Carpe Diem

Don’t buy into the 21st century Luddite fear of robots

farmjobs

“Some experts now believe that computers and robots will take over much of the work performed by humans, raising critical concerns about the future of jobs,” frets MLive business writer Rick Haglund, in his article titled “Will we live in a world ruled by robots and computers, and fewer jobs for humans?”

Let me ask a related question: Isn’t that just a new, recycled version of the discredited philosophy of the British Luddites - the textile workers who protested in the 19th century against the introduction of new, labor-saving textile machinery during the Industrial Revolution because they were afraid that the new machines would eliminate jobs?

Jarrett Skorup of the Mackinac Center addresses the neo-Luddite fear of robots in his article: “Robots Are Good,” here’s an excerpt:

When this country was founded, approximately 90 percent of people worked in agriculture. By 1900, growing enough food only required 40 out of every 100 workers. Today, fewer than 2 percent of U.S. workers feed not just America, but many more people all around the world (see chart above).

The massive increase in farm productivity is purely due to technology. Farmers used to harvest grain with a sickle, but then came Mr. McCormick’s reaper, followed by motor-driven tractors and combines. More recently, chemical and biological advancements have greatly increased yields. With each advance, fewer workers were needed to grow food. To cite just one example, today American farms produce five times as much corn on 20 percent less land than 70 years ago.

And yet the loss of all those farm jobs did not produce 88 percent unemployment … because the greater efficiency in farming equipment freed up resources to move into other areas of the economy.

A main part of the workforce in America has gone from family farms to mass agriculture to manufacturing to service-sector jobs all because of technological advancements. The idea that new products will continue to substantially change the economy and workforce is to be expected.

MP: We should think of robots today in US manufacturing in the same way we think back about the introduction of the modern tractor to US farming in the early 1900s – they both revolutionized their respective industries, and led to greater efficiency and productivity, which led to lower prices and better products – and ultimately more jobs, not fewer.

128 thoughts on “Don’t buy into the 21st century Luddite fear of robots

  1. re: ” ultimately more jobs, not fewer”

    there ought to be a metric to show this but intuitively one would think that if one day a plant employs 1000 people and the next day 500 .. where do the 500 find jobs?

    • Into other areas. There is always job churn going on in an economy. In fact, it is very healthy.

      So, let’s take a hypothetical. A man is a factory worker. His plant decides to go to all robots. That man is out of a job. What does he do? Maybe he goes to work for a auto manufacturer. Maybe he goes back to school and gets a new skill. Maybe he becomes terminally unemployed. Maybe he opens up his own diner. Maybe he learns guitar and becomes a rock star. Maybe he loses his home, his wife leaves him, his kids abandon him, and he becomes destitute on the streets of Pittsburgh.

      My point here is that the human is remarkably flexible and dynamic. The idea that robots will lead to mass unemployment is a static analysis. It assumes the worker can do one thing and one thing only (make cars or whatever).

      I’m doing a bad job explaining and I apologize for that. As a blatant cop-out, may I suggest a rather brief article to you? Check out Frederic Bastiat’s That Which Is Seen, and That Which Is Unseen here. Specifically, Section VIII: Machinery. I may have recommended this to you at some point in the past, as well. I don’t remember; I recommend it a lot. The examples are a bit dated (it was written in the 1850′s), but it still makes the same point and answers your question.

      • More likely he’ll go to work in a robot manufacturing factory or any of the hundreds of others that will spring up just to supply robot parts.

        • if he is 55 and has worked at one job for 25 years.. the chances of him becoming a robot expert are slim and none.

          There are entire towns nowdays that are zombies when their only manufacturing plant closed. The laid off workers have 1950′s educations, have roots in the community, may own their own homes and see no way to find work in a high tech company near an urbanized center.

          Young folks with 2000 educations who already live in an urban center can likely manage the transitions.

          25year employees.. not so much. More likely they’re going to end up with food stamps and MedicAid.

          • “..if he is 55 and has worked at one job for 25 years.. the chances of him becoming a robot expert are slim and none.”

            That’s rough, but he should not have assumed he was simply going to work at the plant for decades until his entitlements kicked in. Where is his backup plan?

          • re: ” That’s rough, but he should not have assumed he was simply going to work at the plant for decades until his entitlements kicked in. Where is his backup plan?”

            Paul – this is going to shock the poop out of you but I AGREE with you 100% but at the time that guy was in high school he had no hint of the future.

            Not even young people do these days. We are moving very very fast and trying to keep up your skills is becoming a tougher and tougher effort.

            I’m familiar with teaching and the technology changes that they are seeing (and about time) is really putting the older teachers in a bind. When they were young and learning to become a teacher – there was no wi FI, or tablets or Internet, etc.. and now they are supposed to show kids how to use that technology.

          • And you’re right, Larry. But that sort of situation occurs no matter what, not just when robots come along. Hell, my father just closed his business and he’s nearly 60.

            I don’t know about your statement that those laid off after 25 years are more likely to end up on food stamps and MedicAid. My initial gut reaction is to argue that they tend to have more in savings than other age groups and could go into early retirement, keeping them off those rolls. But I have no data to support that and you could very well be right.

          • larry-

            you are only looking at one side of the equation. you are also bounding it too narrowly.

            it’s too narrow in that these precise fears can be applied to ANY productivity enhancement.

            if you go from hand digging to using a metal plow, you need fewer farmers. that’s progress. increases in productivity are the bedrock of success and the advancement of civilization and increases in quality of life.

            sure, we could employ more people in the shoe industry if all shoes were made by hand. but you would hate paying $700-4000 a pair.

            this brings me to the second part of this: you need to look at both sides.

            if productivity goes up, price goes down. you now have more money to spend in real terms as shoes cost $100 instead of $1000 (and if you think that sounds expensive for hand made shoes, try buying some).

            that extra money gets spent on other goods and services. this creates new jobs.

            sure, creation is destructive too. when we moved from whale oil lamps to gaslights and fossil oils, sure, a bunch of whalers lost their jobs.

            so what?

            it sucks if you worked at larry’s buggywhip when the auto takes over, but nothing can stop that.

            things advance and change. productivity goes up.

            you might as well complain about the sun coming up every morning.

            you point about unemployment and medicaid is aimed in the wrong direction. absent those things we lost 90% of our agriculture jobs yet new jobs and more prosperity abounded. people go on welfare because it’s there. without it, they are far more motivated to find new work. the “sit home and we pay you” system is a severely perverse incentive.

            making workers more productive is how you get rich and achieve high quality of life. there is no other way. it’s not always easy for everyone, but what is it you propose to do?

            ban progress? reduce productivity? prevent new inventions from supplanting old ones because we hate to see buggywhip factories close? disincentivize innovation by making those who do it pay for the dinosaurs they make extinct?

            job churn and creative destruction are what make an economy vibrant and successful. failure is a critical part of the wealth generation cycle. it’s how resources get allocated efficiently.

            complaining about it is like complaining that it hurt to work out and get stronger.

            you tear muscle fibers and repair them. that’s pretty much how an economy works.

            your point about “where do we find 500 jobs” is just silly. we find them producing for the gains in real income driven by productivity just like they came in industry when farming got productive and services and information when industry got productive.

            to argue that such jobs disappear is to ignore the entire economic history of the US.

          • @Morg – always appreciate your insight even if we don’t always agree and I do acknowledge your width and depth of knowledge.

            I’m not arguing that we stop progress.

            I’m asking how we accommodate it since the fate of individuals is now tied to the fate of entitlements (which I realize is a nasty concept to many here).

            but given the fact that – that 55 year old guy in Podunk, NC lost his job to a robot (or a low-paid Chinese worker or whatever) – what should be done about it IF we say are ARE going to give him food stamps and Medicare?

            does that mean the govt needs to get into the business of re-educating him for a 21st century job and he’ll have to leave his community of 50 years and go somewhere else to live and could he actually afford to live in a urban area where rents are 10X what he was paying in Podunk, NC?

