Jobs: Many Articles, One Inevitable Conclusion

There are and have been a lot of articles about the state of jobs in the U.S.  Reading them, I find only one or two that actually address the real problem: over-population.  That’s because it’s a tabboo subject; it’s unpopular to suggest that people must stop having so many babies.  When I was in high school, then college, though, it kept striking me that population growth along with technological innovation would, in time, prove to be disastrous for our nation and the world. And, unfortunately, that time has come.  I used to argue that in Economics class; I still argue that with colleagues, though, lately, their voices are fewer and weaker because, 1) their jobs have been outsourced overseas, and, 2) computers and automation have taken over their tasks. Even jobs requiring a high degree of mental acumen and skill are being phased out from a “permanent” position to that of a “permanent temporary”, subcontracted status. Mostly gone are the lucrative, lifetime jobs where you could look forward to retirement after, say, thirty years of satisfying, steady employment with the same firm, working your way up the company hierarchy.

Technological innovation and computer automation are, of course, wonderful. One person can do so much more today than they could even ten years ago…by themselves, without an army of help. So, pound for pound and dollar for dollar, they and the company they work for make more money, right? Maybe, depending on the circumstances and the business. Mostly, it depends on how the business is run and how much competition vies for the same market…because competition for income is more intense with the increasing number of desperate available bodies willing to do it for less.

Of course, robotics allow companies to get rid of expensive workers who, being human, are, well, human. Emotions, illness, familial responsibilities, and the need for reasonably safe, comfortable working conditions all add a toll to hiring live bodies as opposed to high-tech mechanicals. Robots are expensive, though. Still, when measuring one robot’s productivity against that of a live worker, robots make a lot of sense.  It takes 4.2 human workers to do the same amount of work as one robot if those humans can and will work at the same speed and with the same efficiency as said robot. ¬†And, of course, you need the tech to maintain and fix the robot…or a contract with the company who makes it.  Still, the robot is still cheaper, especially since a robot can be used as a depreciation expense.  So, considering all the variables, buying a robot (or several) is definitely much more appealing than employing human beings.  And robots don’t need health care or retirement benefits, a huge plus in savings.

Then, of course, there’s the sheer volume of people who need or want work. That makes workers very cheap and becoming cheaper still as population increases.

SHORT TERM SOLUTION? I don’t think there is one that’s politically appealing to either of our political parties, nor one that is practical without closing the borders and isolationism, plus some stringent new commerce laws…such as: to sell in the U.S., you must create the product in a U.S.-based factory that employs U.S. citizens, else pay a huge tariff for the privilege of selling to Americans.

LONG TERM SOLUTION? Pretty easy to figure out: reduce the human population by reducing the number of babies born.