This just in from forever: consumers want low prices. Kiosks replacing cashiers is a bad thing? Aldi's gets customers to return carts by requiring them to put a quarter in to get one which they get back when they return it. Should we stop this as well to protect jobs? In NJ, people are not allowed to pump their own gas. It "protects jobs."

To create more jobs, we should outlaw tractors and shovels and have people dig with spoons. (Thanks Milton Friedman.)

Let's get rid of combines so we can get back to the days of the small family farms.

The money we save because we can buy cheaply allows us to spend more elsewhere and create jobs elsewhere. The lump of labor fallacy needs to be learned by more people. This fallacy is cousin to tariffs to protect jobs.

Expand full comment

Capitalist, corporate bootlicking nonsense. Time is money, and the more free time we have, the more ways we find to spend it. Assuming people will just sit on the couch for the next 50 years is silly. Utopia is when robots do the majority of the heavy lifting for us, with people either working 5-10 hours or not "working" at all. A life of leisure for all is the ultimate goal.

Expand full comment

Excellent point about the character-building (and irreplaceable) value of work.

Expand full comment

I think you batted .500 on this one. Automation is the primary driver of the capitalist system, which has lifted more people out of poverty in a shorter period of time than all of time previous to the Industrial Revolution and the shift from a mercantilist economy to a capitalist one. That is continues to do so is a sad irony of the current situation in a progressive world, which seeks to destroy it. Wealth is the ability of a society to produce more with fewer resources (time, money, materials, etc.). With automation, we have a fixed pie of wealth to split amongst a growing population, which leads to war, etc. (see history prior the 18th century when the only way for a nation to get wealthier was to take it from another nation/tribe/society).

UBI on the other hand does tear at the fabric of a society with socialism being the only logical outcome. Most of the thinkers in the Enlightenment, including our Founding Founders, feared direct democracy for this among other reasons. Effective demagogues will always come along to inflame the passions of those with less and a demand to redistribute wealth follows. Although anachronistic, the franchise being granted to only landowners was to ensure voters had a vested interest in the proper governing of the polity. Weak public education, cradle to grave entitlements and many other conditions, which have followed granting the universal franchise, lead us on the road to where we are currently headed.

I don't see us going back to a limited franchise, nor would I advocate for it, so we need this type of forum to continue to press the point that our ultimate decline as a society is not inevitable. The more the public sees there is another way, the less likely the progressive project will succeed.

Expand full comment

While the writer correctly identifies the real importance of work to each individual, considering UBI and automation to be comparable in harm caused to social cohesion fails on fundamental levels.

Automation is a necessary and unstoppable outcome of humans getting better at doing things. Reasonable levels of social cohesion in fact have survived through centuries of these improvements.

UBI on the other hand, actually rewards the doing of nothing, that is, being unproductive. This would cause great harm. It provides for an environment where one can grow up literally never experiencing that he in fact can be productive. Formerly, it was recognized that the forcing of this experience on the young was a very necessary part of producing a fully functioning adult, and all our institutions collectively participated in this education. Currently, however, this forcing process has been replaced by an environment where out leaders and institutions only provide excuses why protected groups of individuals "can't" produce, and tell them to blame other groups for it. They then are told that they need to be compensated anyway, by the productive, just as if they were actually producing something.

I would argue that not forcing the young to actually experience their own individual productive capacity through the sweat of their own brow is downright cruel, and that leaders who promote this are evil. For it only produces unproductive adults, who have been taught to blame their unproductiveness on others. That is a foundation for social unrest. I don't think it possible to view the steady and actually quite unavoidable progress of automation in the same light.

Expand full comment

This line of thinking that prioritizes jobs over innovation is why it took so long for the Industrial Revolution to occur. Queen Elizabeth I was concerned about the stockings industry jobs and refused a patent for the first knitting machine back in 1589! The world had to wait another 200 years for the history-altering inventions of the Industrial Revolution because she was concerned about jobs.


Creative destruction is vital in thriving economies. Everyone benefits from cheaper prices and a plentiful supply of products. The author seems to be a classic Luddite, more concerned about how split the pie rather than how to make it larger.

Expand full comment

Yeah, let's legislate that jobs have to be done humans only in the US of A.

Expand full comment