message behind them. The yellow vests movement is a crisis of democracy, or lack thereof. Giving people what they want, to be heard, would cost the French president his term, as would maintaining his political agenda. Emmanuel Macron can leave with his head up or risk losing it altogether.
'Tonight, I’ll be eating spaghetti carbonara with fried onions and diced pancetta from Luigi’s Mansion in Fremantle. Ding-dong!’
Everybody has seen at least one of these spots for Uber Eats on TV. My favourite is Boy George’s, I laugh every time. The hand you see handing over the food at the end of the commercial belongs to one of Uber’s delivery drivers. Uber calls them their ‘partners’ (understand employees with no social benefits). This delivery driver is a worker of the gig economy.
Disclaimer here: I already picked on Uber in my second blog post Lessons we can learn from Blade Runner 2049. I’m using the example of Uber again because of the abundance of information available about the company. Unfortunately, most of it came to light following the numerous scandals Uber got themselves into.
What is the gig economy and how does it work?
The gig economy refers to a type of employment based on a succession of short-term contracts or projects. Most industries have been affected by it: transport, healthcare, hospitality, professional services, and even the public sector. Online platforms such as Uber, Airtasker or Airbnb have been a massive hit with consumers. And for good reasons. They're cheap, convenient and easy to use.
The main appeal of the gig economy is the false promise of flexibility. ‘Be your own boss’, ‘work when you want, as much as you want’, ‘unlimited earning potential’ blah blah blah. The 'flexibility' really is for the employer, not the worker. I got lured into this myself when I started working as a personal trainer in a big gym. But this story is for another day.
Uber's business model is an abomination
Most people probably ignore how Uber manages to offer transportation services so much cheaper than taxis. Uber’s business model relies on cutting costs and exploiting taxation loopholes as much as they can in order to slash their prices and kill all competition. All the risks and running costs are passed onto the drivers, who are hired as subcontractors.
Because gig workers are considered self-employed, they are not entitled to social benefits such as holiday or sick leave and superannuation. Workers are paid per ‘gig’, or job, no matter how long it takes them to do the task. Unions representation is a problem too, as the status of gig workers is a grey area that needs to be clearly defined.
On a platform like Airtasker, workers bid against each other to get jobs, most of the time based on the cost of the service provided. Which as a result brings the cost of labour significantly down as most of the time whoever is the cheapest gets the job. The result of this race to the bottom is that it keeps wages down.
Back to the future
Uber started to operate in Australia in late 2012 without any licence. To make things worse, thanks to a clever tax scheme, Uber is paying virtually no taxes in Australia. In 2015, Uber was legalised in all states except Northern Territory (it happened last year), and the Australian Taxation Office decided that all drivers should pay GST from the first dollar they earn. For the sake of comparison, if you had started your own business in 2012 without any licence and had paid the same amount of taxes that Uber did, you'd most likely be in prison by 2015. This is called a double standard.
Where the gig economy has been the most disruptive is in going backwards on decades of struggle for fair wages and workers’ rights and entitlements. An increasing number of companies are hiring people on a subcontractor employment basis so they don’t have to pay for entitlements such as holiday leave or superannuation. The gig economy is here and it's here to stay.
The government turned a blind eye because Uber was ‘creating’ jobs. Insecure and underpaid jobs. One of the government’s roles is to set the rules for its economy and to ensure workers are treated fairly. By failing to respond to the changes happening to the work place, the government is responsible for the precarious situation so many workers find themselves in.
Between the gig economy and the casualisation of work, full-time employment and the benefits that go with it may one day be a thing of the past. Ask yourself if this is what you want for your kids when they grow up. Remember that when you take an Uber or when you order food through Uber Eats, you are supporting their exploitative practices with your own money. So tonight, after you've read the usual bedtime story, tell your kids to start saving for retirement right now. Just in case.
Wether you decide to build your new home or renovate an old house, you will need the services of a professional builder. Building a home is a considerable commitment. The process can be long, stressful and expensive. This is why it is crucial that you take the time to choose the right builder that will make your dream house a reality.
Shortlist potential builders
Once you have decided where you are going to build your house, make a list of potential builders in the area where you intend to build your house. Make a list of builders who are experienced in your type of project. If you are renovating an old house, search for builders who are experienced in renovation projects. If you are building your home, search for builders who are experienced in building houses.
Expand your search to builders outside your area. Word of mouth and referrals are powerful tools when it comes to choosing a builder. Check their online websites and look at their portfolios. You can check online if a builder is registered via Housing Industry of Australia or the Master Builders of Australia.
You want to choose a builder who specialises in the type of house you want to build. Looking at current and past projects will help you determine if one builder is more suited for your project than another. For example, if you want a modern double-storey house, a builder who specialises in vintage single-storey homes may not be the best pick.
