Automation Insurance: Robots Are Replacing Middle Class Jobs

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Automation Insurance: Robots Are Replacing Middle Class Jobs

Drealm
Automation Insurance: Robots Are Replacing Middle Class Jobs

I recently got a call from my estranged brother whom I haven't spoken to in six months. The first thing he said was he's being laid off. Not surprising in this economy. He then said "my job is being replaced by a computer". He works as toll booth operator in a parking lot. My brother and I are poster childs for a generation who didn't quite make it. We both seem to be stuck in that twenties slacker bracket who can't crawl out of our low paying rut. It just seems like there's no middle ground today. Either you're a brain surgeon or a janitor. But there's not enough brain surgeon jobs to go around. And most people don't have the natural talent to aspire to such trades. Thus most of us are stuck as janitors.

The above article was interesting to read. Here's my favorite quotes:

"It’s not that the issue isn’t getting attention. The Princeton economist Paul Krugman is out there telling Congress to spend more money to create jobs. The former secretary of labor Robert Reich is arguing for tax breaks for the bottom brackets so people can buy stuff again. Here’s the thing, though: The erosion of the middle class is a phenomenon that’s bigger than the Great Recession."

"The culprit, in other words, is technology. The hard truth—and you don’t see it addressed in news reports—is that the middle class is disappearing in large part because technology is rendering middle-class skills obsolete."

What's happening is apolitical, it doesn't matter who's in power. What we're waking up to is just the inevitable march of technology. Technology never goes backwards, so we'll just see more of this.

"People say America doesn’t make anything anymore, but that’s not true. With the exception of a few short lapses, manufacturing output has been on the rise since the 1980s. What is true is that industrial robots have been carrying ever more of the manufacturing burden on their steely shoulders since they appeared in the 1950s. Today, a Japanese company called Fanuc, Ltd., has industrial robots making other industrial robots in a “lights out” factory. (That’s the somewhat unsettling term for a fully automated production facility where you don’t need lights because you don’t need humans.) That’s where we’re headed."

Loss of manufacturing base isn't the issue. We have a manufacturing base, it's just being automated.

"It’s not just manufacturing, either. Automated call centers are replacing customer-service agents. Automated checkout stations are replacing grocery-store clerks."

This is the job sector my brother and I fall into - unskilled non-manufacturing jobs.

"Economists will remind you that new technologies create new jobs as they destroy old ones. That’s true. When you have robots, you need robotics engineers. But those aren’t going to be mid-range jobs."

The new jobs created won't be middle class. We also won't have one computer engineer job created for every one job lost. The ratio will more likely be 1 computer engineer job for 10 jobs lost.

"If the skills and talents that are truly financially rewarding become harder and harder to acquire, people who would never consider themselves students of Marx might start questioning whether, given the circumstances, it still makes sense to pay people based solely on the demand for their skills in a marketplace that would be demanding very few skills."

I'm a staunch capitalist, even if I pull the short end of the straw. But for those whom want instant gratification I can easily see a wave of people turning to Marxism.

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I don't think automation is bad in and of itself. Automation should bring prices down. The question is will companies pass on these prices to consumers. If prices were passed on, then lower wages would still fetch more purchasing power.
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Re: Automation Insurance: Robots Are Replacing Middle Class Jobs

fschmidt
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I disagree with this.  At one time, most jobs were related to farming.  Technology killed farming jobs and shifted workers to manufacturing.  We are now going through another shift, this time from manufacturing to service.  In theory, there are plenty of potential middle-class service jobs.  Service in America is abysmal because service is generally understaffed.  Japan is an example of a country that does service right and pays people well to fill this need.

The problem in America is very simple.  The government has been taken over by big corporations and the basic government policy is to steal from the middle class and give to the rich.  This is guaranteed to wipe out the middle class.  It is a vicious cycle because as the middle class has less money, they are less willing to spend on service which wipes out service jobs.  This cycle could be reversed by a good government and the middle class could be restored, but this won't happen because good government is not possible in a feminist culture.
Following the Old Testament, not evil modern culture
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Re: Automation Insurance: Robots Are Replacing Middle Class Jobs

Drealm
fschmidt wrote
I disagree with this.
Are you disagreeing with there being a middle class job problem, or just that "robots" are the problem?

fschmidt wrote
At one time, most jobs were related to farming.  Technology killed farming jobs and shifted workers to manufacturing.  We are now going through another shift, this time from manufacturing to service.
Yes but as the article states:

"It’s not just manufacturing, either. Automated call centers are replacing customer-service agents. Automated checkout stations are replacing grocery-store clerks."

fschmidt wrote
In theory, there are plenty of potential middle-class service jobs.  Service in America is abysmal because service is generally understaffed.  Japan is an example of a country that does service right and pays people well to fill this need.
Service jobs pay more in Japan?

fschmidt wrote
It is a vicious cycle because as the middle class has less money, they are less willing to spend on service which wipes out service jobs.
 

