There is major economic issue re-brewing on the horizon.
The issue is the perceived arrival of increasing job scarcity and Universal Basic Income being the solution.
No more perfect a candidate understands just the issue of job scarcity than Andrew Yang. In his tour for President, Andrew Yang has met with many people in dead and dying industries. He has seen their inability to get back on their feet after the only career they were trained in was devastated by a market change. After seeing all this, his conclusions are that job scarcity and precariousness is here and that the solution is to make the industrious companies pay when they make another company obsolete.
While these peoples situations are real, I contend that on a nationwide level is not yet here and that if it arrives it will not be a massive issue to a free-market, capitalist, economy.
As technology advances, it’ll first produce new industries with new jobs that will require new skills. On this point, the challenge is how to transition workers from a dying industry to the newly emerging industry.
Currently in the United States (and most of the western world) we have created an education system that teaches rigidity and conformity. We have for the past 70ish years created button pushers and unimaginative thinkers. This was perfect for the industrial revolution as the innovations then were simple and tied to physical tasks innate to human growth. In this era of advancement, less and less do the tasks assigned to workers have to with something learned as one ages and have more to do with advanced thinking and connecting dots between issues and solutions.
Due to things being more difficult to learn when you’re older, I don’t know if there is necessarily hope for generation X and older, but the good news is that this is not an immediate problem. There is still plenty of demand for HVAC and even higher paying careers and will be for at least the next ten years. Meaning the current generations will most likely be able to make a living throughout their lives and therefore there is no need for immediate panic.
However, with every new generation, the likelihood to make a living the “old way” becomes less and less possible. This means we need to do away with a learning system that focuses on button pushing or following an instruction manual and create one that is more dynamic and emphasizes analytic skills. Meaning the faster we change our school system to one that promotes critical thinking, problem solving, effective learning, reasoning, and the new business language (Coding) the better we will adapt to the progress occurring.
At some point very far down the road as horizons in markets are reached, technology theoretically will stop advancing.
This will mean that even if people were 100% capable of pivoting or changing markets there would be a extreme amount of competition and job scarcity would become real. However, technology almost always makes things cheaper, at this point the amount of money a person will need to earn to live the life they want will be so low that they will not need to work as hard or for as long as they currently need to. People will need to work less and less hours until the point that a “40 hour work week” done by one person nowadays will transform in a “1 hour work week” done by forty people.
This phase will result in more and more people needing to work less and less time until the ultimate point that no one will need to work any serious time in order to live the life that they want and thus there will be no need for UBI or ANY money at that point (this is commonly known as the star trek theory).
This means that we only have to worry about the first period of technological advancement and how we support people during the time they are pivoting or transferring into another field.
The solution to this is again “baked into the market”.
Companies on the leading edge of technology will still be competing with rival companies and the only way they will be able do come out ahead will be by innovating. The most surefire way to innovate is by running many tests with many different people and many thinkers. This means that companies will have an incentive to support people as they develop into the type of “connect the dot” thinkers needed to innovate. This will motivate most companies and many individuals to, like UBI, support a prospective person’s basic needs as that now motivated person goes through a training program to become an asset to the patron’s business or industry. The benefit being here that companies know what knowledge is important to their industry and are able to better fit and train the person than any government entity could.
Andrew Yang and other UBI advocates ought to rest easy as the issue of job scarcity and the need for Universal Basic income is an issue and a need that is not currently pressing and is solved naturally with free-market economics.