Robots Are the Next Generation of Farmworkers

It’s good to see traditional media connect the dots between automation and immigration, as the Los Angeles Times inadvertently did somewhat on Tuesday’s front page:

The online version of the article appeared last week, on Friday, July 21. An above-the-fold story with photo gets a lot more attention, certainly, as long as those newspaper boxes are sitting on the sidewalk.

The missing part of the message is that the machines make importing foreign farmworkers increasingly unnecessary. If fewer illegals are crossing the border because of Trump, that may hasten smart machines in the fields, but ag robots are coming sooner or later: when the machines become cheaper than human pickers, then field workers will be gone, period.

Plus, it’s long past time that Mexico etc. became more responsive to its own people’s needs, rather than pushing them north to mooch from America.

Remember,

Automation Makes Immigration Obsolete

Can we get Washington to notice that the world of work is changing fundamentally?

A new generation of farmworkers: Robots, By Geoffrey Mohan, Los Angeles Times, July 25, 2017

Growers race to mechanize as labor pool shrinks

Driscoll’s is so secretive about its robotic strawberry picker it won’t let photographers within telephoto range of it.

But if you do get a peek, you won’t see anything humanoid or space-aged. AgroBot is still more John Deere than C-3PO — a boxy contraption moving in fits and starts, with its computer-driven sensors, graspers and cutters missing 1 in 3 berries.

Such has been the progress of ag-tech in California, where despite the adoption of drones, iPhone apps and satellite-driven sensors, the hand and knife still harvest the bulk of more than 200 crops.

Now, the $47-billion agriculture industry is trying to bring technological innovation up to warp speed before it runs out of low-wage immigrant workers.

California will have to remake its fields like it did its factories, with more machines and better-educated workers to labor beside them, or risk losing entire crops, economists say.

“California agriculture just isn’t going to look the same,” said Ed Taylor, a UC Davis rural economist. “You’re going to be hard-pressed to find crops grown as labor-intensively as they are now.”

Driscoll’s, which grows berries in nearly two dozen countries and is the world’s top berry grower, already is moving its berries to table- top troughs, where they are easier for both humans and machines to pick, as it has done over the last decade in Australia and Europe.

“We don’t see — no matter what happens — that the labor problem will be solved,” said Soren Bjorn, president of Driscoll’s of the Americas.

That’s because immigrant farmworkers in California’s agricultural heartlands are getting older and not being replaced.

(Continues)

Trump Trashing Jeff Sessions Portends Danger Ahead

President Trump has been on a Twitter and verbal tirade against Attorney General Jeff Sessions the last few days — as if dumping the AG would solve the president’s problems with the Mueller snooping expedition. It’s sad to see such anger toward one of candidate Trump’s earliest and most enthusiastic supporters.

Below, Senator Sessions spoke at Trump’s Mobile, Alabama, campaign rally on August 21, 2015.

Tucker Carlson declared on his Tuesday show that it would be “Nuts” for Trump to ditch the one man in Washington who fully supports his program of law and sovereignty. But it’s worse than that — throwing Jeff Sessions under the bus might make Trump’s vital immigration enforcement constituency take a more critical look at what the president has actually done.

Candidate Trump promised to end the DACA amnesty immediately, but instead has allowed the program to continue and add new beneficiaries who get work permits and an open door to everything America offers.

Plus, there’s been no push from the White House to get universal e-Verify through the Congress which, as a comprehensive job blocker for illegal aliens, would be a very strong preventative for unlawful entry.

Trump’s immigration enforcement failures seem more egregious in light of his rotten treatment of Jeff Sessions. And would the loss of Sessions signal a flip-flop of Trump toward mass amnesty in the near future? The establishment might cut the president more slack if he accepted the globalist agenda of open borders and diminished national sovereignty.  It’s hard to trust Trump when he can cut the strongest immigration enforcer in Washington.

