Sacrifice Convenience, Help The Economy…
I was thinking today about the economic issues in this country and had a thought pattern that I thought made a lot of sense. Take a read and let me know what you think. In today’s America, we have serious job problems. Depending on who you ask, unemployment numbers vary from as low as 8% to as high as 20% and it seems as if it is only going to get worse. I believe, though, that I have a solution if people are willing to sacrifice a little bit of convenience. I know that asking Americans to sacrifice pretty much anything can be a stretch but in this case, I believe it would be worthwhile.
It’s really all about technology. Technology, for all it’s benefits, is the silent killer in this country when it comes to job creation, growth as well as maintaining the jobs we have. The point of technology is to help us but when that help takes jobs away from human beings that need the money, what good is it?? Let’s take a look at a few area of technology that our economy might be better off without. Keep in mind that many of the jobs these areas of technology destroy are definitely not the types of jobs that a college graduate would have but they are the type that the average high school graduate would look at when they have a family to feed.
- Automatic Retail Cashiers– There are countless retail outlets that use these automatic checkouts. From grocery stores to department stores, these auto-tellers have popped up in virtually every kind of basic retail store out there. They are installed in the hopes of adding convenience and speed to the average consumer but in the end, how many jobs have they destroyed? In most stores, such as Wal-Mart or your average grocery store there are usually at least two of these auto-tellers. Now there are over 600 Wal-Marts in the United States and an estimated 85,000 grocery stores. There are approximately 1,700 Lowe’s home improvement stores along with 2,200 Home Depot outlets. So, for argument’s sake lets say there is an average of 3 of these auto tellers(there is usually at least 3) in each of the close to 90,000 stores I mentioned above. That’s 270,000 auto cashiers taking jobs away from humans who could be doing the same thing. If you consider that one of these auto-tellers probably takes the place of two real employees(a person can’t work 24 hours), you are looking at half a million jobs, jobs that Americans need, that have been taken away. Yes, these aren’t the highest paying jobs out there but they are the jobs that many middle class people use to get through college so they can get a better job or use to supplement the income of their spouse who may already have a degree.
- Assembly Line Robotics– Assembly lines have long been a staple of American manufacturing. During the 40’s and 50’s, it was these very assembly lines that were the backbone of the United States economy, providing jobs that paid well enough for a worker to support his or her family and often that could be had without a college education. In today’s world, robotic arms have replaced literally dozens of human beings in every assembly plant, regardless of what they are manufacturing. Automotive, electronics, you name it there are robots building it somewhere. There are, in today’s world, tens of thousands of companies using robots to build what they used to use humans to build and that equals out to literally tens of thousands of jobs.
- Automatic Car Washes-Again, this may seem like a simple or low level job but the jobs that would be there for the middle class is where we are really struggling so even though this wouldn’t be a high paying job, it would still be a job. There are approximately 117,000 gas stations in the United States and many of them have an automatic car wash. I figure that if each of those automatic washers was replaced with either one full-time employee or two-part time ones, you would wind up with 200,000 jobs, almost a quarter of a million. Again, not very high paying but jobs that college students, a spouse looking to supplement their husband or wives income or somebody just trying to earn an honest buck.
- Automatic Movie Dispensers-These machines have forced companies such as Blockbuster to not only cut jobs but also to close stores nationwide. Companies like Netflix and Redbox, though free to grow their business, have again shown an example of a technology designed to provide convenience for consumers taking jobs away from people. Yes, a clerk at Blockbuster doesn’t make a ton of money but it is still a job and these jobs could be enough to put a family in a better position by supplementing an income.
- The Internet– This one may seem a little far-fetched but bear with me. Online shopping has become huge in today’s world and the internet is the main culprit. There are literally millions of purchases made every week online and every one of these is a purchase that could have been made from an actual human being in a retail location. It is difficult to estimate how many retail jobs this has cost the country but I feel it is safe to say that the number is in the hundreds of thousands. I’m not saying completely eliminate the internet by any means but at the same time, the convenience that is provided by online shopping creates an environment where human jobs are replaced by an online program for the same purchases that were once made in stores.
In summary, I know some of these ideas may seem dumb to some people but I often wonder why people don’t look at the technology out there replacing human jobs as an area that we could manipulate to help our struggling economy. I hear these politicians claim they have the secret to job growth but even if they come up with good ideas, they will be hard pressed to compete with the advancing technology that takes away human jobs almost every day. I understand convenience but if it comes at the expense of jobs it is kind of pointless and, in my opinion, counterproductive.