I'm going to systematically tear apart this article using actual facts, instead of useless theories, and perhaps tear apart some of the commentors on the article too. Let's get started:
The story goes that Milton Friedman was once taken to see a massive government project somewhere in Asia. Thousands of workers using shovels were building a canal. Friedman was puzzled. Why weren't there any excavators or any mechanized earth-moving equipment? A government official explained that using shovels created more jobs. Friedman's response: "Then why not use spoons instead of shovels?"
Here's the first witticism of the article, and the first paragraph. Milton Friedman also prefers to deny reality rather than confront the argument that was actually given. The fact is the Chinese workers already existed. Their labor is already available, their bodies still had to be fed one way or another. Why buy machinery, which is expensive, when they could hire unemployed people instead? The Chinese had a quandary -- what do you do when your country is overpopulated?
"Kill off hundreds of millions of people, until all workers are using Earth Movers instead of shovels," is apparently Milton Friedman's preferred solution. However, libertarians are afraid to enunciate the implications of their thinking, so they prefer to hide behind jokes and witticisms. There is a clearly rational reason behind equipping Chinese workers with shovels, but not Earth Movers or spoons: Given that you already have a glut of working age muscled human beings in the market, and given that you are not willing to see them all starve to death or kill them in gas chambers, what is the most efficient use for their muscle bound prime working age bodies?
It turns out that Chinese would rather give lots of men jobs with shovels, than have massive unemployment, but it was not necessary to resort to spoons because there was enough useful work to do by just relying on shovels. If there had been, say, another billion Chinese workers ready for work, maybe they would have been given spoons. Or maybe they would have been given a much larger project to do with shovels, for instance, building artificial bridges across the Pacific Ocean by moving dirt. However, the Chinese government clearly wanted to match its efficiency to the number of people it needed to employ, and shovels on the project people were provided was the answer. FDR did the same thing with the Civilian Conservation Corps.
The Civilian Conservation Corps was first and foremost an employer of last resort. It liked giving men shovels and telling them to go move dirt, precisely because it gave them something to do. Obviously, governments prefer as much productive work to be done as possible by those they employ, so they were handed shovels and not spoons. However, the first objective is getting everyone employment. Once everyone is employed, you can worry about maximizing their efficiency. But if increasing their efficiency reduces employment, it becomes a social ill, not a social good. You still have to deal with the unemployed person, just like before you had to deal with the cost of employing the person. Only now he isn't doing any productive work at all. There are three ways to deal with unemployment: a Citizen's Dividend that pays them money directly, a government provided job which tries to get as much productivity out of them as feasible while still giving them unearned money, or killing off all surplus, redundant labor. There are no other alternatives. Libertarians refuse to use option A or option B, so that implies they are in favor of option C. They never say this out loud though, because they know they would be rejected if they ever clearly stated their agenda. Instead they make corny jokes like Milton Friedman did above.
To explain why Friedman was not being witty but just being an ass, I'll lay things out more clearly. The Chinese spokesman said 'Earth Movers would lead to unemployment,' so Milton Friedman twisted his words and made a logical fallacy: "If your one and only goal is maximum employment, why not use an even less efficient tool to get the job done?" However, the Chinese spokesman never said his one and only goal was maximum employment. Therefore, Friedman never disproved the argument of the Chinese spokesman, but only defeated a total straw man. Government's job is not maximum employment, but, in this case, full employment of working age muscular men. Once full employment has been achieved, there is no need to increase the prospects for employment yet further by using less efficient tools, less efficient tools are only necessary until everyone has a job -- then you can concentrate on maximizing efficiency as your Secondary goal.
So what the Chinese spokesman said is: "Our first goal as state policy is full employment, efficiency is only our secondary goal, because we want everyone to have enough of an income to afford the means of his existence out of his own efforts, and not be supported by another, or simply killed off in an extermination campaign."
Milton Friedman then replied with an imbecilic joke: "If your first goal is full employment, why not instead change your first goal to maximum employment? As for what will become of all the people without any income to support themselves with anymore, why worry about them? I'm sure everything will magically work out."
Rather than appreciative laughter at Friedman's wit, he comes out looking like an asshole and an idiot. He's an asshole for distorting what the Chinese spokesman said. He's an idiot for believing in magical thinking, and refusing to understand the implications of his statements.
