Well, there will ALWAYS be jobs for some, but as time goes by clearly there will be fewer.

The reason there will be fewer is due to something most of us normally think of as good: efficiency.

The signs are everywhere: the Post Office is overstaffed due to so much of what used to be done in snail mail being done online: we don't send letters by mail. No longer do we pay most bills by mail; we do it online or over the phone. And the rub is that we don't even pay for those services because we'd have Internet or phone service anyway, and when you're not paying, you're not subsidizing someone's employment.

Largely automated systems have eliminated many jobs. Craigslist has so few employees (about 25 as I understand it) that it almost runs on autopilot (ever wanted to talk to their customer service? don't bother: it really doesn't exist for any practical purpose). Think of all the employees of newspaper classified ad departments who no longer have jobs, and the revenue lost to those newspapers, which has forced some out of business, adding to unemployment, forcing the rest to cut back drastically on staff.

When I was young (I'm 65) automobiles and trucks were built by people on assembly lines. The only mechanical assistance was probably a small lift to lift heavy objects like motors, but the lift was still operated by a person. Today, the amount of actual human later going into the building of a car on assembly line is greatly limited, with much of the work being done by industrial robots.

One can only expect that this trend will continue because we will always want products to be cheaper.

So, as fewer and fewer people have jobs, who will be out there to buy them? If you stop to think about it, the trend is rather obviously unsustainable!

We can't continue to let the numbers of the unemployed to expand. At some point, the economy will become totally dysfunctional.

How do you think we will have to deal with this eventually.

Tags: efficiency, unemployment

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Take Apple for example. It pioneers new technologies, many of which make current jobs unnecessary through streamlining procedures and creating other efficiencies. And, definitely, they have created tens of thousands of new jobs.

For Chinese people. I'm talking about American jobs.

To claim that technology doesn't cost jobs flies in the face of the most common purpose for technological advance.


What is that? Here it comes: ...one...two...three ...efficiency and cost savings. So, unless technology is an abject failure (I'll let you be the judge of that) it either costs jobs or produces McJobs to replace higher-paying jobs.

There's not doubt, for example, that Apple has created a lot of U.S. jobs, directly and indirectly, in retail, customer service, warehousing, etc., But the 250,000 jobs it created here (many of them just retail or warehouse jobs) pale by comparison with the 700,000 Chinese workers indirectly employed by Apple. Clearly, their profit motive has them benefiting one of our top competitors in world markets rather than American workers and taxpayers.

There is no such thing as "American jobs" when you live in a globalized world. Furthermore, the US is a net beneficiary of globalization by virtue of being reserve currency, having the largest financial markets, having the largest economy, and home of an outsized share of the global behemoth corporations. If you go around the TN area you will find hundreds of thousands of "American jobs" being created by BMW, Honda, Toyota, and the other car companies. And that's just mentioning one area and one sector...

"So, unless technology is an abject failure (I'll let you be the judge of that) it either costs jobs or produces McJobs to replace higher-paying jobs."

A non-sequitur. The only thing technology guarantees is that work tasks are performed more efficiently. As you suggest, one option is to scale back production in such a case, but economic literature suggest that increased efficiency will leader to higher production and/or lower prices, combined with an increase in the work force.

As for Apple producing in the China it is driven by the external factors of consumer sentiment and price focus more than the internal focus on profit maximization. Of course, they could produce in the US, though since technology would replace a lot of the most inhumane jobs now being performed by Chinese and the US workers being substantially more efficient there would not be nearly as many US jobs created, but the price of an iPhone would be substantially higher. It would not benefit the US at all if Samsung could severely undercut Apple on price and corner the market, thus onshoring would probably lead to a net decrease in US work force.

There is no such thing as "American jobs" when you live in a globalized world.

I'm not sure what you mean by that. Certainly someone building a widget in Indonesia for an American company has an Indonesian job, unless you prefer to call it an American job, but to do that would be to admit that there is such a thing as an American job, even if it is held by an Indonesian.