          • It seems like we are talking about two separate things here:

            Larry is talking about what the impact will be on entitlement spending due to the technical advances.

            Morganovich is talking about the broader societal impact of technology.

            (Gentlemen, if I am wrong on either account, please correct me).

          • Larry G: “There are entire towns nowdays that are zombies when their only manufacturing plant closed. ”

            You grossly underestimate the ability of humans to adapt to changing environments.

            The reason many workers stay unemployed for long after their jobs are eliminated is very simple: government interference has made it way too easy for workers to remain unemployed. If today’s unemployed had to face the prospect of no food, they would be on a bus on their way to North Dakota or Texas or wherever the jobs are.

            Larry G: “The laid off workers have 1950′s educations, have roots in the community, may own their own homes and see no way to find work in a high tech company near an urbanized center.”

            Many, many of us have been forced to relocate or temporarily leave our families in order to work. Many, many of us have been forced to learn new skills or to create our own jobs. It’s only because of the nanny state – and the damned bleeding heart liberals – that the resiliency of American workers has suffered so much.

            By the way, 1950s educations were pretty good.

          • re: taking away food and medical care…

            perhaps.. not sure folks in this country will sign on to that approach

            re: ” By the way, 1950s educations were pretty good.”

            for modern jobs? my impression is that jobs today need much more than a 1950 education, no?

          • jon murphy: “Larry is talking about what the impact will be on entitlement spending due to the technical advances.”

            Larry seems to be arguing the typical bleeding heart liberal crap about poor workers who cannot adapt – or who may have to leave their communities of 50 years.

            My father and his generation would have laughed in Larry’s face – or perhaps have punched him out. The idea that a man is helpless and unable to take care of himself and his family – that only the government can keep him alive during tough times – is totally insulting to my father’s generation and to mine. My guess is that Larry and many of the rest of the young folks who whine about the world being tough are just wimps. My father and my uncles faced far tougher conditions in the 1930s, and they survived just fine. But they had a lot more courage than I can see in young people today.

          • @Dewey – just dealing with some realities. It makes no sense to blather on about killing entitlements if it’s never going to happen.

            We need realistic ideas here not ideology.

          • Larry G: ” my impression is that jobs today need much more than a 1950 education, no?”

            No, jack. I was educated in the 1950s and I can probably run circles around most of you who comment here. Of course, my true education didn’t stop in the 1950s or the 1960s or the 1970s. I’ve continued learning for six decades, and so have most Boomers like me.

          • @Dewey – i’m not sure most folks educated in 1950 feel the same way you do … your education is 50 years old and probably inferior (unless you’ve continued it) to most industrialized nations current educations that put the one we give right now at 15th and lower.

            Most folks 55 or older are not very current on their education… they probably spent much of their life working at a job to pay for their home, car and kids education…

            My understanding is that employers of high tech companies cannot find enough qualified workers in this country and are importing folks from overseas.

          • @Dewey – i’m not sure most folks educated in 1950 feel the same way you do … your education is 50 years old and probably inferior (unless you’ve continued it) to most industrialized nations current educations that put the one we give right now at 15th and lower.

            You can only be talking about your own inferiority their, Lar. Anyone who has worked for decades after graduation has more education and experience that can’t be taught in school than any newly graduated wet-behind-the-ears young’un. It is we who have been in the business for a while who take these kids and train them (i.e. continue their education). It’s not the other way around. Education follows what’s happening in industry, not the other way around.

            You remind me of the old floor traders. Some of them transitioned to the much more competitive electronic trading just fine. Most, however, weren’t very good traders to begin with and relied on the advantages the floor gave them over customers. They are endlessly bitching about the machines and how the machines are screwing them and how they should get rid of them and go back to funneling all orders through their crowd on the floor of the exchange so they live high on the hog raping customer orders like in the good old days. If they put half as much energy into adapting as they do into bitching, they would have successfully transitioned. The world changes. You either change with it or you die. That’s true for business and that’s true for individuals. “We” don’t have a problem to solve here anymore than we have a problem of solving competitiveness issues for businesses (which are just collections of people). People have to figure out how to use their skills in a new environment and there’s no top-down, cumbersome government program that’s going to do that.

          • Methinks – if your job went away tomorrow – do you feel you are qualified to go to an entirely different field?

            that’s what is happening to many folks who have worked for 25 years – are not dumb but are not at all up-to-date on how technology now works.

            It’s easy to talk about fur traders but the realty is we have a bunch of people whose work knowledge is of technologies that are 50-60 years old – and now gone and replaced with radically different technologies.

            It’s like taking someone who has worked on the assembly line for 25 years and telling them they have to learn to program in Java.

            ” Three million open jobs in U.S., but who’s qualified?”

            http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-18560_162-57547342/three-million-open-jobs-in-u.s-but-whos-qualified/

          • When they were young and learning to become a teacher there was no wi FI, or tablets or Internet, etc.. and now they are supposed to show kids how to use that technology.

            First of all, kids already know how to use that technology. They don’t need their teacher to show them anything.

            Then, do you believe that teachers as a group are particularly resistant to learning new things? How ironic! How does anyone else learn to use new technology? How did YOU learn to use electronic devises and the internet, for God’s sake!

            Isn’t ongoing training a requirement for most teachers?

          • re: teachers and technology -

            you have the old dogs that know how the real world works in teaching but they’re not familiar with the technology and you have the young uns who are very comfortable with the technology but don’t really know enough about actual real-world teaching to use that technology effectively.

            but even the young uns don’t really understand how the technology actually works and you need to know that if you are going to deploy it in a teaching environment.

            cell phones, for instance don’t work in many schools .. and the internet may not be available to all kids…

          • John Dewey

            Larry seems to be arguing the typical bleeding heart liberal crap about poor workers who cannot adapt – or who may have to leave their communities of 50 years.

            My father and his generation would have laughed in Larry’s face…

            Just as we now laugh in his face.

            – or perhaps have punched him out.

            Just as we now punch him out with our words.

            The idea that a man is helpless and unable to take care of himself and his family – that only the government can keep him alive during tough times – is totally insulting to my father’s generation and to mine. My guess is that Larry and many of the rest of the young folks who whine about the world being tough are just wimps. My father and my uncles faced far tougher conditions in the 1930s, and they survived just fine. But they had a lot more courage than I can see in young people today.

            +10

          • re: ” But they had a lot more courage than I can see in young people today.”

            most young folks don’t ever think they’re going to get old, get diseases, not being to pay for their health needs, etc.

            people who get to 55 and never really challenged themselves to do different things, go back to college or get continuing education are looking at a different world than kids.

            25% of our kids do not even graduate from high school and 75% of the rest do not have the same basic fundamentals in reading, math and science that their counterparts have in other industrialized countries.

            A good 1/3 of young people cannot pass the Armed Services Aptitude Tests that needed in order to use the weaponry now in service.

            Folks like Bill Gates and many of his technology counterparts say that they hire from outside the US to fill key technology roles.

            Look at the names of the CEOs of many technology companies now days.

            Kids don’t become auto mechanics these days because it requires in depth understanding of how computers work in vehicles. Cars now have multiple computers and sensors scattered throughout the car.

            As the lady in the 60 minute episode said:

            ” Ryan Costella: I would honestly say it’s probably an entry level problem. It’s those basic skill sets. Show up on time, you know, read, write, do math, problem solve. I can’t tell you how many people even coming out of higher ed with degrees who can’t put a sentence together without a major grammatical error. It’s a problem. If you can’t do the resume properly to get the job, you can’t come work for us. We’re in the business of making fasteners that hold systems together that protect people in the air when they’re flying. ”

            so yeah.. ” when I was a young kid I walked 10 miles to school through snow drifts in my bare feet’… yeah..but do you know how to really put together your home theater? NOT!

          • re: teachers and technology -

            you have the old dogs that know how the real world works in teaching but they’re not familiar with the technology and you have the young uns who are very comfortable with the technology but don’t really know enough about actual real-world teaching to use that technology effectively.