That story came to mind last week when President Obama linked technology to job losses. "There are some structural issues with our economy where a lot of businesses have learned to become much more efficient with a lot fewer workers," he said. "You see it when you go to a bank and you use an ATM, you don't go to a bank teller, or you go to the airport and you're using a kiosk instead of checking in at the gate."
The president calls this a structural issue—we usually call it progress. And it isn't exactly a new phenomenon. It's been going on for centuries, and its pace has accelerated over the past 50 years. Businesses relentlessly look for ways to replace workers with machines. The machines get better and smarter. We go from spoons to shovels to excavators, not the other way around.
Roberts doesn't seem to understand that it could be both a structural problem and progress. Obama understands it's both. Obama never says technology is a bad thing or isn't progressive. But like usual, Roberts, like his good friend Friedman above, attacks a straw man and accuses Obama of being anti-progress. Why can't we be for progress and for full employment? No one ever said we should sacrifice progress for the sake of full employment. Obama is just honest enough to recognize reality: technology costs us jobs. If we want to have technological progress and full employment, we're going to have to get very creative in finding ways to produce more jobs than we're losing due to said technology. Obama was looking for ways to create more jobs despite the presence of new technology, he wasn't suggesting that we create new jobs by banning or destroying the technology. Only Roberts is saying this. He's attacking a total straw man.
Telephone switchboard operators lose jobs to automated switching. Toll collectors get replaced by E-ZPass. Auto workers get replaced by robots.
The magnitudes are stunning. As the Washington Post reported in 2007:
"The textile industry has been particularly aggressive in replacing people with machines. A half-century ago, a typical North Carolina textile worker operated five machines at once, each capable of running a thread through a loom at 100 times a minute. Now machines run six times as fast, and one worker oversees 100 of them."
That's a 120-fold increase in output per worker. When a worker is 120 times more productive, you usually don't need as many workers as you did before.
Or look at eggs. Today, a couple of workers can manage an egg-laying operation of almost a million chickens laying 240,000,000 eggs a year. How can two people pick up those eggs or feed those chickens or keep them healthy with medication? They can't. The hen house does the work—it's really smart. The two workers keep an eye on a highly mechanized, computerized process that would have been unimaginable 50 years ago.
But should we call this progress? In a sense it sounds like a deal with the devil. Replace workers with machines in the name of lower costs. Profits rise. Repeat. It's a wonder unemployment is only 9.1%. Shouldn't the economy put people ahead of profits?
The reason it's a 'wonder' unemployment is only at 9.1% is because that unemployment number is an absolute lie. In truth, unemployment is around 50%. That is, 50% of this country does not work. In the past, there was no such thing as 'retirement,' people worked until they died. Furthermore, there was no such thing as 'childhood,' children worked from age 3 on or so on the family farm, and children were also sent to work in the factories when the industrial revolution began. Now neither children nor the elderly work, but they aren't counted as unemployed, because it has become socially expected that they won't work. But why is this? Only because of the innovation of machine labor. Without machines, all of their work would still be necessary.
Here's the Bureau of Labor with the most recent statistics on true unemployment, the workforce participation rate. This is the percentage of people over age 16 who have a job, as opposed to the 'unemployment' statistic which is full of loopholes that excuse people from not working. As you can see, the rate is at a record low, 64.2%. When you take into account the fact that children age 16-0 are not working at all, when before they all had jobs and were quite capable of work before the industrial revolution, we discover that machines have already unemployed half of mankind, not 1/10 like Roberts would have us believe.
The workforce participation rate has been decreasing ever since 2001, the latest datapoint in the graph. There doesn't appear to be any hope that the rate will increase again. We can expect this rate to keep decreasing forever, so long as technological progress continues, why would it ever increase again? It used to be that everyone in the world was employed, 90% of them as farmers. There was no such thing as unemployment because there was always more work to do. Now we have 50% unemployment and that number has been getting worse every year.
However, even this graph is an understatement. The workforce participation rate must be combined with the average number of hours worked per year to find out the real jobs picture in technologically sophisticated America.
