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Free Minds & Free Markets

The Myth of Technological Unemployment

If the nightmare of technological unemployment were true, it would already have happened, repeatedly and massively.

As a savvy reader, you already know that technological change is why the jobs in manufacturing are drifting away from Youngstown, Ohio. You know that most of the drift goes to other American cities, such as Houston or Chattanooga. You know that Appalachian jobs in coal mining are not coming back, because new techniques have permanently cheapened natural gas. You know that the Trump administration's scapegoat, foreign competition, bears little responsibility for any of this. And when foreign encroachment does happen, you know it's good, not bad, for most Americans.

Still, many reasonable people fret. Isn't technological unemployment a real and serious problem? Non-economists of a quantitative bent fret about what we're going to do when all the jobs go away—when, say, autonomous vehicles replace America's 3.5 million truck drivers.

Even some economists, brilliant ones, think we're in trouble. Robert Gordon of Northwestern suggests it in his recent book The Rise and Fall of American Growth (Princeton University Press). Tyler Cowen of George Mason University does too, in Average Is Over (Dutton). The great if misled John Maynard Keynes believed we would lose jobs from technology. So did the still greater David Ricardo.

They were wrong.

Otherwise sensible folk are, for some reason, terrified by robots. Yet the results of automation are good overall. Workers move from wretched assembly-line jobs to better ones standing in white coats monitoring the robots, at the higher wages made possible by the higher tech. Or, even better, they move to jobs outside the auto industry, earning pay that goes further because people can buy the radically cheaper stuff the robots now make.

If their new jobs are not higher paying, it's probably because the auto union managed to extract monopoly profits from the company, and therefore from consumers. Robert Reich, a reliable source of sweetly leftish errors of facts and ethics, declares that "the decline in unionization [of private companies] directly correlates with the decline of the portion of income going to the middle class." But paying selected workers on the assembly line more than they can earn elsewhere, at the expense of other, sometimes poorer, workers' ability to buy cars, is hardly an ethical formula for raising up the working class.

When a Ford plant installed robots, Walter Reuther, a long-ago president of the United Auto Workers union, is said to have asked a manager: "How are you going to get them to buy Fords?" But Reuther's argument is fallacious. Employees of car companies are a trivial share of the car-buying public. You can't create prosperity merely by having workers purchase from their own employers.

Reich has accused the following things of driving down American wages: "Automation, followed by computers, software, robotics, computer-controlled machine tools and widespread digitization." But such innovations have actually raised real wages, correctly measured, because a human supplied with a better tool can produce more outputs. And the point of an economy is production for consumption, not protection of existing jobs.

Consider the historical record: If the nightmare of technological unemployment were true, it would already have happened, repeatedly and massively. In 1800, four out of five Americans worked on farms. Now one in 50 do, but the advent of mechanical harvesting and hybrid corn did not disemploy the other 78 percent.

In 1910, one out of 20 of the American workforce was on the railways. In the late 1940s, 350,000 manual telephone operators worked for AT&T alone. In the 1950s, elevator operators by the hundreds of thousands lost their jobs to passengers pushing buttons. Typists have vanished from offices. But if blacksmiths unemployed by cars or TV repairmen unemployed by printed circuits never got another job, unemployment would not be 5 percent, or 10 percent in a bad year. It would be 50 percent and climbing.

Each month in the United States—a place with about 160 million civilian jobs—1.7 million of them vanish. Every 30 days, in a perfectly normal manifestation of creative destruction, over 1 percent of the jobs go the way of the parlor maids of 1910. Not because people quit. The positions are no longer available. The companies go out of business, or get merged or downsized, or just decide the extra salesperson on the floor of the big-box store isn't worth the costs of employment.

What you hear on the evening news is the monthly net increase or decrease in jobs, with some 200,000 added in a good month. But the gross figure of 1 percent of jobs lost per month is the relevant one for worries about technological unemployment. It's well over 10 percent per year at simple interest. In just a few years at such rates—if disemployment were truly permanent—a third of the labor force would be standing on street corners, and the fraction still would be rising. In 2000, well over 100,000 people were employed by video stores, yet our street corners are not filled with former video store clerks asking for loose change.

We could "save people's jobs" by stopping all innovation. You would do next year exactly what you did this year. Capital as well as labor would perpetually be employed the same way. But then we would perpetually have the same income. That's nice if you're doing well now. It's not so nice if you're poor or young.

Job protections for the old have in fact already created a dangerous class of unemployed youths in the world—50 percent among Greeks and black South Africans, for instance.

Helping the poverty-stricken is laudable. But we can't subsidize 1.7 million people a month. Nor is job retraining a good idea when directed from above: The wise heads in Washington don't know the future, and they'll end up teaching people to be machinists for companies that won't exist. Workers themselves know best how to retrain and relocate, as did the hundreds of thousands who moved to North Dakota during the brief oil boom there. We want the labor force to be as flexible as the capital force. And for that we need liberty, not government programs.

In the spirit of John Rawls, we should ask which society we'd rather enter at birth, without knowing where within that society we'd end up. One in which all jobs are protected, bureaucrats decide who gets subsidies and who doesn't, and the economy slides, as France has, into stagnation and high levels of youth unemployment? Or one in which labor laws are flexible, individual workers decide their own futures, and the economy lifts up the poorest among us?

Choose, and then quit worrying about technological unemployment.

Deirdre McCloskey is emerita professor of economics, history, English, and communication at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the author most recently of Bourgeois Equality: How Ideas, Not Capital or Institutions, Enriched the World

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  • loveconstitution1789||

    "You know that the Trump administration's scapegoat, foreign competition, bears little responsibility for any of this."
    I remember hearing that Trump wanted to change how foreign companies undermine American companies through socialist subsidies, import tariffs and using borderline slave labor to make products.

    "Foreign competition" implies a fair exchange of goods and services from non-American companies to America and that is not the case with many foreign companies.

    The best trade would be open trade and let consumers decide. Foreign countries mostly don't operate like that and have various taxes, import tariffs, and barriers to American goods while sending products to America that were made artificially cheaper through subsidies and borderline slave labor.

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    You've swallowed that crap, eh? It don't work that way, homey.

    Trade is voluntary exchange. If some other country's government wants to tax its people to subsidize its exports to me, how is that a loss for me? The only people hurt are that other country's taxpayers. Similarly, if my government raises tariffs on imports, it hurts me and everyone else who has to pay more.

    Using fiat money also requires that dollars out equals dollars in. If I buy a Toyota with dollars, Toyota has to spend those dollars to buy American goods. Sure, they can buy other stuff, say Brazilian goods, with those dollars, but only if that seller expects to be able to use those dollars similarly. That means those dollars must eventually come back to the US to buy American goods.

    So when the US raises import tariffs, that reduces how many dollars are sent overseas, which means it reduces how many dollars come back to buy American goods, which reduces how many American goods are made, which reduces American jobs. And if you have any sense of reality, you'll understand that all that government action is inefficient and far outweighs the few American jobs added to produce the domestic goods to replace the foreign goods; you'll also understand that supply and demand means that those American replacements will be more expensive, of poorer quality, and less innovative without the natural competition previously supplied by those foreign goods.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Free trade is crap? It does work that way homie.

    You are okay with playing on a crooked field but I am not.

    If there is not free trade, then you think you are getting cheaper and better products. Maybe US products can compete but some foreign markets are literally closed to US products or tariffs so high that the price is too high. Then sometimes US companies go out of business. You are left with limited products to choose from here in the USA.

    You make the mistake that Trump is for "free trade" and that I am for actual free trade. Trump is the only president to address this issue but his plan for tariffs is bad. I personally think Trump is using "tariffs" to scare foreign countries into free trade talks.

  • Agammamon||

    I'm OK playing on a crooked field that advantages me. And unilateral free trade advantages me.

    *You* can be willing to sacrifice in order to bring up the living standards of foreigners - but you've not laid out a convincing argument as to why I should be.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Uh, crooked field relating to trade is NOT unilateral free trade.

    *you* seem to be confusing fair trade (crooked) with free trade (everybody wins).

  • Sevo||

    YOU seem to be making up definitions as you please.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    *YOU* seem to be confusing free trade and crooked being good.

    Would you like for me to give you the definition of crooked?

  • BYODB||

    I'm not sure I agree with the definitions, but you can look at certain products to get an idea. An example could be an iPhone produced in China.

    Certainly, an iPhone produced in China is cheaper for an American to buy. However, it's also true that Chinese labor isn't just subsidized it's virtually slave labor. They get paid, is my understanding, and perhaps even paid well for China. There are also stories about Chinese workers committing suicide in their factories. Regardless, it's more likely than not a true statement to say that the Chinese advantage in labor is coerced.

    So what we're saying is that we're ok with our consumer products being cheaper because they are produced by a foreign government that owns the employees who make the product. Seems legit? I could very well be wrong, I'm always open to people shredding my shitty arguments but I've read multiple stories regarding Chinese producing practices and I'm not so sure I like what I've seen thus far.

    There's something to be said for trading with other nations who agree with our idea's regarding individual autonomy and capitalism, but it's hard to deny that a whole host of products are far cheaper when produced overseas for a variety of reasons.

  • Sevo||

    "Regardless, it's more likely than not a true statement to say that the Chinese advantage in labor is coerced."

    I am not saying there isn't coerced labor in China, but having been there (and you are no longer followed around by 'spies), it was pretty well hidden or there isn't much.
    I'd like to see the evidence for your claims.

  • BYODB||

    The evidence should be obvious at face value since they are communist, thus their labor is owned by the government at face value. I know that in places like Shanghai they are 'experimenting' with free trade zones and capitalism, but those are not the Chinese norm from what I've read.

    Essentially the Chinese system is defacto cronyism down to it's bedrock, with labor having no particular input, and we consider this a good thing in a trade partner since it directly benefits us. There's a parallel in there to American slavery around the turn of the century, perhaps, but it's probably a tortured comparison.

  • Sevo||

    BYODB|7.11.17 @ 12:12PM|#
    "The evidence should be obvious at face value since they are communist"

    Nope. That bit of sophistry will get you laughed out the door.
    Bull
    .
    .
    .
    .
    shit.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Sevo|7.11.17 @ 12:19PM|#
    BYODB|7.11.17 @ 12:12PM|#
    "The evidence should be obvious at face value since they are communist"
    Nope. That bit of sophistry will get you laughed out the door.
    Bull
    .
    .
    shit.


    I guess we will never know...Since China is Communist and controls what outside China knows about factories and workers.

    How convenient.

  • spec24||

    "I guess we will never know...Since China is Communist and controls what outside China knows about factories and workers.

    How convenient."

    Yeah, you may want to clue yourself in on the number of Chinese people that come to the US on a daily basis.

  • spec24||

    The Chinese ARE BECOMING RICHER AT AN ASTONISHING RATE! At least they were - they're central planning is beginning to crack. And it's not just a small elite, it is the country as a whole. So while you sit in your posh living room, typing away on your Chinese made computer (all the while complaining about China), don't pretend that you give two squirts about the Chinese people. To compare the Chinese with African slaves is about as offensive as you can get. You think their lives prior to the trade that has been taking place for the last few decades with the US was better? If you're looking for the Chinese suddenly to lift the veil and give their people freedom you're going to be waiting a long time. That doesn't mean those people don't benefit from trade with us, they do. And the fact that the Chinese gov't exploits the people in the way they do isn't going to change no matter what stupid policies the US comes up with. Until the Chinese people have the wherewithal to demand freedom the best thing to do is for us to keep our trade as open as possible. It matters not how we get cheaper goods - whether it's new technology, more efficient production, or trade. Fair trade is not an economic term. It does not exist. Fair trade is something leftists and people like them have come up with to limit freedoms and make us all "equal" - equally poor. It is not America's job to make sure the Chinese people are treated well by their government.

