Letters to the editor

Feb. 03, 2013 @ 03:44 PM

Shared capitalism

A recent Herald-Sun headline asked, “Will smart machines create a world without work?” The article predicted that computer-controlled machines will produce most of the goods and services that we need, employing a small class of well-paid skilled managers and technicians, leaving most of us to compete for the jobs that have to be done by humans.

While some of these jobs, in the professions, pay well, most are low-paying service jobs. Even with them, massive chronic unemployment is likely. Cutting the nation’s wage bill would make business extremely profitable – if there is demand. But where is a largely low-paid or jobless public to get money to buy the products?

Suppose all this “smart machinery” were owned in equal shares by all Americans? As wage income fell, dividend income would rise, and allow us to buy what the smart machines produced. The remaining jobs could be shared out by greatly reducing each employee’s working hours.

Eventually dividend income could replace social security, cover college cost for young people, and allow more people to take unpaid jobs of community service. As it is now, much of the care of children, the infirm elderly and the sick is done by unpaid volunteers known as housewives. Now they would have a basic income to help support the family. Young people could use their dividend income to get higher education; others could afford to develop their talents as musicians, artists, craftspeople.

How can we get to such a shared capitalist system?

Allen Barton

Chapel Hill  

DPAC: Doing Poorly at Customer (service)

Trying to get tickets to the Jon Stewart performance at DPAC on March 2, I followed the instructions on the email I got from them for the presale on Feb. 1.  I was on the Ticketmaster system immediately at 10 a.m., but asking for our seats anywhere, at any price, got the message that there were no seats available for those requirements.  I tried many times, and it took about half an hour to get anyone to even answer the phone at DPAC, and I was told that those seats where sold out.

I tried again today (Feb. 2), again immediately at 10 a.m., with the same results.  I even tried reducing the number of seats, but that didn’t help.  We did find a site for secondary market tickets that had some available, at multiples of the original prices.  Those prices kept going up as we watched.  Called them (had no luck phoning DPAC) and found they buy large blocks of tickets that they can price as they wish.

So even though the DPAC/Ticketmaster sites say there are limits on the number of tickets sold to a purchaser, obviously that is not true.  Even though ticket scalping is illegal in North Carolina, that doesn’t stop the secondary market from doing just that.  And even though DPAC claims to be committed to high quality customer service, they don’t even bother to answer their phones.

Ken Berger
Durham