Here is the OECD to the rescue. This shows another downward trend ever since 2001. Average hours worked per year in America has fallen from 1,836 in 2001 to 1768 in 2009, the most recent entry in the table. Obviously not all jobs are equal. If the question is whether or not technology decreases employment, you can't just look at whether people are employed or not, you also must check to see HOW employed they are. If people are still employed, but are working 20% less, that's the same as a 20% decrease in employment. It's just being masked by cute definitions and semantics. By the way, a fall of 1,836 hours per year to 1,768 per year is the equivalent of a 4% decrease in employment -- but who's counting, right?
Actually, Peter Drucker is counting. In his marvelous book "New Realities," Peter Drucker charted one of the most important statistics ever made: In 1900, people on average worked 3,000 hours a year. Zoom forward to 2009 and we discover that we have nearly halved that number. This is the same as saying unemployment has increased 50% since 1900. People who used to be working no longer are working. This is the very meaning of unemployment. And when it comes to questioning whether or not technology depresses the human ability to find work, it is absolutely valid to chart number of work hours, and not just the number of jobs, to find the answer.
So now we have two answers to 'real unemployment,' as caused by his documented technological wonders in efficiency like textile factories with 120 times as much productivity -- the effect hasn't been 9% unemployment, it's actually been 75% unemployment. Since the industrial revolution, half the population of the world no longer works at all, and the remaining half works half as many hours as they used to work. That's a 75% decrease in employment since machines entered the picture. Humans are, in total, working 1/4 as much as they used to, before the advent of machines. Machines, obviously, are the only variable in this equation and therefore must be the culprits. It's not like the world suddenly became lazy over the last few centuries and just randomly decided to stop working. If they had tried that before the advent of machines, they would have starved to death. The world could not support itself with 1/4 as much labor. Only due to the increased efficiency and output of machines were we able to scale back on work without scaling back on population. At the same time, machines outcompeted workers, which meant employers found it was profitable to scale back on work as well as possible. Machines did both changes at once -- they created the wealth that allows for 1/4 as much work in the world, and they created the profitability of only hiring 1/4 as much labor as was previously done. Machines, technology, are responsible for everything in the world today.
This doesn't even address the existence of makework. When we also factor in the number of jobs that have no conceivable purpose except to inflate employment (like those Chinese with shovels instead of Earth Movers), the answer probably isn't 75% unemployment, but 90% unemployment. I am leaving this question out of the analysis because people love to pretend that their particular brand of makework is 'real work', refusing to recognize the reality that whether they are a teacher, a lawyer, a policeman, a doctor or a soldier, it's all makework provided by the government and completely unnecessary. Since the point of this article is that Robert's is wrong and technology does destroy jobs, I don't need 90% to support my claim. 75% unemployment will do just fine.
Well, it does. The savings from higher productivity don't just go to the owners of the textile factory or the mega hen house who now have lower costs of doing business. Lower costs don't always mean higher profits. Or not for long. Those lower costs lead to lower prices as businesses compete with each other to appeal to consumers.
The result is a higher standard of living for consumers. The average worker has to work fewer and fewer hours to earn enough money to buy a dozen eggs or a pair of shoes or a flat-screen TV or a new car that's safer and gets better mileage than the cars of yesteryear. That higher standard of living comes from technology. It isn't just the rich who get cheaper TVs and cars, plus the convenience of using an ATM at midnight.
Roberts, here, is suddenly arguing an entirely different point. Instead of arguing that technology creates jobs, rather than destroys them like Obama said, he starts talking about the benefits of technology. Fewer work hours, lower prices, a higher standard of living -- he may as well throw in vaccines and antibiotics while he's at it. But Obama never said technology is evil or undesirable, or that it has never done any good for anyone. He was arguing a very narrow point, that technology destroys jobs and raises unemployment. All of this useless blather about the benefits of technology, as though anyone could be so blind as to miss how useful it's been, is besides the point. Like usual, he's attacking a straw man.
Somehow, new jobs get created to replace the old ones. Despite losing millions of jobs to technology and to trade, even in a recession we have more total jobs than we did when the steel and auto and telephone and food industries had a lot more workers and a lot fewer machines.