Furthermore, the US is a net beneficiary of globalization by virtue of being reserve currency, having the largest financial markets, having the largest economy, and home of an outsized share of the global behemoth corporations. If you go around the TN area you will find hundreds of thousands of "American jobs" being created by BMW, Honda, Toyota, and the other car companies. And that's just mentioning one area and one sector...

Okay, I'm confused. So there ARE American jobs(?).

"So, unless technology is an abject failure (I'll let you be the judge of that) it either costs jobs or produces McJobs to replace higher-paying jobs."

A non-sequitur. The only thing technology guarantees is that work tasks are performed more efficiently. As you suggest, one option is to scale back production in such a case, but economic literature suggest that increased efficiency will leader to higher production and/or lower prices, combined with an increase in the work force.

But we see that increased efficiency means that production requires less and less skill by employees which justifies paying them less on the one hand and creates greater competition for jobs, and the main tool less skilled employees have, aside from unionizing, which is becoming harder and harder, is to offer to work for less.

As for Apple producing in the China it is driven by the external factors of consumer sentiment and price focus more than the internal focus on profit maximization.

Apple products aren't cheap, so decreasing the cost of their products doesn't seem to be a major factor for Apple. Rather obviously, it's increasing their profit margin. They have become the most profitable company in the world selling what are essentially expensive toys.

Of course, they could produce in the US, though since technology would replace a lot of the most inhumane jobs now being performed by Chinese and the US workers being substantially more efficient there would not be nearly as many US jobs created, but the price of an iPhone would be substantially higher.

There might not be as many jobs, though that is arguable, but the Americans who got the jobs would be thankful for them and they would become taxpayers instead of a drag on the economy through collecting government benefits (food stamps, etc.). Are you denying that we can use all the jobs we can get.

Also, Apple users are addicts. While the price of an iPhone or Apple laptop is quite a bit higher than equivalent Android phone or Windows laptop, they will clearly pay even more. However, if Apple moved production to the United States, their profit margin is such that they could compete on price.

I would like to see your definition of an American job. As I see it, you may refer to a few things i.e. a job in an American company, a job in a company exporting to the US, a job performed inside the US borders, a job in a US company inside US borders, etc. The problem with any definition you choose is that it breaks down if you adjust your eyes from a domestic to an international focus. "What if" every country chose an analogous definition?

The examples would be jobs in the US created by foreign companies, one potential candidate for the monicker "American jobs". Again, "what if" German and Japanese car companies followed the same logic of whom jobs "belong to" as you wish to apply?

"But we see that increased efficiency means that production requires less and less skill by employees which justifies paying them less on the one hand and creates greater competition for jobs, and the main tool less skilled employees have, aside from unionizing, which is becoming harder and harder, is to offer to work for less."

This is counter factual. Take the examples of modern ship yards, which now employs much more skilled labor to manage the technology. Worldwide, shipyards both pays substantially better and employ more people than before the advent of technology.

As for Apple (and Microsoft), their corporate value is mostly their intangible assets - what moves between the ears of their engineers and designers. Apple has a brilliant business strategy which makes them able to receive massive profits by hitting the market just right. But this can change very quickly, 15 years ago Nokia didn't seem able to make mistakes, today it's nearing bankruptcy.

"Are you denying that we can use all the jobs we can get."

I am denying you jobs you don't want. I find it a bit unethical to deny a Chinese $5k for a job which will enable them to exit out of medieval level poverty and hand it to an ungrateful American complaining about $35k. Same with Mexicans earning a pittance in the US agri business.

I don't think the solution would be to rob China of jobs, but rather to increase the salaries of non-tradable jobs the Chinese or Mexicans cannot perform. These are usually paid close to minimum wage without any benefits, and doubling the min wage and mandating certain benefits would do a world of difference. That's not to say the US shouldn't have an active trade policy to counteract China, but that's a different discussion.

