Work Will Be Voluntary

November 10, 2023
Leyendecker Executive Search

Welcome to This Week’s Leyendecker View

There will come a point when no job is needed. You can have a job if you want for personal satisfaction, but the AI will be able to do everything.
– Elon Musk talking with PM Rishi Sunak in London


Work Will Be Voluntary

The Elon Musk quote at the beginning of this week’s Leyendecker View deserves some pondering. According to Elon, AI means that eventually no one will have to work, unless of course they “want to for personal satisfaction.” How quaint. Only if you need to feel personally satisfied might you want to work. 

So does this mean all the people who will not work won’t be personally satisfied? Or will they be personally satisfied because they won’t have to work? But if they won’t have to work, where will they get money for housing, food, education, health care, entertainment and all the other expenses of life?

OpenAI’s CEO, Sam Altman, suggests we may soon need universal basic income (UBI) to support the people who lose jobs to AI. 

Okay, so instead of working, the federal government (I presume) is going to send people a check that will cover their living expenses. But where is the government going to get the money to pay out all this UBI? And how much money will they give everyone, and based on what metrics?

I don’t see any tech companies volunteering to pay higher taxes that can be accumulated in a UBI fund.

What I see is Microsoft trying to avoid paying $29B in taxes. And UK tech companies looking for tax relief so they can make “productivity enhancing” investments. And I see Apple trying to avoid €14.3B of taxes in Ireland.

I also don’t see any tech bro billionaires offering to give the government a bunch of their billions to fund UBI.

Just a couple days ago, Jeff Bezos announced he was moving from Washington to Florida to be close to his parents and his Blue Origin operations. What Bezos doesn’t mention is that Washington state has a 7% tax on capital gains and a 20% estate tax at his level of wealth. Florida has neither. 

This article suggests the tech industry works hard to avoid paying taxes.

So where is this UBI going to come from, and when are we supposed to start building it up? Goodness knows that with this year’s $1.7B budget deficit, which follows several years with a $1T budget deficit, and with current federal government debt of $33T, which is rapidly rising by the year, we certainly don’t have a savings account to start paying people not to work. 

And if we pay people not to work, will that make them happy? Or will we have to deal with that old saying, An idle mind is the devil’s workshop?

Maybe we need to keep in mind that old sayings get old because they stand the test of time.


Credit card debt hits a record
And delinquencies are rising.
Total consumer debt at record $17.3T
Low-income consumers’ excess savings are gone

Interest costs on the federal debt are exploding
2023 interest cost will be $1T
Who is ready for higher taxes?
The IRS just got taxpayer friendly

Who imports US products and services?
This map lays it out at scale


US beef prices hit record high
National cattle herd at 61-year low.

How much insulin costs around the world
WTF is going on in the US?

You’re trapped by streaming services
Expect more price increases.


The covid jobs recovery is complete
And we’ve added 4.5MM new jobs.

Vegas union workers get a better deal
Hollywood actors get a better deal

Will higher wages lead to higher prices?
Oil workers average $43.63 an hour
Union auto workers average $28 an hour

The hottest job market
Might be in government


Eurozone retail sales fall
When will recession show up?

ECB has to keep a big balance sheet
Or risk destabilizing Euro banks.

Germany rethinks immigration policy
More of this is likely to come.


China is making too much stuff
A price war worries competitor countries. 

Japan cheers inflation
After decades of stagnation.

Global economic conditions look weak
As plastic raw material and diesel demand wanes

Giant shipping company to cut 10K jobs
Globalization retreats, economies slow.


The Hamas tunnels of Gaza
Are deep, intricate and well engineered.

China and Russia claim the moral high ground
Supporting Hamas is the moral high ground?

While Turkey boycotts Israeli companies
Saudi Arabia to host Arab summit on Gaza
Will they support Iran’s proxies?

Is Iran backing away from Palestine?
Or is this a ploy to keep Hamas around?


Russia’s O&G revenue hits 18-month high
So much for sanctions.
Here’s how Russia games the system
And we don’t have a fix?

European Commission president supports Ukraine
And hopes to let it into the EU one day.

Biden promises long-range missiles
Will they arrive soon enough for Ukraine?


The new world economy
As countries line up behind the US or China.

Is China going to build a military base in Oman?
Biden’s advisors seem to think so.
While they bully the South Pacific
Here’s how they control the South China Sea

The Iran-Russia military axis
The new Hitler and Mussolini?


The US equity market is MASSIVE
Check out how it compares to others.

Big banks unload risk on to PE and hedge funds
What could go wrong?

Cash is king for Gen Z
The TikTok, cash-stuffing meme takes off.

The economy is cooling
So stocks go up, obviously, right?


Non-residential construction booms
More reshoring is coming.

The office market is a big mess.
WeWork’s bankruptcy makes it even worse
Overdue property loans hit 10-year high

Global office space vacancies
Are at a record high


Musk’s Neuralink is ready for prime time
They just need a human brain to try it on.