Share your vision
Once you have shortlisted potential builders, it is time to approach them with your project scope so they can give you a quote. Your project scope is what your vision is for the house you’re building. It is important that you give them detailed plans about what you want. Meet up with your architect, your potential builder and any other people involved in the project to make sure everybody is on the same page.
Write down all the questions you can think of and ask them to the builder when you meet up. Ask how long the project will take. Ask about the materials they use. High quality materials means a quality home.
Ask them if you can talk to their current clients. If they refuse, nothing prevents you from going in person and have a chat with people who had their house recently built by that same builder. Ask them if there have been any issues such as delays, extra costs or bad customer service. Were they happy with their overall experience with the builder and do they recommend them?
Get a comprehensive quote
The next step is to compare the quotes you get from the different builders you have approached. Make sure your builder gives you a comprehensive quote. If the quotes are similar in price, it means the price for your project is probably right. If a quote is significantly cheaper than the others, there might be a reason for that. The materials may not be the same or some items may not have included in the quote. Double and triple check.
The two things to pay attention to when you read a quote are prime costs and provisional sums.
Prime cost refers to specific items that will be required at a late stage in the building process such as lights, doors, fittings, taps or toilets. The builder should include an estimate of the price in the quote. They will most likely quote you for standard items. However, if you decide to go for high quality products, you will have to pay extra for the difference.
The best thing to do to avoid extra expenses is to give as many details as possible to the builders regarding what you have in mind for those items. If you already know the models or the brands you want, they will take this into account in their quotes.
Provisional sums are an estimate of the cost of materials and work that needs to be done. Builders are required by law to give you an accurate estimate for provisional sums. Even then, there can be unexpected circumstances that require the work to take more time than planned in the first place. One example is a soil that needs more work than the builder anticipated. In any case, it is best to leave a little bit of room in your budget for the unexpected.
Before you sign your building contract
There will be hurdles along the road. A good builder should work with you and offer solutions to any of the problems you encounter during the building process. They should always be available to answer your questions and give you updates. A lack of communication on their behalf is a red flag. Remember that as long as you haven’t signed your building contract, you can walk away at any time. Finally, always seek legal advice before signing your building contract.
With the decline of the mining industry, many of the workers who lost their jobs in the mines turned to the construction industry because of the low barriers to entry and a relative employment security compared to mining jobs. Construction is now the first source of employment for male workers in Australia with 9 out of 10 construction workers being men.
In 2018, there were 1.2 million people working in the construction industry in Australia. This is just under 10% of the total workforce. Between 2012 and 2018, the number of workers in the industry has increased by almost 20%. This number is expected to increase by another 10% between now and 2022, which is very encouraging for the future of the industry.
Full-time employment in construction is better than in most industries
Construction fares better than other industries when it comes to the number of workers working full time. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the national average across all industries is around 70% of full time workers. In the building industry, there are 85% of full time workers, which makes it the second best industry for full time employment after mining. This is quite impressive, in particular compared to the national average.
However construction is also the industry with the most self-employed workers with 1 out of 3 construction workers being self-employed. Regarding weekly hours and earnings, full time construction workers work an average of 41 hours a week and they earn on average $1,250 per week before taxes.
Trades and young workers are the most represented
Still according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the top 10 occupations in terms of people employed are carpenters, electricians, managers, plumbers, painters, labourers, plasterers, concreters, surveyors and plant operators. Together, they account for half of all the people working in the industry. Trade services represent 65% of the total number of people employed in the industry.
The building industry is also the first source of employment for young workers. 45% of the workers are 15 to 34 years old. 35% of the workers are 45 years old and older. Finally, only 20% of the workers are 35 to 44 years old.
In conclusion, construction is a fairly young industry that is dominated by male workers. It has the second greatest proportion of full time workers of all industries. The number of people employed has been increasing in the last few years and should keep increasing steadily in the next couple of years.
The construction industry is at the origin of the houses we live in, the schools our children go to or the roads we travel everyday. The main activities focus on building, maintaining and repairing a wide range of diverse structures such as houses, buildings, roads, railway, bridges and many more. The construction sector plays a major role in the Australian economy.
The industry can be divided into three categories: residential, non-residential and engineering construction. Residential construction refers to houses and apartment buildings. Non-residential construction includes facilities such as hospitals, shops, offices, entertainment and industrial facilities. Engineering construction designates infrastructure projects such as roads, railways, bridges and buildings. The engineering construction activity represents the largest part of the industry. More than half of the revenue generated comes from engineering construction.
How construction affects other industries
The construction industry is directly linked to other industries such as transport, manufacture or retail. Many people are involved at the different stages of a construction project. Architects and engineers are involved at the design phase.
