Everyone has recently been worrying about the loss of jobs with automation. Especially the hi-tech guys. They have been saying we will need to introduce a guaranteed minimum income to take care of all the people who will soon be thrown out of work.
But, strangely enough, that is not yet happening. Instead, in Canada and the US, there is a labour shortage. Unemployment is on a downward trend.
Self-driving trucks were about to kill off the single most common job in North America, truck driving. Instead, I read that, at least for now, there is a serious shortage of truck drivers.
What's going on?
Perhaps the same thing that went on during the Industrial Revolution. It looked as though a lot of people were going to lose their jobs to machines then too. That's more or less the basis of Marxist doctrine. Everyone expects an apocalypse of poverty. Yet the opposite happened: lots more jobs for lots more people. And better jobs, with higher pay.
There is a logic behind this. Automation makes the actual production of goods, or delivery of services, cheaper. As goods become cheaper, more people can and will buy them. The overall wealth increases. The fact that fewer people are employed making each item is more than counterbalanced by the fact that more items are made and sold.
It may be happening again this time.
I was really beginning to doubt that it could. After all, this time, it was not just manual jobs that were being automated, but at least on the near horizon, professions as well. What's left?
What's left, perhaps, is creativity. Maybe everybody becomes an “artisan” of one sort or another.