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The Trouble with Robots

Every month, the US economy becomes more automated. Robots can cut manufacturing costs, but the problem is that they can't SPEND any money (NOTE: Subscribers can still listen to this show), so the items they create may go unsold. It's just another example of how income inequality causes recessions.

German and Japanese factories are largely staffed by industrial robots, and China is catching up: A restaurant in northern China has become the first to have only robot waiters.

In the February 4th edition of the Financial Times, Edward Luce writes: "The bulk of US jobs growth since mid-2009 has been in low-skilled areas, such as food preparation and domestic aides. In the second place is jobs growth in high-end services. Middle income jobs have cratered."

Most of our available jobs used to be in the area of medicine, but the Food and Drug Administration has issued a patent for the first robot nurse practitioner. And China had better watch out: Major job losses in that country could lead to ANOTHER Chinese Revolution.

Luce quotes authors Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee as talking about a meeting about robots between Henry Ford and the labor union leader Walter Reuther, during which Ford says, "How will you get union dues from them?" and Reuther replies: "How will you get them to buy your cars?"

He quotes Barack Obama as joking that he would "keep an eye on the robots in case they try anything."

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