This is where the outright lies begin. New jobs aren't getting created to replace the old ones. This is just an outright law. As pointed out just days before by another article, there have been no new jobs created in America since 2000. The jobs being destroyed aren't being replaced. They are simply being erased. The obvious, blatant statistical trickery he uses to defend this lie is when he suddenly switches to 'total jobs' as a rubric instead of per capita jobs. It's no wonder that as America's population grew from http://www.npg.org/facts/us_historical_pops.htm 150 million in 1950 to 310 million in 2011, more 'total jobs' have been created. One would imagine that if you flood a country with people, all of whom have consumer demand, you would also find an increase in 'total jobs' propelled by said demand. Even if technology sates 90% of said demand, you would still eke out an increase in human employment, 'total jobs' to meet that remaining 10% increase in demand. However, this is like the children's story of the woman who ate the spider to eat the fly, why oh why did she swallow that fly?
Obviously, by more than doubling our population, we can increase 'total jobs,' but we also increase unemployment! Because a lot of that new population can't find jobs either, or takes jobs from those who were already here! Not only have total jobs increased, but total unemployed people have increased too, and at a far faster pace. More importantly than such ridiculous measurements as total jobs, or total unemployed people, is the simple RATE of jobs per capita. America used to have much lower unemployment rates than it does today. It especially had lower unemployment rates in the 1950's, which he's currently mocking by saying the America of 2011 has more 'total jobs.' You can't just run away from the effects of technology on per capita employment by suddenly comparing apples and oranges, the ridiculous effort of comparing the number of jobs in an America with double the population of its past.
Why do new jobs get created? When it gets cheaper to make food and clothing, there are more resources and people available to create new products that didn't exist before. Fifty years ago, the computer industry was tiny. It was able to expand because we no longer had to have so many workers connecting telephone calls. So many job descriptions exist today that didn't even exist 15 or 20 years ago. That's only possible when technology makes workers more productive.
Roberts the Liar now posits his own theory for how technology is in fact creating jobs, not losing jobs overall. This theory would be necessary to explain his lie that there's more employment than ever now, thanks to technology, which his preceding paragraph attempted to lie about.
Narrowly speaking, it's true that there's more 'capital' in a richer society. It's also true that 'capital' can employ more people. So, narrowly speaking, he's right. Technological progress can increase employment. However, this is meaningless if it simultaneously decreases employment even more, by making people redundant and thus fired from the jobs they already had. It's also true, narrowly speaking, that new technology, by increasing consumer demand (for a product they previously couldn't demand because there was no supply), can increase employment by hiring people to meet that demand. It isn't rocket science to say that people with money, and demand, can give suppliers jobs, and that therefore making people richer and giving them new demand opportunities will increase employment. The problem is if you do these things at the expense of unemploying even more people, the project is Phyrric. Another job creation such as this will be our undoing.
The statistics speak for themselves. Common sense also speaks for itself. Common sense says that when 2 people can oversee 500,000 chickens with the help of technology, this will increase unemployment. Statistics also show that unemployment, and average yearly hours worked, have both skyrocketed since the onset of the industrial revolution, resulting in 1/4 as much work being done in the world today. Talking about the advantages of technology vis a vis employment without discussing the disadvantages is a joke. It's like talking about the advantages of getting AIDS because it leads to weight loss.
He's also missing another vital point. Consumer demand is decreased by technology as well as increased. It increases demand for those with income, who can afford to buy the new shiny things technology has now made available. But it decreases demand among the unemployed, who no longer can afford to buy anything they want because they have no money. No matter how many iphones you market to a penniless unemployed person, he still can't buy it. The wonders of technology cannot stoke his demand for more products, and therefore it cannot increase employment. When so many people are unemployed, or afraid of going unemployed, that everyone is cutting back on anything but necessary spending, consumer demand goes down, not up. Only broad-based economic growth that lifts all boats increases consumer confidence, consumer demand, and thus employment country-wide. The rich cannot employ everyone. If no one else has any income, if no one else can afford to buy anything, jobs will decrease even further, they won't increase at all. Technology, by driving everyone out of work, and thus out of an income, is therefore a vicious cycle with only three solutions: a Citizen's Dividend that gives people money, and thus consumer demand, despite being unemployed -- a free job that gives people income, and thus consumer demand, despite the market finding it unprofitable makework, or an extermination camp for all the surplus population. Perhaps they could be used for soylent green food for the rich.
