Republican stalwart Oren Cass ’05 has an interesting new issue brief over at the Manhattan Institute. Apparently, our fears that robots are taking our jobs are largely unmerited, at least when you review how well our species has weathered previous spells of productivity rate increases.

This benign interpretation of our robot overlords means Oren is now in conflict with economic heavy weights like Larry Summers, Obama’s former secretary of the Treasury, who have alarmed us with bleak predictions about the long-term strength of the labor market. As Summers wrote:

This question of technology leading to a reduction in demand for labor is not some hypothetical prospect. . . . It’s one of the defining trends that has shaped the economy and society for the last 40 years.

The gist of Oren’s article is when you look carefully at each job and isolate the elements of that job that might be automated, you will find – according to careful, reputable studies – that resulting forecasts regarding reductions in the demand for labor will most likely be in line with previous historical experience. In other words, we can handle it. Oren’s views seem like common sense when you remember that we’ve benefited from prior technology gains. Besides, I agree with Oren’s observation that there will never be a demand for automated school bus drivers.

Oren Cass ’05 was a guest speaker for the Williams chapter of the American Enterprise Institute and the Society for Conservative Thought on November 5, 2018. If you are not already reading the Manhattan Institute’s quarterly magazine, City Journal, I recommend you start. It is the Economist of our current generation.

John C. Drew, Ph.D., is a former Williams College professor. He received the William Anderson Award from the American Political Science Association for the best doctoral dissertation in the nation in his field in 1989. He contributes to American Thinker, Breitbart, Campus Reform, The College Fix, and WorldNetDaily. He has been an Ephblog regular since 2010. 

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