In defense of truck drivers

posted by Jeff | Monday, November 7, 2016, 2:47 PM | comments: 0

One of the big issues in every presidential election in my lifetime has been about jobs, or the lack thereof. As I've tried to understand macroeconomics, what I've learned is that the United States has struggled with manufacturing jobs, while doubling its output in the last few decades. The politically convenient thing to say is that the jobs are gone because of Mexico and China (because a lot of people seem to really hate foreigners), but the reality isn't that simple. The jobs didn't simply leave the country, they were replaced by machines. Automation and technology will continue reduce the number of jobs in the world, which is pretty scary when you think about how the population is not going to decline.

The next big thing is autonomous transportation, and we should be thinking hard about that. The science and statistics even with semi-autonomous vehicles is very much in favor of this change, because it's far safer than having humans drive. The big issue, however, is that around 3.5 million people in the US alone make their living driving trucks. At some point in the future, those jobs are going to go away. It's obvious and virtually assured.

So I have to ask... what are we going to do about this? I don't really know if there is any significant historical precedence for this, but it seems like an instance where we can predict the future and start thinking about how to address it. I don't know how fast it will happen, but there is little doubt that it will. I don't know if the answer is retraining, more training or what, but it sure is a lot of people to just ignore it.


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