Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Perspective: The Invisible Immigrants

We are properly concerned about the visible immigrants who are in our country illegally and are often hired illegally, lowering wages, and often replacing American workers. However, there are laws on the books that are intended to prevent immigrants from coming here illegally, and there are laws on the books that prevent the hiring of undocumented immigrants. The main problem is that our politicians not only fail to enforce these laws, but worse they deliberately refuse to do so, even to the extent of providing safe refuge for these illegal persons in our sanctuary cities.

But there is the "Invisible Immigrant", namely the Robot,  that is even more insidious. Each digital device, kiosk, machine and robot is like an invisible immigrant that takes human jobs. You seem not to be able to see them, and yet they are ubiquitous, that is they are every where. And they are right in front of you. For example, consider the Automatic Teller Machine. If it were not hiding under its acronym ATM, you probably would have recognized that it replaced a Human Bank Teller. You can’t build walls high enough to keep them out.

Now, let’s look at the intelligence of the invisible immigrant! It ranges from being capable of managing ordinary tasks, such as taking your order at a restaurant, to checking you out at a store, but there are those who can drive cars. One of them is so smart that it won all the money on Jeopardy and defeated the world’s greatest Chess Player. What may be even more astounding is that Steven Hawking and Bill Gates predict that robots with artificial intelligence will be able to replicate themselves in the near future. So, even the jobs of constructing this creature are in jeopardy.

Moreover, the march to replace human labor is growing exponentially Experts have claimed that technology has already replaced millions of human laborers, and the forecast is that about 50% of existing jobs will be gone within the next two decades. In short, the invisible immigrant cannot wait to take your job.

Consider the invisible immigrant from the employer’s point of view:
v     The robot works 24/7 needs no health care, maternity leave, vacation, lunch or coffee break, never goes on strike, needs no separate toilet facility and makes far fewer mistakes.
v     The cost of the robot and the cost to maintain it is less than the total cost of human labor, even at today’s minimum wage.

Now, consider what the government does:
v     Proposes to increase the cost of human labor by:
    • Raising the minimum wage to $12-15per hour
    • Mandating that health care be borne by employers
    • Mandating overtime pay for salaried employees
    • Mandating maternity leave and family needs
    • Requiring separate toilet and bath facilities for transgender employees
v     Permits the owner to have a fast tax write-off for the installed Robot

Do we now understand why the rich (the business owner) gets richer and the poor (the job looser) gets poorer? Is it any wonder that the working public is so furious? They live every day with these issues. But they have retained the old fashioned American quality of Common Sense. What they know is that they see the human worker is being displaced by the foreign worker as factories are being moved overseas, the illegal immigrant is taking their jobs at home, and most, exasperating of all,  the invisible immigrant is taking jobs with government support. All of this occurs without the politicians or the media or anyone noticing or caring. Common sense also informs the Middle Class that robots eat no hamburgers and pay no and no taxes, ergo a complete collapse of America as we have known and loved it. Any wonder why all the polls show that the respondents believe the country is going in the wrong direction.
Just as we have laws and regulations to control the rate of illegal human immigrants, we need laws and regulations to control the rate of integration of invisible immigrants. Here are some basic ideas:
  1. Change the laws that permit the fast tax write-off for the robot
  2. Reduce and/or eliminate regulations that raise the cost of human labor
  3. Tax machines to raise the employers’ cost, rather than reduce it with subsidies
  4. Write new laws under OSHA to assure that machines are not installed to replace humans surreptitiously

With these NEW WALLS in place and the laws properly enforced, then the human workers’ wages and benefits will rise as the demand for their services increases, and the Middle Class can rise again. It all depends, however, on whether we learn how to adopt the new robots into the workplace and into society at large without destroying everything.