Rejecting both Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump's promises of returning jobs to America's shores, writer Jason Farrell argued at The Radical Relay in March the globalization and automation causing jobs to disappear are too powerful to stop.
Saying both of these politicians are advocating a populist view that is unfortunately "terrible, backward, and misinformed", Farrell wrote they seem to believe America can rewind itself to 1955 with "millions of unskilled laborers with profitable production jobs".
It isn't that the goal of trying to restore purpose and work to those millions who are without either in the United States is bad, however. It is simply that present developments in economics and technology are making the goal far harder to achieve than these politicians will admit. As Farrell writes:
You can’t magically make unskilled labor “worth more” by mandating a $15 wage or pressuring companies to return their labor force to the U.S. Even if those jobs came back, they’d be automated within a few years to save costs and maintain productivity.
Bernie fans, it’s important that you understand that companies aren’t evil for doing this. To survive in a globalized marketplace they have to compete with companies from around the world with lower labor costs. Everyone has to adjust.
Trump fans, it’s important you understand that China is not evil for using those jobs to lift their population out of unfathomable poverty. As China’s own productivity and standard of living improve, many of those jobs will likely to be turned over to automation as well.Unemployment is a crisis separate from economic growth and competition, and an attempt to repair it by mandating higher wages and trying to cut off relations with other productive economies such as China would potentially "plunge us back into a recession and boomerang back against the people you’re trying to help".
In sum, campaign rhetoric aimed at unemployed or low-paid workers contains not a solution to America's economic woes.
Not all is gloomy, however. Farrell also writes that, with the progress towards automation and competition at a truly global level, the right path would be to implement "creative ways to make education and job training more affordable".
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