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Paying the Phone Bill... - The Desian Universe
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deskitty
deskitty
Des
Wed, May. 28th, 2003 03:07 pm
Paying the Phone Bill...

[This would have gotten posted sooner, except the LJ people don't seem to know how to keep servers up...]

On the back of my phone bill, it says:

    Try Online Banking with Bill Pay from Bank of America and you can pay ALL of your bills for FREE.


Please forgive me my bone-headedness for a few minutes.

I thought about this...and ignoring the security issues inherent in an online system (which is the first thing I usually think about), I realized something. Some poor working-class expectant mother has a job because of checks. She has a job up there in Sacramento, which probably pays minimum wage, opening the envelopes we customers send and feeding the contents to a computer.

If "I" (and 16,384 other SBC customers) chose to use online bill-pay, instead of writing and mailing a check, she probably wouldn't have a job. Nor would the guy at the Post Office, whose job it is to read the envelope and decide where the mail has to go. Nor would the trucker who carries the mail up to Sacramento.

If I and 16,384 other SBC customers choose to mail in checks, the system admin and programmers at BofA who is responsible for maintaining the online bill-pay system wouldn't have jobs. The ISPs would still be around, because I would still require my Internet connection (I don't have to pay more money to my ISP just to use bill pay).

Decisions, decisions.

There are probably a lot more mail-openers at SBC in Sacramento than there are system admins and programmers at BofA in Charlotte, NC (or India, for that matter). I see a much more even distribution of wealth amongst many, when it comes to mail-openers, than I do when it comes to paying a few sysadmins/developers big bucks to maintain a web service. (HTTP sucks anyway.)

Thus, despite the fact that I am a programmer, and prefer to use technology, I pay my phone bill with a check, and the Post Office. And I hope that my $0.37 stamp, and a recycled tree or two, will make a difference.

-- Des

 15:07:18 up 42 days,  8:43,  2 users,  load average: 0.30, 0.12, 0.09

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muleherd
muleherd
Wed, May. 28th, 2003 09:34 pm (UTC)

If you're going to look far enough down the road to worry about SBC's envelope openers, I think you should probably be worrying about the trees used to make the envelopes too.


ReplyThread
phlog
phlog
Phlog
Wed, May. 28th, 2003 10:02 pm (UTC)

Don't worry about them. I've thought this through - yes, it sucks that they'll have to look for new jobs, but they'll find them. If you're worried about job obsolesence, why don't you unplug your computers and move into a secluded shack in the woods? Oh.. wait.. someone's tried that already :)

Automation is good. It makes things faster, more efficient, and often more reliable (if most software didn't suck, we wouldn't have most of the problems we do with technology).

Sure unskilled labor gets pushed around as more jobs get replaced, but automation increases our total wealth as a world, so we'll be able to afford more welfare - and eventually get to the point where unskilled workers won't really have to do anything. And maybe a smaller percentage of people will go to college than will in the immediate future (the percentage of people with higher-education will definitely keep rising for a while), but there will always be people with the drive to learn and do more complicated things - work will be more on an open source sort of a basis - people will do tricky/complicated things because they WANT to, not because they have to. And the world will be a much better place.


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deskitty
deskitty
Des
Wed, May. 28th, 2003 10:30 pm (UTC)

I agree...automation IS good, hell, why do you think I'm a CSC?

But, as with everything else, there is a balance. I think right now we're moving far too quickly towards automation and commoditization (of software), and because of this our economy is now going through the tubes.

I agree that we need to move more towards automation. I just think we need to slow down a bit, and make sure we don't overautomate/overterrorize ourselves into a depression.

This was more a thought experiment than anything else...the other (more main) reason I pay my phone bill by check is, I just plain don't trust SBC and BofA not to screw something up in the automated transfer.


ReplyThread Parent
robsnonjournal
Rob
Wed, May. 28th, 2003 10:32 pm (UTC)

/me pats phlog on the head. Good little optimist... ;)

Realistically in our lifetimes you will have to work to support yourself and your family. There is no benevolent corporation/government in existance and none expected anytime soon that is going to just provide for people because its nice.

Notice the tax cut that just passed this week. Did they say, well we're going to give a bunch of money to poor people so they can kick back and relax...

Oh and by the way, more and more programming jobs are becoming considered "semi-skilled" and moved to India where they have compitent developers willing to do _your_ job and _mine_ for 1/10 the salary. Don't expect companies to pass the savings on to you so you can enjoy life without work...


ReplyThread Parent
phlog
phlog
Phlog
Wed, May. 28th, 2003 10:41 pm (UTC)

Oh, come on! We all know things will be perfect in the future! :)

But seriously, we have a LONG time before we get to the point I was talking about.. possibly a hundred or (likely) more years. That's a LOT of time for things to change.

A lot of my hypothesis is going on a hunch. I'll adjust it as I get more experience and things pan out.


ReplyThread Parent
robsnonjournal
Rob
Wed, May. 28th, 2003 10:25 pm (UTC)

This has probably changed, but when "online banking" first started they basically sent a check from the bank to SBC for you. really _high tech_. ;)


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deskitty
deskitty
Des
Wed, May. 28th, 2003 10:32 pm (UTC)

Oh, I'm sure it was...but given the way bank systems are setup nowadays, I would imagine that the transfer just happens electronically now. It could very easily have been electronic before, if the company and the customer used the same bank.


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xenithtoast
xenithtoast
Xenith
Thu, May. 29th, 2003 03:11 pm (UTC)

"Sometimes when I reflect back on all the beer I drink I feel ashamed. Then I look into the glass and think about the workers in the brewery and all of their hopes and dreams. If I didn't drink this beer, they might be out of work and their dreams would be shattered. Then I say to myself, 'It is better that I drink this beer and let their dreams come true than be selfish and worry about my liver.'" -Jack Handy


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