Washington Evening Journal

Fairfield Ledger   Mt. Pleasant News
Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 24, 2018

Empty Nest: Unemployment

By Curt Swarm
Curt Swarm

It’s about time the politicians of both political parties get honest and tell the truth about what’s really going on with unemployment in the Unites States, and worldwide, for that matter.  Both parties know the truth, but for different political reasons are reluctant to put voice to it.  The truth is: because of the changing face of industrial/manufacturing requirements, and operation within a global, instant-access world, the need for hands-on labor is becoming more and more diminished, and will eventually, for the most part, disappear.  One political party incessantly harps at the other party to provide jobs, while the other promises to do such.  In reality, both parties know that reducing unemployment to less than 7 percent is temporary at best.  Realistically, they know that a more practical figure for unemployment will be 10 percent by 2020, if not before, and rise much higher by 2050.  But to admit such, at this time, would be political suicide.
The culprit?  Robotics.  The American worker, and soon-to-be global worker, is being replaced by smart machines faster than manual-labor jobs are being produced.  One look at industry trade shows paint the eery picture.  Robotics are the wave of the future, the very near future.  Have you heard of 3D printing?  It doesn’t have much to do with printing in the usual sense.  Through the use of a robotic arm, a 3D printer can produce a product, even a house, one very-thin layer at a time, and has the potential, no—probability — of completely revolutionizing manufacturing as we know it.  Even farm machinery in the field can now be driven by a GPS signal.  
Simple fact: A machine works around the clock, without overtime requirements, without benefits, without labor laws, without vacations, without sick leave, without strikes, etc.  Robots are even being used to make and program other robots.  The only requirements for robots are periodic upgrades and a little maintenance, both of which are becoming more and more automated.  When the machine is outdated or wears out, it can be replaced with a newer, smarter model, as a capital expenditure, rather than a headcount addition or reduction.
Cheap third-world labor is only temporary, until robotics can replace even overseas workers.
The recession/depression actually did industry leaders a favor.  They found out that they could maximize profit, i.e. stockpile cash, while minimizing labor, much of which was through automation.  
The answer?  It’s the same answer that’s been with us for as long as this country has been in existence.  Education!  The American worker must reach out and grab that education that always has been, and still is, so available to everyone who’s willing to work hard and  open their minds.  Education must be looked at as an investment that will pay off tenfold.  (Not a bad return.)  I’m talking about education in sciences, engineering, computers, information technology, industrial technology, mathematics, economics, actuarial science, etc.  And the need is still there for the liberal arts education.  Someone has to put voice to, or paint a picture of, what’s going on.
Watch out, men!  More women are becoming college grads than men.  I know there has been a recent lull in even college grads finding employment.  But that’s temporary.  Like real estate, over the long run, its value always increases.  Same with education.  The need continues to grow for people with advanced degrees.
And it’s not up to the government to spoon-feed education to the public.  The individual must take what is so readily available.  Wake up, America!  The world is spinning and we can either jump in and hang on, or be left behind.  It’s time for the good ole American can-do spirit to kick in.  American still ends in “I can.”  Always has, always will.  

Have an opinion or good story?  Call or text Curt Swarm in Mt. Pleasant at 319-217-0526, e-mail him at curtswarm@yahoo.com, or visit his Web site at www.empty-nest-words-photos-and-frames.com