Are our elected officials paying attention, and what will they do to ensure Americans maintain a high quality of life through the automated revolution?
Last week, Mark Zuckerberg announced the development of the Metaverse. Below is the video, if you haven’t seen it, but essentially the Metaverse is a parallel reality that happens virtually. It isn’t just for video games, either. In the Metaverse, you’ll be able to work, take classes, see movies, and much more. While it sounds like science fiction, it’s a lot closer than you think.
Have you seen the movie, Ready Player One? If not, I recommend it because it shows what a virtual reality world we all live in, which is similar to what the Metaverse seeks to accomplish.
However, it isn’t just the Metaverse that is going to contribute to our rapidly changing world.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) has grown by leaps and bounds over the last 10-years.
The things that AI can do now and will be able to do soon will help humanity in a million different ways, but we need to be prepared.
Experts have been saying for the last 20+ years that robots will take all of our jobs one day.
We all knew the day would eventually come, but do you know how soon it’s coming?
We talk a lot about manufacturing jobs, insourcing, outsourcing, and bringing back manufacturing to America in the political landscape. Yet, manufacturing workers have already been replaced by machines in many industries. One study estimates that about 400,000 jobs were lost to automation in U.S. factories from 1990 to 2007. But the drive to replace humans with machinery is accelerating as companies struggle to avoid workplace infections of COVID-19 and keep operating costs low.
Robots could replace as many as 2 million more workers in manufacturing alone by 2025 and up to 20 million jobs by 2030.
Manufacturing jobs are never coming back.
Automation. Every corporation out there is trying to figure out how they can automate their business.
It isn’t just manufacturing and factory jobs, either. Earlier this year, McDonald’s announced that they were testing robots in drive-thru capacities in Chicago. Last week, McDonald’s announced a partnership with IBM. Their testing in Chicago was going well and now they’re looking to expand on the presence of AI at their fast-food chain.
Other restaurants are already implementing contactless ordering and delivery with robots, replacing their human staff.
Some of the most coveted jobs in Texas will be taken by robots in the next ten years.
That means oil and gas jobs. Hundreds of thousands of oil and gas jobs will be taken over by robots by 2030. Over one-third of oil and gas jobs have been lost over the last decade. This is a trend that will not only continue but will pick up the pace, as robots replace one out of every five roughnecks in coming years.
There are over one million truckers in Texas. FedEx has already deployed a dozen self-driving big-rigs in Texas, and fleet operator J.B. Hunt is also testing autonomous 18-wheelers in the Lone Star State. Each year, these self-driving trucks will take trucker’s jobs. It’s estimated that by 2030, up to 70% of trucking jobs will be gone because of autonomous vehicles.
With so many jobs expected to go to robots this next decade, where does that leave Americans who lose employment?
When we talk about Universal Basic Income (UBI), the Republicans shun it as Socialism. However, before the year 2030, UBI will become a necessity. Otherwise, people will starve, and crime rates will shoot through the roof.
Last month, Elon Musk said that we would need UBI because physical work would be a choice. Musk himself is working on replacing his workforce with robots. So while in 2021, Telsa is looking to hire 10,000 employees in Texas, those won’t be permanent jobs, and robots will eventually replace each.
Andrew Yang said this year that technological advances, including AI, will deprive one in three American workers of their jobs during the next 12 years.
While UBI may not be needed today, the day when it is needed is closer than more people realize.
UBI would give people access to economic security and freedom from worry about their economic survival. While work is vital to the working class, and they don’t want handouts, we all have to face reality where work isn’t going to be available at some point due to automation.
Stockton, California, tried a UBI program for two years, and it was a success. The residents in Stockton didn’t spend the extra money on drugs and lavished. Instead, the most significant thing they spent it on was groceries. Because of the success of that program, Mayors for Guaranteed Income was founded, a network of mayors advocating for a guaranteed income to ensure that all Americans have an income floor.
Three Texas mayors have already joined the coalition (and we urge you to try and get your mayor on board). Although, no pilot programs have taken place in Texas yet.
UBI is a policy antidote to poverty and rising wealth and income inequality.
This year, Republican State House Representative Steve Toth introduced a bill prohibiting cities from participating in a UBI pilot program.