When construction starts, contractors and subcontractors work together to complete the project. To build a house or any other structure, they need building materials such as bricks and timber which is provided by suppliers and then delivered by transportation companies. They also need plant and equipment to complete the works, from heavy machinery to hand tools, which they purchase or hire from manufacturers and retailers. Tradesmen such as electricians, plumbers or landscapers are also involved at different stages of a construction project and are regularly required for maintenance purposes after construction is complete.
Another phase of a construction project is the sale of the house or the building. Buyers and sellers involved in the sale process require the services of professionals such as real-estate agents, bankers and lawyers. Finally, the newly built house or building then needs to be equipped with furniture and appliances from local retailers.
Construction as the bellwether of the economy
There is a strong connection between the construction industry and the other industries it supports. When the building sector slows down, it is all the people directly and indirectly involved in the industry who see their activities slow down as well. As such, the construction industry is like the barometer of the economic health of our country.
We talk of underemployment when people work less hours than they would if they were employed full time or when their occupation doesn’t match their skills or education level. Let’s take two examples to illustrate this definition.
Our first example is a worker who would like to work more hours than he or she currently does but can’t get full time employment. This often leads the individual to cumulate jobs if the number of hours worked is not enough to meet their basic needs.
Our second example is a qualified worker who can’t find a job in his or her area of expertise and is forced to take a job that is below their skills or education level. For example a university graduate who works as a delivery driver because he can’t find a job in his area of expertise. This is what we refer to as an overqualified worker.
The relation between unemployment and underemployment
Underemployment has been steadily going up for the last 30 years. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, there were more than 1.1 million workers who were considered underemployed in the first half of 2018. This represents about 9% of the working population. In comparison, the underemployment rate in the 1980’s was only 3% of the working population, almost 3 times lower than what it is today.
In order to get a complete picture of the current employment situation in Australia, we need to consider unemployment and underemployment figures together. The combination of both is called the underutilisation rate. It is the proportion of the workforce that is not utilised by the economy. With the unemployment rate at 5.3% in the first half of 2018, we add up the underemployment rate and the result is an underutilisation rate of about 14%. This means that 1 out of 7 people of the Australian workforce is either unemployed or working part-time.
Young workers and women are the first concerned
Underemployment is directly linked to the economic health of the country. As such, underemployment and unemployment have evolved together in the 2000’s. However, the gap between the two seems to have increased significantly over the last 3 years. While unemployment figures have been slightly going down since 2015, underemployment figures have maintained their steady upwards trend. This means it is very likely that we see double digit rates in the number of underemployed people in the next couple of years.
Workers aged 15 to 24 and workers with the lowest skills or education levels are the first affected by underemployment. Individuals living in rural areas are more likely to be affected by underemployment than people living in cities. What’s more, 6 out of 10 underemployed people are women. People who were or are currently underemployed are also more likely to be underemployed in the future.
What are the causes of underemployment?
One of the main causes of the rise in the number of underemployed workers is that the number of part-time jobs has been growing faster than the number of full-time jobs. From the 1990’s, there has been a shift in the dominant industries from mining and manufacturing to services such as retail, health and tourism. The nature of work has slowly changed and a lot of full time jobs have been replaced by part-time jobs.
When we look at the proportion of part-time jobs across various industries, this transition from traditional full time employment to more casual part-time employment is quite clear. Between 2012 and 2018, the accommodation and food services industry has been the third industry to create the most jobs, behind healthcare and construction. However, it is also the industry where we find the highest number of part-time workers. In the first half of 2018, more than 60% of all the jobs were part-time jobs.
The situation is very similar in the retail sector. Retail is the second biggest industry with the most people employed, and part-time jobs account for more than 50% of all jobs. Healthcare and social services, which I mentioned earlier, is the industry with the most people employed in Australia. It is also the industry that has created the most jobs in recent years. However, 45% of the people employed in healthcare and social services work part-time.
There are other causes that explain why underemployment is going up. Advances in technologies and automation have reduced the number of workers required to do the same amount of work. For example in manufacturing. The high cost of labour means that it is more affordable for a business to employ two workers on a casual basis rather than a full-time worker for the same number of hours.
Competition, changes and uncertainty in the market place means businesses have to adapt if they want to be successful. Businesses need to be more efficient in order to stay competitive. They need employees who are ‘flexible’, who can work more hours when business is booming and fewer hours when things slow down.
The consequences of being underemployed
The first consequence of underemployment is that it creates a situation of job insecurity and financial instability for the workers. The number of hours worked and the income perceived can vary from one week to the next depending on the need for workers and how business is going. Jobs that offer irregular working hours and variable income put workers at risk when they don’t have other sources of revenue. This can become problematic when applying for a mortgage for example.
