Monday, February 17, 2014

The Problem Facing Manual Labor

A number of people are actively discussing income inequality. Basically the people on the lower end of the income spectrum are not enjoying the same opportunities for income growth as the people at the upper end of the spectrum.

The data supporting the notion that income inequality is growing is irrefutable.   The questions then  become why and what can be done about it.   You have to understand why in order to to figure out what can be done.   The  "Why" is the question.  

I believe the answer to "why" has to do with the basic value of human manual labor. People on the lower end of the income spectrum are paid to "do" manual things.  Globalism has taken the first toll on manual labor, but ultimately, the death blow to the value of human manual labor will be a combination of robotics and energy abundance.  

Robotics continue to advance and we will soon have robots that can build houses, self-driving cars,  and autonomous air vehicles (drones).  It's not difficult to imagine robots that will mow yards, prepare food, or harvest crops.  The question then becomes can robots do it cheaper and more effectively than humans.   Right now, no. However, once energy is essentially as available and economical as water, then why not.

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