It’s quite remarkable how the Left (e.g., the NYT) went from being protectionist for the American working class to being the Champions of Globalism.
In “No, Robots Aren’t Killing the American Dream”, the faceless NYT Editorial Board writes:
Defenders of globalization are on solid ground when they criticize President Trump’s threats of punitive tariffs and border walls. The economy can’t flourish without trade and immigrants…
Blaming robots, though, while not as dangerous as protectionism and xenophobia, is also a distraction from real problems and real solutions.
The rise of modern robots is the latest chapter in a centuries-old story of technology replacing people. Automation is the hero of the story in good times and the villain in bad. Since today’s middle class is in the midst of a prolonged period of wage stagnation, it is especially vulnerable to blame-the-robot rhetoric…
And yet, the data indicate that today’s fear of robots is outpacing the actual advance of robots. If automation were rapidly accelerating, labor productivity and capital investment would also be surging as fewer workers and more technology did the work. But labor productivity and capital investment have actually decelerated in the 2000s.
While breakthroughs could come at any time, the problem with automation isn’t robots; it’s politicians, who have failed for decades to support policies that let workers share the wealth from technology-led growth…
The prospect of robot job automation becoming reality is all the Editorial Board needs to call for more spending on every liberal playbook in existence: schools, child care, elder care, ‘tax reform’, etc.
Economic history shows that automation not only substitutes for human labor, it complements it. The disappearance of some jobs and industries gives rise to others. Nontechnology industries, from restaurants to personal fitness, benefit from the consumer demand that results from rising incomes in a growing economy. But only robust public policy can ensure that the benefits of growth are broadly shared.
The dilemma surrounding job automation will become more pointed in the years to come.