Wednesday, March 9, 2016

A First: Obama Tells The Truth!

Wow! Team Obama has finally told a truth. This is a first for them! Anyways, this was a surprising announcement that came out a couple weeks ago and has gone largely un-commented-upon for all the wrong reasons. It is an important piece of information, however. Observe.

What Obama announced a couple weeks ago was simple, accurate and a heck of a warning which everyone seems intent on ignoring. They said that if you currently earn less than $25 an hour in your job, expect that a machine will take your job within the next couple decades.

Let me repeat that: If you currently earn less than $25 an hour in your job, expect that a machine will take your job within the next couple decades.

The talk radio right thinks that dirty Mexicans are killing 'merikn jobs. The left thinks that greedy American bosses (probably dirty Jews) are killing American jobs. And to a minuscule degree, there is some truth there. American companies have outsourced jobs overseas and illegal labor does take jobs in this country. But the truth is that few jobs in the scheme of things are outsourced and few of those would have survived here even if they hadn't been. The high-end estimates for outsourced jobs is about 2.4 million in the last decade, or 240,000 a year. That's less than 0.1% of the 150 million jobs in the US. Similarly, few of the jobs taken by illegals, who are clustered in six "border" states, are jobs Americans are willing to take. Some, but not many.

The real cause of job loss in America is technology.

This is vital for people to understand because it means people need to prepare themselves by getting educated and moving up the food chain. If you think you can spend the rest of your life working at McDonald's, being a laborer, or just hanging tight in some low-level clerical job, then you better think twice. Those jobs are going to vanish. Seriously, just as the car killed the horse, the word processor killed the typing pool, the robot killed the autoworker, the leaf-blower replaced three illegals with rakes, and video killed the radio star, the next seemingly small invention will kill your jobs. They are already introducing those horrible electronic things in low-end restaurants (Olive Garden, Chilis) to kill waitress jobs. Kiosks are here to kill those McDonald's workers who wanted $15 an hour. Electronic editors have killed book editors. Tablets are killing inventory clerks. Etc. It is coming.

I find it interesting that Obama openly said this. That seems like a truth neither side wants to let slip. The right is happy whipping up its low information types against Mexicans and the left is happy whipping up its low information types against rich bosses, evil banks and non-union labor. There isn't much room in that debate for the truth, especially as it is a hard truth: you can't stop it. So I guess kudos are in order for Obama actually warning people that they need to make themselves more valuable than the machines that can replace them.

OT: As expected, Cruz's revival last weekend was an anomaly. All Hail President Trump... please don't f*ck up the country too much. On the other side, it's interesting that Hillary can't shake the weasel, er, Bernie.


AndrewPrice said...

Sorry for the late post. It was a long day yesterday.

LL said...

You're spot on (as usual). Additionally, the change in demographics in Mexico is making large scale immigration from there to the US far less likely as this century rolls forward. There will be illegal immigration from Central America and South America but some of that will be bulwarked by Mexico.

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks LL!

I think this is vital for people to understand. There is no escaping this -- technology moves forward no matter what. So people need to broaden their skills and their kids need to be well educated and well skilled.

Agreed on Mexico, though it's funny how many people refuse to accept that the demographics have changed. There won't be another huge wave of Mexicans. In fact, we net zeroed for the past few years. The new wave will be from Asia and that should be smaller than the prior ones.

In any event, those people aren't taking anything more than entry level and pure labor jobs. Americans need to move up if they want to be secure.

BevfromNYC said...

"...So people need to broaden their skills and their kids need to be well educated and well skilled.

Uh, this has always been the case. The only way to increase your value in the job market is to increase your knowledge and skill sets and most importantly, stay current. If it is not the influx of immigrants, it is technology. It is always something...that's why there are only specialists who make buggy whips and pricey Swiss wrist watches that do nothing more than give your time. And why no one sews or mends much - mass produced cheap imports make sewing that special dress or mending those socks obsolete..

The good news is that urban farming is become the hip new thing, so at least we won't starve.

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, It has always been the case, but these days if you listen to talk radio, the big thing is "edukashun don't matter, harrumph, it make you libral. Be reel 'merika, don't go to skool!"

Elements of the left do something similar. It's amazing how much education is dismissed in ghetto and white trash cultures as something THEY want you to do and which you should resist.

At the same time, left and right seem to have decided that the problem isn't technology/education related, it's the 0.1% of job shipped overseas or the janitorial or melon picking jobs taken by illegals in Texas that are making America insecure.

I think it's fascinating that Obama of all people has cut through this garbage and told people the truth here.

Critch said...

I've been telling young people, and old, for years about technology. Find jobs where you repair or build those robots, driverless cars, etc..However, I am a big proponent of technical education...welding, carpentry, plumbing, building trades, and electrical work will always be with us.....

BevfromNYC said...

Andrew - With the push for $15 minimum wage, he has to push this. These are the jobs that will go away fastest and unemployment will skyrocket...and there goes his legacy.

But all hail Trump and/or Clinton/Sanders. Just like Moses, they will lead us to the Promised Land where abundance awaits us.

AndrewPrice said...

Critch, I agree. There will always be a need for people with those skills because robots can't do "random" work. They are great on assembly lines, but not so much in the field.

