For all the talk both within New Zealand and abroad not enough time is given to the hypothesis that it is in fact improvements in technology that are “hollowing out” the manufacturing sector … and that what we really need to help the unemployed is availability to skills training, rather than trying to prop up inefficient domestic jobs in current manufacturing industries.
Increasing output with fewer inputs is a good thing – but when labour is one of the inputs involved we know there may be losers. If this is really what is happening, then as a nation I would suggest that we try to integrate education and benefit policy more fully, stop demonising those who are out of work arbitrarily, and also stop talking about intervening to “create jobs” in industries that are likely to be long term losers … give people opportunities in this ever changing, and technologically improving, world.
This is, after all, the same sort of thing that happened with the primary industries – with less and less labour needed to dig up coal and produce food. Work is a cost, it is the income people get from working with a capital owner that is missed when something like this happens. And it is this fact that we need to keep in mind.
And yet in New Zealand we have one political party talking about subsidising manufacturing and the other political party talking about how lazy the unemployed are. It makes me a sad panda.