  • Bgoptmst||

    This. Also, the quality of life in China is raising due to us buying their cheap goods. Don't trust me, trust NPR, which isn't a far right outlet.

  • Calidissident||

    One thing regarding the suicides - from my understanding, it's common in China for workers to live on-site at factories. And most people tend to commit suicide at or near their home. I remember reading a story about a particular factory that was being criticized for this, but they had this housing setup and the suicide rate of their employees was actually below the national average for China IIRC.

  • BYODB||


    One thing regarding the suicides - from my understanding, it's common in China for workers to live on-site at factories. And most people tend to commit suicide at or near their home. I remember reading a story about a particular factory that was being criticized for this, but they had this housing setup and the suicide rate of their employees was actually below the national average for China IIRC.


    That could be true, but at the same time this is reflective of the American system around the turn of the century in manufacturing which had it's own well documented issues such as when you get fired you just lost your home and everything else along with your job.


    Another discussion point could easily be the consideration that Chinese environmental policy towards it's manufacturing sector is...terrible? Our EPA might make America cleaner, but it's very possible it also simply makes us less competitive so we need to get our products elsewhere.


    There are a lot of arguments, it would take all day to even parse through them all. I would like to see free trade between free peoples, but it would appear that profit dictates that we trade with non-free people's because it directly benefits us and allows our nanny-regulatory state to continue unabated.

  • spec24||

    "I would like to see free trade between free peoples, but it would appear that profit dictates that we trade with non-free people's because it directly benefits us and allows our nanny-regulatory state to continue unabated."

    So you will condemn people who don't happen to fit into your view of "free", to a life of poverty because you see them as being unworthy to trade with?

    "because it directly benefits us and allows our nanny-regulatory state to continue unabated"

    This doesn't even make logical sense. A nanny-regulatory state would NOT want it to benefit us because then there'd be more need for a nanny-state! A nanny-state, BY DEFINITION, would want things NOT to benefit us. That way it's far easier to convince us that we need them!

    I agree that we live in a regulatory nanny-state, but your thinking is ass-backwards. We have a nanny-state regardless of the fact that trade is benefiting us, because people are far too stupid and far too tribal not to believe that they need taken care of, which is why it was so easy, this election season, to convince everyone that China was taking jobs.

  • Sevo||

    "from my understanding, it's common in China for workers to live on-site at factories."

    So more hearsay?
    Oh, good.

  • BYODB||

    So pointing out that China is communist, and that their economy is centrally planned, is not evidence that their workforce is owned by the government. Could you provide more of an argument than 'bullshit'?

    Is China not a centrally planned economy anymore? Honestly curious what your take on that is Sevo.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    BYOB: Communism does not mean Communism to some denialists.

    Its all free market and capitalism in China, didn't you know? /S

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Article on Chinese worker conditions

    Its not even that workers living on site is an issue at all. Its that some people dismiss the concerns that a COMMUNIST country is treating people like slaves and refusing to allow any investigation.

    Workers belong to the state in Communist countries, so why some people are pretending that workers are anything but paid slaves I will never understand.

  • BYODB||


    Workers belong to the state in Communist countries, so why some people are pretending that workers are anything but paid slaves I will never understand.

    I wouldn't necessarily go that far, as I said above there is probably a comparison to American slavery but it's also almost certainly a tortured comparison. It's something to consider in that it makes American workers too expensive by default since a capitalist system determines what their wage will be and it's a virtual guarantee that wage will be higher here in the U.S. than it would be in China.

    As you point out, we don't 'know' what Chinese wages look like in particular. China has proven over and over again that they have no problem lying about these things, so I take everything I read in regards to China with a pretty massive grain of salt. (RE: Chinese efforts to curb various emissions etc.)

    I won't pretend to know the ultimate economic consequences of such a policy, but from a purely humanist angle it gives me pause. I suspect that the increased economic freedom in China is a good thing, but Chinese nationals are still massively Communist so...I'm not sure the American theory that they will 'overcome' Communism because of increased trade is rooted in reality.

  • EscherEnigma||

    Gotta love this!

    I get called "communist" for not being overly concerned with our taxes (which aren't unreasonable compared to other first-world countries), but we start talking about a literal communist country and suddenly it's free markets as far as the eye can see!

    Heh.

  • BYODB||

    What is bizarre is that the concept of comparative advantage in labor is basically ignored, in how it functions in it's particulars, when trading with a Communist regime.

    I.E. why and how do they have a comparative advantage in labor.

    Something can be true, and be good for America, while being terrible for things like human rights. *shrug* I'd be the first to point out that human rights in China aren't necessarily our concern in the United States, but that doesn't mean I want to subsidize human rights violations in China either.

    Fortunately, in the United States, I don't need to buy Chinese produced goods. There are occasions where I probably still buy finished products that contain Chinese components, but I try my best not to buy them where possible.

  • BYODB||

    Oh, and as something of a follow up to this firms that sell items primarily produced in China (places like Wal-Mart, for instance) have indeed crowded out other retail sellers here in the United States who don't do the same. While I haven't seen anyone credible claim that this is the only, or primary, reason that this has happened it is probably a factor. I would imagine that you could find other examples in non-retail of this same effect but, again, I'm not a professional economist.

    Looking at basic information one would easily conclude that trade with China has indeed brought down prices, but there are almost certainly second or third order consequences of that. Having a price floor on labor here in the United States isn't doing us any real favors in competing with foreign labor, that much is for sure, but would the average American take the $245 per month that 1789's linked article above quotes for iPhone factory workers in China? Hard to say, since we don't let the manufacturers pay so little.

  • Calidissident||

    I was actually arguing for your point, and I don't see anyone here with MLA citations to their arguments, so excuse me. This wikipedia article covers most of what I was talking about.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foxconn_suicides

  • Calidissident||

    That was a reply to Sevo.

  • spec24||

    Good grief. China doesn't even rank in the top 100 of countries when it comes to suicide.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    I personally think Trump is using "tariffs" to scare foreign countries into free trade talks.

    Yes, you've made your fantasies about Stealth Libertarian Donald Trump abundantly clear.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Everything... he... says... is... random!

    Haha. You TDS folks make me laugh.

    Trump can threaten higher tariffs to get countries to talk but only Congress can pass laws to tax and add/raise tariffs.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    Why the fuck are you clinging to the fantasy that a longtime out-and-proud cronyist suddenly gives two shits about promoting free trade? You've got delusions, man.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    You suddenly believe everything Trump says? You cannot have it both ways. You cannot believe that he will tariff the shit out of every foreign product and that he is a liar.
    TRUMP: I am all for free trade, but it's got to be fair. When Ford moves their massive plants to Mexico, we get nothing. I want them to stay in Michigan.
    Trump on trade

    So you see no difference between private crony businessman Trump and President Trump?

  • Citizen X - #6||

    I'll admit, i'm having real trouble parsing your comment, but that's only because i'm a sane person. You seem to be imputing a set of beliefs to me that i don't actually have and then going on to back up my original point, but it's hard to tell for sure.

  • Robert||

    Trump's statements on trade make it impossible to predict his influence on overall trade policies. So the only way to judge will be to see who he appoints.

    On some policies Trump has apparently strong-enough leanings that one could ignore his appointment if the person seems to contradict him. The person he appoints will wind up as Trump's "yes" man. Trade is not one of those policies; I think Trump's going to be the "yes" man to whoever winds up advising him on any trade matters.

  • Zeb||

    TDSDS (Trump Derangement Syndrome Derangement Syndrome) is a real and growing problem.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Is that what you call pointing out what the lazy TDS people say?

    You cannot have anymore derangement that those afflicted with TDS.

  • BYODB||

    Trump's stance on tariff's are shitty. There's no denying that. We already have a shit ton of tariffs, there is also no denying that.

    So the argument appears to be that we can't trust a word that Trump says, and this is somehow a good thing because it confuses the establishment when the President is constantly lying about his agenda?

  • Calidissident||

    You accuse anyone who criticizes Trump or doesn't believe your theories on what he's "really doing" (that just happen to coincide with what you want, despite no evidence to suggest it) of having TDS. That's the point Zeb's making, that people like you make the term TDS meaningless by accusing essentially any Trump critic of having it.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Yup. If you don't like Trump, say stuff that he "intends to do", and then call me a Trump supporter because I point out things that Trump has said or hopefully will do, then that TDS.

    In other words, some people will not have a discussion about an issue because TRUMP.

    Its not just any Trump criticism. I criticize Trump. I also point out some good stuff like Gorsuch. TDS folks are criticizing- they are hysterical Trump won.

    See MJGreen and calling someone besides himself a troll.

  • Zeb||

    In other words, some people will not have a discussion about an issue because TRUMP.

    That is true. But I don't see anyone here doing that. And yet you persist in screaming "TDS" at everyone who thinks Trump's proposed trade policies and goals are not good.

    TDS is a real thing. And so is TDSDS.

  • Unlabelable MJGreen||

    I prefer the classic diagnosis of troll.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Green: You are a troll alright.

  • ||

    Heh.

  • sharmota4zeb||

    +1

  • Zeb||

    You play on the field you have. If you say free trade is good, but only when the rest of the world stops meddling and subsidizing, then you are not, practically speaking, for free trade because that isn't going to happen anytime soon.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Ah. So you are fine with the crony trade field that we have and do not want anyone to try and change it?

    I do not want that, so I will continue to point out the hypocrisy of "wanting free trade" but not wanting free trade because its hard to get. Nobody will play with you complaint.

    Its only talking to other countries about free trade. Worst case is they say no.

  • Zeb||

    I never said stop trying. I just don't think that imposing more barriers to trade (or threatening to do so) is going to help. So as I see it the choice is between being as free as possible by unilaterally reducing trade barriers, or moving in completely the wrong direction altogether.

    It's possible that I'm wrong. It's possible that what you favor may work better than I think. But I'm sticking with my take because I think it's the most practical approach and that it is the better option from an individual liberty point of view as well. The rights of people and companies to engage in free exchange should not end at the border.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    What would you suggest then? Stick with what we have for trade?

    By the way, in many countries many of these companies are not privately owned. They are owned by the state and then the state is negotiating on its behalf.

    Free trade is the best but we don't have that. I see our three options as do nothing, go free trade for USA and fuck everyone else, or try and push for other countries to also do free trade and the USA will do free trade.

  • Zeb||

    What would you suggest then? Stick with what we have for trade?

    No. I'd like to see it get freer. Get rid of tariffs or make them uniform so they aren't used to give special favors to certain industries. Simplify or eliminate paperwork and reporting requirements for imports and exports.

    Government has a few very simple things it should do. As far as I'm concerned, engineering world trade is not one of them. If other countries are trying to do that, try to convince them not to. But two wrongs don't make a right and other countries interfering with free trade and markets isn't a justification for the US doing the same crap.