So in other words American customers are cheapskates. They're unwilling to pay for service and in turn will gladly put people out of work. I noticed this when I worked at an electronics retailer. Customers would come into the store, ask questions, then go home and purchase the same product online for less. This retailer went bankrupt, now they get zero service.


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Re: Automation Insurance: Robots Are Replacing Middle Class Jobs

fschmidt
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Drealm wrote
Are you disagreeing with there being a middle class job problem, or just that "robots" are the problem?
Just that "robots" are the problem.

Yes but as the article states:

"It’s not just manufacturing, either. Automated call centers are replacing customer-service agents. Automated checkout stations are replacing grocery-store clerks."
Grocery-store clerks barely qualify as a service job and certainly aren't middle-class jobs.  These jobs shouldn't be missed.  In high end stores like Whole Foods you have knowledgeable people available that can help you find things and answer questions.  This is the kind of service job that is needed.

Service jobs pay more in Japan?
I think so.  Japan has other problems, but service is excellent.  I hate shopping in America but shopping in Japan is fine because there are always people available to help.

fschmidt wrote
It is a vicious cycle because as the middle class has less money, they are less willing to spend on service which wipes out service jobs.
 

So in other words American customers are cheapskates. They're unwilling to pay for service and in turn will gladly put people out of work. I noticed this when I worked at an electronics retailer. Customers would come into the store, ask questions, then go home and purchase the same product online for less. This retailer went bankrupt, now they get zero service.
American customers are cheapskates for two reasons.  One is because there is no morality or loyalty left in America, which is the example you gave.  But the other reason is that American customers are getting poorer all the time as the government destroys the middle class, and this was my point.
Following the Old Testament, not evil modern culture
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Re: Automation Insurance: Robots Are Replacing Middle Class Jobs

Drealm
So since America shows no signs becoming any less feminist, I take it you think the middle class will erode much more?
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Re: Automation Insurance: Robots Are Replacing Middle Class Jobs

fschmidt
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Yes I think the middle class will be mostly wiped out like in Latin America.
Following the Old Testament, not evil modern culture
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Re: Automation Insurance: Robots Are Replacing Middle Class Jobs

Ardia
In reply to this post by Drealm
Kinda agree with Drealm.
The rich (financial) and smart (Engineers etc) will get richer. Others will get poorer.

I don't agree that the poorer will struggle in an absolute sense. But the relative gap will grow. Under any government.

I remember reading in "The Bell Curve" years ago that the monetary return to being an engineer tripled over the last century while manufacturing jobs pay just grew by 50-75%,  - despite run of the mill engineers etc are being pretty screwed over by laws today.
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Re: Automation Insurance: Robots Are Replacing Middle Class Jobs

Scorpius
In reply to this post by fschmidt
So what do you think would be a better system? You seem a fairly libertarian, minimal government type to me. But it's clear that such a system often results in large companies buying up the government. Philosophically, I'm struggling with this problem myself, as a libertarian. I want a free system where you can buy what you want, set up your own business, etc. but I can see how it becomes a system where biggest fish basically eat everyone else for breakfast.

Would you say a neo-liberal, globalist, capitalist system encourages feminism? It seemed to occur in the USSR as well, though. I'm starting to wonder if the best way to go is a mixed economy. Of course we technically already have that, one where the gov't (and possibly the rest of the world) has to tip toe to the banking elites at gunpoint.
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Re: Automation Insurance: Robots Are Replacing Middle Class Jobs

fschmidt
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Big corporations would not be possible without limited liability which is an anti- free market concept.  The whole idea of the modern corporation started as a government created construct.  Corporations should be eliminated and businesses should be partnerships.  Partnerships should be allowed to issue shares, like corporations do today, but voting shareholders should have criminal liability for the actions of the business proportional to their voting interest in the firm.  Under such a system, no one would want to be a voting shareholder in a huge firm where it is impossible to know everything that goes on because some criminal activity in some obscure corner of the firm could result in jail time for voting shareholders.  This is the natural mechanism for the free market to prevent the existence of firms that are large enough to subvert democracy.

True capitalism encourages wealth and wealth seems to encourage feminism.  I'm not sure what the solution to this is.
Following the Old Testament, not evil modern culture
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Re: Automation Insurance: Robots Are Replacing Middle Class Jobs

fschmidt
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This short video pretty well explains how Corporate America works today.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pOgYbvWQYfQ
Following the Old Testament, not evil modern culture
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More miserable news for the average man.

