Impact of Automation and Computerization on Jobs


For almost 30 years now automation of various jobs has been seen as a rising issue, one that is only believed to grow worse. The loss of jobs to increasingly complex robots has threatened many workers and unlike commonly thought, it doesn’t only target low skilled jobs. As robots grow more advanced, they have and are able to take on more jobs commonly occupied by white collar workers. In Bill De Blasio’s “Why American Workers Need to Be Protected From Automation” the basis for a plan to protect the ever increasing amount of jobs lost to automation is described. De Blasio effectively argues that there needs to be protection of some sort for workers and he goes on to convingly describe a plan that would theoretically protect workers from growing automation. Despite this, De Blasio fails to incorporate credible sources as well as complex reasoning as to why his proposed plan would work.

In his piece, De Blasio talks about the current state of automation in the workforce. He mentions a factory that is run almost entirely without human intervention and only requires them for maintenance every 30 days. The mentioning of this factory sets up a good idea in the reader’s mind of what the current state of automation can look like in an extreme case but De Blasio then adds to it. He quotes the Brookings Institution which found that “36 million American jobs are ‘highly likely’ to be automated out of existence in the coming decades.” This means that almost 10 percent of the population of the U.S. worth of jobs will be lost to automation. Considering that the total population is much greater than the workforce, De Blasio effectively states the seriousness of this estimate. Combining this estimated loss of coming jobs in the future, as well as demonstrating the problem as it stands now, De Blasio effectively is able to establish that a problem does exist within the current job market regarding automation.

Following this, De Blasio sets up a plan that would protect workers from automation or more specifically, help guarantee them a job if they are displaced by automation. The plan effectively works in two parts, the first regarding the workers compensation if displaced by automation. The next part coincides with closing tax loopholes businesses take advantage of regarding automation. Finally if a company fails to compensate a displaced worker, they would have to pay a tax which would be used by the federal agency to create new jobs for workers. Without going into much detail,  De Blasio describes this plan and leaves room for it to be changed with more specifications later. He then goes on to describe how this plan will benefit workers by allowing them greater union sizes and better job security. Overall De Blasio sets up a plan which at first glance is effective at protecting jobs in the future.

De Blasio however fails to incorporate reliability and credibility into his piece overall. He starts off with quoting the Brookings Institution but that is also where he ends quoting. He decidedly lacks any sources that may back up his claims that he makes or ideas that he proposes as a solution to automation taking jobs. Though his plan is theoretical and not been tried before, making it difficult to provide evidence,  there were opportunities to quote studies about government effectiveness in creating jobs, or the rate at which companies prefer employee retention over paying taxes to the government. These lack of sources means we are forced to rely upon the credibility and reliability of De Blasio himself. Given that he is the Mayor of New York City and has created many thousands of jobs in his time, we can trust his proposed plan a little more than if he had history in economics and politics. Overall however, we simply can not trust a plan such as this that will affect millions of people without having sources to back up it’s ideas.

Finally considering his plan in full, De Blasio does not do an effective job at considering the logic behind the plan itself. As stated upon first inspection the plan seems concrete and workable, but a plan that proposes a federal agency can not just seem to work. As a politician De Blasio understands the scrutinous paper work and extensive months of planning to get anything done in government agencies. Let alone the fact that he would then have to work at a federal level which requires even more planning. It must be asked why then does De Blasio lay such a generic framework for an agency that would possibly affect millions of people. 

The answer it seems is De Blasio does not desire to create a multi-paged, scholarly article that has been peer reviewed which goes in depth on every aspect of his resolution to job loss from automation. De Blasio does not aim to appeal to scholars or people who are actually thinking of solutions, he is aiming for the general masses. His purpose is to try to seem like a good candidate to elect for president because, at the time, he was running as a candidate in the 2020 presidential election. Because of this, all the opinion piece really tries to appeal to is emotion and credibility by structuring his article as though he is a possible saviour. He paints a scary image of mass job loss, proposes a rudimentary plan of how to fix it, and finally says he has been with workers who have stood against automation as a reason to trust him. At the end of the day De Blasio’s piece is comparable to an advertisement. It lacks complex reasoning, credibility, and even the respect a piece talking about the future of millions of people should contain and should be disregarded as a future plan for saving jobs from automation.

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