There is growing concern across the globe that automation will lead us to a dystopian future. With robots becoming ubiquitous in every aspect of our lives, the marketplace will be filled with cheap goods, but the consuming population can’t acquire them because they don’t have a job. It is a legitimate worry for millions of people, especially when you see the countless videos and news articles about a robot flipping burgers, automated arms packaging goods inside a factory, and grocery stores without cashiers.
One of the latest doom-and-gloom alarmists is the Wisconsin chapter of the AFL-CIO, which is griping about self-serve checkouts. Do unions ever do anything productive?
Last week, the labor union went to Facebook to demand its followers to “never self checkout.” The organization whined that it doesn’t want to assist corporations in firing employees just so they can boost their bottom lines.
It’s not convenient for me to help corporations fire workers so they raise their profits. I stand in line and when the lines back up, the store calls more cashiers to the front. If we keep doing it, they’ll need to hire more people. NEVER SELF CHECKOUT.
If life were only that simple.
Why hasn’t the group requested similar action for ATMs? If you avoid the bank machine and stand in line waiting for the bank teller, then the financial institution will simply hire more people. This logic, or lack thereof, can be applied to a myriad of other automated services that we enjoy today: ecommerce, digital cameras, search engines, and so much more.
But nobody is calling for an end to Google or Bing so the yellow book can be made great again. The AFL-CIO isn’t telling members to ditch mobile devices so telegrams can make a comeback.
Presumably the AFL-CIO would have protested automobiles putting horse tack manufacturers out of business.
Seriously, these union heads are exposing themselves as asshatted Luddites. The march of technology has trended heavily towards making consumer goods of all sorts cheaper, better, and easier to obtain. When I go to the supermarket for just a few things, as I frequently do (or, I should say, as I am required to do by my own dear Mrs. Animal) I go through the self-checkout. Why? It’s easier and faster. There are “15-items or less” express lanes with a live checker, but those are invariably blocked by some moron with a month’s worth of groceries in the cart who are ignoring the sign.
If the express lane checkers who can’t be bothered to send those assholes to a regular lane are typical of the workers the AFL-CIO is hyperventilating about, then screw them; I have no sympathy for their their supposedly precarious employment situation.
Automation is the way of the future, True Believers. Fast-food kiosks, ATMs, cellular phones and self-checkouts reduce costs (especially in the $15 minimum wage era) and make things we buy cheaper. I’m for that. Most folks are. The AFL-CIO is way out of touch on this on.