A Meta whistleblower
Suggests Meta knew about potential damage to teens
Zuckerberg ignored the signs 

Taiwan’s Foxconn under China’s microscope
Is it making Apple nervous?
Are Apple’s days in China about to end?


Ready to create your own AI app?
OpenAI is going to let developers do so

Tech giants invest billions in AI
And get billions in new profit.

China may not be behind the US in AI
So much for our supposedly better culture of innovation.


Applications are declining at top MBA schools
Is a finance career losing its luster?

A growing number of newborns
Have congenital syphilis

Male fertility has been dropping
Since mobile phones showed up


UN wants a developing-nation climate fund
Saudi Arabia says count them out.
The US says contributions should be voluntary
The UN “only” wants $387B a year

Denmark wants EU farmers to pay emissions tax
Higher food inflation would follow.

IEA sees LNG glut coming
Oopsie doopsie!


Nigeria makes a big bet on solar
How will people react to higher electricity costs?

Green energy investments face headwinds
Costs keep rising, and permitting isn’t easy.
Wind power faces a crisis

Direct solar with no batteries
Is it doable?


The US may have a big rare-earth deposit
Hidden in a Wyoming coal mine.

Big EV price discounts are here
If you really want one.

China may have already won the battery war
Maybe US automakers should focus on ICE cars.


China’s economy falls back into deflation
Are they following the Japan 30-year template?

More Chinese executives go missing
XI tightens the grip on everything.

Beijing wants more foreign investment
What, so they can nationalize it later?
As foreign firms pull their profits out of China


Biden announces $16.4B for passenger rail
It will cost $4.6B to replace one 1.4-mile tunnel.

Intel could get a big defense contract
Bringing chip suppliers home.

GOP senators want a border clamp-down
In return for more Ukrainian aid.
Nicaragua makes our border crisis worse

Biden supports auto union growth
“Vote for me, autoworkers!”


Digital detoxing?
Study says the “Goldilocks” rule is best

The new sleep formula
For better health and longevity.

How important is stretching?
Hear it from some experts.

Anger can help you with tough tasks
So says a Texas A&M study.


The worst weather on earth
Is in New Hampshire

The best US city for foreign businesses?
The Financial Times-Nikkei rankings pick Houston

Highest-paid movie stars for a single project
$156MM for Keanu Reeves?


Bubbles Up
RIP, Jimmy Buffett
Some lyrics are poetry, ya know.


Will electric vehicles disappoint environmentalists?
The Soho Forum hosts a debate.


What Happens Later trailer.
Meg Ryan does a new romcom.

Dream Scenario trailer.
Nicolas Cage continues his mainstream return. 

The Family Plan trailer.
James Bond in a minivan?


One man’s search for the world’s greatest sandwich
So what did he choose?

12 great spaghetti squash recipes
Tried spaghetti squash yet?

The best mac and cheese ever
Oh me, oh my oh!


Has post-pandemic revenge spending fully run its course?

From a Wall Street Journal article on Wednesday: “Texas Children’s Hospital’s three emergency departments across the Houston area now typically treat 400 to 500 kids a month for mental-health issues, compared with 40 to 50 in 2019.”


Social media and its addicting algorithms…victim culture…the promotion of hate…questioning biological sex…climate change fear porn…pandemic fear porn…regular porn…video game violence…glorifying terrorists and making the evil guys the good guys…destruction of the nuclear family…our education-system disaster…institutional child care replacing mothers and fathers…consumerism on steroids…the fall of religion…what else?

Last quarter, US GDP growth came in at 4.5%. The Atlanta Fed had predicted it would come in at 5.4%. Right now the Atlanta Fed is predicting fourth quarter GDP growth of 2.1%. What if they are again overestimating?

In 2022, we saw record remittances to Mexico. Mexicans working in the US sent their families $55.9B. That’s $55.9B that was not recirculated into the US economy. Hmmm…And a decent percentage of that money is going to the drug cartels.

The US Treasury surprised a lot of people last week by announcing they would issue less long-term and more short-term debt. Could the Fed pull down interest rates far enough in the next couple of years that the Treasury could then issue long-term government debt at the low yields they recently missed?

Hamas was pretty smart putting important tunnel operations below hospitals, schools and other places, where normal Palestinians need to be. Or would that be, Hamas is pretty evil?

Can there be a more productive outcome to the Ukraine war than for Russia to take out Putin, blame it on him and then beg Ukraine and its allies for forgiveness for the war?

Can there be a productive outcome in the Israel-Palestine situation without a dramatic change in Iran’s leadership?

The problem with most economists, and certainly almost all bureaucrats who influence and/or create policy, is that everything they know is theoretical. They usually have no real private sector experience.

Is climate change a new form of pagan religion?


Janet Yellen Really Messed Up
November 3, 2023

There’s Good News
October 27, 2023

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