TUCKER CARLSON: (1:20) Unfair to the presidency. Well the Russian investigation is certainly that — it’s unfair of the country too. The whole thing is stupid and disingenuous, as we pointed out many times, and it helps nobody that the partisans who are pushing it, so it’s easy to understand the frustration the president feels. But publicly attacking Jeff Sessions for all of that? That is nuts.

Senior White House staff thinks so too. They have asked the president to stop, so far without success. Meanwhile Sessions hasn’t said a word: his only public comment has been a press release describing his plans to crack down on sanctuary cities. That’s his job.

That’s the point here. Jeff Sessions is doing what he was hired to do, as he has done since day one. Trump ran on securing the borders: Sessions took him seriously and has worked to do that. Trump promised to end Obama’s policy of harassing local police departments: Sessions has done that too.

In an administration in which many appointees act like they have no idea what their boss ran on — ‘let’s import more refugees’ one of them said the other day — to predictable media applause, Jeff Sessions has stayed true to the ideas that got Trump elected. That’s why the left hates Jeff Sessions more than any other member of the cabinet. They are rejoicing tonight and not just because Sessions is suffering and humiliated but because the Trump coalition seems to be fracturing.

The left wants to believe — they tell you this all the time — that Trump got elected because he’s famous and voters are dumb. But that’s not what happened.

Trump got elected because he said true things that everybody else was afraid to say — namely, the American middle class is in deep trouble and elites in both parties don’t care. They’re happy to replace hurting Americans with foreign workers who will work for less and not complain. Voters knew in their bones that message was true because it is true.

Republicans in Washington absolutely hated hearing that, and they hated Trump for saying it because it implicated them — except for Jeff Sessions. Sessions agreed with that message — that’s why he endorsed Trump and left a good job in the Senate to work for him. Which is how we got to this weird and ominous moment where the one guy in Washington who actually believes in Trumpism is being forced out of his job by Trump himself. The president should remember that the ideas he ran on are bigger than he is and will remain that way.

Sewing Robot Technology Takes an Interesting Tack

Clothing manufacturers would love to economize on production with some sort of automation, but the materials used, which vary widely in terms of thickness, stretch, slickness and other qualities do not easily fit into the robot factory. The dexterity and sensitivity of the human hand has kept sewing in the human realm except for simple tasks like hemming, though not for lack of trying.

The latest contestant in the sewbot competition uses a clever approach: Seattle developer Jonathan Zornow has changed the material rather than the machine. He has created a process that will temporarily stiffen the fabric to be like a piece of cardboard, which can then be handled by a robot which inserts it into a sewing machine.

The Financial Times’ report on the subject, included below, is sensitive to the wider social implications. Garment production is a big industry in cheap labor havens like Asia and Central America, and the loss of millions of jobs to automation would be devastating. Revolutions have been fought over less.

I wrote about some of those issues in a recent issue of the Social Contract: How Automation Threatens Third World Stability.

And we know that widespread unemployment and consequent social unrest in less prosperous regions can spur mass migrations of persons in search of a first-world welfare office.

Robots and the World of Work, Financial Times, July 18 2017

ANNA NICOLAOU, FINANCIAL TIMES: Robots have transformed production of cars and planes. But the garment industry has stayed old fashioned. For decades, companies have tried to sew clothing with a robot. But the concept has mostly remained a pipe dream.

In practise, almost all of the world’s t-shirts and jeans are still made by millions of cheap workers, mostly women watching over sewing machines. The first sewing robots that have been brought to the market are expensive, running in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. With an abundance of cheap labour available in Asia, humans still make more financial sense.

But labour costs are rising in China, and political groups are campaigning to bring jobs back to the US. A new group of start-ups is now looking to upend the way clothing is made.

RAVJ KUMAR, DIRECTOR PAHLE INDIA FOUNDATION: Technology can now replace human beings in their totality, just changing basic motor force, or basic routine mental processes, but has now the potential of, with the huge amount increase in computer power, to replace or substitute complex mental and complex intelligent processes.

