Are Robots Killing the American Dream?

It’s an argument that’s being had at the moment all across the US as people continue to fight for and against globalism and all it stands for. However, some people are blaming globalization and liberalized international trade for killing the American Dream and affecting the US manufacturing industry. But, that’s not really true at all. Keep on reading to see why.

  • Global trade isn’t to blame for what automaton has done. The combination of both automation and international trade is what has damaged some of the local economies.  Trade with China in particular has driven down wages and employment levels. But, on the flip side, other areas have boomed because of this increased trade. Without international trade the US economy wouldn’t expand like it does today. An open global economy brings well-paid manufacturing jobs to the US, while imported components are needed in US manufacturing. So to close trade internationally, does not make business sense.
Robots named Thunderbird and Cyclops lower a Tesla vehicle onto the assembly line at Tesla Motors factory in Fremont, Calif., in 2016. (Joseph White/Reuters)

  • We need more job-friendly policies in place to protect workers. The challenge that the US economy faces is mainly because the gains and losses from trade and automation are not distributed evenly among economic classes. To fix this economic issue the US needs to redistribute some of these gains from trade deals instead of blaming technological progress and international trade.
  • Automation reduces employment levels in key industries. Manufacturing jobs have been declining since the 1970’s in the US, and most of this is because of automation. Why pay a person to do a job that a machine can do better? This is backed up by hard numbers.  Between the years of 2000-2014, manufacturing jobs fell by 5 million even though output over the same period increased.

So, we need to stop blaming international trade for the decline in US manufacturing jobs and look a little closer to home. We can’t have it both ways. Yes, automation is the way to go for increased production levels at a lower cost, but of course jobs will be lost because of it. This may mean a shift in career for some people, but where one door closes another one opens.

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