            That’s just imaginary bullshit, Larry. the “old dogs” have plenty of opportunity to learn the new technology and will have to do so to remain productive. I would imagine there are a lot of school programs to help them do so. If they can’t learn something new, maybe they are ripe for the attrition you mentioned on another thread.

            but even the young uns don’t really understand how the technology actually works and you need to know that if you are going to deploy it in a teaching environment.

            There is no need to know how the technology actually works, only how to use it. Do you know how TCP/IP actually works? Ethernet? WiFi? How does your cell phone actually work, Larry?

            cell phones, for instance don’t work in many schools .. and the internet may not be available to all kids…

            What’s your point?

          • What can I tell you, Larry? If you’re an idiot who doesn’t bother to keep current because he thinks nothing will ever change, life will be tough for you.

          • re: teachers and technology..

            Ron.. it’s simple stuff ..like how do the lesson plans get updated on the laptops… and what do you do when they don’t?

            How come the latest lesson is the wrong one for your class and how can you get the right one – right now?

            my hard drive crashed.. how can I get a new one and continue teaching today?

            do you really think this is all bullshit?

          • @Dewey – i’m not sure most folks educated in 1950 feel the same way you do … your education is 50 years old…

            Correction his 1950s education is fifty years old. His current education is current.

            Most folks 55 or older are not very current on their education…

            Speak for yourself.

            they probably spent much of their life working at a job to pay for their home, car and kids education…

            Yes, and does that mean people don’t continue to learn useful things?

            My understanding is that employers of high tech companies cannot find enough qualified workers in this country and are importing folks from overseas.

            And what problem do you have with that?

          • “do you really think this is all bullshit?”

            I think your framing it as an alarming problem is bullshit. People deal with these problems every day. It’s even possible that teachers can do so, despite your low opinion of their abilities.

            We can presume that part of introducing new technology includes some amount of training, and that someone at school can answer all those questions. It’s not necessary that you know those answers, it’s enough that you know there are lots of people smart enough to handle this brave new world of technology that you seem to fear, and that most people have been dealing with it for decades. It’s no big deal.

          • re: alarming bullshit

            are you looking at the realities of our unemployment rate vs jobs that cannot be filled

            .. and the fact that educationally – we rank 15th and lower in the world?

            do you not find that “alarming”?

            re: low opinion of teachers

            wrong! They have excellent skills but the technology is changing and their job already occupies 10hrs a day.

            it’s not only the technology – it”s HoW it is being used in a particular environment. It’s not how smart you are – it’s how much you understand the specific technologies that have become part of your environment. Not even new kids out of college very familiar with technology are going to know and understand how it is being used without significant instruction… and tell me how many new teachers actually get that training when they report?

            In the span of 5 years, the local elementary school went from computer carts with laptops with a local cart wi fi to school-wide wi fi with tablets… with android and apple OS instead of windows and this is in addition to the teacher laptops that are windows based and you’re telling me this is bullshit?

            I would assert you don’t know shit from shinola ROn… but you have no problem blathering till your tongue hurts.

          • morganovich

            if productivity goes up, price goes down. you now have more money to spend in real terms as shoes cost $100 instead of $1000 (and if you think that sounds expensive for hand made shoes, try buying some).

            Interesting. Those handmade shoes probably cost as much in real terms as handmade shoes have always cost, except we now have less expensive alternatives.

          • Methinks – if your job went away tomorrow – do you feel you are qualified to go to an entirely different field?

            Bad example. I believe Methinks would be perfectly happy to spend her days on the beach sipping margaritas if her job went away.

            that’s what is happening to many folks who have worked for 25 years – are not dumb but are not at all up-to-date on how technology now works.

            Oh boo hoo. You’re making up unrealistic examples.

            It’s easy to talk about fur traders…

            Huh? try to stay on topic.

            …but the realty is we have a bunch of people whose work knowledge is of technologies that are 50-60 years old – and now gone and replaced with radically different technologies.

            That’s nonsense. How many steam engineers and blacksmiths are you talking about here?

            I don’t think you can even find a job that is done in exactly the same way it was done 50 or 60 years ago. those jobs are ALREADY gone.

            It’s like taking someone who has worked on the assembly line for 25 years and telling them they have to learn to program in Java.

            No, it’s nothing like that. Try to make reasonable comments.

          • Ya’ gotta love how Larry simply assumes that people are stupid and if they’ve been working in one profession for most of their lives, they’re incapable of doing anything else.

            What utter tripe.

            People in middle age and beyond launch entirely new careers. It’s the new thing. We’re living longer.

            You’re the perfect government serf, Larry. Helpless, lost without your political overlords, completely lacking in imagination and useful skills.

          • “if he is 55 and has worked at one job for 25 years.. the chances of him becoming a robot expert are slim and none.”

            One to three weeks of classes are all many workers need in robotics if what they are doing is production support, troubleshooting, and minor programming. This is what I was teaching “skilled trades” and “operators.” Quite a few of my students were in their fifties and sixties. This is all most of these workers need to keep going in the modernizing factories. BUT, they have to be willing to learn!

            Becoming a robotics “expert” is another matter, and none of the courses or colleges do an adequate job in my opinion. That takes a number of years working in a variety of roles with many of the technologies used in the robotics field, and a range of cross-disciplinary skills. Not something someone is likely to do from scratch as a career change later in life.

            Of course, even within the robotics companies, most of the people are specialists. Only a very few of us actually “know” how everything works. But for the various specialties, you might well be able to apply older skill-sets in software, electronics, and mechanical systems, and put them to work in this direction.

          • Kids don’t become auto mechanics these days because it requires in depth understanding of how computers work in vehicles. Cars now have multiple computers and sensors scattered throughout the car.

            And just who is it then that has the necessary training and works on your car when you take it for service? Have you ever been turned away with an apology that there weren’t enough mechanics available to work on your car?

            Why do you insist on commenting on things you are clueless about?

          • so yeah.. ” when I was a young kid I walked 10 miles to school through snow drifts in my bare feet’… yeah..but do you know how to really put together your home theater? NOT!

            Most people are familiar with installing home entertainment systems. You seem to be projecting here. Just because technology is a fearsome mystery to you doesn’t mean others are troubled by it. get some kids to explain things to you Larry, they can teach you most people everything you they need to know.

          • In the span of 5 years, the local elementary school went from computer carts with laptops with a local cart wi fi to school-wide wi fi with tablets… with android and apple OS instead of windows and this is in addition to the teacher laptops that are windows based and you’re telling me this is bullshit?

            Five years? That’s an eternity. Listen, bozo, people everywhere use laptops, tablets, smartphones, and other devices using Apple OS, Android OS, Windows, Linux, and other platforms as well as countless applications every day in their personal lives as well as at work. There is nothing magical about this, and it’s not all at once new.

            Just because you confused and overwhelmed doesn’t mean everyone else does too. There is no reason teachers can’t as easily deal with time saving technology as everyone else is already doing, in fact I’ll bet most already do without any trouble at all. Give them a little credit for being nearly as smart as most other people. If teachers are really as bamboozled as you think they are, they have no business in the classroom, just as they have no business in the classroom if they can’t deal with 6 year olds. time to move on.

            If teachers are telling you they are overwhelmed by technology,they are bullshitting you, and you are falling for it like the dumbass you are.

          • Not even new kids out of college very familiar with technology are going to know and understand how it is being used without significant instruction… and tell me how many new teachers actually get that training when they report?

            What a lame comment, Larry. Why do you make up such laughable nonsense? Don’t you think teachers know how to use some of the productivity tools they will be using in their new jobs? Do you think they just show up in class at the start of the school year and someone says “OK, go! Start teaching.”

            You’re hilarious. You are projecting your own inabilities onto others, who don’t suffer from your slowness. Just because you need constant work direction and hand holding doesn’t mean others aren’t capable of working and learning independently, and adapting to changes in their environment.

          • wrong! They have excellent skills but the technology is changing and their job already occupies 10hrs a day.

            Guess what? New technology saves time and money. that’s why it gets adopted. A teachers workload is reduced by technology, not increased by it.

