Rise in automation requires sensible action from government

Charger Editorial Board

In the United States, nothing dominates our view of the world around us than our personal anxieties. Often, our anxieties are misled by those who have something to gain from internal strife. Chief among them, politicians and the financial elite.

Financial anxieties specifically lead American to vote a certain way. As it stands, Americans are fearing the wrong things when it comes to their personal economic well-being. 

In a seemingly booming economy, the working class has seen a lack of meaningful growth. Fears have grown from immigration and its effect on the job market. These have led to attacks on the current immigration system and increased scrutiny on monthly job reports. 

However, automation is a new development that is far more immediate and harmful to the working class. Forbes stated in 2018 that approximately 45% of all US jobs can be automated. It is becoming reality, as according to CNBC, one-third of American workers could be jobless by 2030 due to an increase of automation. 

In a rudimentary sense, this has already begun. Fast food restaurants, namely McDonald’s and Panera Bread, have put kiosks at some locations to curb traffic from human cashiers. Auto workers in the US have been crippled due to automation on the assembly line, causing the Rust Belt to grow helpless.

The political effect of this has already been seen on the national level. In 2016, Hillary Clinton’s loss can be directly attributed to a slight margin of voters in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin going for her opponent Donald Trump. 

These voters liked what the Trump campaign was selling: a promise to return to the glory days of full factories and busy coal mines. Basic economics would show that this promise would be extremely problematic to actually deliver, but Trump’s withdrawal and subsequent re-negotiation of NAFTA was a step towards bringing jobs back to the US hit hardest by a changing job industry.

In 2020, some Democratic presidential candidates have attempted to rejuvenate the core of their base: the working class. However, nearly every candidate has failed to offer 21st century solutions. As a matter of fact, no one has.

This is largely in part because any possible solution has to be flawed. In true dystopian fashion, siding with actual human beings is considered to be an outdated solution. 

Our government needs to take initiative to stop this science fictional nightmare from becoming a reality. It’s time to take a progressive approach to protect workers from autonomous beings that don’t require medical benefits or minimum wage.

Some solutions, like the idea of a $1,000 universal basic income, have come under scrutiny for being unrealistic. However, if legislation that strengthened workers’ rights were introduced, and a tax was imposed on companies based on how much automation they’re using, there’s a chance that the US government can ensure protection from a workforce dominated by no one.

There’s something to be said about cities like Detroit falling victim to trade deals and lackluster protection from an evolving economy. Corporate greed has fueled low-wage workers and a decrease in American-made products. If we fail to learn our lesson and adequately protect our workforce, we’ll fail to take advantage of an unprecedented amount of opportunity.