Conditions and Effects of the Evolving Electronic Economy on Labor

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Conditions and Effects of the Evolving Electronic Economy on Labor

“But I think what surprised me as much as anything was not to find any stores on Washington Street, or any banks on State. What have you done with the merchants and bankers? Hung them all, perhaps, as the anarchists wanted to do in my day?”
“Not so bad as that,” replied Dr. Leete. “We have simply dispensed with them. Their functions are obsolete in the modern world.” (60)
Looking Backward by Edward Bellamy, 1887

Edward Bellamy’s futuristic conception of commerce in the 21st century unintentionally created a surprisingly accurate representation of the emerging electronic economy. The use of computer technology and the internet is allowing the creation of greater
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You avoid one handling of the goods, and eliminate the retailer altogether, with his big profit and the army of clerks it goes to support. Why Miss Letee, this store is merely the order department of a wholesale house, with no more than a wholesaler’s complement of clerks. Under our system of handling the goods, persuading the customer to buy them, cutting them off, and packing them, ten clerks would not do what one does here. The saving must be enormous.” (76 Bellamy)
The one person left in Bellamy’s depiction has now become the consumer himself and the savings to corporations, as we shall see, are beyond enormous.
The emerging new economy is predicated on increasing profits by eliminating previously necessary forms of labor. Using technology, the consumer of today is rapidly becoming more directly connected to manufacturers and in the process has become both the salesman and buyer, who ironically helps to finance the process in numerous ways.
To better comprehend the implications of this magnanimous shift towards directly connecting manufacturers and consumers we must investigate the role that industry, government and consumers play in the equation. In doing so, we may identify some of the causes of the evolving methods of electronic commerce and production to reveal some of the collusive government and corporate practices that have united to force a new way of living and working on our society. Of one
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