Personality-lacking Bloodless America, 2030

By Raoul Lowery Contreras

The 24th of March was a disaster, politically speaking, for the President of the United States, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and, more importantly, huge cohorts of future and present American workers.

Florida officially lost 5,000 jobs in February; from the District of Columbia came more bad news –President Trump’s second huge political loss occurred when the House of Representatives didn’t vote on “Trumpcare.” It did not have enough support by Paul Ryan-led Republican congressmen.

Then adding to the deluge of bad news, an accounting/ consulting firm – PwC—announced that after careful study it had determined that up to 38 percent of American jobs were vulnerable for replacement by automation in a few years.

After watching “Obamacare” banged around Washington like a tennis ball, the announcement of Speaker Ryan that he pulled the bill from its vote and, watching the White House flatten like a leaking tire, I was hungry. Off to MacDonald’s…

There the future hit me like a Mack truck. The MacDonald’s is being remodeled. Standing in the middle of the restaurant were two new automated kiosks. Everything from shakes and coffee to burgers and salads were tastefully shown in color on a finger-touch activated screen, two feet wide, four feet tall.

When I finished choosing, my order was totaled and I paid by inserting a credit card into the kiosk; my receipt was printed out complete with customer number. I didn’t speak to an employee until my order was called and I asked for catsup from the twenty-something manager.

As I ate, I wondered how many of those lost 5,000 jobs in Florida were to the machine I had just used. That, on top of jobs lost to “Obamacare” in recent years. Employee work-hours had been cut to bring them under the mandated 30-hours-a-week minimum needed for employer-required health insurance coverage.

I wondered how White House advisors were rationalizing President Trump’s rejection by a handful of recalcitrant “conservatives” in the House, which to the man/woman had supported the President’s campaign. It was one thing for appointed-for-life federal judges to trash a poorly written immigration Executive Order and its better written legally-challenged replacement; it is another to have staunch supporters abandon the U.S.S. Trump in Congress.

Worse, how did White House advisors tell President Trump that not only did Florida lose 5000 jobs in his first month but predictions are now being made that up to 38 percent of American jobs, millions of them, might be replaced by the very machines that took my order and payment at MacDonald’s?

Interestingly, PwC predicts that most jobs to be affected by machines are in “hospitality, food service, transportation and storage.” It should be noted that based on PwC’s prediction, strawberry, orange, lettuce, spinach, asparagus pickers, hotel bed makers, high-rise window washers, cooks and bus boys, et al, aren’t threatened by automation.

Truck driving is a huge occupation in the country; it is threatened by automation — driverless cars are being tested today. “Driverless” trucks operating on highways and tortuous city streets will be automated. How many of Trump-supporting truck drivers will be replaced by driverless trucks?

Another example that PwC posits as vulnerable is more startling than what might happen in trucks – White Collar financial services; finance, real estate and insurance. A quick look around bank branches today proves that future; many empty desks in banks today were used by employees replaced by ATM machines.

The Trump Administration’s Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says, “(automation has) taken jobs that are low-paying…I think we’re so far away from that (38%) that it’s not even on my radar screen…(massive automation) I think it’s 50 or 100 more years (in the future).”

For months we have been bombarded with complaints that American jobs are purloined by China and Mexico. The same people insist that manufacturing jobs will be dragged back here – kicking and screaming, if necessary. Few of them, however, have been paying attention to vulnerable jobs being replaced by future automation. That must change.

That’s what I thought on Friday, March 24, when I placed my order – with a finger — and paid for it on a personality-lacking bloodless automated kiosk. It took my payment and gave me a customer number at the fast food restaurant. 50-60,000 such restaurants will install kiosks and employ fewer workers. Replaced by machines? Yes, just like the thousands of factory workers automation replaced in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania that voted for Donald Trump. ###

 

Contreras is the author of “the Mexican Border: Immigration, War and a Trillion Dollars in Trade”, and “Murder in the Mountains: War Crimes in Khojaly”, both published by Floricanto Press. He formerly wrote for the New American News Service of the New York Times Syndicate.

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April 6, 2017  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

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