Musings in the Morning

I had a cab driver the other day here in Westchester who was a great Trump supporter. He was a white guy who had never been to college, never been in the army, never been in the Peace Corps, never, as far as I could see, done anything for his country.

He said Trump would keep jobs in America.

I asked him how Trump could keep him driving his taxi and he looked at me in the mirror and shook his head. He had no idea what I was saying.

Well, I said, I just read where in Pittsburgh Uber had set up the first driverless taxicabs. The city will be losing over one thousand taxi-driving jobs because of it, once it was fully operational.

Also, I read where self-driving vehicles would also replace about 20,000 truck drivers and another 10,000 bus drivers.

Now the “drivers” could get ‘better paying’ jobs to program the robot cars and trucks, but that seems unlikely given their lack of programming knowledge.

I said he might get work ‘fixing’ these robot cars (if he went back to school) but for taxi drivers, they are on the long line of ‘jobs’ being replaced by technology. All within 5 years, I’ve read.

My taxi driver shook his head and told me it would never happen. “Not in America” he said.

In another article I read in the NYTIMES, “In the years after World War II, factory work created a broadly shared prosperity…..People without college degrees could buy a home, raise a family, but a station wagon, take some nice vacations. It makes perfect sense that voters would want to return to those times.”

It ain’t going to happen.

My Dad, who was from Ireland and had less than an elementary school education worked as a first-helper in the steel mills of Gary, Indiana through the ‘30s, ‘40s and’50s, where a team of men, my Dad included, shoveled coal into open hearths furnaces. His job, as first helper, was to decide when the steel was ready to be pulled out of the furnaces. By the 1980s, his job and every other laborer in the mill was replaced by computers.

My Dad, who measured the worth of a man by how much he could shovel, was out of work. But before retirement he was able to put four of his six of his kids through college, all because of his steel working job.

Not Trump, nor Clinton, will bring back my Dad’s high-paying steel mill job. There will be no revival of American manufacturing. Writes the NYTIMES. “Because of automation, there are far fewer jobs in factories.”

It’s not just ‘factory work’.

  • Toll booth attendants; Easy Pass for everyone
  • No Tellers at banks; use the machines
  • Gas Station; pump your own gas
  • Check out your own groceries
  • Buy your ticket online and print out your boarding pass

The list goes on and on.

The TIMES points out, however, that in the first quarter of 2016 stuff made in America, even after adjusting for inflation, made the period the most productive in the nation’s history.

Thanks, to technology.

But who, we ask, will be able to buy ‘stuff’ if we are all out of work? Robots aren’t hiring humans to work for them. (Well, not yet anyway.)

Lawrence Summers is quoted as saying by mid-century, one-third of men in their prime working years—between 25 and 54—will not be working.

In one ‘industry’ that I know something about publishing– books and magazines–we see our future. All because of technology. Magazines and newspapers are closing or are on line. You don’t have to wait for the mail to know what is happening in the world.

Putting ‘prose’ and ‘photos’ online requires new skills and talents besides writing and editing. Older generations of editors aren’t able to adjust to the changes of content, style and publication, all online.

In book publishing not only are commercial publishing disappearing, (look at the closing of academic publishing), the first jobs to go are those of literary agents. Who needs an agent—who takes 20% of an author’s contact—if anyone and everyone can self-publish online?

And where can you buy a book? Where is Barnes & Noble today? Or that cute, friendly book store a block off Main Street? They’re gone. If you want a book, go online.

There is, however, one way to make a “huge living,” if you write. Not literature but “page-turners” or more correctly, romance fiction for women.

In the current issue of the Authors Guild bulletin there is an article entitled, “Authorship in the Digital Age” and it features Barbara Freethy. She is a New York Times bestselling author who writes contemporary romance to romantic suspense and women’s fiction. She has been self-publishing since 2011 and already sold over 6 million copies of her 49 books. With the e-book reader she makes something like $80,000 a month. All from e-books!

So if you can’t get hired by a robot, then write another Fifty Shades of Grey. What, you don’t know anything about abusive sex?

Ask Donald Trump.

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Copyright © 2019. Peace Corps Worldwide.