Sunday, February 2, 2014

The technology of growing and making wine

Two political efforts are at odds with the economy.  The push to increase (in many cases double) the minimum wage will simply accelerate the replacement of workers by machines (investment will shift from labor to capital plant) as we see here in an astounding article on how wine production is being mechanized.

The second push is for illegal immigrant amnesty, normalizing the status of 12+ Million additional workers to "do the jobs Americans won't".  Like harvesting grapes.  Oh, wait:

If economics has pushed a low tech industry like wine production to become fiercely high tech, how can either of these political programs possibly succeed in their nominal goals?  The answer, of course, is that the nominal goals are a lie.  Big business looks to be able to pay lower wages to "guest workers", creating a two-tier wage scale.  Anyone who objects will of course be described as "racist", and the added millions of Americans priced out of the job market at the new minimum wage of $15/hr will be swept under the rug.

Quite frankly, the "no path to citizenship" "compromise" is plausibly intended to keep these new non-American residents insecure in their job status, to keep labor docile and non-demanding.  The idea that both political parties are joined at the hip to implement this is astonishingly cynical.  I'd say "unbelievably cynical" but it's sadly all too believable.



Nosmo King said...

Assuming the economy doesn't turn into a smoking crater, the place to be career-wise will be in automation systems and networks to tie them together (plus the security to keep those networks whole).

I think we're about to see an absolutely massive push into everything and anything that replaces people. If a company doesn't have people it doesn't care about the US Dept of Labor, the crappy state of the education industry or Obamacare. The new priesthood will be the folks who design, implement and maintain automated systems. And there won't be all that many of them compared to the number of bodies previously needed to make stuff work.

And once it progresses beyond a certain point there will be no going back, and no one - and I mean no one will be able to successfully compete against it. Cheap labor in China or India won't mean a thing when your perfectly manufactured gizmo shows up on your doorstep in 8-24 hours, and in your color of choice.

UPS and FedEx? Of limited value when the automated system that makes it is 6 blocks away rather than in Milwaukee or Bejing.

Graybeard said...

It's worth remembering that one of the leading forces against US modernization of farming has been the United Farm Workers union. The UFW sued the federal government to stop all research into harvest mechanization at any university receiving federal funds in 1978, and won.

Put it this way: they want a future with a permanent underclass picking fruit. Little brown people will always clean the floors and wash the dishes. What a progressive vision: replace your washing machine with a Mexican!