lsayre wrote:... if you assume that the real rate of unemployment today is closer to 13%, that means by 2034 a whopping 60% of working class Americans will potentially be PERMANENTLY unemployed.
And yet, if increasing automation works as projected, there will be enough capacity to produce as much or more than now. Years ago I read speculation on this sort of a future, asking what society will do with all the goods produced more or less for "free". Do we become a world where there are a few thousand billionaires and trillionaires, and many billions of people -- essentially slaves -- with little to eat and slums to live in? Not a very stable society .... Do we forever pay good middle-class incomes (unemployment insurance) to those for whom there are no jobs? That goes against our current ideas of "responsibility", but what is the alternative, and what other use would there be for the abundant production? There will still be a need for some
people to work, and how do we (or do we) compensate them over and above those willing to work but for whom there are no jobs? And why would they bother to work, anyway, if they can be paid comfortably while remaining unemployed?
Projections of the future are always a bit fanciful. If you don't think so, read some Popular Science magazines from 60 years ago, then look and see if your flying car is in your driveway as predicted. However, we are already seeing the beginnings of the unneeded middle class, as the economy gradually recovers without the job market recovering. Really, this is a scary situation. Politically the problem is now being expressed as one of income inequality, which in a sense it is, but that characterization enables the politicians to rant about class warfare, and welfare for the undeserving poor -- who are only poor because there are no jobs. As production capacity goes up and up and up, we must NOT let the politicians frame it as a zero-sum game where my gain is your loss. It is more a case of there being plenty to go around, if only the plenty can be distributed in a fashion to maintain a stable society.