  • Sevo||

    loveconstitution1789|7.11.17 @ 11:47AM|#
    "Ah. So you are fine with the crony trade field that we have and do not want anyone to try and change it?"

    You have a hell of a collection of straw men. Did you carry them all the way from home?

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Sevo|7.11.17 @ 11:57AM|#
    loveconstitution1789|7.11.17 @ 11:47AM|#
    "Ah. So you are fine with the crony trade field that we have and do not want anyone to try and change it?"
    You have a hell of a collection of straw men. Did you carry them all the way from home?


    Only when I go to socialism-land.

    I need them to fulfill their immigration quota.

  • Calidissident||

    One of the aims/points of trade agreements is to get countries to bilaterally or multilaterally agree to reduce tariffs and non-tariff barriers to trade. Trump doesn't seem to be too keen on that.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    I think history has shown us that the aims/points of trade agreements is to get special perks and advantages. See NAFTA and TPP.

    Free trade agreement: Do you agree to unilateral free trade with no subsidies, tariffs, taxes, duties on goods and services?

    yes or no.

  • Calidissident||

    In a perfect world, yeah it would be that simple (also I think you're using the word unilateral wrong, as it wouldn't be a free trade agreement without two or more parties). In reality, countries are hesitant to engage in free trade unilaterally, so they seek to form bilateral or multilateral agreements to mutually reduce barriers. And of course, this process often includes exemptions and provisions catering to special interests. That doesn't automatically mean a FTA is a net negative although it is worse than the libertarian ideal of simple across the board elimination trade barriers. My point is that Trump has shown over the course of decades to be skeptical of foreign trade and as such there's little to suggest that he's actually playing 4D chess to promote free trade.

  • Robert||

    If some other country's government wants to tax its people to subsidize its exports to me, how is that a loss for me?


    It's not, but if you steal, that's not a loss for you either.

    The only people hurt are that other country's taxpayers.


    Don't you care about them? 90% of the things we seem (because they're reported here) to care about, good & bad, happen to nobody reading here. I never got my dog shot, I don't pay Calif. taxes, I'm not a repressed homosexual in Russia.

  • sarcasmic||

    Foreign countries mostly don't operate like that and have various taxes, import tariffs, and barriers to American goods while sending products to America that were made artificially cheaper through subsidies and borderline slave labor.

    Foreign governments punish their own people by making imports more costly while using tax dollars to prop up industry.

    So? Sure it isn't fair to American producers, but what's the solution? To have our government similarly punish Americans? Raise taxes on imports while subsidizing industry?

    Two lefts make a 180 degree turn, not a right. Or something.

  • SQRLSY One||

    I blame it all on robotic foreigners! We need to start taking a close look at all those "Made in America" factory-produced goodies, and start asking, "Was this made by an American robot, or a foreigner robot?" Good jobs for good AMERICAN robots, I say! Democrat robots, republican robots, it doesn't matter… They're not allowed to vote, anyway! And if we can't find enough good AMERICAN robots, then we need to start building everything by hand, using only our hands and our teeth, and wood, rocks, and mud! THAT will bring our jerbs back!

  • Longtobefree||

    If you think the robots don't vote, you haven't been paying attention.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    The USA should not punish American consumers nor American business.

    The key is to get foreign countries to engage in free trade talks and hopefully reach actual free trade.

    Of course, countries think it is in their best interests to only export and not import. This makes getting them to agree to free trade tough. That is what diplomacy is for.

    Also, America is a huge market and we have immense bargaining power to push for free trade.

    As with your metaphor, all these non-free trade turns equal a circle jerk.

  • Sevo||

    "The key is to get foreign countries to engage in free trade talks and hopefully reach actual free trade."

    Yep, right after pixie dust replaces fossil fuels.
    We don't have that option NOW.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    That is why I think Trump is threatening high tariffs to get foreign nations to talk. American is yuge market and threatening to cut off Italian Ferraris being imported into the USA would cause Italy to talk about free trade.

    The problem with threatening something and then someone calling your bluff, is you have to do it.

    I am for free trade but the Socialist run things around the World and they only understand freedom when the USA knocks them down a peg. The socialists don't like Trump and he could use this to scare them into talking about free trade.

  • Crusty Juggler - Double Great||

    Jesus.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Yes, my Son?

  • Sevo||

    Yeah, uh, Trump and stuff and threats and maybe and gosh awmighty!
    WIH was THAT all about?
    And what do we do NOW. Like July 11, 2017?

  • loveconstitution1789||

    I already suggested two things. We could keep crony trading going as a third option.

    What do you have on this: July 11, 2017?

  • Sevo||

    loveconstitution1789|7.11.17 @ 11:29AM|#
    "I already suggested two things. We could keep crony trading going as a third option."

    So you're fine with 'pie in the sky by and by'.

  • Chocolate Starfish ( . )||

    @ loveconstitution1789

    < = >

  • sarcasmic||

    Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Good advice.

    The good is to force other nations into free trade talks by threatening high tariffs and cutting off imports to the USA.

    I am open to other suggestions.

    Otherwise, the USA buys a bunch of crap and we don't get an opportunity to sell our crap overseas.

  • sarcasmic||

    Otherwise, the USA buys a bunch of crap and we don't get an opportunity to sell our crap overseas.

    We import a bunch of stuff without having to export a bunch of stuff? Sounds like a recipe for wealth.

    Unless you confuse money with wealth. In which case you'd best sell everything you own except the clothes on your back, stuff the money into a suitcase, and sleep on a park bench. You won't have any "crap," but you'll have gobs of money! You'll be rich!

  • loveconstitution1789||

    wealth
    welTH/
    noun: wealth
    an abundance of valuable possessions or money.

    Wealth is not just having things. Wealth also requires them to be valuable. That value can be millions of different factors and it can disappear in a flash.

    Buying things you find valuable creates wealth for you. Selling things to make money also creates wealth for you.

    This is why foreign companies want to sell in the USA so bad. It creates them wealth for their welfare states. When they subsidize their products and keep foreign products out, they cut into their wealth a bit but prevent competition from gaining a market advantage so they can continue to sell their products.

  • sarcasmic||

    Money is not wealth. Money is a promise of wealth. By itself it isn't worth much of anything. It becomes wealth when you buy something with it.

    We occasionally read about that homeless millionaire who died with a fortune in the bank. Were they wealthy? I would argue that they were not. They had a ton of money, but nothing to show for it.

  • Sevo||

    "The good is to force other nations into free trade talks by threatening high tariffs and cutting off imports to the USA."

    Yep, that ol' free trade is what we want!

  • loveconstitution1789||

    We don't have free trade with other countries.

    Free trade is the best.

    How do you suggest we force other socialist nations to go Libertarian and accept free trade? It is force because they don't want to do free trade.

    I say use diplomacy but some people here don't think talking will do anything but gain pixie dust.

  • Zeb||

    You don't force them to do anything.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Force as in threatening to not accept their goods at our borders. Not military force.

    Clearly you want business as usual in swampy DC.

    What other things can we just let stay as usual?
    -Tax code changes would be hard and we cannot use force of threats to shutdown the government or veto threats.
    -Repeal ObamaCare is hard because we cannot threaten to change all DHS rules to gut ObamaCare from the inside out.

  • sarcasmic||

    Force as in threatening to not accept their goods at our borders.

    I'll make myself poorer by refusing to purchase cheaper goods and services! That'll show them!

  • loveconstitution1789||

    I'll make myself poorer by refusing to purchase cheaper goods and services! That'll show them!


    You buy the cheapest good or service just because its cheap?

    I feel sorry for you. I buy goods and services based on numerous factors, including but not limited to price.

    An example is that I have a $40 can opener that is hand operated. It is from Switzerland and never rusts. I used to buy crappy Chinese steel can openers that broke or rusted every year at $8 a pop. I have had my can opener for 15 years, saving my family money. Thanks to competition, I was able to have that option.

  • sarcasmic||

    You buy the cheapest good or service just because its cheap?

    I feel sorry for you. I buy goods and services based on numerous factors, including but not limited to price.

    Yes, I am a complete moron. I only look at price and nothing else. Hurrr durrr...

    I'm done with this joke of a conversation. Tony is more honest.

  • swampwiz||

    I am a fan of the Swiss Army Knife and have a few of the more high-feature-number ones. I saw a low-feature-number knockoff for $4. I knew it was cr@p, but I wanted to see just how bad. IT WAS BAD!

  • Zeb||

    Clearly you want business as usual in swampy DC.

    What I want and what I think is likely to happen are very different things. I want exactly what you want: the whole world to engage in real, free trade. Failing that, I think the best thing is to open up trade more, whatever the rest of the world does.

  • sarcasmic||

    We don't trade with other countries. We trade with individuals. Individual people and individual companies. The country? Well that's just the assholes with guns who piss on your face and then expect you to thank them for the shower.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    You think you are trading with individuals in foreign countries, as in private parties?

    You are mistaken.

    I would suggest that you check lists of state owned and operated companies in countries like France, Finland, Sweden, and Germany.

  • sarcasmic||

    I can't remember the last time I purchased anything produced in those companies. Regardless, you are only harming yourself.

    The difference between trade embargoes and protectionism is that an embargo is an act of war committed by a foreign nation, and while protectionism is when same nation's government does it to its own people. If another country attempted to restrict our trade the people might rightly call for war. But when their own government does it to them they kiss the jackboot and give thanks for protection.

  • Homple||

    If you think that foreign trade is between companies and individuals it's obvious you've never done any. Governments on both ends have their fingers on every transaction by way of standards, customs, tariffs, inspection plus regulations on the transport of stuff.

  • Sevo||

    loveconstitution1789|7.11.17 @ 11:27AM|#
    "We don't have free trade with other countries."

    You realize you're just proven yourself to be a hypocrite, right?
    You support 'free trade' except if it doesn't meet your standards, in which case you're just fine with tariffs?
    Fucking idiot.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    You are the moron who just cannot form a good argument so you throw a tantrum.

    The USA does not have free trade.

    I would bet money you have bought products from state run companies because there are literally thousands of them and many are products you don't even know unless you research it.

    Of course, you jump right from talking to countries about free trade to embargoes and protectionism even though I never mentioned going to that extreme.

    Disallowing entry of products is not an act of war. Disallowing entry of goods into someone else's country is an embargo and has been reason for war in the past.

    How am I suppose to discuss trade with you and don't even know what an embargo is.

  • sarcasmic||

    Disallowing entry of products is not an act of war. Disallowing entry of goods into someone else's country is an embargo and has been reason for war in the past.

    How am I suppose to discuss trade with you and don't even know what an embargo is.

    In principle they are the exact same thing, the only difference being who does it.

    How am I supposed to discuss trade with you when you know nothing about economics?

  • Sevo||

    loveconstitution1789|7.11.17 @ 12:08PM|#
    "You are the moron who just cannot form a good argument so you throw a tantrum."

    Done.
    Fucking idiot.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Sevo: You are a moron.

    You are done because I roasted you.

  • sarcasmic||

    Fucking idiot.

    That about sums it up.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    sarcasmic|7.11.17 @ 12:13PM|#
    Fucking idiot.
    That about sums it up.

    That is sarcasmic. I am awesome!

