So are you saying we should artificially slow down progress because it might be disruptive?
Converting our transportation services to automated may ultimately be a net positive. But losing 8.7 million jobs over a short period of time, and not trying to draw it out a bit to allow for the landscape to compensate, becomes a huge negative.
8.7 million jobs and their families.... that's in the tens of millions of people who are now without income and struggling to survive. Add a charismatic and convincing leader and that's the stuff that violent revolutions are made of. Because the advice of "pull up your bootstraps and get to lookin' for another job" doesn't work when there are 8.7 million people competing with you for the few jobs that may actually be available.
I'm not saying stand on the brakes and prevent progress. I'm just saying that it needs to be carefully measured.
Oh, don't get me wrong, I'm not arguing the impact of it. I agree wholeheartedly. The only thing I don't think is realistic is slowing it down as a solution. These types of disruptions are going to come faster and faster as technology advances. I don't think slowing things down would work, though. I've been thinking about this quite a bit lately, and I'm not sure what the best way to manage this would be. However, here is kind of what I've come up with as far as why slowing things down wouldn't really work (I think).
The publicly run companies couldn't just wait to implement this (assuming it wasn't cost-prohibitive) in the current system. They have a responsibility to their stake-holders to increase the bottom line, and there is no actual argument that this technology wouldn't do it (hence the reason it's such an issue). If our current driverless cars are any indication, just the reduction in accidents would be worth it. But let's put that aside. Let's say that all the companies choose not to implement this policy. The 8.7M figure is for american companies (I assume). What about the rest of the world? Even if 90% of the producers decided to not do this, that remaining 10% would have such decreased costs that they would very quickly start grabbing up a good chunk of that market share. I'd think something like 5-15% per year. I'd have to dig through some of my available data to attempt to find something resembling a historical precedent, but even those numbers wouldn't necessarily be accurate due to the increased speed in which we can roll something like this out. So I'm pretty much pulling these numbers out of my ass, but conservatively.
Then what happens? Profits for the companies abstaining from this new technology would take a major financial hit, and have to do layoffs. The people are out of the job anyway, but the stakeholders suffer, and the entire market would probably be negatively effected as well. That would start screwing with a much larger number of people (mainly non-mustachians who pay attention to the short term).
And all of this would happen pretty damn quickly, too.
And all that is assuming that the first step would be taken to begin with. I'm pretty sure it wouldn't happen out of some type of understanding of the issues and the desire to prevent that from happening (there isn't any profit in it) which would leave us with essentially two options that I can see. First, the consumer of products uses the power of their wallet to make a difference. The problem with this is that people have been historically shitty at doing this. Otherwise, once wal-mart started reducing the quality of their merchandise in order to increase profit margins, people would have stopped. When people were outraged over Nike using sweatshops (at least I think it was Nike), they took a small hit, completely disproportionate to the amount of 'outrage' over it. And they are still around today. Second, the government steps in. How a bill of any kind gets through the partisan bullshit going on in Washington is anyone's guess, but I'm pretty sure it has very little to do with the good of the people. And besides, it would never happen quick enough to actually stop anything. But let's say somehow it does happen, what would that look like? I think the most realistic thing would be an extra tax on those using the new tech. Perhaps some type of new CDL-A tax credit, so that money gets back to those directly impacted. I'm going to do some back of the napkin math real quick.
Let's just say that the tax rebate for out of work drivers is the median (although I doubt it would get much past minimum wage). It's currently $51K/pa
. Let's just round that to $50K.
Now let's look at how many people would be directly affected (immediate family). A quick google search
shows that it is 2.55. So 8.7M * 2.55 = 22,185,000.
Now there are currently 177,199,652 registered voters, and while the gov't reports show a much smaller number, some places on the first page of google results state that 40% of registered voters don't vote, leaving 106,319,791 people who would vote. That means that even if everyone directly affected by the layoffs did vote, that is slightly less than 21%. With all of the noise about entitlements and raising the minimum wage (for the first time in 5 years), could you really expect the additional 29% of the needed votes? I just don't think it would happen at $15K (minimum wage), let alone the median of $50K.