I would like to see your definition of an American job. As I see it, you may refer to a few things i.e. a job in an American company, a job in a company exporting to the US, a job performed inside the US borders, a job in a US company inside US borders, etc. The problem with any definition you choose is that it breaks down if you adjust your eyes from a domestic to an international focus. "What if" every country chose an analogous definition?

The examples would be jobs in the US created by foreign companies, one potential candidate for the monicker "American jobs". Again, "what if" German and Japanese car companies followed the same logic of whom jobs "belong to" as you wish to apply?

I think to most Americans, an American job is one that is occupied by an American and contributes to the American economy and the American tax base. How does an Indian customer service worker answering calls from Americans and being paid in rupees contribute to the American economy or put food on a table in Los Angeles or Akron?

"But we see that increased efficiency means that production requires less and less skill by employees which justifies paying them less on the one hand and creates greater competition for jobs, and the main tool less skilled employees have, aside from unionizing, which is becoming harder and harder, is to offer to work for less."

This is counter factual. Take the examples of modern ship yards, which now employs much more skilled labor to manage the technology. Worldwide, shipyards both pays substantially better and employ more people than before the advent of technology.

That's a cherry-picked example, if it it's even true. And is it really the case for most other industries?

"Are you denying that we can use all the jobs we can get."

I am denying you jobs you don't want. I find it a bit unethical to deny a Chinese $5k for a job which will enable them to exit out of medieval level poverty and hand it to an ungrateful American complaining about $35k. Same with Mexicans earning a pittance in the US agri business.

There is no ethics in international business, especially when competing against a country that hardly pays even lip-service to intellectual property rights, advancing largely by cheating and doing end runs around business ethics. International business is war and you play to win, or you lose.

Legalise all recreational drugs, put a tax on them and sell them. This not only limits the control of the black market, but it also makes it easier for addicts to seek help as it wouldn't be seen as taboo. This would create two new industries: 1 a bigger market in drug addiction rehabilitation. 2. the safe and legal retail of recreational drugs (with government warnings). Not to mention that the tax on theses drugs beings in more money into the economy. 

Drastic times call for drastic measures. 

I've always said that two related things should be legalized: 1) all drugs should be legal and 2) employment and housing discrimination against drug users should be legal.

There's no reason a landlord shouldn't be able to exclude tweakers or junkies from his property. On the other hand, if some junkie landlord wants to create a heroin-friendly apartment building and deal with all the issues that come with heroin use, more power to him.

I have some sympathies with this position. I have been an owner, a manager and a tenant over the years for rentals. A few times I have had to deal with crazy people that were on drugs, or just needing psychological help. While I wish people well generally, a few can turn the lives of the rest of us into 'hell on earth'.

Over the course of 3 years, early 90's, I ran a 4 room group house.

My first batch of folks were muslim, which were considerate, clean, good cooks, agreeable, and helpful. It was common to have a $500+ phone bill every month, but they always paid, which was a relief..;p). It was rather common to have up to 30 people in the house for dinner on Fridays (Holy day)!

Then a fellow moved out, leaving a room available. I posted an add and found an Vietnam vet that seemed ok. The vet had a hidden, and serious drinking problem, with a control freak attitude. One morning he fried bacon in the kitchen, which totally pissed off the muslim folks, who then left the house within hours! The move was so fast that I could feel the vacuum generated! 

This then left 3 rooms emthy. I then found 3 more folks. One a young kid that seemed to have some oppositional disorder and a ferret that ran free in his room. Another fellow that liked fast cars, and within 6 months moved a couger kitten into the house that I discovered when it attacked my legs one afternoon. And a gal with her son. She was 'needy', which I had to bat-off occasionaly, and her son that got off on reading true crime novels.

This story is way to long and painful to revisit, but ended with I shuting the house down after evicting most of them, when I started to notice drug use in the house, and the theft of money and property. Since the owners where Morman, I figure I had some responsibility to have it end before these crazy people distroyed the house, and I become just like them.    

 

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