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Jobs,and where they went.And what to do now?

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  • Democrat
    Charlotte, NC
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    Where are all the jobs? We hear pols constantly bemoaning the lack of "job creation" and then proceeding to raise money off this issue. And both sides of the aisle are equally guilty of this. Maybe a discussion of "where they went" is in order.

    When I grew up, the fact was...there were more jobs than there were people to fill them. Oh, not everywhere,no, but if the area you lived in was beset by recession or the like,it was very possible to move to a different part of the country and find work. Lots of industries were hiring in those days. It was possible,even likely, that one could land a job with the auto makers. Not your cup of tea? Not to worry. Myriad and assorted factories dotted our landscape,most were hiring. (Please keep in mind that these statements are macro,not micro in nature). Railroads hired. And so on and so forth. And these are the jobs that built our middle class, and sustained it for decades and decades.Blue collar,sure. Hot,hard work. Without a doubt.

    Then came NAFTA, complete with Ross Perot and his famous charts. But my contention is that there is a more subtle factor at work here, and it bodes us ill.

    I was watching the History Channel(anybody out there remember when the History Channel did HISTORY?? But I digress) the other day, one of their Modern Marvels episodes. This one was on the Blue Bunny ice cream factory, Minnesota,I think, but it's not important. This is a worldwide issue. They were interviewing the factory foreman, who was proudly showing off their robot that works the frozen part of the factory,and he commented,proudly again,that this machine replaced 30 workers.Multipily that by about 750,000 or so factories.....and you start to see what we are getting to here. I really don't feel like re-typing that last line, so please go back and re-read it.I'll wait. Thank you.

    No one is arguing that a ton of our jobs have gone south,north, east and west. No one is belaboring that point. But here is one that doesn't get a lot of attention. We have outsourced a bunch of our jobs, not to China...but to machines. Good or bad? Thats what I would like to see us discuss here, if you wish.

    It has been honestly stated that "just because you have the ability to INSTANTLY respond to any and all queries...doesn't necessarily mean its a good idea to do so". Can we also say that about technology? That just because we have the ability to get rid of thousands upon thousands of our workers,employing machines in their places,is it a good idea,long term? I don't know the answer to that.

    We now find ourselves in a position which may actually be permanent. That is: more people than there are jobs. And here is where the two parties split. The bright red Re-Pubs are for all practical purposes in the "let the unemployed starve" camp. Bully for them, they represent the monied class anyway. The Dems are a tad bit more sympathetic,but only by degrees.

    Again, when I grew up, the top tax rate was something like 79%. We have to go back to something like that. Also, we have to find some way to get more "bang for our buck" vis-a-vie, the tax revenues coming in. Because in THIS country, it is impossible to have a permanent underclass. Why is it impossible? Glad you asked.

    Because we are something like the third or fourth most war-like people that have ever graced this poor planet. In war we were born, and in war we grew, and in war we prospered. And we will fight what we perceive(right or not) to be tyranny. If we cannot,any way possible, find a way or ways to fix this "permanent" un and underemployment problem....it bodes ill for us. Americans are not by nature inclined to starve quietly.Especially when we see what we deem to be crooks living large off our labor. And throwing us away for a few more dollars,at the first opportunity.Then jetting off to their weekend getaway home. We just aren't.

    I have no answers. And that by itself is somewhat surprising for someone who has an opinion on just about everything. But, there are some real smart people on this site....so what I'm hoping for is to start a discussion on this topic, and see where we go.
    Thanks for reading
  • Center Left
    Independent
    Central, FL
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    Mostly it's China. However, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Korea, Hong Kong, Macau, Indonesia, Philippines, etc. help to fill out the list. If you make a 1.00 widget, you can't pay 50 year old men 22.00+ per hour to push the button on the machine. Instead pay a child / teen / man or women who are willing to earn .15 per hour because they've never made that much.
    Yes machines have replaced many jobs. But those robots cost millions. And they're used in jobs where intense accuracy and efficiency are needed. I guess they're needed in Ice cream factories as well. Mostly it's about lowering your costs to produce a product. Thus maximizing profits.
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    It is sincerely an important issue. For each job lost by letting robots do the work, you have one human being (or more) without a job. And multiply that by thousands & thousands of jobs lost. If many more types of jobs were lost to robots also, there would be whole families that could become destitute, with no other source of income. Once robots have taken over the jobs in one place, it would spread to all large cities, with an exponential effect. Resulting in mass starvation & homelessness. Of course normal social agencies & charities would be overwhelmed. People would have no choice but to beg in the streets, or commit crimes. It actually could result in mass extinction of parts of the human race.

