Experts have predicted the looming automation of everything, with machines replacing labor and putting half the population out of work. This forecast seems to follow from basic economic logic: Economic growth is about getting more output from less input. Labor is an input. We are now devising powerful forms of automation, which will dilute our labor to homeopathic levels—especially in middle skill, blue-collar trades. Therefore, much of the population will soon be jobless. That inference is too simple. There’s disruption ahead, but other trends may fend off the job famine. Here’s one: As ever more goods become cheap commodities, the economic value of the human touch—of literal labor—goes up. Starbucks provided early evidence that an automation apocalypse isn’t inevitable. Fifty years …
A group of scientists and activists wrote the president to warn him of an automated future that will give rise to “a separate nation of the poor, the unskilled, the jobless.” To blunt the coming mass unemployment, they proposed a universal basic income.
The group, called the Ad Hoc Committee on the Triple Revolution, wrote that letter in March 1964, to President Lyndon Johnson. Their prophecy was way off, but it had its desired effect. Johnson promptly launched his “War on Poverty,” which jumpstarted the growth of federal, means-tested welfare programs.
We now have 80 such programs. Instead of ridding the country of poverty, these programs create cycles of dependency and despair. Read More ›
According to a new International Monetary Fund research paper, the answer to the above question is yes. As one story on the IMF report put it, “The future of work run by robots appears to be a dystopian march to rising inequality, falling wages and higher unemployment.” This is just the latest in a long line of predictions that artificial intelligence and automation will soon create massive “technological unemployment.”
I get it. Doomsday predictions gain shares on Facebook and Twitter. But these apocalyptic fears defy the lessons of both history and economics. Read More ›
Don’t believe the hype that “Amazon killed the Seattle head tax,” the new levy that the city recently passed on businesses to fund an affordable-housing initiative. The truth behind the city council’s stunning reversal—repealing the tax by a 7-2 vote, just four weeks after passing it 9-0—is that Seattle citizens have erupted in frustration against the city’s tax-and-spend political class that has failed to address the homelessness crisis, despite record new revenues. As recently as a few years ago, it seemed as if Seattle voters largely viewed our hyper-progressive city council as a harmless oddity in an otherwise tolerant, thriving, liberal city. But times have changed. Now, according to recent public polling, 83 percent of Seattle voters are dissatisfied with how …
There seem to be cycles in city politics. Fifty years ago a small band of Young Republicans and Young Democrats came together in an unusual alliance to overturn the existing Seattle City Council. They called themselves CHECC: Choose an Effective City Council. It took a couple of elections, but they prevailed and it was then — in the 1970s — that formerly sleepy, somewhat stodgy Seattle began to get national attention as the “most livable city.” Sixty years before that, in the early 20th century, another group of novice politicians introduced the “Progressive Era” that gave us Seattle’s city water and light dams (providing abundant, cheap water and electricity), the public park system we enjoy today and the ship canal connecting Puget Sound …
Preoccupation with form over substance combined with denial and avoidance behavior are the chief causes of human failure — from the individual and family right up to the national level. World War II became inevitable because of denial by the British, French and Americans that Hitler meant what he said in “Mein Kampf” and was rearming to carry it out. Subsequent denial in the form of appeasement policies enabled Hitler’s early swift success in conquering and subjugating almost all of continental Europe, until Churchill rallied the British people with his famous declaration that “we shall never surrender.” An Islamified Western Europe is arguably one of the biggest stories of our time. Yet elites on both sides of the Atlantic are in denial Read More ›
The Gilder Fellows Seminar is an intimate study experience with Discovery Institute Fellows, taking place in Seattle, WA in Summer 2018. At the Gilder Fellows Seminar, you’ll have the chance to hear from scholars George Gilder, Michael Medved, Jay Richards, John West, and others. Through guided lecturers and readings, participants will explore questions such as: • Is free enterprise still the best system for human flourishing? • How do we cultivate the “spirit of enterprise”? • What do cultures need to alleviate poverty and create wealth? • How should we respond to the resurgence of interest in socialism? • Is capitalism based on Social Darwinism? • How does capitalism relate to the Bible and the Judeo-Christian tradition? • What makes Read More ›