Og at Neanderpundit touched on how automation gets us fewer jobs for the same production.  Ed at Atomic Fungus also mentioned the jobless recovery, and that there will be swaths of the population that are made for simple factory life and not geniuses to be brainiacs in the office, and now that the factory job has either been automated or moved offshore, how will we deal with the realization that a good chunk of the formerly employed population will now be permanently unemployable?

The Google Car will be the next event horizon in employment.  If all the working men (and women) involved in transport were accounted for, they would make an army to rival the world’s largest.  Once you have the Google driverless car so competent it gets issued a state license to drive, the commercial trucking industry is next in the crosshairs of automation.  So we’ve made cab, bus, and limo drivers, chauffeurs and conductors of all types, and now freight hauling truckers and train engineers, obsolete.  The GPS can make farming farmerless: it now tells him where to drop the seed in the hole with pinpoint precision, so why have a him to tell at all?  Same for the harvest at the other end of the season.  I’ve been in the Chrysler Belvediere (Illinois) plant, where the only reason there’s a light on is for the safety of the maintenance personnel and for the cameras to record any anomaly in the line.  The assemblers are robots, and the forklifts are directed by pegs in the floor.  Granted, this is rudimentary first generation limited driverless work, but once the Google car gets smart enough, there go your forklift and heavy machinery drivers, as well as crane operators.

Aaron Clarey, and Ken Nubo before him, showed how the university system is not involved in producing professionals for careers as much as being a production line for degrees.  And how many are employed in a job other than their trained career, and how many in a job they could’ve gotten without the $80,000 degree?  Companies are today loathe to bring in people off of the street and train them as they did until the 1980’s.  So what’s the answer, to have people in college for 8 years with $300,000 of debt, and still not be sure of a job in the field as employers get more and more rarefied in their hiring expectations?

The Bell Curve exists for a reason, with half of people under 100 IQ, and the massive bulge of society within a couple of deviations from the 100 IQ mean.  There is no Lake Wobegon where all the kids are above average, and everyone has the 150 IQ, handsome/pretty face, and impeccable social graces to please employers who only have supercharged jobs you need to train for years to get right to offer.  We may come to a point where we can no longer have a dignified, honest job for everyone with the morals and initiative to want to earn their keep.  Oscar Wilde in The Soul of Man Under Socialism predicted a Renaissance of man as he no longer was slave to toil, and could rise to artistic and intellectual greatness.  A quick look at our public housing system where its residents have been free of work for three generations so far shows the opposite.

May you live in interesting times.