I have remarked on more than one occasion that what business owners want, more than anything, is stability. Companies can deal with high taxes and impossible labour rules as long as they know that the rules will remain consistent. What companies cannot deal with is uncertainty.
Concerned that they may soon loose their source of foreign migrants the California Citrus Research Board has approached Vision Robotics to develop an automated robotic fruit picker to harvest their produce. “The farmers are willing to pay up because they’ve been rattled by a labor shortage over the past few years — California growers tell horror stories of watching their fruit rot on the trees as they waited for the picking crews to arrive.”
Here’s the net result. While pickers may be overwhelmingly sourced from the migrant community there are native US pickers as well. The problem is that there aren’t enough of them. Farmers have a choice: grow products they cannot pick before they go rotten, or find another way to get them picked.
The unintended consequence of making it impossible to hire migrants is that Americans will lose jobs too. The migrants that are being targeted are not the educated ones. They’re the ones who are prepared to perform jobs that are mind-bogglingly dull, repetitive and require no other skills than a pair of hands. These are jobs only available for as long as a machine doesn’t exist to perform the same duty, or doesn’t exist.
Circumstances are changing. If there aren’t enough workers to perform the work, soon machines will. And when that happens the Americans who relied on these unskilled jobs are going to lose them as well.
For want of a nail the shoe was lost, for want of a shoe the horse was lame, for want of a horse the empire fell.
Businesses want certainty, not exploitation of unskilled workers. Take away some of their unskilled workers and they may replace the lot with robots.
Categories: American Culture