There are two major calamities that civilization must contend with. Obviously, global warming is the major one that technology will conquer if we let it, but at the same time it will lead to this:
A 22-year-old named Roy was arrested in a middle-class apartment complex surrounded by meth, marijuana, drug paraphernalia, and a stolen hand gun. Now I don’t know Roy but can assume that he is not in college, perhaps barely survived high school and now has few options in life. I would most likely win the bet that his family is not well off, nor a functional influence strong enough to guide him away from a future of continuous jail terms.
In Roy’s adjoining neighborhood, there is a new grocer moving in. Per the local newspaper, the grocer offered 100 new jobs, of which they received more than 3000 employment applications. In fact, the grocer received too many submissions that they had to shut the process down. So, who knows how many really wanted to apply.
The economist Bill Watkins already noted this condition. Over the past 10 years, California has produced twice as many students with four-year degrees compared to the new jobs that were created. Poor Roy who lives in CA., never stood a chance against the ample and unemployed with degrees. What does that tell you? It’s rather scary that one of the largest economies in the world is operating at a deficit to the American Dream. And since California is a chief architect and in many cases, represents the direction our nation learns to follow, this fact is extremely distressing.
Does California represent the direction America and the rest of the world are moving in? Are we at a place where too many humans, educated or not, end up fighting over an insufficient amount of work that looks to be bleaker in the future? Our population is growing and the need for human labor is decreasing due to automation. Three thousand applications for one hundred positions, definitely states there is something wrong with the American Dream. To sugar coat this reality, our government misreports the unemployment rate through a skewed system that counts someone who no longer searches for employment as employed. If we open our eyes, we find many studies that detail our dying dream.
A recent McKinsey study predicted that 60% of jobs in America will lose a third of their activity to automation. Two Oxford economists in 2013 noted that 47% of US jobs contain a high risk of transforming to automation within the next 20 years. To prove how blind we have become. A brand-new survey by Pew Research questioned 2000 adults, and 65% thought that much of our work could be automated by robots and computers, however, 80% didn’t think it would apply to them. That may be true if you are a landscaper or skilled in a construction trade of some sort. But if you are a paper pusher, retail clerk, truck driver, taxicab driver, unspecialized doctor, or even a CEO, they all can be outperformed by algorithms.
In the last 100 years, we went from digging canals by hand which employed a team of humans, and now one man with heavy machinery can do the same job of a 1000 men in a single day. There went a 1000 jobs that lasted longer than a single day and forever, (the key component we overlook) gently disappeared from our social structure. When I was young and cashed my weekly paychecks at the local bank, there was a twelve-member team attending to the line of customers that stretched to the front door. Now that automation has infiltrated banking and ATMs are conveniently located everywhere, my current bank runs no more than 2 to 4 tellers that tends to a line that never reaches the front door.
This has happened across the board within many business models while the population continues to grow. Technology allows for more work to be accomplished with far less humans and exactly why we have college grads living in mom’s and dad’s basement. If it weren’t for those basements, they’d be right where Roy is, working the black market for food and shelter.
Now let’s throw in the more pertinent stats of the American Dream disappearing through a new study released by a New York University think tank on real estate. We can all agree that the American Dream is based on the owning of a home and property’s ability of moving a family into the middle class through appreciation. It’s college money, it’s retirement money, it’s a savings account for food and shelter. This is now harder to achieve because the ownership numbers are moving in the opposite direction per the study. The major cities and their suburbs have reached the highest ratio of renting since the 1960s. In Miami and NY, roughly two-thirds of the residents are renters. In LA county, nearly half of the population rents. The same holds true for San Francisco and higher up in the Washington area. Eighty percent of the growth around Dallas was suburban rentals. Nationwide, the metro areas average a 53% renting rate, and as a nation, 37% of all households now pay rent per a Harvard study released in December of 2015.
If we combine all this information, we have a serious problem for the future that few are acknowledging. And if we don’t produce a humanitarian game plan for it, we will be adding another ugly feature to the unpleasant world we’re already creating through excessive greed. Automation is going to decrease our workload and the number of humans owning a home are going to dwindle along with it, and only made worse by the population growth. If the two Oxford economists are correct and hard to deny after the trending math, nearly half of the 53% that rent in our major cities will lose their jobs to automation. And where are they to go? The majority will go straight to the streets. As for the remaining 47% that own a home in a city, most are still strapped to a mortgage, of which half will also lose their jobs. Those who have not over financed and with other options a home provides like rental income, may keep a roof over their heads. Regardless, civilization is headed to a very homeless and payless world, due to technology and automation that does not require a lot of humans to perform work.
This positions Bernie Sanders completely correct with his idea of free education, since students will have a choking avenue of payback that may lead to homelessness anyway. Maybe we should embrace the entire greater good of his socialism. The math says we are going need a lot of plumbers, architects, framers, electricians, city engineers, painters, and a whole other list of skilled jobs to build structures for these new homeless, once our humanity kicks in.
And perhaps it’s time to stop generating criminals out of our social deficiency for actual employment, since droves of humans will be joining the black market to produce a roof over their heads and a plate of food for their bellies. Many Roys, educated or not, will simply have no work to report to, when half the nation has filled every position and automation is taking care of the rest. Displaced adults like youth, will naturally do whatever it takes to house and feed themselves.
So what are we really accomplishing by incriminating the black markets? We are irrationally prosecuting the innocent who have no other means to money, where money is food, shelter, and survival. Three thousand applications for one hundred jobs in a major metro area, is a thoroughly unfair proposition. And quicker than we think, a higher ratio will appear. Are we to lock them up too?
It’s time to pull our heads out of the sand on two levels. It is not normal to drive by a homeless person with a complete lack of empathy, for very soon that could be you. The math states there will be substantial groups of homelessness and only a personal egotism says that won’t happen to me. The math states that too.
None of what will happen in the future is considered the American Dream, but can be a better dream if we share the fruits of technology wisely. It would also help if the average American became wiser, by understanding that every time you shop at Walmart or Amazon, or park your money in the big banks, you are contributing to automation. Spending your hard-earned dollars with a local family business through a local community bank, drains the big corporations of money that is automating their profit line. That profit line is you.
We stand in line like a dumb cow, and what is a cow? A product. Don’t be a product. Be a human who supports other humans. At one time, that was the American Dream.
5/5/16 – LA Times Reports 47,000 homeless in the LA area.
5/11/16 – Pew Research reports from 2000 to 2014 the share of adults living in middle-income households fell in 203 of the 229 U.S. metropolitan areas.
5/21/16 – A new start up called Otto is developing technology for self-driving big rigs. (Eventually, this will replace all truck drivers since it saves many lives.)
7/1/16 – JPMorgan Chase reports that they are closing hundreds of branches. They will rely on ATMs and smartphone apps which cost 8 cents and 3 cents and equals a savings of $1.4 billion. Bank of America and Citigroup are following similar actions. Citigroup predicts that 30% of banking labor will disappear in the next ten years.