Newslogue has the very perceptive article The Right Has No Answer For Automation Job Loss, But The Left Does.
If I woke up one morning to find that I had suddenly turned into a kangaroo in some happy version of Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis, I’d probably spend my first day hopping around like a knucklehead. I’d hop over fences, hop over people, I’d sneak into one of those trampoline houses for kids and freak everyone out with sick backflips and stuff; it’d be awesome.
But if you look at how kangaroos behave in the wild, that’s not what they’re doing at all. They eat as much food as they need, then they lounge around like sunbathers on the beach. You’ve never seen such high-level chill as a kangaroo with a full belly. And there’s a very good reason for this: being able to consume more calories than you burn is a foundational evolutionary hurdle that a species must overcome if it’s to escape extinction. An animal that doesn’t have to expend more caloric energy than it consumes is a successful organism.
And that’s precisely the idea, because the human animal has the same ultimate goal as the kangaroo: to be able to work less and relax more. We’re such successful animals in this sense that some of us are even having trouble finding work at all, because we’ve invented machines to do a lot of it automatically. And we’ve just seen the very beginning of it. Great minds like Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking are saying that not only will robots soon replace most lower-class jobs, but that artificial intelligence will shortly be replacing most middle class jobs as well.
And humans are so crazy right now that we’re somehow turning this into a problem.
There is an alternate proposal of a federal government job guarantee. I see no reason why the job guarantee couldn’t be a step toward a basic income. Also one might find the need to have a job guarantee program and a basic income program coexisting. Both of these proposals seem to be proposing possibly great solutions to a problem that ought to be a boon if we can figure out how. We should be giving serious consideration, and stating experiments on this as soon as we can. We might be surprised at what we find, which is why it is wise to start with small scale experiments and gradually growing them into larger programs once we get the bugs worked out, and they prove to be good ideas. The chances of success if we try the engineering approach rather that depending on having a political argument and then massively implementing the winner of the argument.