  • Bubba Jones||

    So it is bad when foreign governments subsidize our consumption?

    What you describe is a tax on French citizens that lowers our cost of goods. Think of it as a donation to the American consumer.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Its not a donation though. It is a short term lower price.

    If the French did this an expected nothing in return, it would be great for Americans.

    The French subsidize their products and make American imports exceedingly expensive, so people in France buy French.

    This makes a smaller market for American companies while French products are being sold in the USA and France. If American companies go out of business because they need France and USA to compete, then you are left with less products to choose from. It hurts American consumers because they have less to choose from.

  • Sevo||

    "Its not a donation though. It is a short term lower price."

    You mean like a Memorial Day sale? I'll take it.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Nope. Not a sale. Its the price that monopolies say is the price because there is limited competition.

    In other words, you might get the item you were looking for if there was actual free trade rather than the crony trade we have now.

    Neat jokes though, since you clearly don't know anything about trade, economics or the Trump you so love to hate.

    FYI: You would be more convincing if you actually knew what you were talking about when you wanted to FEELZ Trump is bad.

  • Sevo||

    loveconstitution1789|7.11.17 @ 11:40AM|#
    "Nope. Not a sale...."
    Just a lower price for a period of time? I'll take it.
    ----------------------------------------
    "Neat jokes though, since you clearly don't know anything about trade, economics or the Trump you so love to hate."
    You're a laugh riot, you are.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    I know, the truth hurts.

    Let me know when you understand what an embargo is.

  • Sevo||

    loveconstitution1789|7.11.17 @ 12:09PM|#
    "I know, the truth hurts."

    Fucking idiot.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Aw, did I hurt your little FEELZ?

    Great comeback.

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    Or, tl;dr: fair trade my ass. The best trade policy is to reduce all barriers to trade, unilaterally, because that reduces the domestic to the max possible and leaves all the onus of screwing over natives to other governments; if other countries tax their people to subsidize what we buy, good for us, sucks for them. If other countries make it harder for their people to buy stuff from us, they also make it harder for their people to sell us stuff; sucks to be them.

    Fair trade in general is as stupid as fair trade coffee or fair trade clothing or fair trade anything. Trade is voluntary, and what the fuck business is it of any government to get in my fucking way with fucking fair trade nonsense?

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Like I said, free trade is best.

  • Zeb||

    Then why are you arguing for fair trade and against free trade?

  • Sevo||

    Because TRUMP, dammit!

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Sevo|7.11.17 @ 12:05PM|#

    Because TRUMP, dammit!

    Because TDS, dammit!

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Not fair trade- free trade. But you know that and still continue to have a little tantrum.

    Keep doing what the lefties do best, twist the words.

  • Zeb||

    Anyone disagreeing with you is having a tantrum or suffering from TDS? That's just idiotic.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    "That's just idiotic"
    You misspelled awesome.

    They are not disagreeing. Disagreeing would involved people forming a written sentence that had an opinion rather than just hurling insults.

    They are throwing a little tantrum because I am advocating talking and trying to change the current crony trade to free trade.

  • Zeb||

    And you keep saying that free trade is best, but then arguing for policies of even less free trade than we have now. Or do you really think that the threat of some new tariffs is going to make the rest of the world suddenly stop restricting trade or subsidizing businesses?

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Yeah, as I thought. You are not reading what I wrote and just keep saying nonsense.

    You seem really intelligent when you keep doing that.

    As I said, free trade is the best and we currently have crony trade. Use diplomacy to get other countries to move to free trade. Get rid of current trade agreements like NAFTA if you have to.

  • sarcasmic||

    Trade is voluntary, and what the fuck business is it of any government to get in my fucking way with fucking fair trade nonsense?

    Because you might buy the wrong stuff. Top. Men. are necessary to nudge you into making the correct choice by taxing the incorrect ones and subsidizing the correct ones. They don't tell you you can't buy something. People wouldn't stand for that. No, they help you by protecting you from inferior foreign goods, and by protecting companies that employ fellow Americans.

  • Agammamon||

    What I want to know is why, for my whole lift, I've been told *I* have to make sacrifices for someone else's benefit?

    Which is what me paying extra to 'buy American' is. I'm sacrificing to 'save some other American's manufacturing job'. Who's sacrificing to save my non-manufacturing job? When do I see some payback for this sacrifice? Increased costs of living on my part so some factory worker on the other side of the country can get a higher per-hour rate? Why is Donny-from-Bangor deserving of more consideration from me than Sancho-from-San Luiz?

    Unilateral free trade benefits the consumer - and we're all consumers. Protectionist policies only benefit a small subset of producers, and most of us won't be in that subset.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Like I said, free trade is best.

  • Sevo||

    "Like I said, free trade is best"

    Nobody is arguing otherwise. But what do we do NOW?

  • Sevo||

    Except you:
    "The good is to force other nations into free trade talks by threatening high tariffs and cutting off imports to the USA."

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Key word: "Threaten"

  • Sevo||

    loveconstitution1789|7.11.17 @ 12:13PM|#
    "Key word: "Threaten""

    Words are:
    "Fucking idiot."

  • loveconstitution1789||

    I can do this all day.

    You are throwing a little tantrum.

    You are not for moving to free trade and I am.

  • Shirley Knott||

    Unilaterally lower all trade barriers.
    Free trade is best. What *89 is going on about is not free trade, it's "managed" trade wherein the parkers agree to hurt each other comparable amounts. Which is trade in non-monetary units and a fools game. Everybody loses.

    Make all trade free. It is none of our business whether 'foreign' producers are subsidized or not. Nor whether foreign producers, or consumers, are tariffed or not. Ultimately, it doesn't matter.
    Tax money runs out, which ends subsidies. Tariffs raise prices which make (nearly) everyone poorer, reduce tax revenues, and ultimately remove products from markets. Scenarios that paint pictures where this appears not to happen are fantasies and collapse when you start working the numbers.

    Free trade or slavery. It's a simple choice.

  • Sevo||

    "What *89 is going on about is not free trade, it's "managed" trade wherein the parkers agree to hurt each other comparable amounts."
    Besides which, wrapping himself in the constitution makes you wonder if he's read it.
    I don't recall any amendment requiring the gov't to protect jobs or businesses from foreign competition.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Sevo is just going to derail any talk of free trade because the lefty narrative says keep trade managed by TOP MEN.

  • Zeb||

    There are 2 kinds of people in the world: People who agree with loveconstitution1789 completely on everything and lefty TDS cuck traitors.

  • Sevo||

    Paging SIV!

  • Sevo||

    "There are 2 kinds of people in the world: People who agree with loveconstitution1789 completely on everything and lefty TDS cuck traitors."

    Not true regarding SIV; but the two kinds are 1789 and any sentient being.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Sevo|7.11.17 @ 3:59PM|#
    "There are 2 kinds of people in the world: People who agree with loveconstitution1789 completely on everything and lefty TDS cuck traitors."
    Not true regarding SIV; but the two kinds are 1789 and any sentient being.


    Are going to become a sentient being someday?

    Maybe then you can stop having a tantrum and form a coherent thought about this issue.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    No, but you are a cuck with TDS.

    Its not hard to form a counter argument that does not involve insults. Someday you will learn how to do that.

  • DaveSs||

    When a government subsidizes things for export, the money for the subsidy comes from the people in the exporting country.
    Its like they are paying you to take their products.
    The people who would be doing the importing would be fools not to buy the products if the price was less than they could get domestically or from a different exporting country.

    Then you will naturally say "But what about the domestic producers of that good? They will lose their jobs."
    That may very well be true. But chances are the cost of keeping them employed would far far exceed the cost of buying the subsidized foreign products.

    Take for example the tariff Obama imposed on tires from China. Studies suggest that it costs American consumers roughly $900,000 every year for each tire manufacturing job supposedly 'saved'. Our government could have (not suggesting they should, just demonstrating the patent absurdity of protective tariffs) paid the workers whose jobs were 'saved' to sit on their asses and US consumers would still have been much better off in the long run. I doubt that the 900,000 figure even considered the losses to US exporters when the Chinese government responded by raising other tariffs.

    http://www.aei.org/publication.....job-saved/

    Henry Hazlitt explained the general principle of why protectionism always fails very succinctly in "Economics in One Lesson"
    I suggest you read it.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Its like they are paying you to take their products.
    The people who would be doing the importing would be fools not to buy the products if the price was less than they could get domestically or from a different exporting country.


    Why would countries pay you to take their products? Answer that questions and you see why we are the fools for buying their crap just because of the low price.

    The dilemma comes from you being the only country playing by rules of freedom and other countries are not.

    I will check out your suggested read. I am not advocating protectionism. I am advocating convincing other countries to commit to free trade. Free trade should be the goal not "fair trade".

  • DaveSs||

    Why indeed. It is a self harming activity and thus an exceptionally stupid thing to do.

    Of course, why they do it is simple. Politicians do not understand economics and so they accept as truth common economic fallacies. The most basic of course is that they the only thing that matters is what can be seen directly and are that they are blissfully content in disregarding what is unseen.

    Hazlitt would argue that you should eliminate protective import tariffs, even if the governments of other nations do not follow suit and/or subsidize their own industries for export. On net the people in the country without the import tariffs will be better off in the long run.


    Mises Institute has a pdf of the book available at no cost to the reader
    https://mises.org/library/economics-one-lesson/

    Its not terribly long, and there is a chapter on protective tariffs if that's all you want to read, but I would of course recommend the entire book.

  • Chocolate Starfish ( . )||

    ^^ There it is.
    question: Are dollars an exported product? If so then there is no such thing as a trade deficit.

    Somewhere above it was said that dollars accumulate in the exporting foreign (subsidized product) country. Then must be spent back in the importing country. hmmm.

    Also, why do I need a fucking job? Capt Picard gets his "tea, Earl Grey, hot" from a goddamned robot and pays dick for it.

    And where the fuck is my jet pack?

  • Robert||

    Capt. Picard pays for his tea in dick? I've heard strange things about sailors, didn't know they went that high up.

  • BYODB||

    Gene Roddenberry was a Socialist Utopianist of the highest order. Amusingly, this is probably why every Starfleet Admiral was virtually baby-eating-evil. Picard was the idealist who ignored how his organization was run from the top by men who cared nothing for their ideals.

    Makes for interesting alternative-watching of Star Trek: TNG for sure.

  • Lester224||

    There is a long term strategic reason to subsidize exports to keep them cheap. If a country can subsidize exports of a product it manufactures to the extent that it takes over nearly the whole manufacturing capability for that product (specialized knowledge and factory capacity) it can then become a single source and Dominate the market with little foreign competition. That is a political advantage and leverage to raise prices as needed later. It's suspected this is the case with solar cell manufacturing in China, which was very heavily subsidized. It was not just labor costs which made Chinese solar cells so cheap.

  • sharmota4zeb||

    Many of Obama's fans hate Trump. Sometimes I complain to them that Trump believes Obama's complaints about global trade.