It's true, there are some structural issues in the labor market. New jobs are being created but not at the usual pace and not fast enough to soak up the unemployed. But President Obama is wrong to blame innovation. A bigger problem is housing, where hundreds of thousands of workers have lost their jobs. The source of that problem isn't technology but an over-reaching housing policy and distorted finance. The solution is to let the housing market clear—let interest rates rise, stop subsidizing mortgages, and clean up the foreclosure mess. That would let housing starts return to something like normal.
In this paragraph, Roberts makes a fleeting nod to reality, instead of his ivory tower theorizing about what 'should' happen and what technology' 'should' be doing. Despite his theories, there are no new jobs. Unemployment is rising, not shrinking. There have been no new jobs in America since 2000, even though our population has increased by 30 million people. This just means we have 30 million more unemployed people in America than we had 11 years ago. Things are not looking good, even though technology has been improving at a steady pace throughout. How does Roberts stare this gorgon in the eye and still whistle happily away, his theories intact?
Oh, I know, it's just a 'housing bubble.' Right. And Peter Drucker's statistic showing average hours worked per year has decreased from 3,000 to 1,700 something is also due to the 'housing bubble,' right? You can always tell a phony argument from a real one by how specific it becomes. The Soviets loved to do this too. When questioned why agricultural productivity hadn't increased since the days of the Tzars, the Soviets pointed to local weather events, like droughts, and World War II, as though Europe's farm output hadn't increased since World War II, and anything but the systemic answer that communism was simply less efficient than Tzarist Russia's economy. The same is true when it comes to explaining black underperformance. Blacks have a 70% illegitimacy rate because of 'welfare,' never mind that whites have equal access to welfare but only a 35% or so illegitimacy rate. Blacks score poorly in school because of 'chaotic homes,' 'poverty,' 'teacher's unions,' or 'they don't study hard enough.' And when blacks enter the marketplace, they have higher unemployment rates, lower wages, higher crime rates and higher welfare rates because of 'racism,' 'colonialism,' 'apartheid,' 'poverty,' 'cultural poverty due to past racism/colonialism/apartheid,' or some other specific, local factor. When you point out black underperformance worldwide, regardless of the specific history of blacks in that region, they'll just name a local cause in every single country. It's all baloney, and you can tell it's all baloney, because it is like Ptolemy's model of heaven, with epicycles upon epicycles explaining all the facts because the theory fundamentally didn't work.
There's one explanation for black underperformance, genetically low IQ in a high-IQ demanding, technologically sophisticated world. It explains all blacks everywhere across all time in one simple, coherent, and consistent theory. It doesn't need any epicycles and it doesn't need any excuses.
There was one explanation for Soviet underperformance, Chinese underperformance, North Korean underperformance, etc. Communism. It wasn't due to the weather, or the West, or anyone else. It was one simple shared characteristic across time and space, the fact that communism sucks and will destroy any country it controls in short order.
Likewise, there is only one explanation for rising unemployment in America: technology, with an assist from technologically enabled foreign global trade. All this talk about 'housing bubbles,' and 'bad regulations' etc are attempted local causes for a global, decades spanning phenomena. Unemployment is bad everywhere, even in places that never had a housing bubble. All the housing bubble did is temporarily mask a steady trend of rising unemployment. The economy thought, irrationally, it had a use for far more construction workers than it did, and so employment was bumped up a bit, for a short time. Soon the market realized their mistake and fired all of these construction workers, restoring the trend to its destined downward slope. This isn't the cause of unemployment, it is simply the unraveling of a symptom that was masking the cause of unemployment -- technological growth.
Some scientists are projecting that the Sun is entering a sunspot minimum period for an extended duration, which will decrease the output of the sun, therefore slightly cooling the Earth. If this occurs, it will not undo global warming, it will simply mask the symptom until the sunspot minimum ends, at which point global warming, as caused by higher CO2 rates in the atmosphere, will bounce back with a vengeance. The recession is like the ending of the abnormal solar minimum. Solar minimums, and bubbles, can't last forever, but CO2 stays in the atmosphere for thousands of years, constantly adding more heat to the system in a far more long-term, serious cycle. Technology's reduction of employment will continue, just like CO2's effect on global temperatures, indefinitely, while local causes come and go, not disturbing the overall trend in the least. Let's be clear -- no new jobs have been created since 2000. We have 30 million more unemployed people (not according to statistics, but according to reality, which says a population with 30 million more people but no new jobs must have 30 million more unemployed people). All the zigs and zags of the last 11 years have not masked a steady inevitable downward trend.