            Do you think technology is just a way of annoying teachers with extra workload? You’re funny.

          • Robert Bauer

            Your entire comment is spot on.

            Becoming a robotics “expert” is another matter, and none of the courses or colleges do an adequate job in my opinion.

            Luckily there is probably little demand for a large number of “experts”, so there may not be much need for such in-depth training in college. I would expect most of the “experts” to be employed and trained by the manufacturers of the robotics, and available to solve difficult problems in the field as part of a maintenance plan or on a per call basis. It might also be possible for a large user of robotics to buy specialized training for some of their maintenance folks.

          • the facts argue against you Ron mouth. We have high unemployment at the same time we have millions of available jobs that cannot be filled because of a shortage of qualified people and this is happening at the same time our schools rank 15th and worse in the world on core academic subjects – which are critical in learning modern technologies.

            and Methinks.. understanding why people have deficits is not projection dear girl. It’s called understanding the realities from the point of view of someone who does understand technology. The average person does not understand how to fix their own computer or program teir own remotes… much less work in a factory that requires that level of understanding of technology.

            People do not understand their own cell phones. They have no clue how they work on the cellular network or that most have GPS or can connect to WiFI or automatically update apps or how to remove apps, etc, etc.

          • Of course, Larry. Although technology has been rapidly evolving since the industrial revolution and we have all managed to adapt and our productivity and our personal lives have been greatly improved by it, we have finally gotten to a point where nobody understands it and we’re all going to starve to death.

            Technology has become so complex and incomprehensible that my friend’s 7-year-old just installed a program for her and then showed her how to do it herself. We are doomed.

          • ” Technology has become so complex and incomprehensible that my friend’s 7-year-old just installed a program for her and then showed her how to do it herself. We are doomed.”

            yeah, I hear this but I also know quite a few youngsters who have no better idea than their parents how some stuff actually works.

            ask a child how an incoming call on your cell phone knows what cell tower to go find you at?

            or what programming langue is used in auto computers.

            or why Tivo needs an internet connection…

            or how the car GPS knows where you are…

            etc, etc, … the world has changed a lot and is changing even more and the reality is that many folks are not keeping up with it.

            it’s not Luddite-ism. People love the technology and the benefits it brings them- they just don’t know how it actually works conceptually… and many jobs now days require you to have the language, math and science necessary to understand the technology.

            Only 1/3 of kids graduate with this level of knowledge in this country and as the technology is advancing even before they get out of school.

            We have a local school program that actually has the kids build robots – and it is an exceptionally challenging program because kids have to work collaboratively on a half dozen or more basic technologies that require fairly extensive language, math and science understanding.

            It’s the right kind of program in my view because it really does give kids the perspective they need to know how much more they need to actually learn before they will be fully capable of doing that work.

          • People do not understand their own cell phones. They have no clue how they work on the cellular network or that most have GPS or can connect to WiFI or automatically update apps or how to remove apps, etc, etc.

            Yet, everybody is texting, calling and sending photos with them. Hmmmm. How the hell are the doing that without any understanding of the nitty-gritty of CDMA?

            For that matter, I can’t program. Nor can I set up any of the VPNs we use to connect to any of our remote servers and our security software and hardware is a mystery to me. I certainly can’t build a computer and I can only diagnose the most obvious problems with it. Yet, I use all those technologies (technologies not even availalbe as recently as a couple of year ago) every day to generate a huge income. How, oh how do I do that? Ah, the mysteries of life!!

          • ” Ah, the mysteries of life!!”

            if you suddenly had to switch careers and learn now to design cell phones…. would you be adequately equipped with more education?

          • I’ll put it this way, Larry: I have no doubt at all that you have no capacity to ever do anything but whatever it is you’re doing right now. Which, btw, is what?

          • yeah, I hear this but I also know quite a few youngsters who have no better idea than their parents how some stuff actually works.

            While I recognize that this is another Larryism you pulled from your ass, and doesn’t actually mean anything, I have to wonder what you mean by “how stuff actually works”, and why you think it’s important.

            ask a child how an incoming call on your cell phone knows what cell tower to go find you at?

            No child needs to know that.

            or what programming langue is used in auto computers.

            No one who owns or drives a car needs to know that.

            or why Tivo needs an internet connection…

            No user of a Tivo needs to know that, but they will quickly find out why if they don’t have one.

            or how the car GPS knows where you are…

            No one using a car GPS needs to know that.

            etc, etc, … the world has changed a lot and is changing even more and the reality is that many folks are not keeping up with it.

            Bullshit. You are making up false arguments about what people need to know in order to use the technology that’s available to them.

            People have successfully used wired land-line telephones for over 100 years, refrigerators and air conditioning for nearly that long, electromechanical computers since the 1940s, all without “knowing how they work”. Get a clue.

            Just because you live in constant fear of things you don’t understand doesn’t mean everyone else does.

          • re: no one needs to know that

            don’t they need to know that if they want a job in the field that deals with those things?

            Do you really think the 55 year old who loses his factory job is going to become a cell phone engineer or someone who writes GPS software?

            this is where the jobs are these days – in these fields and it is these and related fields that are short of skilled workers.

            People who are going to get jobs in these fields need to be able to understand those technologies.

            the average person, for instance, has absolutely no idea of how they can be anywhere and received a phone call on their cell – that connects via the closest tower.

            they love the technology but if they had to try to get a job in that field and they don’t know the first thing about how the technology works – how will they?

          • don’t they need to know that if they want a job in the field that deals with those things?

            You just framed this question from the perspective of a user and your errors were pointed out to you. Now you would like to change the framing. Slippery Larry!

            Those that have the necessary skills and knowledge will get jobs that require those skills. Those who don’t have those skills and knowledge will do something else. There’s nothing new or recent about that. Read and understand what Methinks and morganovich are telling you. Quit disagreeing just to disageree. It makes you sound stupid.

            Do you really think the 55 year old who loses his factory job is going to become a cell phone engineer or someone who writes GPS software?

            No, I don’t, but it’s up to her, not you or me.

            this is where the jobs are these days – in these fields and it is these and related fields that are short of skilled workers.

            That has been true since the start of the industrial revolution. It’s not a new phenomenon. Calm down & take a deep breath before you faint.

            People who are going to get jobs in these fields need to be able to understand those technologies.

            What’s your point?

            By the way, there are very few jobs related to cell phones that require much in-depth technical ability. Most are low lever semi skilled positions that pay close to minimum wage. You seem to have little understanding of how maintenance is planned and structured in technical fields. Most jobs are easily adapted by your assembly line worker, with minimal training, and the highly technical high skilled high paying jobs are few, and will be taken by those with commensurate skills. End of story.

            the average person, for instance, has absolutely no idea of how they can be anywhere and received a phone call on their cell – that connects via the closest tower.

            Once again, Larry. Please read and absorb this!

            The “average person” has no need for any technical knowledge of a cell phone network. They only need to know how to operate the phone. Please get it this time!

            they love the technology but if they had to try to get a job in that field and they don’t know the first thing about how the technology works – how will they?

            They won’t, and they won’t have to. very few jobs require extensive knowledge in any field.

            Do you think all those Chinese iPhone assemblers are certified network engineers?

            You probably can’t describe how your car’s computer tests it’s basic sensors before starting or how it operates the engine in closed-loop mode once it reaches operating temperature, but it’s possible you can operate the car for it’s intended use without any trouble by simply turning the key and driving off.

            Give up your nonsense arguments and objections.

          • there was no framing changed. The perspective of the user was to demonstrate the lack of understanding of technologies already in use.

            At the user level if they do not understand, how would you expect them to be able to advance to the designer level?

            you say few jobs require that knowledge.

            that’s true but they may be the only viable jobs in a world where robots replace workers.

            not having a clue on your car uses technology pretty much precludes you knowing how to work on it.

            the jobs that are available are technology jobs. Most people do not understand the technology – don’t even even the concepts that unpin it – telling those folks who lose their jobs to robots to go find a technology job is what we are saying.. and that’s simply not realistic,

            What Walt was talking about was a retraining effort for displaced factory workers; that WILL work but in many towns, the plant closes and there is nothing to replace it – in that town. If that guy or gal has spouse or kids, and they have no real background in technology – telling them to move to an urbanized area and get a technology job is not very realistic.