    If we had a "liberal" ruling class in the USA (at the time) we could find ways to compensate for this catastrophe. One solution, like they used in China, was to limit the population, to "one child per married couple" ---- so birth control (or sterilization) would have to be universally imposed. We in the West did not particularly like their strategy, but apparently it worked. NOW China is one of the most prosperous nations on earth, with a thriving economy, the population is generally very well-educated, & the great United States has to "borrow" $million$ from them. Over-population can kill a nation.

    Having unrestricted reproduction, & allowing unrestricted immigration, means massive population MORE than there are jobs available, so we would necessarily have to find unique ways to "support" this extra population, like universal Welfare. But you KNOW that no Republican would ever Vote for that. They don't even want us to have the Social Security we voted for and PAID FOR with our taxes on our salary for 50 years.

    These are not very "serious" solutions, (above) but can YOU figure out a better one? Looking forward to your replies.
  • Democrat
    Oregon
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    Gymrat22,

    The initial reasoning behind having robots do the work of humans was, at least at first, seemingly beneficial. The idea was to use them in environments where the most human lives were lost ( such as iron factories where people would be burned to death, etc ). While I think we can agree that this would be great for everyone, even some of the workers, it somewhat quickly became apparent that you could use a robot to produce your product more efficiently. From a business owner’s, and shareholder’s perspective, this is ideal. Fewer long term costs, more production output, translates into more profit. Sounds good for them.. and only them.

    Now, because of the Republican mindset of “A business' apparent success is the most important thing in the world… and Jesus”, the “American Dream” has changed from ‘making money and having a prosperous life for your family’ to ‘sorry folks, this company needs to pay its CEO a hefty bonus.. so we have to lay off 400 workers’. This tactic is all too common… and goes mostly unnoticed because “Hey, that’s just how business is done”.

    There is a very successful business, based in the Portland, Oregon area. It is called Bob’s Red Mill. Bob, who still floats around the company and personally asks customers how they are doing, had a book written about his life and business practices, called “People Before Profit”. It is quite good and I think everyone, except the Koch brothers and others like them, would agree that this is how business should be done. Anyone who disagrees, just do not care about their fellow human being.

    http://www.amazon.com/People-Before-Profit-Inspiring-Founder/dp/1592997260

    Also, I agree that we are a warring nation. We are a country full of a need to go to war. Without a war, we don’t seem to know what to do with ourselves. It seems to be mostly about money, lately. Middle Eastern wars for cheaper oil.. Halliburton wants conflict, because their money is made from conflicts.
  • Democrat
    Oregon
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    Eternal Flame,

    I don’t really think my reply can be considered a solution, at least a viable one. Here is my observation though. Having lived in China and being well versed with Chinese culture, I feel like I have a bit of inside knowledge that could be helpful in this discussion.

    China’s One Child Policy, was enacted as a way to save money. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) hatched this plan without really thinking it through very well. In a country where males are more important and women are often seen as property, implementing the One Child Policy has led to the highest abortion rates in the world, almost entirely of female fetuses. Sometimes, if the doctor got it wrong and a girl is born instead of a boy, they just killed it. Families want their family name to be carried on, so boys are more important. Now imagine what this way of thinking has led to. Let me tell you. There is a huge difference in the numbers of men and women, something like 400 million more men than women. This leads to about 400 million men who cannot get a wife or girlfriend. Let that sink in for a moment.. that’s more than the entire US population that is forced to be single. This leads to increased use of prostitution and rape. Not exactly a “Let’s look at China as an example” type of scenario.

    As for the economic boom; Yes, China has had an increasing economy for such a long time. It has very little to do with population control, though.

    Here is what it has entirely to do with:
    1.) A severe lack of pollution standards, it is cheaper to be dirty.
    2.) A severe lack of worker safety standards. They don’t have an OSHA.
    3.) Cheap and unlimited supply of labor.

    When I was in China, just after 4 months of living in a fairly clean ( by Chinese standards ) city, I started coughing up green phlegm from my lungs. This is a normal reaction to living in such a polluted environment. What is worse, at least in 2007, the CCP labeled Smog as FOG, trying to pass off the pollution as normal and safe. Some cities are so bad, that I couldn’t be outside for more than an hour at a time. This next line may sound like a joke, but it isn’t. There was a factory fire on the outskirts of North Eastern Beijing. It burned for THREE days before anyone noticed the smoke. The air pollution was just that dense.

    When I worked as a business consultant at a shipyard in China, the Chinese labor workers wore absolutely no protective equipment. Once the first accident happened while I was working and two workers died and one was paralyzed, I tried to implement mandatory safety standards. The company’s reaction? “ No, it is cheaper to just hire new workers, there are so many”. Workman’s Comp for the two killed and one paralyzed? Not exactly.. the family of each of the men killed got $1000 USD each, the paralyzed man’s family got $8200 USD. The CEO of the company told me, while an awkward smile on his face, “We prefer if they die, when they have an accident. It saves us money.” Not exactly a business model we should want to follow.