Still, you need to be more than a mere laborer and you have to realize that the competition for those jobs may be really stiff. And again, it is best to have as man skills as possible.

I recall union guys in the Rustbelt who knew how to weld or how to use some specific machine in the steel mills or mines and knew nothing else. When those machines got replaced, they lost their jobs and they didn't know what to do. Diversify your skills!

All that said though, the better educated will always be more secure and have better opportunities. That really is the key.

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, You might be right. It struck me as strange that he would say this.

The whole $15 minimum wage thing is an economic debacle if it ever happens, btw. The minimum wage may work its way up to that on it's own eventually, bit jumping there will wipe out most service jobs.

I look forward to the promised land. //sarc off Sad panda.

Anthony said...

Tech replacing cheap/low-skill workers makes perfect sense. That isn't an argument anyone wants to hear though so its not a fact most politicians will spread.

Have electronic editors really had much of an effect on book editors? I would think electronic editors would be great for spellchecking and grammar, not so great for suggestions about more nebulous stuff like pacing and character development.

AndrewPrice said...

Anthony, My understanding is that electronic editors (the professional version, not the one attached to Word) have essentially wiped out editors at publishing houses. I've heard a lot of complaints about this among authors who say that the electronic programs are not as good and that their books are being published with a lot more mistakes and that they aren't getting the substantive help they used to. Getting an editor is one of the benefits publishers used to offer to entice authors to get published.

I suspect the whole publishing industry is next. With self-publishing growing and places like Amazon even trolling for their own authors to publish, the need for agents and publishers is disappearing pretty quickly (I've seen a lot of angst about this from agents and a big group of them seem to be waging a war against self-publishing). I would expect serious consolidation in that industry over the next decade.

In a more generic sense, things like word processors and quality home printers have nearly wiped out the entire industry of people who used to put together printed packages and things. In the 1980s, people used to go to these little "print shops" to get all of this stuff done (e.g. presentations, resume packets, wedding invites, birthday announcements, etc.). These were largely replaced by Kinkos, and now even Kinkos is suffering outside of placed that don't have a lot of law firms or other places that get these sudden needs to make a bazillion copies at once.

Critch said...

In any career field you have to keep up with technology. Welding has undergone huge changes in the last 30 years, as has plumbing, carpentry materials are forcing some of this. There is a robot out there that can lay bricks, but it is strictly a one story thing and prone to breakdowns...but it's coming.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for cutting through the BS as always Andrew.
As for robots in fields, google the video of a robot from japan that can harvest strawberries. It was from a few years ago and it seemed to be doing a pretty good job. It's not so much that robots won't be able to do random field work, it's that fields will be reworked to make it easier for robots to work in. Obv. for things like repairing fences or something you might hire a contractor.

AndrewPrice said...

Critch, I believe that one day in the far far far future, there will be no jobs that robots can't do. It will be fascinating to see what the humans do then for an economy. In the meantime, however, the key is just to stay useful.

I am amazed at the rate of technological change even in fields like welding where you think nothing much will ever change (big fan of the show "Modern Marvels"). Cars too. I used to work on my car every weekend. These days, I'm not even sure where the spark plugs are hidden... or if they still exist. :(

AndrewPrice said...

Anon, You're welcome! :)

That's true. As robots get more sophisticated, it will make more economic sense to design jobs around them rather than trying to perfect them. And that means that the number of labor jobs will get ever smaller.

And we should never count out intellectual jobs either. I would assume that in the future you will see a lot more robots replacing doctors. (Not lawyers though... you can't build robots with moral standards that low. ;-) )

BevfromNYC said...

Interesting the more people shop via the internet, the less there will need to be actual stores only warehouses run by robots. But then there is the emerging technology of 3-D printing that will one day will render manufacturing and warehousing even with robots obsolete.

But the entertainment industry will flourish - humans have to do something to occupy their time.

BevfromNYC said...

"...Not lawyers though... you can't build robots with moral standards that low.."

"Nuanced"...the word is "nuanced". "Flexible" will do too. ;-)

Critch said...

In Seymour, MO, a town heavily populated by the Amish, the local Mickey D's has those self-order kiosks...the owner said he has a hard problem getting employees because most of the kids in town are Amish or Mennonites..

tryanmax said...

It's less about diversifying skills than it is about being a problem solver. I know that sounds cliche, but when not just your job but your industry disappears (which often occurs) your first hurdle is solving the problem of applying your skill set to different problems. I work with engineers and even that is highly automated. You don't need drawing skills, the software verifies the math. Just having the idea is 90% of the job. You may have heard of the "attention economy" where everyone is competing for eyes. Well, what captures attention? A better term would be the idea economy.

tryanmax said...

Just caught 30 s of the demdebate. Sanders openly supports US week hung on debt

tryanmax said...

*welshing on debt

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, I like that! "Nuanced" LOL!

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, The same is true with law. There was a time where you had a typing pool, secretaries for every lawyer, research departments, copy departments, etc. These days, you see a lot of big firms running with only lawyers, a secretary for every 2-3 lawyers, and maybe a couple IT and print guys. Technology works against high end jobs too.

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