            And this is what is happening in many towns across the country. Small manufacturing plants with low-skill workers are being consolidated to larger automated plants that require a higher/better understanding of how technology works in a modern manufacturing plant.

            Not only are there fewer jobs but they will more likely NOT go to some guy in a small town who barely understands technology. That guy and is wife and their kids is going to suffer a substantial loss of income including their health insurance and then what?

            this is going on across the country and it’s part of the reason why our unemployment rate remains stubbornly high even has corporate profits are good and Wall Street is good.

            It’s not Luddite fear of technology. It’s real fear of how one will survive when their skills are no better than what it takes to work in a manufacturing plant and those plants go away.

            re: bozo entitlements

            yes.. you have no grasp of realities here.

            your standard answer goes nowhere in the real world.

            so you live in your own and engage in infantile behavior – your version of nah nah nah…

          • there was no framing changed. The perspective of the user was to demonstrate the lack of understanding of technologies already in use.

            At the user level if they do not understand, how would you expect them to be able to advance to the designer level?

            I don’t expect the average user to advance beyond a user level and they don’t have to.

            I have explained this to you, morganovich has explained this to you, Methinks has explained this to you and you refuse to get it. God are you dumb!

            you say few jobs require that knowledge.

            that’s true but they may be the only viable jobs in a world where robots replace workers.

            Then I guess we will all starve! Get over it.

            My God! If you only had a brain!

            You are only repeating yourself now. I have responded to every part of your comment already. Ask someone in your vicinity to explain creative destruction to you.

          • STFU Ron – you’re truly an addle-brained idiot who fancies himself as having smarts. Believe it guy- you are not smart – you confuse your mean-spirited personality with smart apparently..

            that seems to be a thread here with some of you -

          • STFU Ron – you’re truly an addle-brained idiot who fancies himself as having smarts. Believe it guy- you are not smart – you confuse your mean-spirited personality with smart apparently..

            Yip Yip! Yip Yip!

            Get away little doggie, the adults are trying to have a conversation here.

          • Get away little doggie, the adults are trying to have a conversation here“…

            Oh ron! Did you drive spam boy into having a hissy fit?

            Shame on you!!

            LMAO!

            Get some ron!

          • While many of my generation graduating in the professional classes in the early ’70s thought we might well be situated for life, many of us rather doubted it, given the already exceedingly difficult job market for university faculty, and (even then) the overproduction of attorneys, both often in response to the exigencies of the draft waiver. I am happy to report that I have had a satisfying succession of careers, in different areas and varying countries, over the years, and I have never been afraid to try something new–not even past 55, when I went to Tokyo, accompanying my husband on sabbatical, and drummed up a large clientele who wanted specialized English lessons. I now have a new government career, launched five years ago.

            Most people are paralyzed by fear, and have no idea of their own ability and power.

        • re: taking away food and medical care…

          perhaps.. not sure folks in this country will sign on to that approach

          When the level of dependency in this country begins to directly affect YOUR income and well being you’ll whistle a different tune.

          • larry-

            “but given the fact that – that 55 year old guy in Podunk, NC lost his job to a robot (or a low-paid Chinese worker or whatever) – what should be done about it IF we say are ARE going to give him food stamps and Medicare?

            does that mean the govt needs to get into the business of re-educating him for a 21st century job and he’ll have to leave his community of 50 years and go somewhere else to live and could he actually afford to live in a urban area where rents are 10X what he was paying in Podunk, NC?”

            why do we (or the government) need to do anything about it? you seem to be assuming that an issue that has fixed itself for generations out of mind suddenly needs government to make it work.

            why would that be?

            the answer is simple: use aid programs for their intended purpose. they exist to prevent people who loses jobs from starving. fine. even if we accept this as a legitimate role of government (which, clearly, is debatable) then so what?

            limit the duration of their availability, predicate them on actively looking for jobs and/or getting training, and find a way to wipe out the perverse incentives they provide not to work by, for example, cutting the benefits if a recipient refuses to take a job that was offered.

            there is no need for federal training. people will get training and or look for jobs themselves if faced with the prospect of limited availability of a free ride. if employers in new industries need workers, they will train them if they cannot find experienced folks or if training a new guy is cheaper than paying an experienced one.

            what do you think is going on all over north dakaota etc? were all these oil and gas folks just sitting around before? no. they had some related skills maybe or perhaps just an aptitude. you used to build houses or work in a factory, now you work in drilling.

            this sort of thing happens all the time and the very trends toward automation that you see as a risk make it easier to move jobs.

            it took a long time to learn to be a blacksmith that could shape and beat metal. it’s much easier to learn to operate an industrial press that does most of the work.

            such automation makes it easier, not harder to change careers.

            it would be very difficult for a whaler to learn to be a cobbler, but it’s pretty easy for a guy who assembled toys to learn to assemble phones.

            service jobs are even easier to pick up in most cases.

            i think the problem you are positing here is largely illusory and is getting easier to deal with, not harder.

            the real issue is the incentive structure that encourages people not to work or train. if you want to fix something, that is where to start.

          • re: taking handouts – was taught it was a shameful act even if from non-govt charities.

            re: old dogs learning new tricks. lots of old dogs learning new tricks but obviously lots of unemployed old dogs who lost their jobs also.

            re: govt role … well if you assume no entitlements then yes.. no role for govt.. let em starve or die…. tough crap.

            if you give entitlements then what?

            Is it cheaper to pay entitlements or re-train?

            re: entitlements – not for unemployed dad – ok, how about his kids? let them starve and die also?

            re: what I do – technology – that’s all you get in this snake pit !

    • there ought to be a metric to show this but intuitively one would think that if one day a plant employs 1000 people and the next day 500 .. where do the 500 find jobs?

      There is such a metric, Larry, it’s called the unemployment rate. In the last 50 years – other than during recessions – the unemployment rate has averaged roughly 5-6%. That means people are leaving jobs and starting new jobs at about the same rate. In addition, more new jobs being created and filled by an ever increasing population. So where did those 500 people in your example find jobs? Who knows, but they must have found them as they don’t seem to be standing around on the sidewalk outside the plant they used to work in.

      • The difference between now and 50 years ago is that suddenly unemployed workers have no sense of urgency about finding work. With extended unemployment benefits, unchecked growth in social security disability, and a government promoting food stamp dependency, why should any person out of work seek a new job? Fifty years ago my father taught me that relying on handouts was shameful. But I suspect peoiple like Larry never got that message.

        • John

          Yes, incentives matter – as they always have. Nothing new about that.

          But I suspect peoiple like Larry never got that message.

          The message people like Larry keep parroting is that it’s yours and my collective responsibility to care for those who meet misfortune even if it’s of their own making, and Larry has no problem taking money out of our pockets to do so.

          • ” The message people like Larry keep parroting is that it’s yours and my collective responsibility to care for those who meet misfortune even if it’s of their own making, and Larry has no problem taking money out of our pockets to do so.”

            actually not true. I just point out this is the reality that is juxtaposed with Ron’s unrealistic out of touch ideology.

            As long as we provide entitlements not only to the unemployed worker but his/her kids – we’re roped into the job of what to do to get him back to employment.

            Ron’s solution doesn’t exist in the real world. It’s not an option.

        • As long as we provide entitlements not only to the unemployed worker but his/her kids – we’re roped into the job of what to do to get him back to employment.

          Look, bozo, basic economics – which may be beyond your grasp – informs us that if you subsidize something you will get more of it.

          If you increase unemployment benefits and other forms of assistance, you will get more unemployment, and fewer available job openings being filled.

          If you decrease unemployment benefits and other forms of assistance you will get less unemployment and more available job openings being filled. It’s as simple as that.

          the more comfortable you make people in their unemployment, the longer it will last.