There is only one factor that is so synchronous and inevitable as the decrease in employment the world has seen -- the rise of technology. No local causes or events can possibly coherently and consistently explain this worldwide, centuries long process of continuously fewer work hours and fewer jobs. Any theory other than technology is another Ptolemy and another joke.
The other challenge is simply confidence. Businesses aren't hiring because they're uneasy about the future. There's no easy way to instill confidence, but we know how to kill it—create uncertainty about taxes and regulations. Reducing that uncertainty would certainly help.
In the meanwhile, enjoy the ATM machine and the kiosk at the airport with a clear conscience. Doing more with less is the road to prosperity. When confidence returns, even more Americans will share in the bounty from innovation.
Roberts thusly ends his article, but still manages to be wrong to the very end. Confidence is not a magical force outside of reality, an 'unmoved mover.' Confidence is due to reality. So the problem isn't confidence, which is people's valid perception of the dire situation reality has really created in the world, but reality itself. This is 'The Emperor's New Clothes' in action. Roberts say the challenge isn't that the Emperor is naked, but people's perception that he is naked. If only people perceived that the economy was great and full of promise, the economy would be fixed. Nevermind that they would have to be blind and stupid to ever believe such a ridiculous lie. The important thing is to have faith.
How can consumer confidence 'bounce back' when consumers are unemployed and have no source of income? How can business confidence 'bounce back' when all their customers are unemployed and can't afford to buy any of their products? This is magical thinking. I hate libertarian magical thinking. The magical thinking is that economies organically grow all on their own, without any input from anyone. Realistic thinking has to provide some basis, some framework, some theory for HOW our economy is supposed to grow if we're going to assert that it will. Rather than just demanding people be confident in an economy that is obviously broken, why not actually try to fix it, and therefore increase consumer confidence? Oh, because that would require government, and libertarians can't have that. Magical thinking and delusions and faith are so much better.
The ridiculous solution, 'oh, we just need to reduce regulations and taxes,' is the same one Republicans have trotted out for decades. however, Bush reduced regulations and taxes the entire decade he was in office, but didn't manage to create a single new job, even though the population went up tens of millions under his watch. So we've already tried everything Roberts suggests, and it didn't work. Could reduced taxes and lower regulations have some marginal impact on employment? Perhaps. Perhaps it would increase people's demand, by giving them more money in their pockets, and lower the cost of goods, by reducing the regulations which add to their expense. But this is like talking about the solution to global warming is fewer sunspots. It's a temporary solution and far too small an effect to offset the real issues we are grappling with in the real world. Even if you reduced taxes to 1% and got rid of all business regulations, there would still be unemployment -- because machines will still outcompete humans when it comes to far too many productive jobs. Every year the mismatch in the competition will grow. Once google cars fully learn how to drive themselves, that technology will be applied everywhere -- to ships, to planes, to military vehicles, to trucks, to taxis, to trains, to subways, to forklifts, to every single job that involves moving things from point A to point B. Humans had one advantage over machines that kept us employed, eyesight. Once machines can see the world around them, we're going to lose millions of jobs. A tax cut can't compete with innovations like that. It's just a joke.
Roberts is a joke. Milton Friedman's witticism is a joke. All contemporary thinking on jobs is a joke. And the comments on this article are also a joke. According to most commentors, the solution is 'education.' All we need to do, they say, is retrain the American workforce to produce the jobs of 'tomorrow.' The amount of fallacies in this short statement are breathtaking.
A) Even people with college degrees have high unemployment. People just leaving college are not entering the workforce. They're living with their parents at home, unable to find anything but a minimum wage job. Employers are not looking for 'highly trained, inexperienced workers.' They aren't looking for any new workers at all. After all, they haven't employed, net, one more person since 2000.
B) Name to me any college or job training facility that has found a job for 100% of its graduates. Name to me the magic educational facility that allows anyone who passes through its doors to be employed. There are PhD's without jobs, or being hired in fields completely unrelated to their field of study. What is this magical education and why is it taken for granted that it exists in the first place?
