"We Will All Soon Be Out of Work"
By Capt. Fred Davis
Published: Friday, November 15, 2013

Where have all the jobs gone? The question pops up frequently and there are many answers to it.

As I see it, our unemployment problems are self-inflicted. We must adapt and learn new trades or employment numbers will remain dormant.

Many look to manufacturing and our factories. At one time, they were the largest employers in our country with millions of employees often working seven days a week. The big paychecks helped support unions who made increasing demands on employers. As the demands for higher pay and benefits continued, workers began to slack off — earning more but doing less.

Eventually, manufacturers had to seek ways to lower their cost to produce products. Major companies began seeking parts suppliers in other countries. They also began developing robotic assembly lines and as the robots advanced in number, human jobs slowly faded away.

It was soon discovered there were many advantages with the use of automated assembly lines and electronic controls running the factories. Some involved shutdown times being less and payment for sick days were eliminated. The machines just kept producing and workmanship was more reliable. The combined advantages allowed factories to produce better products and stay competitive. Production of merchandise with longer lifetimes cut the need for replacements which therefore cut the total work hours.

Modernization soon became everyone’s enemy. Advances in the use of electronics allowed automotive manufacturers to insert instruments requiring that vehicles be returned for service only to an authorized service center. Vehicles built today by the electronic robots installing electronic controls have changed our way of maintaining our equipment, cars and trucks.

Remember the old days? Yyou had your favorite service station where you got a fill up without getting out of your car? You had your oil checked and windshield cleaned and simply paid the attendant (who often knew your name) and continued on your way. Needs such as brakes and tires, anti-freeze and other fluid levels were taken care of. If you stopped at the same station regularly, they kept track of when service was required and let you know.

I wish we could bring back those good old days where service stations had mechanics on duty and employees working the pump isles. You could even get the air in your tires checked and brought up to required pressure while fueling up. Most service stations had four or five employees ready to serve you.

Today, you pull up to the pumps, get out and pay in advance, cash or credit card. You pump your own gas, check your own oil (which many just forget to do), clean your own windshield (sometimes) if it’s not too cold. If you go inside the station, it’s to buy snacks, coffee or grocery needs on the way home from work. You find it yourself and pay a cashier who may be the only one working in the station. Auto service questions are not something most cashiers can help with.

So, where have all the jobs gone? We have let them go as we increasingly let ourselves become controlled by electronics.


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