  • sharmota4zeb||

    Obama complains about Mitt Romney outsourcing call center jobs to India, invests in workplaces in other countries, and keep money in other countries:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oWdZEJW1vWY

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0FHjCUAlulk

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    Thanks for the reminders about switchboard operators, elevator operators, and all those other mundane jobs. I work with an otherwise smart guy who is convinced robots are going to unemploy half the workforce in the next ten years. I doubt those jobs will do anything to change his mind; he'll probably just rant about businesses not offering any more low paying jobs because no one has low skill jobs any more. I will of course counter with the stupidity of minimum wage laws, but he'll just rant about evil corporations. And I'll rant that minimum wage laws don't give people raises, they just make it illegal to offer low pay jobs, and he'll rant about I don't get to have alternate facts.

  • Curt||

    My uncertainty (and for clarity, I'm very pro-automation /technology/please-let-me -order-my-big-mac-with -a-f'ing-tablet-instead-of-trying -to-explain-what-i-want-to-the -mouth-breather-at-the-counter) is about the pace of the transition of those jobs. The examples in the article transitioned over decades/centuries. At this point, technology could potentially disemploy huge chunks of people very rapidly.

    There will always be a substantial segment of the population that is going to be limited to manual labor jobs. They're never going to work a job in a labcoat or at a desk. The guy at McDonald's who can't figure out how the napkin dispenser works isn't going to suddenly start doing repair work for the tablets that replaced him. So, the point to ponder (without being clouded by hysteria) is whether we are actually moving in a direction where there are substantially fewer manual labor jobs that he can fill. Not just different jobs like the examples in article, but fewer. It's easy for us to see and predict jobs that will be made obsolete by new tech, but what are those new replacement jobs?

  • Crusty Juggler - Double Great||

    As technology evolves the jobs for servicing that technology will evolve. I would also guess that the school curriculum will adapt to suit the job environment that surrounds us.

  • Curt||

    I'm not saying there will be fewer jobs. I'm not saying that's Ford's or McDonald's problem. That they have an obligation to find jobs for those people. I certainly agree that minimum wage laws are both causing a good chunk of that disemployment and making it tougher for people to recover from it.

    I'm just saying it's worth a bit of actual thought on what's happening to the trend line for manual labor jobs. Will there be jobs like that in the future. Particularly when it comes to crap jobs like working at McDonald's. These are completely unskilled jobs that should provide entry to the workforce. Minimum wage laws are fucking that up, so those jobs are going to go away. Now, especially until minimum wage problems are fixed, what are the unskilled entry level jobs? Particularly, for the people who struggle to understand how mops work.

  • Crusty Juggler - Double Great||

    Will there be jobs like that in the future.

    Of course.

  • Crusty Juggler - Double Great||

    Transportation, roads, and buildings will still need to be built and serviced, etc.

  • Curt||

    Agreed, but those are also existing jobs. So, I wouldn't really expect that the jobs there would increase substantially to continue employing workers who are already there and also absorb all the others who are out of work. And, technology comes into play there. More smart roads (particularly ones with devices embedded in the asphalt) would lead to work from roads being torn up and replaced. But no big boost there. But, generally speaking the installation and servicing of all the new technology in that industry... it's not going to be done by the guy who worked at McDonald's.

    All this tech going in everywhere should be a huge boost for installation/service jobs. But, i think that's more middle class people who are reasonably educated. Not a lot of wrench turning there.

  • Crusty Juggler - Double Great||

    But, generally speaking the installation and servicing of all the new technology in that industry... it's not going to be done by the guy who worked at McDonald's.

    I disagree. A lot of that work is labor-intensive, and I am sure the technology can and will be simplified to accommodate the less-skilled.

  • Curt||

    I work for a company that makes devices along the lines of what I'm describing. Our service techs tend to be pretty smart. That's not a job anyone could do. Admittedly, I will say that there's a lot of associated work with the installation... laying fiber/wire, wiring panels, shipping cabinets, pouring foundations, installing devices, etc.

    Just that not much of that is for unskilled workers. So yeah... the guy who works the production line at the Ford plant; I see a future for him. The guy who takes my order or the guy whose only skill is driving a truck; that's where it looks a little more grim.

    Not something that I lose sleep over. Not a panic. But it's a potential issue. CSP's point below is pretty reasonable... that any impact like that would tend to be short/cyclical. But that's doesn't help the individual.

  • Crusty Juggler - Double Great||

    that any impact like that would tend to be short/cyclical.

    Some will get fucked over, and some will learn to adapt. I think there will always be work for the less skilled, because there are some jobs that people do not want to do.

  • Curt||

    Maybe I don't give people sufficient credit for being able to adapt and do jobs that are a bit more mentally challenging. On the one hand, I know that a fair amount of service work shouldn't be much more complicated than operating a smart phone. On the other hand, if it is that simple, it can probably be automated. If someone can't program a computer to troubleshoot and fix a device, then they probably can't teach the guy from McDonald's to do it.

  • Crusty Juggler - Double Great||

    Agree to disagree. I think the jobs will change of course, but the technology will become much simpler, and will be relatively easy for the lower-skilled to maintain. It's all just a guess, of course/

  • Curt||

    Yep. And I'll certainly concede that the guy driving a truck or working the cash register is still using technology that would've been mind blowing even 50 years ago. But, at the same time, it also seems to me that our ability to create new/more tech that replaces workers is accelerating off the charts.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Well, talk to replace workers is off the charts.

    I would be curious to know if the rate of machines replacing workers has not changed since 1990s.

  • BYODB||

    It's becoming easier and easier to automate jobs that previously a low intelligence, low education human could use to provide for themselves. I don't know how we'll end up dealing with that in the long term, because these types of people aren't going anywhere, but most people seem to believe something along the lines of a UBI or something like it should be the solution.

    I can't agree with that, but I think the pace of structural unemployment cycles will probably accelerate.

    As you point out, servicing high tech equipment isn't exactly a 'no skills required' type of gig. Your average human in an office environment can't even figure out how to print most of the time, and many of those people have secondary degrees.

  • sharmota4zeb||

    Yes, but elected officials forbid developers to build new buildings.

    This is the key problem. High rent and home prices is a major factor in the cost of living. Workers cannot work fewer hours as technology improves, because they need enough hours to pay for housing. The limit on housing ensures that only the richest people in an area get decent housing. It's an artificial scarcity that forces many people to work horrible hours, move to a lower cost area, or live in substandard living conditions.

    The work week became shorter thanks to inventions between 1800 and 1950, but I do not see that happening again until we demand the right to build homes.

  • turco||

    ^this

    I have no doubt professor McClosky is right that the market will create new jobs. My fear is that government will stand in the way , through licensing laws, zoning laws, minimum wage laws and other restrictions.

    As our dysfunctional health care system shows , the government is totally capable of fucking things up.

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    History is a damned good guide.

    Back when 90% of the population were farmers, how many people would have expected almost all of them to be working away from the farm in 200 years?

    How technically ept do you think sailors or steam engine firemen or even farmers are? People adapt just fine. You keep saying "but but but". as if today is something exceptional. Too rapid? How quickly did all those elevator operators last once automation started? How long did telephone operators last? How about gas pump jockeys (except in Oregon and New Jersey)?

    People are damned good at adapting when they have to. Look at how refugees and immigrants are willing to do any work. Used to be a stereotype of food carts, taxis, all sorts of "menial" unskilled jobs being handled by immigrants. Now we've got sticks like occupational licensing and zoning and minimum wage discouraging self-help and carrots like unemployment "insurance" and welfare encouraging reliance on state charity.

    Here's how to improve employment flexibility: make unemployment insurance voluntary and up to individuals; put charity back in the hands of family and friends; eliminate occupational licensing and zoning.

    Fuck this noise. People are damned good at looking out for themselves. The problem is not lack of jobs, it is government obstacles.

  • Atanu Dey||

    People are damned good at looking out for themselves. The problem is not lack of jobs, it is government obstacles.

    Hear, hear. Ain't that the truth!

  • sharmota4zeb||

    People are damned good at adapting when they have to. Look at how refugees and immigrants are willing to do any work. Used to be a stereotype of food carts, taxis, all sorts of "menial" unskilled jobs being handled by immigrants.

    Immigrants here on a work visa get deported if they do not keep their jobs. Ummm If that's your way of motivating people, let us eliminate all government funding for universities and deport any unemployed Americans between the ages of 18 and 21.

  • EscherEnigma||

    Where are you going to deport single-citizenship Americans to?

  • DarrenM||

    I've had the same thought, that job turnover has accelerated and it has become more difficult to retrain for a new job.

    I'd like to see some kind of subsidy for companies to train low wage workers to be qualified for higher skilled and higher paying jobs. I don't know how that would work though. How could you distinguish between a regular job and one involving training someone who lost their job due to a MW increase, for example? I could also see this getting expanded to higher wage workers who lost their job due to their expertise becoming obsolete. It's a slippery slope. As someone once said, "The poor will always be with us". This applies to the low-skilled labor than can't do more than that, too. Maybe we'll end up with a permanent underclass unqualified to do any jobs.

    However, I also think that as people in general become more prosperous, jobs will appear as those people start paying to have some things done instead of doing it themselves. Instead of mowing your own lawn, you pay someone else, etc. I just use lawn-mowing as an example. It might be plumbing or security guards. Jobs we haven't even thought of yet.

  • Curt||

    "However, I also think that as people in general become more prosperous, jobs will appear as those people start paying to have some things done instead of doing it themselves. Instead of mowing your own lawn, you pay someone else, etc"

    Ideally, I think it would/does work that way. In reality, I think that this is where government and minimum wage laws get in the way. My company is profitable and they expect me to do lots of work. We also have certain niceties. For example, cleaning crews, catering, events. We indirectly employ a decent number of people with things like that. But, if the minimum wage increased enough, potentially my company decides that service is no longer worthwhile. If minimum wage laws had enough effect on stuff like lawnmowing, plumbing, auto maintenance, suddenly it's no longer worthwhile for me to pay someone and I'd go back to doing it myself.

  • Curt||

    The last time I worked for minimum wage was as a summer camp counselor during college. Camp was cheap enough that parents could send their kids there. But, if minimum wage had been significantly higher, lots of parents couldn't have sent their kids there. Then they'd have to do it themselves. That cuts into their ability to be prosperous by earning money. It cuts their ability to do productive work. It would've meant fewer kids and less ability to pay for counselors, so I (or someone else) wouldn't have had a job. It would have been an all around net loss.

    For what? So the counselors could have been paid more. Almost all of us were college kids. We weren't supporting a family. We didn't need a livable income. We needed beer money. I would've been much happier getting paid $5/hr than not getting paid $15/hr. I was also building a work history. The problem isn't that minimum wage is too low to live on. The problem is trying to live on minimum wage.

  • swampwiz||

    Do that and we'll have an incredible glut of higher skilled folks.

  • sharmota4zeb||

    We already have a glut of higher skilled folks. They are called artists.

  • swampwiz||

    I can remember when everyone working at McDonald's were teenagers, aside from the manager. Now, it's all adults.

  • swampwiz||

    everyone was a teenager

  • Inigo Montoya||

    "So, the point to ponder (without being clouded by hysteria) is whether we are actually moving in a direction where there are substantially fewer manual labor jobs that he can fill."

    Is that necessarily bad? That may be followed by fewer people willing to take such jobs because they prefer more fulfilling work. I assume you don't mean manual jobs that require real craftsmanship, but more just moving boxes or pushing brooms.

