[This is a comment I posted at Market Place on March 28, 2012 in reaction to a series of stories that they did on the effect that increasing use of robots is having on the economy. I point out that they are missing the bigger picture…]
As much as I have enjoyed David Brancaccio’s reporting over the years, I have to comment that he (or his writers, I cannot tell which) are missing a much bigger story about what is going on here — and it will have dramatic consequences for our economy, and broader society, if it is not recognized, resisted and reversed.
More than the hollowing out of middle class jobs, the imperative to shrink labor costs at all costs has become the drumbeat of modern capitalism, creating what economists refer to as “increasing structural unemployment.” What this means is increasing unemployment, decreasing aggregate demand, a shrinking tax base, etc; in short, a vicious downward spiral. (If only the Occupy Movement would start making these connections!)
“Business as usual”, meaning economic growth as conducted up to now, will not fix this problem; it will make it worse. This is all too depressingly real, yet the economics profession for the most part has its head in the sand, and refuses to acknowledge this trend as one of foremost economic problems of our time. Those economists that are trying to call attention to such problems are ecological economists, such as Tim Jackson in “Prosperity Without Growth” or Herman Daly’s many works. Even though he does not call himself such, Robert Reisch’s book “Aftershock” paints much the same picture. C’mon David — tell the real story!