C) Explain to me how everyone is expected to be in the top 1% of intelligence and hard work, such that they can achieve this 'retraining' and 'education' for the 'jobs of tomorrow.' We are told that the jobs of tomorrow are founding new businesses, inventing new machines, becoming managers and engineers of vast factories full of capital, etc. Unfortunately, to qualify for a job such as this, you must literally be as good as the top 1% of Americans are today. Name to me today the educational facility that can take any joe schmoe off the street today and turn them into the top 1% strata of society. This theory completely neglects the fact of genetic differences in intelligence, personality, and behavior, which means only a few people will ever qualify for the jobs of tomorrow no matter how hard they try. But it also neglects the fact that even if there were a magical environmental way to make 'everyone' into Steve Jobs, WE DON'T KNOW IT AND IT DOESN'T CURRENTLY EXIST. OTHERWISE WE WOULD HAVE SOLVED OUR UNEMPLOYMENT PROBLEMS LONG AGO.
Other commentors believe that the magic of the free market will provide infinite jobs for all. This is hilarious, given that the free market so far has done the exact opposite for a century. Our market has been free to fire and hire people for a century. Did that result in full employment? No, it resulted in reality. Freedom hasn't gotten the results we wanted. It got us 75% unemployment. So why would more freedom, and more free markets, be the solution? What exact amount of freedom is necessary to completely change the free market into the exact opposite as it's always been? All government interventions so far have increased employment, not decreased it, by creating makework jobs for people all across society -- in the military, in schools, in hospitals, and everywhere. To imagine that a completely free market would raise employment, then, is truly startling. How would firing everyone currently employed by the federal, state, and local governments increase employment overall? Where would the jobs come from to replace all those makework jobs? Libertarians never have to think, though, because they can say 'the free market will do that on its own,' like an omnibenevolent God, the free market will solve everything for us, all we need is faith and we'll be saved.
Well sorry, but I don't believe in God, the Christian version or the libertarian version. I think if we want something, we have to do it ourselves. Neither prayer, nor laisseze faire, can solve our employment problems for us. The free market has clearly indicated what it wants to see -- the extermination of around 90% of mankind as 'overpopulation,' 'parasites,' 'useless eaters,' etc. That is why it keeps indicating that these people are unemployable, as well as unemployed. The libertarian God is a dark god that thrives off of human sacrifice. It can only be satiated with more blood than the Aztecs ever dreamed of. It is evil personified.
The only moral solution to unemployment is the one that's been staring us in the face all along -- use the proceeds of machine labor, which after all no one is responsible for and is free to everyone, to give everyone free money with which to consume their daily necessities. Call it the citizen's dividend, and bam, we have a paradise on Earth. All the benefits of technology, and none of its drawbacks. The majority of production is done by machines now, not humans. Just look at that textile mill that's 120 times as productive now that we rely on machines. Therefore, why should certain humans, the owners of capital, be the sole beneficiaries? They aren't doing any work. They just own the machines. The profits they make off of the backs of their mechanical serfs are effortless. Tax the rich, who are just living off the sweat of machines' brows. Give to everyone equally, so that the spoils of machine labor are divided evenly. Let the whole world prosper and enjoy itself with leisure activities and family life. Begin an idyllic world where nobody works, everyone lives for each other, and no one ever suffers again.
But, you say, human labor is still necessary. Fine, then let the free market sort THAT out. If human labor is necessary, the free market will indicate that, and pay people handsomely for continuing to work. The citizen's dividend is a small amount, $12,000 per person per year. If there's still some necessary work humans need to do, just pay them $100,000 or $1,000,000 a year, whatever it takes to hire them away from the leisurely life of the citizen's dividend. The employed can make the big money and live in their mansions with their personal swimming pools. Everyone else can live for family, friends, and inexpensive hobbies. And both groups can live idyllic lives without suffering. The citizen's dividend benefits everyone. It is the panacea of mankind. It's heaven on Earth.
Americans have three choices. They can kill off 90% of their country in an extermination camp, thus reaching full employment. They can create makework jobs like people armed with spoons told to dig and then fill in ditches over and over again, thus reaching full employment. Or they can pay everyone a citizen's dividend, and make full employment completely unnecessary. But you cannot have full employment, a free market, and the current demographics of the United States. This is a flat out mathematical impossibility. It hasn't happened, it can't happen, and it won't happen, no matter what we try or which party is in power. The sooner Americans grow up and leave behind their magical thinking, the sooner we sit down like adults and choose which of these three paths we prefer, the better.