In theory, every time a new technology is invented the opportunities for new jobs are equal to or greater than the ones made obsolete. At least this has been the case since the Industrial Revolution onwards. But is this going to remain the case?!
Will Work For Free is a Scottish documentary about technological unemployment. Check it out and consider its arguments as part of the information needed to make your own judgement.
Synopsis: What’s the biggest threat to humanity you can think of? Pollution, disease, natural disasters, terrorism, crime, drugs…? But do we ever think about our basic life support needs? We usually don’t have to because luckily for us we have a system. It’s a system where you can gain employment and work for money which of course provides access to food, water and shelter. And it’s a good thing we have this system because without money you’re as good as dead.
But if you don’t have a job you don’t need to worry because again we have a system. If you’re out of work for whatever reason simply apply for government aid. All the people with jobs pay taxes and since the government understands that a certain level of unemployment as to some degree is to be expected, it simply relocates some of that tax money and hands over to those without jobs through a magical process called redistribution. It makes you wonder, if this is the solution for unemployment than where is the threshold? What level of unemployment is sustainable and what would happen if all these jobs suddenly disappear?
This isn’t the first time unemployment has been a threat to this system. Twenty years ago unemployment accounted for 10% of the UK’s population. It marked one of the worst recessions in their history with significant waves of rioting. However, in 1993 unemployment took a turn. Somehow the jobs came back and things got better. This growth and employment was just what they needed, however only lasted until 2001. Then the rate stagnated and increased again.
By 2009 they were back to 8%. But it is reassuring to see that recent trends of unemployment have slowed since then, or at least it would be reassuring if it weren’t for the fact that the increase of the part-time employment runs almost parallel to the decrease of the full-time employment. Technically more people are unemployed and the rate falsely implies a slight slowdown of job loss. In reality the amount of available work is shrinking and the economy is only getting worse…