Yesterday I had the opportunity to attend a screening of 21st Century Fox’s “Hidden Figures.” This is a great movie about the critical contributions made by three African-American women – Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughn, and Mary Jackson - to put John Glenn into space in the early 1960s. The movie depicts the struggles these women faced to be treated equally as the consummate professionals they were at a time when the state of Virginia still enforced segregation laws. It is a wonderful and uplifting story about a mostly unexplored but important dimension of American history. Go see it!
There is an interesting sub-plot to the movie, which has to do with the usually somewhat dry – at least on the big screen - topic of automation and jobs. Johnson, Vaughn and Jackson were hired by NASA to be human “computers.” Part of Johnson’s job was to calculate John Glenn’s exact landing zone in ...
The labor economist David Autor opens a recent TED talk with a startling fact: in the 45 years since the introduction of the Automatic Teller Machine, bank teller jobs have roughly doubled, from a quarter of a million to half a million. Since 2000, financial institutions have created 100,000 new bank teller jobs.
In his latest column, The New Yorker’s Financial Page writer, James Surowiecki makes the Case for Free Money. Why, he asks, don’t we have universal basic income? It may be, he thinks, “an idea whose time has come.”
He notes that the work disincentive under a universal basic income is mild – in Canada’s Manitoba experiment in the 1970s working hours for men dropped only 1%. Other measures of well-being improved markedly. Teenagers stayed in school and hospitalization rates declined. So what’s not to like?
Perhaps because of the June 5 vote in Switzerland, media outlets have recently focused increased attention on proposals for a basic universal income. This is not a proposal whose time has come, but it is continuing its steady march toward the center of the national and international political agenda.
Some recent articles on technology such as this report from The Economist reawaken the old fear of technological unemployment. SIIA thinks this fear is unfounded. Studies show that technology is a net generator of jobs across the entire economy.