Dey Tuk Er Jurbs

While I understand economics isn’t everybody’s favorite subject of study it’s also not rocket science either (although if you look at some of the magical formulas concocted by Keynesians you might think it is). There is no reason why people today should still believe the myth that automation leads to unemployment. But people still believe it:

The Associated Press has a three-part series on one of the biggest questions business and society will face in coming years.

Are we prepared for a world where 50 to 75 percent of workers are unemployed?

It seems like a ridiculous question, but it’s something economists and technologists say we seriously need to think about. It’s just math.

If you believe this then do yourself a huge favor and read Hazlitt’s Economics in One Lesson. Chapter seven, title The Curse of Machinery, buries this myth under six well deserved feet of ground.

Back when the industrial revolution was in full swing people often cursed automation as the killer of jobs. Then computers came to the market and they were going to render us all unemployed. Now we’re all supposed to be afraid of the job killing robots. In the end every supposed killer of jobs has failed to render everybody unemployed. Instead the employment market changed. People are still needed to do things that machines cannot. Even if we do reach a point where a vast majority of work is performed by robots it will only mean that goods and services will be so incredibly cheap that people will have to perform very little work to afford them. It will also mean that labor will become more specialized and therefore more expensive so an individual could live a very comfortable existence by only working a handful of hours a week, month, or year.

The robots may render specific jobs obsolete but they won’t render everybody unemployed. That’s just history.