Modern Times

100 times more efficient than 100 years ago
Thatís modern hands.
10 men and their robots can make
100 prestige cars in half a day

Ready to wait in traffic, as built up as the town streets they purr in,
With enough ďon boardĒ technology
To put a man on the moon
And software common enough to run

The invisible traffic between the banks they pass,
Places that make more money when their doors are closed,
Yet, by a reassuring paradox
Can just as easily lose, and more.

Confusing two numbers, in seconds a man in Japan
Lost his firm the equivalent of a small countryís debt
And working late in London caused the sleep
That caused the crash that caused the death.

Human error, always there is now heightened.
Technology and pace cause this. Risk is grown
But somewhere, someone works out a balance
And somewhere, someone agrees it.

Examples keep coming, but what matters here
Is the feeling that things canít get any leaner.
Less hands do more, and more is consumed
Sock drawers fill and populations grow

A fragility has been created.
Things as solid as oak book cases and granite churches
Mark our past as much as baskets of radio valves and bobbins.
Now, to dispose of silicon chips needs white coated scientists

Days that pass move us further away from
Undoing this mess. Maintaining it all contains it.
But the barbeque, big TV, latest trainers, cooler car:
At what cost will people drop those?

Iíve heard it said:
We donít make anything anymore in Britain.
That itís possible to spend our way out of a recession.
That confidence can build cities. Well fine

Iím not despairing here, Iím just saying
It all seems to be getting tighter somehow
And that by becoming smarter, by linking things together
Something somewhere else is becoming weaker

(January 2002)