04/06/2017

There Is No Alternative To Embracing Automation

Francis Menton, Manhattan Contrarian

Salena Zito, whose work I often admire, has a long piece in the New York Post from Sunday headlined "This is the next Democratic stronghold to crack like the Rust Belt."   It seems that Ms. Zito has done the same thing that I have done many times, namely taken the Acela train between Washington and New York.  If you do that, it's hard not to notice the very large stretches of devastated, abandoned and burned-out America -- some in Newark, some in Trenton, a huge part of North Philadelphia, some of Wilmington, the majority of Baltimore.  Zito:

Outside, a different Acela corridor rolls by — one roiled by isolation, decay and societal changes, a world ghosted by technology, corrupt politicians and bad city planning.  Shuttered machine shops, refineries, steel mills and manufacturing plants near Trenton and Philadelphia slide past the window like a kaleidoscope of sorrow; scores of once-charming century-old houses are now covered in graffiti and dot areas in and around Baltimore, Newark and Wilmington, Del.

There are also some upscale places along the route, although somehow the train's view doesn't offer much of a flavor of the nice suburbs of New York and Washington.  But as to the large and highly visible decayed areas in these cities:  could they now be ready to try another political approach, rather than whatever it is that has brought them so low?

Ms. Zito then moves on from description to diagnosis and prescription.  Unfortunately, I think that she then gets it all (or nearly all) wrong.  Her diagnosis of the problem, in a word, is "automation":

[M]ostly, it has been unrelenting automation that has eliminated middle-class jobs and lives. . . .    [One study] determined [that] every additional robot used in automation reduced employment in a given commuting area by three to six workers, and lowered wages by 0.25 to 0.5 percent. There are 1.5 million robots out there working in what is left of industrial America, and that number is projected to double in less than 10 years.

And how about a prescription of what to do?

The hard truth is that no one has any idea what to do with the under-employed, high school-educated people who once were able to carve out good, middle-class lives with their own hands, as long as they were willing to work.  But somebody had better figure it out soon. . . .

Sorry, but no.  First:  sure robots destroy jobs.  They are just the latest gizmos to fill that role.  Earlier versions of such gizmos were industrial looms and mechanized tractors and reapers for farms.  Those things, between and among them, "destroyed" what were then the jobs of some 90+% of Americans.  Here's a chart from the Department of Agriculture that I used in a post back in August 2014.  

Read full article



You May Also Like:

Lois Lerner Doesn’t Trust You William McGurn, The Wall Street Journal

The Fed Is Getting A New Head. But Thinking Is What's Needed Steve Forbes, Forbes.com

Men, Stop Virtue-Signaling And Return To Rules Ben Shapiro, National Review

FCC Lays Out Plan To Roll Back "Net Neutrality” CBS News

Report: Conyers Settled Wrongful Dismissal Complaint Over 'Sexual Advances’ [Watch] Olivia Beavers, The Hill

Why Have Liberals Been Such Horrendous Hypocrites On Women's Rights? Roger L. Simon, PJ Media

Bernie, Stop Fibbing About Canada's Single-Payer Disaster Sally C. Pipes, Investor’s Business Daily

Hillary: Corrupt, Clueless, Coddled David Prentice, American Thinker

Rule By One Man: Judge Declares Sanctuary Cities Law Of The Land Daniel Horowitz, Conservative Review

Janet Yellen Leaving Federal Reserve In 2018: Good Riddance [Watch] Andrew Moran, Economic Collapse News

How Fewer Obamacare Options Hurt A 4-Year-Old Robert Moffit, Daily Signal

Socialist Academics Contributed To The Rise Of The Third Reich Brittany Hunter, Foundation for Economic Education

The Perfect Coda For Cordray's Tenure: Nullifying The Payday Lending Rule Norbert Michel, Forbes.com

Why Amazon Is Buying Up All Those Cryptocurrency URLs James Poulos, The Federalist

How Two Governments Protect Liberty Better Than One John O. McGinnis, Library of Law and Liberty

For More go to the Home Page >>>

Search

Bookshelf

FreeMarket Central

Some titles recent, all recommended -

Special Video Feature

FreeMarket Central

Voices From The 2017 International Students For Liberty Conference

In Search Of History

When America Was Truly The Land Of Opportunity

For [early immigrants] America was truly the land of opportunity. For the first time in their lives, many were truly free to pursue their own objectives. That freedom released the human energies which created the United States. There were few government programs to turn to and nobody expected them. But also there were few rules and regulations. There were no licenses, no permits, no red tape to restrict them. They found, in fact, a free market, and most of them thrived on it. 

-- Milton Friedman,

Shadow Stats Snapshot


FreeMarket Central

ShadowStats alternate economic indicators are based on the methodology of noted economist John Williams, specialist in government economic reporting.

  • Unemployment:
    FreeMarket Central BLS: 4.1%
    FreeMarket Central Shadow Stats: 21.6%
  • Inflation:
    FreeMarket Central October Year-to-Year: 2.23% (CPI-U*)
    FreeMarket Central Shadow Stats: 10.0%

*[cpi-u is the Bureau of Labor Statistics inflation rate for all urban consumers]