Policy: Technology

I, for one, don't know if we need to subsidize our robot overlords

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Timothy P. Carney,Labor,Technology,Science

Politicians go head over heels to subsidize technology. The federal Research & Development tax credit is a bipartisan affair. Plenty of states have high-tech tax credits and other subsidies for new tech.

Should we? Technological advancement is generally good, and it seems to raise the tide for the whole society, but when it happens rapidly, it seems to have victims. My AEI colleague Michael Strain addresses these questions at the Washington Post:

Over the last several decades, employment in Western economies grew in both low- and high-skill occupations, but fell in middle-skill occupations. That’s because middle-skill, middle-class occupations are those that can be most easily replaced by technology. ...

Without middle-class jobs, many male workers have taken low-skill, low-wage jobs. And many men have simply chosen not to participate in the labor force — employment rates for less-skilled men in the U.S. have dropped significantly over the past three decades. ...

Men without jobs or with low-paying jobs are less “marriageable,” so it is no surprise that these economic forces are having a significant effect outside of the marketplace that perpetuates across generations, as many children grow up in homes without fathers.

Technology is good. But maybe instead of subsidizing the pace, we should let it advance more organically.

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