Alternative Title: What Good is a $1000 Bonus if you’ve Been Laid Off?
I really wasn’t sure what noun to use in place of the “@$!*&$%!” in the title. Depression? Collapse? Armageddon? Shitstorm?? I was looking for something that conveys a worrisome time – and this was when I was actually more optimistic about the upcoming year.
No, really. I tried very hard to be optimistic, and in the short run, I suppose things are looking up. We’re hoping 2018 is what 2017 was supposed to be – we sell the business, retire, build and then move into a new home. And while it’s true that we’ve been looking forward to retirement for some time, recent events make it clear that once we hand off the business to a new owner, we damn well better retire because the job market ain’t lookin’ so hot.
Sure, sure, I know what you’re about to say – what about that “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” that the GOP just passed.
Do not make me laugh.
I am currently reading Rise of the Robots by Martin Ford. It’s scary stuff about how automation is not just making many blue collar jobs disappear, but as technology improves, it’s white collar, high tech, high-end jobs that are vanishing, too. I’ve known about how automation can reshape an industry – as a former radio DJ, I realize that damn near everything today on-air is digital, including the jock. Live DJ’s are as rare as 45s. Or albums. Or hell, CDs.
And who isn’t familiar with ATM’s? Now just for cash – many race tracks have fewer ticket windows and more self-serve betting machines. Casinos with poker rooms are replacing live dealers with automated tables. Vending machines nowadays dispense all kinds of foods (hot, cold, frozen), and many non-food items. Self-serve checkouts. Self-serve ordering kiosks. Roombas. No people, no jobs…just machines.
You only need pick up a newspaper (where many articles are actually written by computers) and see where many companies (including ones bragging about handing out bonuses just recently after the aforementioned “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act”) are either laying off hundreds or thousands of workers, or planning to in the coming year. There is even a website where you can learn all about new layoffs, all the time. Layoffs in steel, healthcare, and, of course, manufacturing. Ford, Microsoft, Boeing, GE, Kraft, AT&T, and Carrier - layoffs galore. Not creating jobs – eliminating them.
This is nothing new. Job creation ever since the Great Recession has been steady, but it’s mainly low-to-mid paying jobs in the service sector. Few jobs in manufacturing. This year, despite the self-congratulatory prose from Trump, looks to be the lowest year for new job creation since 2010.
BTW – very few products with any kind of “Trump” branding – ties, jewelry, water, vodka, suits, etc – is made in the USA. Just sayin’ is all.
Combine automation with off-shoring, and it means fewer jobs for Americans. And that’s the wave of the future. Why would companies do this? To make more money. You can easily see that the future looks dim for everyone but the very rich, those already secure in their largess. More and more jobs will become automated – skilled jobs, service jobs, tech jobs, white collar jobs, all sorts of jobs that can be handles by a robot or algorithm; not just the manufacturing section. Of course, to implement more automation, corporations would need a very large infusion of cash.
Where, oh where, could they get such an infusion? Why, the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act,” of course.
Well, like I said, it’s nothing I have to worry about. After all, I am looking forward to retirement, and as long as the GOP and Trump keep their grubby mitts off Social Security and Medicare, I am set for life.
Happy New Year, everyone. Buckle up.