This would block any Texas mayors from even attempting a short-term pilot program.
Mainly because Steve Toth is an asshole,
but also because UBI takes a radical rethinking of our economic systems. As a reminder,
Representative Toth is the author of the anti-CRT bill, and radical rethinking is something he is unlikely to do. Republicans have been conditioned to think the economy is supposed to be a certain way and favor those on the top while those on the bottom suffer.
The Republican’s goal is to have very little government and the abolition of all taxes. Because anything else must be Marxism or Communism, or whatever the buzzword is for the week.
Here are the facts about UBI:
- Economists have studied the Permanent Fund in Alaska, a UBI of between $1,000 – $2,000 per year based on gas prices. They found that this check had no impact on employment.
- A study in Canada found that every $1 invested in the early years saves between $3 and $9 in future spending on the health and criminal justice systems and social assistance. This model would have eradicated poverty for our Northern neighbor. Considering we spend substantially more on both health and criminal justice than Canada, the outcome in America would be even better.
- Brazil began a UBI program for 25% of the population in March last year, and their poverty levels have reached the lowest they’ve been in 40 years.
The consequences of poverty in America are substandard housing, homelessness, inadequate nutrition, and food insecurity, inadequate child care, lack of access to health care, unsafe neighborhoods, and under-resourced schools.
Poorer children and teens are also at greater risk for several adverse outcomes such as poor academic achievement, school dropout, abuse and neglect, behavioral and socioemotional problems, physical health problems, and developmental delays.
Economists estimate that child poverty costs an estimated $500 billion a year to the U.S. economy, reduces productivity and economic output by 1.3 percent of GDP, raises crime, and increases health expenditure.
Republicans say that UBI will discourage work.
Unlike current social welfare systems, a UBI would not penalize a person from receiving their benefits for working.
Current social welfare systems are set up to be there if a person has a job loss, is disabled, or whose income is below the poverty level. If that person worked or received extra income, their benefits would disappear. That wouldn’t happen with UBI; a person could get a new job and still receive the check.
However, instead of believing what our own bias tells us, we need to look at the data.
Economist Ioana Marinescu recently conducted a wide-ranging review of the literature on unconditional cash programs. She concluded, “Our fear that people will quit their jobs en masse if provided with cash for free is false and misguided.”
How do we pay for it?
There also have been studies on that. The topic of UBI, while it might seem radical, has been studied and researched all across the world for decades. Time and time again, it has been shown to positively affect the economy, poverty, health, and crime rates, with little to no disruption to employment or taxes.
When Texas loses 47% of their jobs to robots by 2030, where does that leave us? If it were up to Texas Republicans, that would leave 47% of Texans unemployed, leading to a huge uptick of poverty and crime having crippling effects in every corner of the state.
When we look at our elected leaders, what they’ve done, and what they will do over the next several years, we should all ask, are they going to ensure Texans don’t suffer through the automation revolution or are they going to let Texas become a dystopia?
UBI is NOT Socialism or Marxism.
While we’ve all become accustomed to Republicans crying about Socialism or Marxism over literally everything, at this point, the vast majority of us understand that Republicans generally don’t know the definition of Socialism. Most of them grew up in the Red Scare and refused to discuss new or novel economic ideas.
Socialism means that private enterprise does not exist. Does UBI mean the government would take over every private company? No? Then it isn’t socialism.
UBI does not require the workers or the government to control the means of production (factories, stores, farms, etc.). It is, therefore, by definition, not socialism.
While America hasn’t been taken over by robots yet, it’s coming, and we need forward-thinking leaders.
The very definition of “Conservative” is a person who is trying to “conserve.” Texas Republicans want to take us all back to the 1950s. They want to conserve their ideas of white supremacy and power. So, where does that leave the rest of us?
The ideas of robots, AI, and a futuristic society may seem like science fiction, but it’s not. Some of these futuristic technologies have already been developed and are in testing phases. AI and robots will be mainstream by 2030 and integrated with nearly every aspect of our lives, including our jobs. This is something we should be talking about and planning for now.
We need leaders who will help make Texas’ transition into the automation revolution smoothly. Regulations, taxes, UBI, all of these things will matter, and Conservatives stuck in 1950 won’t be able to get us there.
Remember that when you vote.