Drealm
In reply to this post by Drealm
Hanna Rosin: New data on the rise of women

The male job market is increasingly becoming a zero-sum game. I envy the days when solid middle class jobs were open to anyone who had a work ethic. It's miserable news like this which makes me want to opt out of even finding a wife and starting a family. I mean if a man can't fulfill his role as a provider, why bother? A wife may not need a strong provider, but children do. And I see no point to developing a long term relationship unless it's to have children. A man can get sex and companionship without investing in a relationship.
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Re: More miserable news for the average man.

fschmidt
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This woman has no idea what is coming.  Western economies are being financed with printed money.  This will end in this decade and then Western countries will resemble Mexico or Argentina where I can assure you that men have the advantage economically.  All those service jobs will disappear as people focus their spending on buying the necessities.

Your current job is a service job.  It will disappear.  You need to think about how you will make money when the system collapses.  You need a skill that has clear practical value.  People like farmers, car mechanics, technicians of various kinds, these are the people who will be the providers of the future.  The economy that you see today will soon disappear.  You need to prepare for the future.
Following the Old Testament, not evil modern culture
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Re: More miserable news for the average man.

Ardia
Hmm...
In your opinion...will there be a place for Computer Scientists? Or rather as big a place as there is today?
Its not as real world as engineering, but not as ephemeral as Business etc.
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Re: More miserable news for the average man.

Ardia
In reply to this post by fschmidt
fschmidt wrote

Your current job is a service job.  It will disappear.  You need to think about how you will make money when the system collapses.  You need a skill that has clear practical value.  People like farmers, car mechanics, technicians of various kinds, these are the people who will be the providers of the future.  The economy that you see today will soon disappear.  You need to prepare for the future.
Is that how it is in present day Argentina and Mexico?
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Re: More miserable news for the average man.

Ardia
In reply to this post by Ardia
Those headlines are not from some free media channel. They are written to enforce the idea that there is a battle between men and women. This talk is offensive and sickening. I respect women but not this one.
And this is the the video that makes me unsubscribe to TEDtalks.
As another commenter stated:"TED is the mouthpiece of the elite"
This was an interesting comment. Wouldn't it be in the genetic interest of elite men to support feminism thereby lowering the average mans value and increasing their own value on the sexual marketplace?
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Re: More miserable news for the average man.

fschmidt
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In reply to this post by Ardia
Ardia wrote
fschmidt wrote
Your current job is a service job.  It will disappear.  You need to think about how you will make money when the system collapses.  You need a skill that has clear practical value.  People like farmers, car mechanics, technicians of various kinds, these are the people who will be the providers of the future.  The economy that you see today will soon disappear.  You need to prepare for the future.
Is that how it is in present day Argentina and Mexico?
To be honest, I'm not sure.  What I do know is that men dominate the economy in these places.
Following the Old Testament, not evil modern culture
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Re: More miserable news for the average man.

fschmidt
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In reply to this post by Ardia
Ardia wrote
Hmm...
In your opinion...will there be a place for Computer Scientists? Or rather as big a place as there is today?
Its not as real world as engineering, but not as ephemeral as Business etc.
I think so.  But mainstream programming has already been hurt by outsourcing and guest workers (at least in America).  I don't think this will change.
Following the Old Testament, not evil modern culture
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Re: More miserable news for the average man.

fschmidt
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In reply to this post by Ardia
Ardia wrote
Wouldn't it be in the genetic interest of elite men to support feminism thereby lowering the average mans value and increasing their own value on the sexual marketplace?
Yes but once the middle class is destroyed, there isn't as much point to supporting feminism.  The elite can then have many mistresses based on economics as they do now in Mexico.
Following the Old Testament, not evil modern culture
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Re: More miserable news for the average man.

Ardia
Hmm...
Any reason you say 'within this decade'?
I can get crazy laws and feminism weaken a country etc as a general trend, but why 'this decade' vs, say, 'sometime within the next 30 years (which is, ofc, inclusive of this decade).

This is more than a philosophical question.

For the twin problems with me moving to Asia are lack of interest in the females there, and the greatly lowered/different economic situation. Obviously having only one strike vs two against the idea strengthens it greatly.
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Re: More miserable news for the average man.

fschmidt
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I follow financial news quite closely because I invest.  All of the worlds major economies, America, Europe, and Japan, have been printing money to cover all bad debts.  Eventually this will fail.  There have been a sequence of economic crises over the last few decades because of this.  The last one was the biggest with all segments of the economy failing except the government (at least most governments).  It seems clear to me that in the next crisis, the governments will fail, meaning that the major currencies will be crushed.  I am not alone in this view.  Many major investors are betting on gold for this reason.  These crises tend to be 5 to 10 years apart, which is why I expect it to happen in this decade.

But even after the next crisis, the major economies will still be better off than most of Asia.  The world will be poorer and the wealth differences between countries will be reduced, but the major corporate headquarters will remain where they are now.  The major economies will recover to some degree after the crisis, but the middle class will never fully recover.

Anyway, that's my prediction, but the future is always uncertain.  I am changing my approach to investing based on this, and am moving my money from stocks and bonds into rental property, which is more removed from the global financial system.
Following the Old Testament, not evil modern culture
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