- Jeffrey Sparshott discusses new research into how automation stands to displace workers and exacerbate inequality, while a House of Lords committee finds that 35% of the current jobs in the UK could fall prey to exactly that process. And Szu Ping Chan reports on Andy Haldane's warning that a vicious cycle could prove disastrous for everybody:
Mr Haldane warned that robots could soon replace workers en-masse.- Of course, a more fair distribution of wealth and income could go a long way toward ensuring that nobody is left behind even as the economy changes. And Tom Clark observes that there's far more public appetite to catch and punish wealthy tax dodgers than people receiving public benefits.
"Intelligent robots could substitute for lower-skilled tasks. If the capacity of the machine brain approached, or surpassed, the human brain, higher-skilled jobs could also be at risk. Where this leaves trends in employment, inequality and social capital is unclear. But, most likely, this would be far from blissful ignorance," he said.
"A second secular headwind, closely related to rising inequality, concerns human capital," he added. "Inequality may retard growth because it damps investment in education, in particular by poorer households. Studies show parental income is crucial in determining children’s educational performance. If inequality is generational and self-perpetuating, so too will be its impact on growth."
"In sum, if history and empirical evidence is any guide, this cocktail of sociological factors, individually and in combination, could restrain growth. They could jeopardise the promise of the fourth industrial revolution. Pessimists’ concerns would be warranted."
- Meanwhile, Angella MacEwen offers some needed suggestions to ensure that Employment Insurance is available when workers need it - rather than seeing its funds used for political purposes.
- Scott Clark and Peter DeVries note that the Cons' economic rhetoric is sounding more detached from reality by the day. And Steve Barnes discusses the double whammy of low wages and no benefits facing far too many workers in Ontario.
- Finally, Keith Stewart writes that while it's not yet a crime to act to help the environment in Canada, the Cons have designs on changing that fact. Andrea Germanos notes that the RCMP's report on the oil industry goes beyond even peaceful protest, and moves squarely into criticism of issue advocacy where it's inconvenient for the oil industry. And PressProgress points out much more bizarre material in the report.