Springingtiger's Blog


The Elderly, The Internet, and The End of Civilisation.
September 4, 2013, 17:59
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , ,

I was reading in Computer Active that Age UK is calling on the Government,  local authorities and businesses to promote the benefits of the Internet to people over seventy five.  The article posits several health benefits of Internet use such as alleviating loneliness.  It also cites Internet shopping as a benefit. However underlying the push to promote Internet use is, in my opinion,  a very sinister and antisocial motive.

Michelle Mitchell of Age UK is quoted saying,  “The Government and businesses stand to gain greatly from more services moving online as their operating costs are reduced. If they want older people – particularly older women – to engage with their services online, it is right that they should help them to get online in the first place. ” The point to notice here is that the primary motivation is the reduction of operating costs. One can hardly blame companies for keeping costs down,  however reductions in costs are rarely used to reduce prices, but rather to increase profits.  What is missed here is that there is a social cost to reducing operating costs by moving services online.

The main saving in moving online comes at the cost of jobs, primarily in call centres,  but also among customer facing staff in shops and offices throughout the UK. I cannot pretend that it is not more efficient to move online, but every job that is lost is a loss of tax revenue. The loss of tax revenue means that soon there will be few over seventy fives who can afford to retire because of the inevitable reduction in state pensions and benefits.

I was yesterday in an independent bookshop,  thanks to,  first the big chains,  then supermarkets and the scrapping of the Net Book Agreement,  and now online shopping and ebooks, there are few independent, or even local, bookshops left. Every local shop that closes diminishes the environment in which we live. Every time a local service is centralised then moved online, our local environment is impoverished.  Soon online shopping will not be an option for the elderly,  but a necessity as the only remaining shops will be in out of town shopping centres. Video libraries have been replaced by online services,  how long before our remaining libraries are replaced by an online book service? 

Now that much of our service industry is going online, we desperately need to create new jobs, might we hope for a revival of British industry and agriculture or have we only decline and poverty before us? We need more planning of our economy to enable us to benefit from technological advances, Westminster”s adherence to market forces is driving us into decline.
Sometimes the cost of savings is too high.

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