The second consequence of high underemployment is that it keeps a lid on wages growth. When people think that a part-time job is better than not having a job at all, they are less likely to negotiate their wages or ask their employer for a pay raise. The increasing number of workers who would like to work more hours holds wages down. Low wages growth means households have less money to spend which eventually has a negative impact on the economy.
How to avoid becoming underemployed?
The good news is that solutions to the problem of underemployment exist. At the government level, developing policies that provide incentives for companies that hire full-time workers rather than part-time could prevent further growth. However, workers themselves can minimise the risks of being affected by underemployment by being proactive. They need to adapt to changes and new trends in their business place. This means keeping their skills current and relevant for the market. This is achieved through ongoing education, extra training and additional experiences.
Casual is the new normal
Full-time employment is becoming a thing of the past. Casual employment is becoming the norm in a lot of industries such as healthcare, retail or hospitality. Working part-time can be a personal choice and not all workers in this situation necessarily want to work more hours. However, while this ‘casualisation’ of work allows businesses to be more flexible and efficient, it also puts more stress on the workers and can lead to precarious situations for many of them.
Looking at the numbers, it appears that the jobs are there, that jobs are being created. The three industries mentioned above are employing more and more people every year. The problem seems that despite the number of jobs, there aren’t enough hours for the workers. It will be interesting to see how many jobs will be created this year, and more importantly what proportion of these new jobs will be full-time.
Blade Runner 2049 is a science-fiction movie that follows the story of agent K, a Los Angeles police officer whose task is to track down rogue replicants. Replicants are mass-produced bioengineered humans that are used as slave labour workers. It is the sequel of the original Blade Runner movie that came out in 1982. As the name suggests, the story takes place in 2049.
The movie offers a very pessimistic vision of the future, or a dystopia (as opposed to a utopia). It shows us what the world could look like if some of the problems we are facing now get worse. It addresses the issues of over-reliance on technology, the impact of man on the environment, overpopulation in urban areas and corporate power over democratic governments.
Overpopulation and unaffordable housing
The Los Angeles of 2049 is an overpopulated urban area made of giant buildings as far as the eye can see. There are no parks or any green spaces and the few animals we see are replicants, or artificial animals. It is a place where concrete has taken over nature. It is a society in which a full-time worker can only afford a tiny apartment in a dodgy neighbourhood.
The main character K (Ryan Gosling) lives in a apartment so small that it looks more like a prison cell than a proper apartment. One can’t help but wonder if this is what unaffordable housing will lead to in the future. In addition to house prices, low wages growth and an increasing job insecurity, owning a house will soon become the realm of science-fiction too.
Technology doesn’t necessarily mean progress
The society of Blade Runner 2049 relies heavily on technology, such as flying cars or holographic female companions. The main character K shares his life with a hologram named Joi. Joi is an artificially intelligent product whose purpose is to bring consumers happiness and companionship. There is a sense throughout the movie that technology has become toxic. To the environment first, and to the people who have become addicted to it, as seen in the main character K’s addiction to his holographic girlfriend.
Technology doesn’t necessarily mean progress. The mistake is to believe that because a new technology is available we should always use it. However we should carefully weigh the pros and cons of using a new technology and consider its long-term impact on employment, the environment and society in general. If a technology allows us to do the same amount of work with half the number of employees but puts millions of people out of work, should we use it? If a technology allows us to be more productive at the expense of the environment, should we use it?
Uber is today’s Wallace Corporation
Too many companies try to squeeze every single drop of life out of their employees in exchange of a minimum wage or questionable employments contracts. In Blade Runner 2049, the Wallace Corporation is the company that manufactures the replicants (the artificial humans) and uses them as slave labour workers. When a replicant rebels against the corporation, they are ‘dealt with’ (tracked down and killed) by the police.
A company like Uber is the Wallace Corporation of today. Their ‘partners’ as Uber calls them (understand employees with no social benefits) work for crumbs and can have their contracts cancelled at any time. An increasing number of companies are hiring people on a subcontractor employment basis because they don’t have to pay for entitlements such as holiday leave or superannuation.
Because something is legal doesn’t mean it is ethical
It is no secret, Uber’s ultimate goal is to get rid of all drivers and use self-driving vehicles instead. Removing the human factor altogether will reduce costs and increase profits. Which raises the question of ethics in business. Are employees considered assets that need to be looked after or overheads that need to be reduced to the minimum? With great power comes great responsibility. The growing power of corporations over governments gives them the responsibility to adopt ethical practices such as looking after their employees and the environment.
Blade Runner 2049 was released last year, 35 years after the original Blade Runner movie. The same issues are addressed in both movies, and the idea that in another 35 years we may still be facing the same problems is a great cause for concern to me. As a conclusion, let’s take a minute and reflect on this quote from the movie: ‘Every leap of civilisation was built off the back of a disposable workforce.’