    In the future, fewer people may be satisfied with busy work in exchange for a paycheck, preferring to do new jobs that are at least somewhat fulfilling or creative. We can't predict many of such new jobs because we're not there yet. Robots are going to create jobs no one has even dreamed of yet, just like the internet did. Not just the obvious robot designer, robot repair tech, etc.

    Not being able to imagine future jobs isn't new, either. Sure, the 1890's wagon-builder or horse groomer could have predicted the automobile mechanic -- but do you think they could have predicted the person who runs an online shop that specializes in NASCAR memorabilia? Could the 1980's file clerk put out of work by office computing predict things like social media specialist?

    The robot future will probably surprise all of us with the human jobs it ends up creating.

  • Robert||

    I'm giving this some thought. I thought, what are things that nearly everyone can do, & that would be really hard or creepy for machines to do? So what about the self-maintenance things we learn to do as children: dressing, bathing, putting away clothes, tying shoes? Seems some people's time would become too valuable for them to do those things for themselves as adults, & as we become more productive, more of us will be in that no-time-for category. As I think about those things, it's a close call for many of them as to whether they'd be creepier done by machine or by live-in, travel-w-you human help. Maybe it won't be long before putting away clothes will be obsolete, as they'll be disposable & come from a home auto-loom that'll take less space than our clothes closets do now. But it does seem like it'd be a long way off before we engineer our bodies so our hair never gets dirty or needs combing.

  • Robert||

    However, the farther future in which we're reeeaaallly productive I don't think'll be a problem at all, because then we can all quit working, period, have robots do everything, & there'll be plenty just given away to everybody. Eventually no property because no scarcity. Then some time beyond that, we may cease to even exist materially at all, & find out as in death what it's like to exist non-materially.

  • swampwiz||

    BINGO! The problem is how to get from now to then. I think a combination of Guaranteed Income and job rationing as the only solution, with a Federal Board of Labor/Income setting the terms in a similar way that the Federal Reserve Board sets interest rates.

  • EscherEnigma||

    ... you do realize you just described the life of a Victorian noblewoman, right? Servants for everything from dressing yourself in the morning, doing your hair, minding the children (wet-nursing the children†...), cook, clean and so-on.

    Fact is, we have historical models for what happens when you have a surplus of human labor and an upper class with lots of wealth. It's great for the upper class. Not so great for everyone else.
    ________
    †And today, with surrogacy, even carrying the child for the rich woman.

  • Robert||

    Yes, I realized that, but I don't agree it's not so great for everyone else. The rich are willing & able to pay big $ for tasks we teach children to do for themselves. Easy $.

  • swampwiz||

    The problem is that the gentry of today - e.g., Zuck @ Facebook - don't need a household of servants.

  • EscherEnigma||

    ... you do realize you just described the life of a Victorian noblewoman, right? Servants for everything from dressing yourself in the morning, doing your hair, minding the children (wet-nursing the children†...), cook, clean and so-on.

    Fact is, we have historical models for what happens when you have a surplus of human labor and an upper class with lots of wealth. It's great for the upper class. Not so great for everyone else.
    ________
    †And today, with surrogacy, even carrying the child for the rich woman.

  • Robert||

    A few years ago I was even considering getting such a live-in home care job—not for rich people, but for old, disabled people. I saw the listings on care.com, and couldn't bear the thought of a formerly abled person's having to suffer by not being able to meet their basic needs. But I came to my senses when I realized that just because I didn't do the job, it wasn't that nobody else would either, and that I was still better off figuring out some other work to pay my rent rather than having to move in somewhere else & then have to move again when that person died, which might be soon.

  • sharmota4zeb||

    We now pay people to bring our food to our tables and tips are a significant part of their salary. The average American spends a few thousand each year on restaurant meals.

    http://www.foxbusiness.com/mar.....keout.html

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    Each improvement in technology has created unemployment FOR THAT GENERATION OF WORKERS. It passes, eventually, but it does create unemployment, poverty, and misery in the short term.

    The highland enclosures were the result of a technological change, in a sense. Farming techniques shifted to more productive methods, and that necessitated a change in how the land was utilized. Necessary, inevitable, and brutal in how things were done.

    Yes, technological improvements make society as a whole more wealthy. But the can impoverish a generation of people who had skills now no longer needed. Yes, some of those people could be taught new skills. But some cannot. To dismiss the fate of those people as a myth is to set yourself up for an argument that you WILL lose.

  • Bubba Jones||

    This. Each person is an n of 1.

  • sarcasmic||

    Almost everyone I know, myself included, has changed careers at least once in their life. If not more.

  • Longtobefree||

    You must choose wisely, grasshopper.
    I spent 45 years as a mainframe COBOL programmer. After the first four years everyone kept telling me I had to learn new skills because (insert the latest fad) was going to make my skills obsolete. Yet I looked around, and said to myself, bullshit, this gig will last my lifetime. And it did. Not only that, but the latest thing everybody else ran out to learn got over supplied, and the wages went down, while the old dinosaur found his value going up and up.

  • DaveSs||

    I went to school right around 97-00 and at that time they still taught COBOL in the CIS program of the school I attended. I don't know if they still do or not....probably not.

    Knowing what I know now, I probably should have spent more time with it. But the sexy modern languages caught my eye and I threw away my COBOL books and purged my memory of it after I finished the two required classes.

    Looking back that was possibly a fool decision.
    Then again, SQL was what I most took away from school. Its been around only about 15 years less than COBOL.

    Its astonishing just how much COBOL is still out there...and its still not going anytime soon surprisingly.

  • Robert||

    I learned COBOL & worked a summer volunteer job at it in 1970. My father dissuaded me from a career in computer programming.

  • swampwiz||

    I'd like to know what career would be doable these days, and at what cost to get skilled, for "mid-career" folks? I am an early middle-aged, "obsolete", "unemployable" American programmer, and I have looked into the glorious new subfield of data science. The thing is, will I, after racking up $80K and a year and a half of study to get a master's degree that would get a younger me a job, be able to get a job? Is it worth taking on all that student debt and just be an unemployed old fart? And my situation would be doable by the top 5% of the analytically intelligent population. What about Joe Six-Pack?

  • Ship of Theseus||

    "A generation of people"? Or a certain, specific group... temporarily.

    Give me a break.

  • Agammamon||

    If a change in the status quo disproportionately hurts someone then that someone was disproportionately benefiting from the previous status quo. As such, they've had their six.

  • DarrenM||

    I have to disagree with this, mainly your use of "disproportionately". This implies something undeserved or unfair. In one set of circumstances some people will benefit. In another set, others will benefit. This has nothing to do with "disproportionately". It just is. Since the status quo will always change, you have to say everyone who currently benefits in any way is disproportionately benefiting. It makes no sense.

  • Magnitogorsk||

    All the truck drivers are totally going to just grab a quick computer vision PhD and go work at Google or Tesla programming the self driving trucks. Any of them that are fearing the upcoming loss of their career and disruption to their lives are just idiots and should become more enlightened like us.

  • Sevo||

    Hmm, the arrival of Ned Ludd, just in time.
    Hey, Ned? You're an idiot.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    Ludd was something of an idiot, and Upper Middle Class Intellectuals who are Luddites because 'Climate Change' have heads so empty that a stray thought would rattle around like the last pea in the can.

    BUT

    Pretending that advancing (or just changing) technology doesn't harm anybody is just as headband and indefensible as pretending that it will forever reduce all workers everywhere to slavery.

    The young guy who only has three weeks on the assembly line can certainly take retraining and become a robot supervisor. The older guy who was six months away from retirement? Not so likely.

  • Sevo||

    "Pretending that advancing (or just changing) technology doesn't harm anybody is just as headband and indefensible as pretending that it will forever reduce all workers everywhere to slavery."

    Uh, did you see anyone doing that?

  • SQRLSY One||

    The greed and hypocrisy of top corporate management has been thoroughly documented, and I'm not trying to apologize for them, for that. But in all fairness, we should understand their perspective. The government does not require many (if any) benefits be paid to robots, nor require safe operating environments (for the robots as opposed to humans). Limited protections for humans is good, but have we gone too far? Corporations are required to pay Social Security, workman's comp, unemployment, self-esteem therapy, and tons and tons of insurance mandates for the humans. Whether or not I need or want (or object to, on a religious basis) alcohol and drug abuse therapy, organs transplants, sex assignment changes, or space alien abduction therapy, a lot of all this stuff is mandated, in insurance coverage. No opt-outs and price cuts for you, or for me! But not so for the robots! Should it be any surprise that the robots are taking our jobs?

  • swampwiz||

    I don't see a problem, with their greed; their job is incentivized to maximize the enhancement of shareholder value. of course they lie like crazy about how there is a worker shortage and they need the H1B visa and more immigration.

  • sharmota4zeb||

    Yeah, employers must provide health insurance now, and health insurance must cover mental heath expenses.

    Can I get a religious exemption if I don't want my money paying to electrocute children?

  • Gorbag||

    Religion is all about electrocuting children, so, no.

  • SQRLSY One||

    I am thinking that we should disguise ourselves as robots, and assign ownership of our robotic selves to a trusted friend or family member. Trusted human owner (of myself) can then collect rental fees on me, take a small administrative fee, and kick the rest back to me! Problem solved! Now I can be allowed to compete with the robots, if I desire to bypass all the mandates!

  • DarrenM||

    That's all fine until someone tries to stick a screwdriver in your ear.

  • Jerryskids||

    It's not just technological advances that put people out of work, K-mart put Montgomery Ward employees out and Wal-mart put K-mart employees out. Anybody that can figure out how to more efficiently deliver goods to consumers is a threat to put their competitors and their competitor's employees out of work. Is efficiency something we want to ban? Jobs are a by-product of production, not the purpose. If somebody invented a magic wand that you could wave and produce everything you could want, that would put everybody out of work and would that be a terrible thing? If you look at the basic necessities of life as a pre-Industrial Revolution peasant would have looked at it, we do effectively have a magic wand that produces everything for practically nothing. It's just that 99% of the stuff you think of as necessities didn't exist prior to the Industrial Revolution. Are the newly unemployed K-mart workers worse off than a 14th-century peasant?

  • sarcasmic||

    Now Amazon is putting Walmart employees out.

    DOWN WITH AMAZON AND THEIR CONVENIENT ONLINE SHOPPING AND HOME DELIVERY!

  • swampwiz||

    You forget that the 14th Century peasant had a king he couldn't get rid of. The Army of the Unemployed get to choose their king - and as Romney told us, they want FREE STUFF!

  • sharmota4zeb||

    That magic wand would be a wonderful thing, but it would create havoc in certain states. Some states charge a property tax. It is basically a fee to live in the state. Those states would depopulate except for the trust fund babies. This could explain why people move out of New York, and New Jersey as technology improves.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    Your mom is capable of any -job.

  • Crusty Juggler - Double Great||

    There are many photos and videos that prove the veracity of this comment.

  • Crusty Juggler - Double Great||

    Once again your ageism keeps you from bravely exploring new worlds.

  • lap83||

    Because your mom shows up there a lot?

  • EscherEnigma||

    Because when you look at the picture on a macro enough scale, retraining/relocation/re-etc. costs get rolled into "hiring and retention" costs and you simply don't worry about the individual.

    Further, this kind of macro-analysis largely ignores distribution, just looking at net [whatever their chosen metric is]. So things like wealth concentration, shrinking middle class, and so-on isn't a concern.

