Voices of the Humanosphere 2016: Preparing for a world without enough jobs

One of the things almost everyone agrees on in the fight against poverty and inequity is that the battle cannot succeed based on charity or aid efforts alone. What we need to end poverty worldwide, say many development experts, is to make sure everyone who is able to work has the means to earn a good living.

But what if there won’t be enough jobs for everyone in the near future?

That may sound like dystopian science fiction, but it’s actually a serious concern among those who study economic and employment trends. Some countries such as Finland are already exploring the use of a guaranteed basic income as one strategy to deal with the problem of the jobless economy.

So for today’s visit to the Humanosphere podcast archives, we return to a fascinating and somewhat disturbing conversation we had with the authors of the book People Get Ready.

They are: Robert McChesney, a professor of communications at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the founding publisher of a now-departed but once much loved Seattle-based music industry news magazine, The Rocket, and an Evergreen State College graduate (so he’s got major Northwest hipster credibility); John Nichols, Washington correspondent for The Nation and associate editor of The Capital Times.

McChesney and Nichols sound the alarm, saying we are already seeing the adverse impacts of technology displacing people from work. This trend will only grow, they say. The authors note that the single biggest job category for American men is driving trucks (a fact I didn’t know), which of course is predicted to be transformed by automated vehicles.

They also explain how this trend tends to undermine democracy and representative government and, on the positive side, what we can all do to adapt to these changes and reduce the potential for harm. It begins with paying attention and recognizing what is happening – so listen and learn!

If you don’t want to hear KNKX’s Gabe Spitzer and I go over some old news, start listening at about 7 minutes in.

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About Author

Tom Paulson

Tom Paulson is founder and lead journalist at Humanosphere. Prior to operating this online news site, he reported on science,  medicine, health policy, aid and development for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Contact him at tom[at]humanosphere.org or follow him on Twitter @tompaulson.