Shipping Jobs Overseas
I just read an interesting article in the NY Times today. Turns out that the Ford factory Trump claims to have saved from moving to Mexico is now shipping the manufacturing of the Ford Focus model to China. (https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/20/business/ford-focus-china-production.html?_r=0) There are lots of people in Michigan who are going to get screwed on this deal and be out of work, even if Ford claims no American job losses.
I’ve thought about this a lot since the election. Trump talks about doing some kind of border adjustment (i.e. a tax) on products brought into the US, talks of doing things to make America more attractive for manufacturing jobs, etc. I think of it in my own career, as IT work, particularly development work, has been outsourced to India for years. I just simply don’t believe that a solution to keep jobs here exists.
Between our own high standard of living and technological advances in automation, what I consider to be grunt work will just never come back. The global nature of the Internet makes it easy to send programming and other IT jobs elsewhere, making America-based call centers or dev teams non-competitive. Hell, look at autonomous vehicle research right now! The big tech companies and auto manufacturers are working on it at a pretty blistering speed…within my lifetime I believe trucking will be a completely automated industry. Not to mention taxi drivers and probably even highway patrol police.
The only thing that I think can ever keep our economy afloat will be a Universal Basic Income. Essentially, every person in the US will get a specific amount of money per year to supplement their own job. I don’t know what that amount would be, but say it’s $5k per kid and $10k per adult. For a family of four, that’s $20k a year, which certainly isn’t a huge income. In some families, that money could allow them to get medical insurance, a used car to get around in, or even just pay utility bills. In others, it may just go into savings. For all I’m concerned, it could go to buy big TVs and trampolines. In the best case, it allows a parent to stay home to raise the kids while the other goes off to a job.
To pay for it, the government would simply have to cut back or eliminate most current welfare programs. In doing so, the government payrolls would also decrease, as there wouldn’t be as much of a need for paper-pushers anymore. There is an efficiency gained by just sending the money straight to peoples’ wallets.
The only problem I see with it is the idea that people would make poor choices with the money and end up in a similar “poor” situation they are already in. I know this would happen, and I don’t know the solution to that. Maybe it’s just a scaled-back version of the current welfare programs like SNAP. At least with a universal income, everyone would benefit, and there would be plenty of folks who would get out of poverty by making good choices, which would be the goal of the program anyway.
I just don’t see such a program as being avoidable. We’ve automated and are automating so much…