@oren_cass: Robots are coming in, and AI is getting better, but we’ve always had new technologies – electricity, computers! At every stage, we need more workers than before.

Dec 05, 05:38 AM

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Conservatives and the Politics of Work: Oren Cass, Mitt Romney’s former domestic-policy director, says wage subsidies are an alternative to the current welfare state and the left’s universal basic income. https://www.wsj.com/articles/conservatives-and-the-politics-of-work-1543014553 .

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Oren Cass, Manhattan Institute senior Fellow, and author, The Once and Future Worker, in re: The unemployed, the underemployed, even people who feel threatened by robots, by the new society. Is the concern about robots genuine? I think it's mostly science fiction. Robots are coming in, and AI is getting better, but we’ve always had new technologies – electricity, computers! Over time, new technologies move into the economy and have huge effects on the kinds of jobs people do, but the effect tends to take place slowly, over time, and we need all the human workers, too. At every stage, we need more workers than before. . . . 

Truck driving is a great example: self-driving, long-haul trucks; we’ll still need people at many of the stages, and someone to take control. Maybe a person sitting at a central control system managing ten trucks; he can stay closer to home, work in a better environment. Also much greater emphasis on the human element—an improvement. When ATMs came in, it became much cheaper to open a new bank branch, with the result that banks now employ more people than before ATMs. They spend less time counting money and more facing customers. Technology has no bias one way or another. You do say that there needs to be an augmentation for people who are too poorly-paid. Yes, the market will find an efficient outcome, but . . . 

Right now, we say you have to go to college; and if you didn’t make it, well, I’m sorry. If you care, you have to put much more emphasis on education. How we do trade and immigration. Organized labor – the present labor unions system is broken, but in theory it's good. We need a plan here. There’s a good group of folks, esp Senators in the Republican Party, who say, Work really matters. We need to focus on work.