Look at the March 18, 2016 Page One article The Great Unsettling [By David Maraniss and Robert Samuels, Washington Post, March 17, 2016]the first of a four-part series obviously aimed at a Pulitzer. FINALLY, in paragraph one, the Washington Post admits that the “anger” on which it focuses includes “Anger about undocumented immigrants”!
Still unwilling to use the correct term—illegal aliens—let alone cite legal immigration, which is just as much of a problem. But it’s a start.
And another of my themes has also just surfaced in the Main Stream Media: the impact of automation.
Barrons’ lead columnist Randall Forsyth talked this weekend about how it will hit lower-level jobs when the minimum wage is upped all over to $15 an hour:
Are we really headed back to the future?No mention of how automation can be a substitute for immigration, of course, but still…
It would appear that Nike (ticker: NIKE) thinks so. The athletic-wear maker last week unveiled a real-life version of a prop from the fantasy flick from three decades ago: self-tying sneakers. With self-driving automobiles on the horizon, why shouldn’t sneakers lace themselves up in the 21st century? So what if it takes a feat of engineering to perform a task that can be mastered by 5-year-olds? It’s cool.
Technology also is being utilized in rather more productive ways, spurred on by politics. Specifically, the campaign to boost the minimum wage would provide the impetus to put more robots to work—in place of humans.
That’s the conclusion of the latest survey of chief financial officers by the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University. Nearly three-quarters of the CFOs polled said they would trim current or future payrolls if the minimum wage were hiked to $15 an hour—the aim of various campaigns. Some 41% said they would lay off current workers, and 66% would slow future hiring. Moreover, 66% of firms said they would also cut employee benefits, and 49% would raise prices with a 15-buck wage floor.
Those impacts wouldn’t be immediate, writes Campbell Harvey, the Fuqua professor who is the founder of the survey. Most companies with employees earning less than $10 an hour would gradually invest in labor-saving techniques were the minimum wage to be hiked, he continues. “CFOs are telling policy makers there is a significant unintended consequence: Some jobs will be replaced by robots, and this replacement is permanent.”
The fast-food business, a primary target for the $15-an-hour minimum, would probably become a big adopter of automation. At Starbucks (SBUX), there’s already a feature for that in its Mobile Order and Pay app for smartphones. Between mandated pay hikes and the ubiquity of iPhones and Android devices, positions for fast-food order takers would most likely dwindle. And anybody who has ever tried to order in a drive-through with one of those unintelligible speakers might welcome the option of a phone app.
Other interesting findings from the Fuqua survey: The CFOs thought there was a 31% chance that the U.S. would be in recession by the end of 2016, nearly double the 16% probability predicted nine months earlier. “Slowing emerging economies and volatile financial markets and commodity prices” were cited, according to Harvey, with the cooling in China mentioned by 59% of the CFOs as the biggest U.S. recession risk. That’s a worry evidently shared by the Federal Reserve...
Closely following the global concerns were worries about political turmoil in the U.S., according to the survey, which closed March 4. At least the uncertainty of whom will be heading the presidential tickets has diminished…[but] that still leaves the general election campaign to be fought between two candidates with the highest negative ratings from voters in memory. The prospect of a down-and-dirty fight between Hillary and the Donald is unlikely to boost CFOs’ confidence, already shaky because of the political landscape.
Why the Bull Market May Be Losing Its Mojo, By Randall W. Forsyth, Barrons, March 19, 2016 [Emphasis added]
All the bought-and-paid for MSM, Left and Right, is now attacking the bearer of the immigration message, Donald J. Trump. The absurdity of importing a million a year legally, mostly low skilled people in a high tech economy may be obvious but greed knows no limits.
Also with enough American citizen STEM workers to insure that many of them are out of work or stopped looking, means that even the former high-paid unemployed tech workers are now resonating with Trump’s message on immigration.
Folks, we have finally been screwed for so long by the now-hysterical elites from both major parties that the enthusiasm for Trump is not a trumped up charge!
And you can bet that the Democrats are fully aware of Trump’s ability to hammer its weaknesses in a head-to-head with Hillary.
Whatever corporate fat cats think, “a down-and-dirty fight between Hillary and the Donald” over immigration is just what America needs.
Donald A. Collins [email him], is a freelance writer living in Washington DC and a former long time member of the board of FAIR, the Federation for American Immigration Reform. His views are his own. He is the author of From the Dissident Left: A Collection of Essays 2004-2013