There are three troubling trends affecting how Americans work and earn a living: (1) the rise of the robot economy, (2) the rise of the gig economy and (3) the increasingly arbitrary way in which people get access to what we used to call employee benefits.
The answers to these problems (which are eluding just about everybody who writes about them) are: (1) deregulation, (2) tax fairness and (3) labor market neutrality.
Lets take a closer look.
Robots. Tyler Cowen predicts that we are entering a world in which there will be two kinds of workers: those who work with computers and those who compete against computers. The world will be kind to the former and unkind to the latter, he says.
How many people are potentially competing against a computer? No one knows for sure, but economists Laurence Kotlikoff, Jeffrey Sachs and their colleagues estimate that one out of every three jobs could potentially be done by a computer. Driverless vehicles are the most salient examples. They threaten 1.7 million truckers in America, and another 1.7 million drivers of taxis, buses and delivery vehicles.
Unwise regulations are accelerating the trend. Robots dont have to be paid the minimum wage. They dont get time-and-a-half for over time. They dont sue managers for sexual harassment or race, gender or age discrimination. They also dont take vacations or request sick pay.