Amazon, Jobs and NAFTA

The loss of jobs has been central to every economic evolution throughout history. Those angry about the job losses only have themselves to blame. They are losing their jobs because instead of living life proactively, they live it reactively. Evolution is not intended to be reactive. It is supposed to be proactive. But throughout history workers bemoan the loss of jobs. Today it is NAFTA and tomorrow it will be Amazon and then automation. The future is evident, yet many continue to ignore it.

When NAFTA was adopted, many people in México and the United States lost their jobs. In México, NAFTA decimated the small agricultural centers that had not industrialized. In El Paso, Texas, the garment industry was moved to México. In the United States, even today, manufacturing continues to move to México, and China. The workers who continue to complain about job losses have one thing in common – they refused to evolve along with the economy.

It is not fair, but that is evolution – it has never been fair to those that are left behind.

Right now, NAFTA is being renegotiated under the guise that the American worker will be protected. Whether NAFTA remains in place is still unknown, but what is a surety is that economic evolution will continue. Workers need to evolve or be left behind.

You don’t need to be a wizard to understand what is going to happen with jobs in the future.

The single most expensive component of any business is wages. As the pressure to reduce prices continues unabated, businesses continue to look at ways to reduce labor costs. Automation made agriculture less labor intensive and will continue to do so. Manufacturing continues to evolve its automation processes. In the meantime, countries like China and México offer stopgap measures to reduce labor costs in manufacturing by making available large labor pools. But automation will soon replace most manufacturing labor regardless of NAFTA.

The writing on the wall is all around you.

The news industry and computer sales has been substantially changed by the Internet. Although workers complain, the consumers relish the new paradigm in computer purchases and news consumption.

The economic evolution continues. The big box stores are slowly going away because consumers find little value in paying for a showroom for their electronics. Big shopping malls are starting to devolve into empty shells as stores migrate online. Consumers, again, see no value in spending hours at the mall when they can buy their clothing online.

Amazon is now evolving the grocery business like the Internet evolved the bookstores, the consumer goods and the news outlets. But before you blame Amazon, consider that the mom-and-pop grocery stores were killed off by the Walmarts of the world. Consumers may miss the nostalgia of the mom-and-pop grocery experience, but they flock to Walmart because of the prices. Now, Amazon is offering grocery delivery to your door.

Click a button here and click another one over there and, voila, your groceries are delivered to your door within hours. Right now, it is a little more expensive because of the cost to deliver, but as Amazon ramps up, the costs will drop because labor costs will be reduced.

It is the future of groceries, big warehouses with delivery ramps for the delivery vehicles to make their rounds. Labor costs go down as automation goes up. Eventually, even the delivery driver will be replaced by automated delivery vehicles.

Those working at the malls and the grocery stores should take note of the economic evolution. It is just a matter of time before their jobs evolve away. But, like today, those losing the jobs won’t be asking themselves what they did to prepare, instead they’ll be complaining about robots stealing their jobs.

Ultimately it is not about preparing to evolve nor automation, but the consumer. It is the consumer that dictates how the economy evolves. If the consumer finds value in a mom-and-pop grocery store or bookstore, they will keep them open by buying from them, even if the costs are higher. But they are not.

Those complaining about NAFTA, or the Internet need to understand that it’s not Mexican workers stealing their jobs but, rather, the consumers who find little value in spending more to keep them in their jobs.

I have seen the future and it is bleak for those unwilling to evolve.”

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