Congressman Complains That iPads Are Killing Jobs In The Paper Industry
from the what's-next,-that-automobiles-are-killing-jobs-in-the-buggy-whip-industry? dept
"A few short weeks ago I came to the House floor after having purchased an iPad and said that I happened to believe, Mr. Speaker, that at some point in time this new device, which is now probably responsible for eliminating thousands of American jobs. Now Borders is closing stores because, why do you need to go to Borders anymore? Why do you need to go to Barnes & Noble? Buy an iPad and download your newspaper, download your book, download your magazine. Chicago State University, in my Congressional district, in Freshman class, they're not being given textbooks any more. They're all being given iPads as they enter school. President Wayne Watson is hoping for a textbookless campus within four years, where this state university they no longer have textbooks! Well what becomes of publishing companies and publishing company jobs? What becomes of bookstores and libraries and all of the jobs associated with paper? In the not too distant future, these jobs simply won't exist."Now, to be fair, I think he's trying to make a slightly different point than most are getting from this, but doing an incredibly bad job of it. This can certainly be read as a traditional luddite screed against iPads. Later in the speech, he admits that the iPad may have made life more efficient for Americans.
What is true is that disruptive innovation does shift around jobs. No one denies that, and I think that's the point he was trying to make, and then arguing that Congress should be helping those displaced workers. Of course, instead, it comes off as an anti-iPad screed. Separately, it comes off a bit as an anti-Chinese screed, because later in the speech he bitches about the fact that the iPad is made in China, so they get the "benefits" of it while Americans do not.
Of course, that's simply wrong. As Gary Shapiro points out in his article (linked above), the Chinese get very little of the value of the iPad, and the reason the jobs are there is because they're low cost jobs:
The Chinese believe their people only get a few dollars of the iPadís cost, as the profits, research and development, and many of the components are sourced from outside China. The Chinese only get paid for the lowest value assembly their workers provide. Most Americans do not want this type of repetitive assembly work Ė and if Apple used Americans to make their products, the products would be much more expensive and less accessible to most Americans. Yet, devices that access the Internet allow the poorest among us to have access to a wealth of education and information.But the key point that Rep. Jackson appears to be totally missing is how the iPad and other technology innovations create a ton of new jobs in the US as well. Technology disruption does that sort of thing. Automated phone switching was supposed to be horrible in that it would put all those human operators out of work... but it also enabled the internet, which now certainly accounts for much greater employment opportunities.
Rather than complaining about the iPad, or saying that it's killing jobs, why isn't Jackson encouraging more such innovation which creates new jobs?