          You are, of course welcome to support as many people as you wish with your own resources, as of course everyone is, but keep your thieving hand out of my pocket.

    • Actually, displacement like this means that many of this particular group WON’T ever work again. A few will get new skills, a few will start businesses, but most will be on the sidelines. No, it’s their Children who will get the new jobs.

      • re: ” No, it’s their Children who will get the new jobs.”

        Agree. IF their kids do get 21st century educations.

        They do in Europe and Japan and other countries. We need to get on the stick here and do it.

  2. What about the Luddite fears regarding fracking and global warming? They embrace windmills and solar machines that are inefficient, unreliable and uneconomic, but hate cheap, clean and very economic natural gas.

    What’s up with these Luddites?

  3. I hope to one day turn over everything I do to my machines so they can generate an income and I can just kick back.

    We already do that as much as we can. Our algos can now replace human traders and are most often more efficient. One day, I hope they replace me so that I can switch them on and trot off to enjoy my day as they perform the tasks I used to perform and I can simply check in on the remote servers on which they run with an ipad to make sure nothing is getting out of whack. Oh wait; that last part I can already do now. Gone are the days we had to live in NYC and slog through the snow and rain and pedestrians to the exchange to work. Now the days of being tied to any location are fast becoming obsolete. Hooray for technology.

    • Hmm. Electricians, plumbers, and auto mechanics. Three good jobs, perhaps a business of your own after a few years.

      Maybe I should talk my grandson out of going to college to major in gender studies and ax grinding.

      • Maybe I should talk my grandson out of going to college to major in gender studies and ax grinding“…

        LMAO!

        Not your favorite subjects, eh ron?

        I’m almost afraid to ask someone what ‘gender studies‘ is really all about?

        Funny how even a government site like the BLS comes back with a: ‘No Results‘ when looking for a job with “gender studies” as the search term…:-)

        • I’m almost afraid to ask someone what ‘gender studies‘ is really all about?

          Yeah, me too. I just know it doesn’t sound very useful career wise.

          Funny how even a government site like the BLS comes back with a: ‘No Results‘ when looking for a job with “gender studies” as the search term…:-)

          Try “ax grinding”. You’ll get a long list of openings for community organizers. :)

          • Try “ax grinding”. You’ll get a long list of openings for community organizers“…

            Funny thing ron h, google came back immediately with the term, “feminist ax-grinders“…

            Samething I guess….

          • “I’m almost afraid to ask someone what ‘gender studies‘ is really all about?””

            I took a “Gender Roles” class as an elective back in college. They actually teach gender is “socially constructed.” Boys and girls are the same, you see, it’s just that parents and society shackle boys and girls into their traditional behaviors. Plus, marriage is slavery!

            It was all layered within a Marxist framework, naturally.

          • I took a “Gender Roles” class as an elective back in college. They actually teach gender is “socially constructed.” Boys and girls are the same, you see, it’s just that parents and society shackle boys and girls into their traditional behaviors. Plus, marriage is slavery!

            It was all layered within a Marxist framework, naturally.

            Of course. Thanks Paul, I suspected it had little value to any serious person.

            These weird ideas about gender sameness just have to come from people who have no children and seldom encounter children. I suspect that anyone who has children, or those who are fortunate enough to have grandchildren (like me), will tell you that each child is their own unique, beautiful little person, and that those little boys and little girls are very different.

      • We have a list of employers waiting to hire our CNC, robotic, auto/diesel, and HVAC technicians, and that is in the depressed area of mid-Michigan. We have a one-year certificate program, a two-associate degree program, and my new four-year bachelor of service managment program in both auto/diesel and HVAC.

        Good jobs are still out there, and new technology has made them much better. A lot of our students are in their 40s, 50s, and even 60s and employers are knocking down the door to be the first to hire them.

        • Can’t be true, Walt. Larry says those old dogs can’t learn new tricks. Why, I bet they can’t even send photos of their kids and grandkids to each other from their cell phones because they don’t understand CDMA technology. Meanwhile, my 88-year-old uncle just learned how to skype. I’m sure I’m just imagining that too.

      • Actually to boot if you are talking repair and remodel for electricians and plumbers it can not be outsourced to china or elsewhere. All three occupations need some local presence, all be it in the case of auto mechanics, the help line might be in China (less likely as wages are going up 20% per year in China). Now new construction work is different than repair and to some extent renovation as things break without checking where in the economic cycle the economy is.

        • we’re having some work done and have multiple different kinds of trades involved and the work must be done by licensed people according to industry standards and best practices – codified into a county code – who sends an inspector to sign off on the work.

          so they do need to know their trade – and they do!

          What I’ve noticed. Most make around $15 an hour – for the hours they are on site – transit in between is on their own time. None of them have anything like the health insurance that people have with major employers. They talk about workman’s compensation if they get hurt. Not sure how that works…

          they are totally dependent on the housing economy. when times are slow – they may only work 2-3 days or go weeks.

          Most go straight to the ER when they are hurt or sick and get billed and try to pay it off over time. They cannot afford expensive drugs… they don’t get check-ups or get screen for diseases (why do that when you can’t pay anyhow?)

          they have no pension plans and are totally reliant on SS for the time when they can no longer work. They only get that if they work for someone who pays them wages on W2 instead of 1099misc employee compensation or they have to pay the FICA themselves out of their pay.

          several heat with fire wood, get their limit of deer and freeze it.

          their work puts food on the table and a roof over their family’s heads but they are basically one bad roof or broken car or badly sick kid away from hard times.

          Their kids would not get an education if it were not for public schools.

          Some of them may well be better off than others, but there’s no doubt that some are not well off.

          it’s better than starving or living on public assistance but it ain’t nirvana.

          • Oh, you’re just bringing tears to my eyes, Larry!

            You have no clue what the words “hard times” really mean. If you had spent any time among poor people in the 1950s – or if you had spent any time in a third world country outside of a resort – you would know that the families of American workers today are living very well.

          • Their kids would not get an education if it were not for public schools.

            Well then, it’s a damn good thing somebody has their hand in my pocket.

          • Ron: “When you say “we” will retrain them I hope you mean by their own choice and at their own expense.”

            I have been around long enough to have former TRA students come back and see me who are now gainfully employed and supporting their families in the HVAC field. Would that have happened without TRA and other job programs? I don’t know, but I am doubtful. If we can pay to blow people up in Iraq and Afghanistan, rebuild roads, bridges, and powerplants and provide those citizens with a better life, we can pay to help our people out here with a better life through enhanced job training.

            The money we invest in their training will be repaid when they pay their taxes. Isn’t growing the tax base instead of the tax rate the same argument used to cut taxes for the wealthy? (which I agree with)

          • Walt

            I have been around long enough to have former TRA students come back and see me who are now gainfully employed and supporting their families in the HVAC field. Would that have happened without TRA and other job programs? I don’t know, but I am doubtful. If we can pay to blow people up in Iraq and Afghanistan, rebuild roads, bridges, and powerplants and provide those citizens with a better life, we can pay to help our people out here with a better life through enhanced job training.

            I have read quite a few meaningless and irrelevant arguments lately, but this has got to be one of the worst. “If we can waste money in Iraq, we should be able to waste money in the US as well”. You need to do better than that, Walt.

            The money we invest in their training will be repaid when they pay their taxes.

            There’s that Obama buzzword “invest”. That word doesn’t mean what you think it does. Taking money out of my pocket to spend on people who haven’t worked in 99 weeks isn’t “investing”.

            Isn’t growing the tax base instead of the tax rate the same argument used to cut taxes for the wealthy? (which I agree with)

            No. Growing the tax base in that context means leaving money in the pockets of those who have demonstrated they are good at producing income and wealth. That’s exactly the opposite of taking money from people who are productive and giving it to those who aren’t.

            Those people aren’t helpless children, and don’t need to be treated as such. Remember that incentives matter, and that if you subsidize something you will get more of it. In this case unemployment.

            What will happen when you run out of other people’s money?

            Your socialist views are truly offensive.