    In short, ignore all the human factors and the math comes out peachy. But ignore all the human factors at your own risk, because they're the ones that vote.

  • Kivlor||

    Why do people believe that any person is capable of any job?"

    Several reasons. It's easier to swallow these changes if you pretend that the people losing their jobs will justy get new, better ones. There's also a trend among people to project their own competencies onto everyone else. "I could just get another job, so they can too." They don't stop to think that these people aren't just like them.

    This problem is compounded in classical liberal doctrine, because the presumption is that everyone is equal. And they absolutely are not. Many conservatives and libertarians have a blind spot due to ideology. Much like progressives and socialists have blind spots of their own. It's what happens when you view things through an ideological lens, and have a predetermined end-point. (in this case, all the fact that new technology is generally a net positive, becomes "new technology is always good 100% of the time for all things and if you point out anything different you are an evil luddite!"

  • Sevo||

    "Why do people believe that any person is capable of any job?"

    Why do you argue with made-up statements?

  • Sevo||

    So, you totallt6 ignore what I quoted? That stuff you made up to argue about?
    Fuck off.

  • Longtobefree||

    Because anything else is bigotry.

  • sharmota4zeb||

    Many of the best paying jobs involve managing other people or making policies or culture. We won't get more of these jobs, because there is no or little added value to having another manager, policy maker, or artist on the pay roll. Replicating an idea is very cheap. Making twice as many copies of one person's ideas is more efficient than hiring a second thinker.

  • Alan Vanneman||

    This article is, say 90% accurate as far as it goes, but if this was all there was to the story, Donald Trump wouldn't be president. The unions that Robert Reich misses so much allowed workers in "the West" to force their employers to share their monopoly profits in the form of monopoly wages. Now "the West" no longer has a monopoly on the factors needed to support a modern economy (literate workforce, educated elite, effective transportation network, etc.) and Western employers can't afford to pay monopoly wages. The former GM workers searching for a new $28 an hour job to replace the old $28 an hour job they had with GM are never going to find it. Meanwhile, us lucky "brain workers" in the top 10% own real property in "growth areas" and have substantial investments. We get richer every year while everyone else treads water. All the "lessons" that populists from the left and right draw from the current situation are wrong, but neither neolibs or libertarians can explain "creative destruction" to the folks who are getting destroyed.

  • Sevo||

    Alan just spent a lot of electrons pointing out that competition helps the buyer at the cost of some jobs. And you guys (libertarians) can't make those people happy!
    Thanks, Alan; right up there with the best of your work.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    Anal Van-Man thinks of himself as a "brain worker," which is a particularly chewy nugget of data-gristle.

  • OM Nullum gratuitum prandium||

    To be fair, I understand the gist of what he's arguing but makes the really stoopid mistake of applying a historicist fallacy to explain the economics of today. It's not like we first had unions because of monopolies and now we don't. There were never any monopolies to speak of except those conceived and protected by the State, which included unions in great measure. Unions were created predominantly to protect workers from the competition offered by women, minorities and immigrants (like those damned Irish!). They're the result of human nature but not because of so-called "monopolist profits" ripe for the sharing. That's ridiculous.

  • Robert||

    What you write was true of organized labor at the time it 1st became significant. However, labor then continued to organize into the 20th C. in fields that would've been difficult to organize because competitive, except they'd become less-than-competitive due to gov't action. Take farm labor, for instance: It was the unfulfilled dream of the 19th C. union movement to organize it, but it became a reality, not only in the USA but around the world, as farming became gov't-cartelized via subsidy or price supports. So Anal's got a point there.

  • Sevo||

    Vanneman has a point like the guy in the next office griping about the weather.
    Yes, you're right, it shouldn't rain this weekend.
    Now what?

  • OM Nullum gratuitum prandium||

    Re: Alan Vanneman,

    The unions that Robert Reich misses so much allowed workers in "the West" to force their employers to share their monopoly profits [sic]

    Thus the economics ignoramus has spoken.

  • Robert||

    Look where unioniz'n is strongest, you'll see it's true: gov't workers, communication, teaching, hospital work, farming, transport..it's all mostly run by, or cartelized by, gov't. As they're opened to competition, the unions get weaker.

    The earliest labor unions of signficance organized in fields that were not, or not very, monopolistic. But those were just a few industries that were easy to unionize. The labor movement plateaued there until more lines of biz took on monopoly or oligopoly characteristics, or came into being w such characteristics.

  • sharmota4zeb||

    The most valuable skill I learned in my PhD program is how to survive on a low income.

  • Agammamon||

    employers to share their monopoly profits in the form of monopoly wages.

    wat? This isn't even coherent.

  • EscherEnigma||

    Basically, if you're doing better then you would in a "fair" market, then you can choose to pass those "unfair" profits down to your employees.

    Of course, that also ignores that at the height of American unions the CEO-to-employee compensation ratio was much smaller then it currently is, and a modern company making comparable "monopoly profits" would probably not give "monopoly wages".

  • The Last American Hero||

    And if you took that CEO income and gave it all to the workers, they'd each have $5 more per year in their pay check and the company would be bankrupt in 2 years.

  • sharmota4zeb||

    True. Redistributing a CEO's income provides little benefit to the workers of a large company. Even so, I'm not sure that a CEO who makes $10 million a year performs ten times better than a CEO who makes $1 million per year. I cannot imagine a large company being unable to find a competent current employee that is willing to become the CEO for $1 million per year. CEO's get paid so much, because boards of directors believe they have to outbid other companies for them.

  • lap83||

    Weird how the people afraid of losing jobs to robots are some of the biggest proponents of minimum wage. If they were smart they'd be advocating for a robot minimum wage.

  • Sevo||

    Tariffs on robot parts!

  • Crusty Juggler - Double Great||

    You can't build a robot factory here unless you guarantee X amount of robot lubrication and polishing jobs.

  • Chocolate Starfish ( . )||

    "robot lubrication and polishing jobs"?
    Is this what it will come to?
    We will all be whores for robot johns? MY GOD! Get that vision out of my head!

  • Chocolate Starfish ( . )||

    but... it is an example of creative destruction.

  • DarrenM||

    No one ever claimed they didn't contradict themselves. (See climate change and nuclear plants.)

  • Ron||

    My step dad always said for every job removed by a robot three jobs were created to make the robot.
    You have the robot designer, the robot maker and the robot repair person

    He was saying this in the 70's and he meant it since he once manufactured mechanical calculators in the 60's that do most everything our modern calculaters do only mechanically, they were wonders of gears and levers

  • lap83||

    4 jobs if you count hipster artisinal makers of the product with Etsy shops

  • ||

    This doesn't count as it just replaced the 90s-era 'blogger about the robot' and the 80s-era 'airbrushed pinstripes and a wolf howling at the moon on the robot' jobs.

  • Chocolate Starfish ( . )||

    "...for every job removed by a robot three jobs were created..."
    Except the robot replaced 50 jobs. Else why pay for the goddamned robot? It's about productivity.

    Do we really want jobs? Or is it wealth? Or perhaps as a wise philosopher once said,
    --- "Loose shoes, tight pussy and a warm place to shit."

  • Ron||

    Robots don't complain or go on strike and will work 24/7

  • Chocolate Starfish ( . )||

    Today it may be true but that doesn't help displaced workers get jobs as robot knob polishers. (that there is what ya call a double entendre)

  • Gorbag||

    We're working on better robots that will.

  • sharmota4zeb||

    Pay is a factor of the jobs and the hours. The robot designer works a year or two to make one design for thousands of robots. The robot maker works a few hours to build a robot that lasts 20 years. The robot repair person works on the robot once in a while. Companies buy robots, because robots provide a net reduction in labor.

  • The Last American Hero||

    This is quite a turnaround for a magazine that was pimping UBI not so long ago.

  • Crusty Juggler - Double Great||

    I too think they should only publish articles that espouse one specific idea.

  • Lester224||

    It was my understanding that for a person without secondary education or training, the jobs being created are of "lower quality" (lower wages, fewer benefits) than the jobs being subtracted by robot-substitution Automation creates some good-paying jobs which require technological education, but removes many of the mid-level jobs that high-school graduates (or even college graduates e.g tax preparation and will drafting) used to have access to. In the meantime, we still have a growing number of service-sector jobs and gig-economy jobs.

    https://tinyurl.com/y9aa5wvu

    If the economy is to gain from the kind of jobs that automation creates, the same old refrain needs to be played. More training, more apprenticeships etc. for people without college degrees.

  • DaveSs||

    Food, clothing and simple luxuries are getting cheaper all the time so them getting jobs of lower wages would not be a problem....were it not for the fact that governments at all levels in the US have implemented policies that make housing, education, and healthcare more expensive, and (maybe we dodged this bullet for now) attempting to make energy and transportation more expensive.

  • sharmota4zeb||

    Very true, Dave Ss.

  • OM Nullum gratuitum prandium||

    Further evidence that Trumpistas are economically ignorant:

    Loveconstitutuon1789 says:

    You think you are trading with individuals in foreign countries, as in private parties?

    You are mistaken.


    The only beings of will, the only ones who act, are individual humans. This means you ONLY trade with other individuals.

    What Trumpistas do is argue using holistic propositions where if you trade with a Chinese producer, then you're trading "with China" and somehow benefiting "China". It's a form of hidden chauvinism, but completely removed from economics.

  • DarrenM||

    But what about the AI that really rules each country?

  • Zeb||

    LC1789 does seem to take a very collectivist view of nations and trade.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Yeah, free trade is something you never want to work toward.

    I am for free trade. You are not.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    You clearly don't know what you are talking about.

    Business in China is state owned and labor is state owned. They are Communist.

    Just another example of lefty nonsense is that if you only trade other individuals, then why is your name not on the NAFTA agreement? Answer me that genius?

    Its because NAFTA is a trade agreement between the USA, Canada and Mexico and all citizens and business therein.

  • Longtobefree||

    Even some economists, brilliant ones, think we're in trouble.
    Please define the term 'brilliant economist'.
    Thank you.

  • Sevo||

    "Even some economists, brilliant ones, think we're in trouble."
    So
    .
    .
    .
    what?

  • Uncle Jay||

    The Myth of Technological Unemployment
    If the nightmare of technological unemployment were true, it would already have happened, repeatedly and massively.

    Massive unemployment has been predicted by "brilliant economists" for decades.
    Maybe I should change the prescription on my glasses, but I have yet to see massive unemployment due to the advancement of technology.
    Of course, these "brilliant economists" believed at one time that high inflation and unemployment could never occur simultaneously.

  • para_dimz||

    Cheerleading a losing cause. The overwhelming point of view is that robots will replace jobs. This POV is the same kind that predicted production workers in manufacturing jobs would be retrained in high tech and service economy jobs. They did not and they did. Explain two generations of wage stagnation? I retired from a place that automated. Today it produces five times as much on one third the workforce and the pressures to downsize the workforce are unrelenting. New hires are paid 2/3 what their older associates are paid. Temps earning 1/2 are supplanting as many as possible as people in the older pay scales leave.
    So that temp earning 1/2 is the job number this author is championing as the new, flexible future. She is the lucky one out of three in the newly roboticized plant to keep a hard job for a barely livable wage. The other two are working at the few remaining retail and restaurant businesses.

  • Sevo||

    You should read the article before you prove your stupidity.

