Philip Kotler on Capitalism and Jobs in a Future Marked by Growing Automation

Photo of Philip Kotler, author of Confronting CapitalismThe following is a guest post from Philip Kotler, author of Confronting Capitalism: Real Solutions for a Troubled Economic System

Can Capitalism Create Enough Jobs for People in a Future Marked by Growing Automation?

In industry after industry—music, publishing, retail, manufacturing—technology has proven a formidable job killer. Skilled artisans are in jeopardy of being replaced by 3-D printing. Accounting, education, healthcare, and legal professionals may soon lose out to intelligent machines. Within the next two decades, estimates an Oxford University study, 47 percent of today’s jobs could be automated.

However, capitalism may hold the power to avert this massive technology-driven unemployment crisis, but only if the following changes are made:

  • Set up better job retraining for the current workforce, focusing on the types of jobs—mostly in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields—that will be in chronic short supply. There are, ironically, many skilled and middle-class jobs that can’t find workers.
  • Do a better job of training U.S. students in math and science at the elementary and high school level. Based on standardized test scores, less than 10 percent of American students can perform at the highest math level. This will require improving the salaries and status of teachers in our society to the level found in the most educationally competitive countries.
  • Educate high school students to better understand the job market so that they can make wiser career choices. Bring together educators, businesses, and government groups, at the local level, to develop a shared vision of how to improve their job pipeline.
  • Encourage entrepreneurship focused on new technologies—mobile Internet, advanced robotics, next-generation genomics, and more—with promising futures. Although none of these may singly produce the next great innovation, cumulatively their future impact can be great.
  • Lower the U.S. corporate tax rate from its current 35 percent to the average, about 20 percent, in other countries. If this tax rate could be lowered, money would pour into the U.S. to build needed factories and infrastructure, which would greatly boost employment. The new GDP generated would well make up for the lost tax revenue resulting from the lower tax rate. Plus, manufacturing jobs might start coming back to the United States.
  • Undertake a vigorous program to rebuild our deteriorating infrastructure—bridges, ports, airports, water and sewage systems—and build solar and windfarms and better electrical grids. This labor-intense commitment would naturally require workers and create jobs.
  • To increase the number of jobs, provide incentives to attract more foreign companies to locate their factories and offices in the United States. At the same time, commit to helping American companies increase their exports from their U.S.-based businesses.

Jacket Cover of Confronting Capitalism by Philip KotlerPhilip Kotler is the S.C. Johnson & Son Distinguished Professor of International Marketing at the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University. Although best known as a marketing guru, Kotler is a classically trained economist who did his Master’s studies at the University of Chicago under Milton Friedman, the famed Nobel laureate and free-market evangelist, before moving to MIT to pursue a Ph.D. under Paul Samuelson and Robert Solow, two Nobel Prize-winning Keynesian economists.

 

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