March 8, 2016
How will the United States employ the millions of unskilled workers displaced by robots and by cheaper labor overseas? I doubt we will see manufacturing jobs return in big numbers. Robots have that covered.
Our best bet in the long run is to turn the United States into the preferred tourist destination for the world. Resorts and tourist attractions hire lots of people with low skills. They can’t get enough of them.
At the same time, we could try harder to attract tech talent from around the world. We could become the tech and vacation country. Clean air, good transportation, low crime (in the right places), and English as the primary language. Las Vegas turned itself into a tourist destination; the country could do the same.
I don’t know what Plan B looks like for employing tens-of-millions of under-skilled workers. Retraining can be a solution for some, but that has its limits.
I worked for a large resort all through high school and college. The work was hard and the pay was low. But the life itself was quite good because I was surrounded by fun coworkers, happy vacationers, and beautiful views. I also lived and ate at the resort (in employee quarters) so I didn’t mind the low pay.
People keep asking me whether I think Trump would be a good president. I am steadfast in my answer that it depends what the future holds. Some presidents might be good at war, some might be good at negotiating peace. You can’t predict what happens next, so you can’t know which president is the best fit.
But if we decide to become a resort country, Trump has some credentials there. And I think economics and opportunity will push us to become more of a vacation destination in any event.