Home > International Trade, Journalism and Economics, Microeconomics > Washing Machines and Other “Job Stealing Robots”

Washing Machines and Other “Job Stealing Robots”


Even though this article is written more from the perspective of what these “job stealing robots” mean for U.S. “onshoring,” I can’t help but think of two rather obvious things I am afraid most people miss when they think about this phenomenon:

When labor becomes more productive, it rightly demands a higher wage. Increasing human capital though training and eduction makes labor more productive (or we’re wasting our time, no?) As wages rise, capital (machinery, in this example) gets relatively cheaper and is substituted for labor.


So, don’t blame a greedy factory owner for those job “losses”–blame a teacher. I’ll gladly take the blame! And if you want to slow down the substitution of capital for labor, just make labor less expensive. Destroying a bunch of schools would be a good start. (Last sentence tongue-in-cheek, hope you know.)

We live with “job stealing robots” everyday. Remember when people hired others–women, mostly–to hand wash their clothes? No? If you don’t it’s because you probably grew up with a washing machine, a robot that has replaced untold thousands of what used to be called “washerwomen.” Has that not been good for humanity in general and even better for women? Couldn’t we “create” thousands of jobs for low-skilled workers by banning washing machines?


So why do we call shoe-making machines job stealers, but not washing machines?

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