Digging a deeper hole is the wrong approach

Now Main Street’s whitewashed windows and vacant stores
Seems like there ain’t nobody wants to come down here no more
They’re closing down the textile mill across the railroad tracks
Foreman says these jobs are going boys and they ain’t coming back
To your hometown

Bruce Springsteen | MetroLyrics

Voters, maybe any of us – you can be misled if you are told something you want to believe. You are especially vulnerable when you are told something you want to believe combined with someone else to blame.

Climate change is a real problem and you are doing your children and grandchildren a tremendous disservice if you deny to make things easier for yourself. The world of work is changing and many who work in certain manufacturing jobs are simply not needed (see Manufacturing jobs delusion). This has nothing to do with Mexico or illegal immigrants. In this case, the culprit is technology and efficiency. Nearly any type of work including teaching is likely vulnerable. We all would like to believe new approaches that make use of technology are not as good. Educators are not unique in this regard. If the comparison was between a tutor and existing educational technology, i would agree. However, this is not reality – even now. You must use group-based instruction because there is one of you. Some kids are always ignored no matter how hard you try. The level of content you present is always too difficult or already mastered by some students. You are not functioning as a tutor. Like most jobs – all existing employees will not be gone. There will end up being fewer people and more technology. Many fields including education will move toward effectiveness and efficiency. Those who remain will be the more capable and will be paid significantly more. The numbers of this group will simply be smaller.

I have included educators here so my argument will not be assumed to be focused on those who work with their hands rather than their heads. You can ignore me if you wish, but I think the trend is obvious and inevitable. If the U.S. does not adapt, it will be left behind. Complain about iPads and iPhones being manufactured by Foxconn in China all you want. The skilled labor there was less expensive and the skilled labor there is being replaced by robots. Expensive, inexperienced American line workers against Chinese robots and supply chain advantages, not even close. Remember John Henry the steel driving man was really just wishful thinking.

Time to invest more in education and to accept that any one of us will ever finish school. The employable individual is already a moving target. I fear it is far more than this and this will really scare you. I doubt we really have meaningful work for all possible workers. We have tried to increase consumption of stuff we really don’t need, but this approach has really reached a limit and is also extremely wasteful of resources and damaging to the environment. We very likely need far earlier retirement and acceptance of a different view of a meaningful life. Significant attention to equity will be necessary in this reality and I see no way to create the necessary conditions without a greater role for government.

Less government, blame the other, tell people what they want to hear worked for now. However, these strategies have worked because of selfishness and they have only made the underlying conditions more damaging. The hole is getting deeper.

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