          • geeze Walt, I did not know you were an “offensive socialist”

            geeze man…. you keep this up and you’re gonna be a moron too….

          • Ron,

            If someone is going to spend the money I send to them, I want some say about where it goes. Likewise, I find it offensive to live in one of the few states that spends more money on prisons than higher education; however, I realize that is my personal opinion.

            If somehow all taxes were eliminated, I will revisit my position. I just don’t see that happening in my lifetime. In the meantime, we have prospective students who are worth as much as criminals, prisoners, and citizens of Iraq and Afghanistan. The students I deal with just want a chance to make a living and be a productive member of society, so I see a worthwhile investment of our time, effort, and money in them.

          • Ron,

            You really need to see an unemployed student who feels lower than a snail and worthless in the first day of class who will not even look you in the eye when they talk to you come back a couple of years later employed with his head held high and thank you for believing in them and giving them a chance. Of course, we do not win them all, but, yes, I see an investment well worthwhile.

          • I find it offensive to live in one of the few states that spends more money on prisons than higher education; however, I realize that is my personal opinion.

            Doesn’t that give you a clue that the social policies, in your state in particular, are misguided and promote dependency?

            the Students I deal with just want a chance to make a living and be a productive member of society, so I see a worthwhile investment of our time, effort, and money in them.

            Those poor victims of an unfair life have, I suspect, been told by the unions all their lives “Won’t worry, we have your back. We will take care of you”, and they believed it. Now that their old job is gone forever they are still going to wait for someone else to manage their lives for them, and here comes Walt with a pocket full of taxpayer dollars. Just the ticket.

            By the time you get them they have been unemployed for 99 week. Anyone who can tie their own shoes can find a job of some kind, but your students have refused to look elsewhere until their lifeboat sank, and now they have found more loot in the TRA program.

          • Ron,

            No one should be on unemployment for 99 weeks. Move some of that into TAA and get their ass back to work. At some point you have to do something even if it does not work.

          • geeze man…. you keep this up and you’re gonna be a moron too….

            No, Larry, Walt isn’t a moron, and I wouldn’t call him one. The only unquestionable moron here is you.

        • Well, I think the same argument was made over the decades about the work of many skilled tradesman. And what I think has happened is that labor intensive craft work gets replaced by factory produced assemblies. If manufacturers can devise methods to make plumbing and electrical components more modular, then the time required for plumbing and electrical repairs can be greatly reduced (I think it already has). That would mean that U.S. plumbers and electricians are still required, but in fewer numbers.

          • John Dewey,

            I just bought one of these to join copper pipes without soldering. It cuts the time of installation by roughly 75%.
            Also, many new houses are using PEX tubing instead of copper pipes to cut both cost and installation time.

            http://www.ridgid.com/pressing/

          • Walt-

            Cool! I’ve seen similar labor reducing tools demonstrated on DIY or HGTV network – often on the Holmes on Homes program.

          • The new wave of manufacturing will have cars built using modular components like interiors, fenders, hoods, and quarter panels that simply snap together by hand or robots on the assembly line (screws, rivets, welding . . . will all be eliminated). This technology is already off the drawing board and into development.

            Technological improvement cannot, will not, and should not be stopped. Recognize the opportunities technology provides and move with it or be left behind. LarryG, I’m sorry if that is upsetting. I know, I’ve been there.

          • John,

            There has never been a more exciting or opportunistic time than now. I started with a slide-rule for mathematical calculations in the 1970s, and just look at what we have now. I really don’t know what to say to the people who do not want to get on board and move into the 21st century.

          • Walt

            I just bought one of these to join copper pipes without soldering. It cuts the time of installation by roughly 75%.

            That’s the coolest thing I’ve seen all week. Thanks.

            I had to have more, so I found this.

            I would imagine the learning curve to become proficient with that tool is orders of magnitude shorter than that for soldering, and the danger of fire in close quarters is eliminated.

          • It cost $3000 (with 1/2″ – 2″ jaws), so it helps if you use it professionally. The fittings are $2-$6 instead of 50 cents to $1, but I think that will come down as more companies make them (patent protected maybe?)

            We use the tool in our boiler and hot water installation class. There is no learning curve past what you saw on You Tube. The focus of perfecting the procedure changes from joining the pipe when soldering to correctly measuring and securing the pipe with this tool.

          • So Larry, what’s to become of those plumbers who can no longer find work due to this great productivity tool?

          • Ron, 534 years for you to pay for it, but only about 15 days for a company. The technology changes a two- person installation job in one day into a one-person installation in one day. You can choose any number for a plumber’s daily pay, I will use $200 ($3000/$200 = 15 days). And, yes, it sucks for the guy who loses his job. We can retrain them into something employable if they want.

          • Walt

            And, yes, it sucks for the guy who loses his job. We can retrain them into something employable if they want.

            No, let’s not. These changes don’t happen overnight, and when someone finds themselves getting less and less work they may figure out that plumbing may no longer be the career for them. They can figure it out for themselves.

          • “They can figure it out for themselves.”

            Yep, and then we either retrain them in something new or how to be even better and still employable in their current field than they were before. Many skill-sets are transferable with just a little bit of new learning.

          • re: ” Many skill-sets are transferable with just a little bit of new learning.”

            Agree. But it may require giving up the house you’ve lived in and moving to an area where the living costs are higher and your lifestyle changes dramatically.

            I will cite SW Virginia but it’s truly representative of much of non-urban America these days.

            You have small to mediun-size towns that have one or two local factories…. like a GM plant that makes auto trans clutches and it’s been there for 20-30 years then GM closes that plant and 1000 people no longer have employment nor can they even re-train for a replacement local job.

            They live in a house 1/2 paid for and now the value of it with the plant closing is underwater.

            So what will those folks do?

            Someone said become an electrician or plumber.

            Not in that town that already has too many of them now that the plant has closed.

            People really need to go look at these “zombie” towns. There is nothing there for people in the way of work and they are 55-60 years old and too young for SS and Medicare and too old for most jobs unless they move to a town that still has a plant and needs more people,

            I suspect that a good number of the unemployed now days fall into this kind of situation.

          • Walt

            Yep, and then we either retrain them in something new or how to be even better and still employable in their current field than they were before. Many skill-sets are transferable with just a little bit of new learning.

            When you say “we” will retrain them I hope you mean by their own choice and at their own expense.

          • Larry, the despair you write about could have been about a mining town, a lumber town, a farming community . . . . My parents moved from Arkansas to Flint because family farms could not support a family any longer. My wife’s parents moved to Flint from West Virginia because the coal mines were laying people off. Now GM is downsizing: again

            http://www.mlive.com/business/mid-michigan/index.ssf/2013/02/gm_1.html#incart_river

            Just like mining, lumber, and farming, manufacturing will survive in a new form. What did the 55-year-old farmer do who lost his farm in the 1950s? I do empathize with those who are displaced, but it is not a new phenomenon, and I will do whatever I can to help them obtain new employment.

          • re: “displaced” and not a new phenomena

            I agree – but knowing where to go to find a job and knowing what kind of re-training to seek are much harder to do these days.

            People who live in 30K homes they own but they are now unemployed are going to be hard to convince to move to an area where they have to live in an apartment that costs more than their original mortgage did.

            In that regard – if you pay them unemployment, give them MedicAid and feed their kids at school, they are more likely to stay where they are and try to “get by”.

            these folks will never again be taxpayers – at least not Federal income tax taxpayers – as we have had pointed out over the last two years.

            I’m not sure they will move. I think the only hope is to get their kids a good education and hope their kids will leave and go find work if their education is good enough to enable it in a 21st century world.

          • Larry, I think you have defined the problem quite well. What do you suggest for a viable solution?

          • re: ” What do you suggest for a viable solution?

            I thought you made an excellent point about how much money we spend right now per person to incarcerate, to provide for entitlements – food, shelter, health care – for kids of parents who are unemployed, etc.

            Would point out that we “invest” in returning soldiers by offering them educational benefits and re-training to help them transition from armed services to civilian life – and we do this in part because we want them to find jobs and become taxpayers rather than wards.