  • DrZ||

    It is likely the case that automation will lead to higher paying jobs.

    However, the minimum wage advocates do not realize that they are accelerating automation that takes over the jobs that now employ minimum wage workers. Most anything a minimum wage worker can do can be done better and cheaper by automation.

    If the minimum wage gang were really that concerned about people not making enough money they might want to ask why government-schooling is failing so many people, the ones who could have excelled in engineering to become the robot makers, but are now unemployed hamburger flippers because they priced themselves out of the labor market because of artificially imposed minimum wage limits.

  • AD-RtR/OS!||

    Does this mean the robots will, or won't spit in my food order?

  • Martiandawn||

    I hadn't realized that Reason accepted articles written by people living in alternate realities. Now that I know, a lot of the articles I see on this site make a lot more sense.

  • Sevo||

    Martiandawn|7.11.17 @ 8:07PM|#
    "I hadn't realized that Reason accepted articles written by people living in alternate realities. Now that I know, a lot of the articles I see on this site make a lot more sense"

    I had realized that Reason allows even the most imbecilic to post here, and you've just proved it/

  • swampwiz||

    I love how the author uses figures for the growth of wages from before the 1970s. Hello, McFly, that's where wages for Joe Six-Pack have remained stuck (in real terms), while all of his expenses gave continued to grow.

    The author also says that there are not 1/3 of folks standing on street corners. Well, there are 1/3 of prime-demographic folks not working, as opposed to like 98% of such folks during the '50s: . The folks aren't begging on the street corner because the overall Welfare State is at least good enough to stop it - although part of it is because the adult @ home is no longer the housewife but the unemployed husband. Oh, and a lot of folks are into a "hustling" job like Uber, or in & out of the dystopia that is the just-in-time-scheduled. low-wage, part-time job market. Wait until the driverless car puts those hustlers out of business.

    I do agree with the author that the Trumpist tariff or make-jobs program would not be the right way forward. I envision as part of a Guaranteed Income system some type of job rationing, although that might be more trouble than it's worth. And of course, we could get rid of the illegals & H1Bs - but that would be too easy ...

  • Sevo||

    "I envision as part of a Guaranteed Income system some type of job rationing, although that might be more trouble than it's worth. And of course, we could get rid of the illegals & H1Bs - but that would be too easy ..."

    I envision you being shot by the proles after you cause them starvation, slaver.
    Fuck off.

  • John C. Randolph||

    sweetly leftish errors of facts and ethics

    More like deliberate mendacity to pander to the pretentious pieties of the leftards.

    -jcr

  • ||

    what a bunch of Politi'Kally Korrect Krap.

    Unbelievable, hopefully no one in America is so stupid they believe this twaddle.

    If the world does not blow itself up ? with in 10 years we will enter a new human era.

    It will be the beginning of a Human history in which our future will be a time in which 80% of the population of the world will never work ...unless we ration employment : allow employment for only a fixed number of years in any life time... even then,it looks like only 30 to 35 % will ever work.

    The premise of the article is simply mindless Politi'Kally Korrect Krap

    Like all hate America to destruction Frauds this is simply Kollectivist Krap.

  • Sevo||

    Now, THAT's FUNNY!

  • Mark22||

    "This time it's different!"

    "This time, socialism will work."

    "This time, fascism will work."

    "This time, progressivism won't be racist."

  • Fear and Loathing in DC||

    This article fails on a couple levels. (1) recognizing that automation brings a host of challenges to the work force doesn't require protecting existing jobs, and doing so is retarded (bc protecting "jobs" is not the same thing as protecting existing jobs, etc. etc.); (2) using the industrial revolution et al. as a good analogy for robotics isn't sound, at all; (3) the ability of government to facilitate worker retraining and relocation programs don't have to be tied to existing jobs, or our current awful welfare programs, so arguing against them in general doesn't make sense. It can promote choice and liberty. etc.

  • Mark22||

    "This time it's different!"

    "This time, socialism will work."

    "This time, fascism will work."

    "This time, progressivism won't be racist."

  • JoeS54||

    Technological unemployment may be a myth, but trade deficits aren't. And the supply and demand of labor is not.

    The US has been exporting about 3% of its GDP for years, limping along at 2% GDP growth, which would be 5% without the trade deficit. The majority of that wealth has been transferred to China, which, not coincidentally, has been growing at rates approaching 10% during the same time period.

    Those at the top of the US economy, on Wall Street and in multinational corporations, have made profits through the arbitrage of cheap labor. There is no greater example than Apple, which builds its one product (the iPhone) entirely overseas, and then charges a massive premium for it, creating profit margins that swell it with cash it has nowhere to spend.

    The stagnation of wages in the US has directly coincided with the 1965 Immigration Act, and the mass growth of women in the workforce driven by feminism. Those two phenomena greatly expanded the labor supply. When supply exceeds demand, prices (wages) fall. Once the Cold War ended and "globalization" began, money started flowing out of the country.

    What US citizens have gotten in exchange for low incomes, broken homes and meaningless lives is cheap Chinese goods at Walmart, subsidized by welfare table scraps from the government.

    Corporate interests have bought cheap labor policies from politicians in both parties, and driven down incomes of US citizens while skimming profits off the top.

  • JoeS54||

    That is obvious reality, and no amount of misdirection can hide it from the people anymore.

  • Lester224||

    Just get those women out of the labor market and put them back in the kitchen. That will surely increase the GDP.

  • JoeS54||

    There are many reasons why this very recent innovation in human society, of pushing women towards the workforce, is not the field of daisies the politically correct want you to believe it is.

    It is a fact, for example, that 60% of college graduates are now female. If a woman wants to go to college and have a career, and also wants to marry and have children with a man who also went to college and has a career, she needs to understand that for 1/3 of women like her, that is impossible, as a matter of simple math.

    In addition, there are a finite number of jobs at any given time. That number can shrink or expand, but it is not the case that at all times, everyone who wants a job can find one, let alone a stable one that pays well. That means that at any given time, a woman with a job makes it harder for a man to have one.

    So what you end up with is a society with a surplus of college educated women, and less educated men who struggle to find a good job.

    Anyone who doesn't understand why that's a problem for society is not very intelligent.

  • Budbug||

    FEAR of technological unemployment? I should think people would be eagerly ANTICIPATING it!

    While the change may be bumpy (what change isn't?), the end result should be the development of a new economic paradigm where the NEED for employment is eliminated, and, subsequently ending greed and conflict.

  • madman||

    I literally made an account here just to tell you I agree. People are missing the immense benefits to be derived from automated, self sustained production because they are too busy worrying (not entirely without reason) about the transition away from a jobs centric economy. I think the sooner we embrace the future, the more our efforts can focus on minimizing the concerns that come along with this change.

  • Kame-Sennin||

    All the things about creative destruction and the history of agriculture etc. are all true. But it just misses the point and over-complicates something that is actually not that hard to comprehend.

    Premise 1: The exponential improvements to information technology will, in the very near future, enable robots to be developed that will be able to competently match and exceed human dexterity of movement allowing said robots to perform any type of manual labour that a human currently performs at less cost than employing a human.

    Premise 2: A very large number of people in society are presently incapable of doing much of anything beyond providing their labour. They do not possess any particular specialist skills and are unlikely to be able to acquire them (at least compared to the speed at which technology improves).

    I think it follows from the above that continued technological improvement will leave these people behind. Accepting the principle that technology always creates new hard-to-imagine opportunities doesn't provide any credible explanation for how millions of unskilled people of limited intelligence will be able to provide something useful to society even if such opportunities exist. It's like, yeah there may be jobs available for rocket scientists. But I'm not a rocket scientist so what use is that to me?

  • Lester224||

    The unemployed unskilled people can play video games and be happy. If they can wangle food and shelter..

  • Richard Stallman||

    This dogmatic article disregards the facts. Specifically the fact that hardly any new good jobs have been created since the Bush recession, and the fact that increasing numbers of Americans have no chance of finding anything but a McJob.

  • Gorbag||

    I blame Open Source.

  • Manton||

    The people who reject the idea of technological unemployment are missing one glaring fact in their argument.
    There has been a massive loss of employment since the industrial revolution began - most of this due to technological advancement. Why people miss this is that they are looking for bad news; whereas this loss of work I am refering to has been very good news.

    In the last 150 years, in developed countries, working hours per person have reduced by around 50%. If we still worked 65 hours a week with 4 days holidays a year as they did in the 1870s there would now be an unemployment rate of around 50%. But we have done the sensible thing - the same thing that Keynes was refering to. We have reduced our work hours rather than increasing unemployment. We have used new technology to free us from work rather that putting us out of work.

    One of the impediments preventing us using ongoing technological advances to reduce work hours even further is the prevailing view amongst economists as expressed in this article.

  • trutherator||

    A "trade agreement" that requires thousands of pages (some 30,000 between WTO-GATT) is NEVER "free trade".

    Free inter-governmental turf borders trade requires one very short paragraph at most.

    "All undersigned parties to this agreement herein listed declare they will repeal ALL tariffs for ALL products and services within and between ALL such parties." That's between borders.

    That's it.

    Truly FREE "free market agreement", with emphasis on "free", is more like this:
    "All undersigned parties to this agreement herein listed declare they will repeal ALL internal tariffs (aka taxes) for ALL transactions between parties for products and services within, between, and among ALL and any group of humans within its borders."

    Now THAT is free trade.

  • buybuydandavis||

    If the nightmare of technological unemployment were true, it would already have happened, repeatedly and massively.

    How many of those times included machines smarter than people?

    Through to the 60s, the US horse population crashed to about a tenth of it's high in the 20s as horses were used less and less for economic production. They have made a comeback, nearing 10 mil, now predominantly as pets you ride.

    When you can't compete economically, you have to hope someone wants you as a pet.

  • Faxmebeer||

    In 1800 there was no unemployment. In 2017 workforce participation is less than 65%, and then we start measuring who doesn't have a job. Whether it's technological replacement (it is, some) or our romance with globalism (is is also, some), the important thing is that ever fewer Americans are needed to produce, or to consume. The economic system that has supported massive population growth and prosperity for the last 120 years will not support us in the same way 120 years from now. It is time, right now, to think about and establish our new paradigms for how people will live in the fast approaching, very broad, Veblenian liesure class society. If we aren't going to prepare and provide for that, then we need to prepare for civil war on a global scale as society rebalances to a post-industrial/post liberal economic order.

  • ||

    I agree that Washington may not or will not resolve the problem of Technological Unemployment. You must understand that this is happening, and it will continue to happen. You can look at small communities, and large cities throughout the United States and see the loss of jobs due to technology. It's ever growing unskilled unemployment. Even if many of those manufacturing jobs that left were to return from overseas, only a quarter of them will employ anyone. Because when those jobs were shipped overseas in the first place, the factories built were mostly automated unless the contract with the foreign government limited facilities. Also, your idea that Technological Unemployment would have already destroyed the workforce if the idea was true is incorrect. The level of technology, in the past 20 years, is now at a point where it has displaced millions of American workers, and will do the same to foreign workers. It's an issue that we must resolve. I do believe in innovation, and innovation will be the saving grace here. But using an article such as this to make a political statement for ideology instead of focusing on the truth, or sounding the alarm about a problem that needs to be resolved is irresponsible.

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