Recently I’ve been reading a number of articles surrounding technology and the impending takeover of our jobs by machines. It’s a concept that has existed for many years and is a natural fear for many humans.
Fortunately (and also unfortunately), the concept is just not true. I can’t even begin to think of what it would take to replace many of our jobs. Any job involving strategic insight, engineering, and satisfying customers requires significant human input. Enhancing machine capabilities still requires the human input while improving what can be extracted from information. Okay, so let’s take another, more basic career: steel worker. China employs almost 12 million people in the coal and steel manufacturing sectors alone. At the height of the 2000’s economic bull market in America (2006-2008) a mere 2.5 million people were employed simply in the manufacturing industry in the entirety of the United States. Now, China IS making a push to cut steel jobs, but this is due to an overcapacity or glut of steel, not automation. The point I’m trying to make is that automation is not something we should be worried about.
-Our fears should be focused on the absolute chaos and ineptitude that has taken over the global financial system, not technology and automation-
Automation has been happening since the beginning of time, which is probably the reason people still had jobs once things like the printing press were invented to replace scribes and automobiles were invented to replace horse-drawn carriages. The misconception that automation is stealing our jobs avoids the all-too-important topics of monetary inflation and outsourcing due to excessive government regulation, both of which have caused the plight of a hollowed-out middle class and rusty, empty factories in the United States.
I’m not alone in this educated belief. Peter Thiel, noted Silicon Valley investor and entrepreneur, believes the same thing. Government is the cause of our woes. Dollar inflation has turned healthy economic theories on their back and led us to vilify capitalism as workers chug along trying to afford increasing prices in real estate, food, stocks, and college tuition. The Federal Reserve and US government selfishly print money and run up the national debt, respectively, that flood the global market with dollar-denominated liabilities to pay for increased consumer spending. The government believes it can prevent recessions from ever occurring by forcing US consumers to spend money. The funny thing is that government actually creates these recessions in the first place through over-speculation and spending! As a farmer prods his sheep to move, so does the US government prod it’s citizens into spending and avoiding savings. This is not only happening in America, but in nearly every nation around the world.
-Innovative deflation made us kings-
Innovative deflation is the core and essence of capitalism. The period of growth in America from the late 1790’s to about 1913 was the most successful and wealthy era in modern history. During this era, goods were cheap, wages were high, and there was no monetary inflation. There was no income tax and virtually no regulation on businesses (although we now realize that some regulations are healthy). A little known fact is that Standard Oil was so successful in providing cheap oil to consumers, that it was making competitors angry at the lack of potential business. Thus, out of jealousy and spite, crony capitalism and lobbied monopolies were born.
Entrepreneurs find ways to make goods cheaper for consumers while increasing profits that allow for more entrepreneurial investment. This is the beautiful cycle of capitalism that has been nearly thrown in the trashcan by global central bankers. If this is not true, tell me why computers have become so affordable that they cost less nowadays than many driver’s license registrations? Computers and electronic technology have managed to avoid inflationary pressure because of the fact that companies have been so effective at reducing prices in spite of inflation. The idea of capitalism is to make life easier to the point where work is more productive than ever, less laborious than ever, and goods are cheaper than ever.
-How should we react to technological changes?-
While technological changes don’t evaporate the need for human labor, they will shift human labor. Look back to history when people were employed in positions that are utterly useless nowadays. When was the last time you saw someone employed as a carriage wheel manufacturer? Aside from your local Amish family or Queen Elizabeth’s carriage manufacturer, this career is utterly unnecessary. We train people to be flexible with changes in technology. This is a constant throughout human history.