            I think if we are going to pay entitlements – and until we decide as a country that we won’t – that helping people re-train and even move to a job and becoming a taxpayer once again is a better path than doing nothing.

            It’s things like this that define us – as different from 3rd world countries.

            but in the end – we’ll end up doing what a majority feel that we should – that’s our system and as bad as it can be – I prefer it to 3rd world strongman governance.

          • I have students who are receiving veteran’s benefits to go to school, but the federal TRA/TAA benefits have dried up. This is the first term since I have been back teaching in 2004 that I do not have any students receiving federal education benefits. Maybe it’s corny, but this is exactly the type of success I’ve seen:
            http://www.doleta.gov/tradeact/success_stories.cfm

          • re: unemployment – in the young

            yep.. it certainly appears that older folks have modest unemployment in comparison.

            I guess I’d have to find out if unemployment varies between urban and rural geographies.

            we know plants are consolidating from the medium-sized and smaller-sized towns …

            but also.. do we count people that are no longer looking?

          • re: ” Many skill-sets are transferable with just a little bit of new learning.”

            Agree. But it may require giving up the house you’ve lived in and moving to an area where the living costs are higher and your lifestyle changes dramatically.

            Yup. Your point?

            It’s kind of nice to at least HAVE a lifestyle, don’t you think? Is this a great country or what?

          • re: unemployment – in the young

            yep.. it certainly appears that older folks have modest unemployment in comparison.

            Does that mean you misspoke previously before knowing what you were talking about?

          • I guess I’d have to find out if unemployment varies between urban and rural geographies.

            we know plants are consolidating from the medium-sized and smaller-sized towns …

            Why don’t you find that out & try to construct an informative comment based on your findings.

            but also.. do we count people that are no longer looking?

            As you would know if you looked it up, wiki boy, the BLS calculates 6 different levels of unemployment, U1 – U6.

            U4 and above includes discouraged workers who are no longer looking for work, but it seems like a real stretch to call a person unemployed if they don’t even try to become employed. Wishing isn’t usually enough, and few employers go door to door looking for potential workers.

          • I think we may have gotten a little off track with MoRON.

            My comment on this thread was in response to the thread about fearing robots with respect to people living in small towns -that when plants close, people who have been working there for 20-25 years have great difficultly finding other work.

            I did not say this was a big unemployment problem for that particular group. Mr. Dewey said that and I played along to be accommodating realizing full well that MoRon would once again share his wonderful personality again.

            the “no longer looking’ may well include those 55 year olds in small towns that lost their plants though but off track to the original comment.

            Walt has the right approach in my view. Education is key to our economy whether it be young people ( many in the high unemployment groups lack sufficient education) or servicemen returning or older workers have their jobs replaced by consolidation and robots (automation).

            People don’t fear – and more important – don’t oppose technology because they fear it will take their jobs. They understand the realities that technology is inevitable and a good thing overall – a boon to most, but life also requires a way to get past losing a job of 25 years and still 15 years from retirement.

            People in these small towns actually try to keep the plants sometimes, agreeing to lower and lower wages or they try to incentivize another company to come. Even the states get into the act with things like “enterprise zones” where they give preferential treatment to tempt a company – and it does work.

            why do states do this? simple. Put those people back to work and you trade people getting entitlements for people paying taxes. Is that a legitimate interest of other taxpayers – you damn right it is.

            we had in our town many years ago – a cellophane plant – before the age of plastics – everything now wrapped in plastic – used to be wrapped in cellophane. When the plant closed – there were a couple thousand or more people, 15-20, 25 years into their job and they suddenly were not only without a job but without the educations and training needed to compete for other jobs.

            selling the house and moving meant basically giving up any investment in the house – and basically starting over – not an uncommon thing for many people though some are lucky enough to have never have it happen to them.

            The old plant is still there – a complex of dozens of buildings and it now has become an industrial park with dozens of different businesses, warehouses, and distribution companies since it sits on a rail spur but the replacement jobs don’t pay as well and there are not as many of them – and none should be considered permanent employment spanning decades.

            That plant was a different time and place – probably not unlike the auto plants up Walt’s way. Those plants were everything to people. They were not only their jobs, but their communities. The people they worked with were the same people they went to church with or bowled with or went on vacation with or their sons and daughters married. The plant provided generations with a living to pay for food, buy a house and car, etc and the job itself came with pension and health care benefits.

            When the plant closes – it’s was more than just a businesses closing – it was like a good part of their lives dying in every sense of the word.

            the world is different now – jobs are not careers at one company who gives you a defined benefit pension and many not health insurance any more.

            those days are gone for sure but for many decades, it was a typical way of life – and it was considered normal and what many people aspired to do after they got out of high school – i.e. find a good company and stay with them for a career – where you some day expected to retire.

            Can’t blame people for trying to seek some kind of predictable structure in their lives. It’s a very human thing. If you have the opportunity – you pick it over uncertainty and chaos. Not rocket science.

            People believe in education and most believe we all should be paying taxes for education – especially if the alternative is to still pay taxes – but for more prisons and law enforcement. Remember, we started out without public education – and willingly agreed to pay for it.

            There are those like Ron – who not only do not believe that but they are vehement and nasty about it somehow fancying themselves as above it and totally self-sufficient and will never need help from anyone.

            Been there. Seen that. Pretty adolescent attitude in my view. We are a blessed country because people do care and do believe that the function of government is in some respects – somewhat like an insurance company for the times when people do need help.

            this is not just this country. this is every single industrialized country – on the planet so it’s not like it’s some sort of a weird America gone wrong thing. The countries that don’t do this – are all 3rd world – and most – are trying to get to what the industrialized countries are.

            It probably started way back when folks thought we needed to band together for national defense and then realized that once people banded together for reasons that benefited them all – that national defense was not the only thing – that there were other things – like natural disasters or public education, fire and rescue, law enforcement, prisons , etc. and pretty soon the whole Libertarian concept was just shot to hell…

            Ah civilization!

            Now I fully expect MoRON to go into yet another infantile tirade here but so be it – it’s old and tiresome but expected like potholes and farts.

          • Larry, Ron is not a problem. He is honest about what he thinks, willing to share it even if we don’t like it, and he represents a widely held viewpoint that has a lot of truth that we must deal with if we want to be successful. I, too, get upset with people who believe unemployment is a job and wait until it runs out before they decide to do anything to become more employable. I think we tend to emphasize the successes while Ron tends to emphasize the failures: and there are failures. We need to work on that.

          • Walt. Don’t fool yourself guy. Ron would have NONE of this – ZIP. He believes in NONE of it.

            He considers any/all taxes, no matter what purpose to be “coercive” “theft” to take from him to give to others.

          • Larry, I’m not fooled. I’ve never walked into any room where I had 100% buy-in. Accept it and work with it the best you can to accomplish your strategy. People have a right to their position even if it is not the same as yours.

          • ” People have a right to their position even if it is not the same as yours.”

            totally agree with that sentiment.

            totally disagree with the infantile name calling, insults and condescending attitudes.

          • He considers any/all taxes, no matter what purpose to be “coercive” “theft” to take from him to give to others“…

            Only the clueless and the liberal believe otherwise and you spam boy are two for two in that category…

        • I have been around long enough to have former TRA students come back and see me who are now gainfully employed and supporting their families in the HVAC field.

          When that happens, tell them that they needn’t be grateful to you, because you are just doing a job, and you didn’t build that. They should write a little thank you note to me and every other taxpayer who made their retraining possible.

  4. As I re-install new Ubuntu v12.10 on my laptop – after re-booting wireless router due an inexplicable loss of internet access (it worked un-interrupted for at least 2 months) – I know that when the robots take-over – robot repair will be a growing workforce opportunity!

  5. In what perticular area will the unemployd move into? To me it is more resonable to conclude that MArx was right by saying the first comunist country will be USA when it aotomates productivity so much that people will not need to work to have their needs met. I am thinking Marxs is right and Mark J. Perry does not get it at all.

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