Anti-Robot protesters appeared at a recent techie gathering; we wonder what took them so long? Political reaction against machines replacing people on the job dates back to the Luddites. They were unhappy to see machines replacing people in production and enjoyed smashing said machinery to report their unhappiness. Now we have ‘protesters’ addressing robots in much the same vein. No robots were smashed at the techie meeting, though, so far as we know.
The primary conclusion from this seems to us, that folk coming out of American public education don’t understand Economics 1011. Or perhaps, don’t want to understand. Robots, or any machines, are expensive. Employers resort to them only when labor costs rise enough to justify the large expenditure. A fundamental of economics is competition; human labor is priced, when government is not involved, by the number of humans willing to work at a given price. As we keep making more of them all the time, human labor is always cheaper than costly machines that don’t exist until much capital has been expended to make them.
Human labor doesn’t become costly enough to justify replacing it with machinery as a rule, until government intrusion raises the market price of said human labor. When human laborers are also voters, politicians become eager to arrange this progression. Voila! Entrepreneurs respond with robots. Remember: “TANSTAAFL? “There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch?”
Labor uses politicians to raise its income, employers resort to machines and the labor is out of work, demanding unemployment benefits. TANSTAAFL!
Few notice what is really going on because it is carefully avoided in government schools, politicians won’t talk of it for obvious reasons and the media knows better than to annoy the politicians. You must figure it out yourself.
A further difficulty is that politicians sell the swindle that labor is somehow “entitled” to a decent living from its effort, no matter its actual market value. The “dismal science” of economics denies that, but politicians overrule any such notice. Real world economics is a subset of politics. Early economic writers who referred to “political economy” instead of “economics” knew what they were talking about.
Another economic precept says that in the long run, the cheapest supplier gets all the business. No surprise, right? And today, North America and Europe have become the most costly suppliers in an increasingly competitive world so they are appropriately losing business to cheaper sources in India, China and elsewhere. Sort of inevitable, right?
But that means North American and European labor faces decreasing incomes, against the cheaper competition. If they will not take lesser wages, they will be replaced by machines. Employers cannot exist unless they can somehow compete and competition is now world wide. (Reality Sucks!)
Of course, all this was true while the U.S. was becoming rich, too. But the U.S. was a sole source or the cheapest or best (via mass production) of much stuff for a long time; its well-paid workers had no competition, really. Now, they do.
With its technological lead, America could push into new products and technologies unavailable from others and demand appropriate prices. But the environmental nannies dislike such messy business. Who knows what a lot of new stuff might do to Mother Nature? Best use government to regulate it from happening too much or too fast. Americans living high while others live low isn’t fair anyway, if you’re on the Left.
So the robots are coming and the jobs are going and government, the promised source of support for the unemployed, is broke and running on deficits. Its present debt is more than taxpayers are likely to ever repay. Economics is called “dismal” for a reason! We wonder what they should call politics?