Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Why a Border Wall Won't Matter

I was teaching about outsourcing yesterday. A student made the connection between job protectionism and economic rents, which pleased me. I mentioned that the American worker's claim to relatively high wages was disappearing due to underwhelming education and productivity, and the broadening of language skills among overseas workers.

A student said, "Some jobs can't be outsourced, like local service jobs."

I said, "The increase in robotic technology and telecommunications will allow the Mexican plumber to stay in Mexico and come 'steal' your job, anyway." We will eventually live in a world where you submit an online service request, it gets translated into the plumber's native language, a drone delivers a plumbing robot to your home, and a plumber guides the robot while watching the procedure on a video feed.

We celebrate the emergence of a global middle class and bemoan stagnating domestic wages. These are different names for the same thing.

I'm not someone with a cushy job pooping on your parade, I'm just like you: I, too, will soon be rendered unemployable through a combination of technology and foreigners. I just don't think Donald Trump will save me.

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