Automation Took My Job — So What?
A Facebook friend was wondering who would have any money to buy stuff if more and more things becomes automated?
While I can’t conceive “everything” being automated, at least not in my lifetime, there is no question machines are doing more tasks that human beings used to do.
Tom’s History of Automation
Henry Ford had a workforce of 14,000 to build his cars making a hefty $5 a week. Once he got his assembly line going he found he could build cars for less and either increase profits or improve his cars to be more competitive in the marketplace.
So what happened to the people replaced by automation?
They found other jobs doing other things by taking some of the skills they learned at Ford to their new position.
That’s how an economy works. If a job is displaced it doesn’t mean that person is relegated to the unemployment line forever.
How McDonald’s Could Create Jobs By Automation
When you purchase a Big Mac and fries and a drink at McDonald’s the items you throw away — the cup, straw, napkin, paper, placemat, etc. — cost more than the burger and fries and drink.
The more burgers McDonald’s can sell the more paper, cups, straws, napkins and placemats will be needed.
Computer operators and other personnel don’t email those things to the store they are trucked there by drivers, from yes, automated warehouses, and ordered by humans.
Thousands of ditch diggers were replaced by backhoes and bulldozers. We can drill deeper today that anyone could have imagined years ago. Have those advances eliminated jobs.
We have skill saws, pneumatic hammers, and battery drills. A home can be built in days rather than weeks. Did the need for construction workers stop?
Look what we can do with computers today. One person can handle what once took an office full of desk jockeys.
Were those displaced workers just put out to pasture? No, technology created a new income stream for them as new ways of making money were discovered.
CD’s replaced the 8-track and cassettes.
Some Final Thoughts
While I am not a fan of government statistics there is something to be said for the 5.3 percent unemployment that the president is always pointing to. Not to mention our 3.5 percent unemployment locally.
We have more automation than ever before and are creating 260,000 jobs per month.
That wouldn’t seem to indicate that no one has the money to buy products produced by automation rather than a paid worker.
Our GDP keeps growing — not at the pace we’d like, but still growing. Walmart parking lots are pretty full. So are the lots at Target and Costco.
I’m not seeing a lot of empty checkout lines. Someone is getting money from somewhere.
Production and income are always going to be with us. There are usually at odds with each other. But that’s why the free enterprise system works so well.
No one gets rich unless they help someone. And when they do a job is created.