NICOLAOU: Jonathan Zornow, a software developer from Seattle, last year came up with what he thinks is the solution. He calls it the Sewbo. Unlike his predecessors, he wants to change fabric to work with robots, instead of vice versa.

He patented a process of drenching fabric in a liquid thermoplastic solution. It makes material like cotton as stiff as a board. The robot then sews, stitches, and shapes the fabric. Wash it off with warm water, and it comes back to life, as a t-shirt or a pair of jeans. With this method, he believes he’s made the first fully robotic garment– a t-shirt.

Mr. Zornow is now in talks with big retailers and manufacturers across China, India, and Sri Lanka to roll out the technology.

JONATHAN ZORNOW, FOUNDER OF SEWBO: This is an industry that’s very dependent on manual labour. And because of this, the supply chains have grown very long. They’ve stretched all the way around the world. I believe the average t-shirt has about 20,000 miles on it by the time it reaches the consumer, going from the cotton field, to the spinning factory, to the textile mills, to the sewing factories.

This allows people to shorten their supply chains to manufacture in a much more responsive way, and to avoid labour costs. So this is something that’s been of great interest to both American retailers and brands, as well as existing manufacturers overseas.

NICOLAOU: But economists are now wondering if these technologies will threaten the entire economic model of South Asia. As Chinese workers demand higher wages, places such as Bangladesh and Pakistan are hoping that their cheap workforces will become the world’s new workshop. The World Bank estimates South Asian countries will add more than one million workers each month for the next two decades.

Economists call this a demographic dividend, as populations grow and wages stay about a quarter of those in China. But if technology like the Sewbo take off, the jobs they’re relying on could be eliminated for good.

KUMAR: So the fear is that our so-called demographic dividend could turn into a demographic nightmare, because of all the educated, aspiring young people who would be unemployed as a result of this automation ad robotisation.

NICOLAOU: The question becomes, how much time is life? Even some of the companies building the robots say it could be 20 years before they’re adopted widely. This would give governments time to prepare, to retrain workers. But some economists warn that these countries should give up on manufacturing altogether, as the demographic nightmare looms. Anna Nicolaou, Financial Times, New York.

Automation Will Revolutionize Retail for Shoppers and Workers

A recent Wall Street Journal piece framed its robot-replacing-human story by focusing on one employee who loses her job counting cash, but is moved to a greeter position at the same wage. Since the unnamed woman is 55, her gig as human greeter will likely go to a robot when she retires, if not before, because that technology is already available.

The LoweBot hardware store machine welcomes shoppers and offers them directions about where to find their desired items.

Also, a back-office cash-counter job lost to a smart machine occurs out of the public eye, like so many others. It’s great that President Trump’s economic and trade policies are emphasizing Made in America, but the long term trend is toward more automation and fewer human workers. In addition, automation is a worse cause of factory job loss than bad trade deals.

The automated future has been sketched out by various experts. Oxford researchers forecast in 2013 that nearly half of American jobs were vulnerable to machine or software replacement within 20 years. Rice University computer scientist Moshe Vardi believes that in 30 years humans will become largely obsolete, and world joblessness will reach 50 percent. The Gartner tech advising company believes that one-third of jobs will be done by machines by 2025. Forrester Research Inc. has a more optimistic view, that there will be a net job loss of 7 percent by 2025 from automation.

The retail industry is particularly susceptible to automation, with cashiers being first on the chopping block because self-checkout is very simple technology. Six million retail jobs could be lost in the next decade.

Plus, retail is getting clobbered by Amazon, which could not function without robots and computerization.

It’s baffling how Washington can be so clueless about the revolution beginning to occur in America’s workplaces. Perhaps the Masters of the Universe are in mass denial because they cannot think of a fix, or maybe the swamp gas is just too thick for them to see what’s happening.

Not a whole lot can be done, since the market forces toward cheaper means of production are powerful. But it certainly makes sense to end immigration entirely since the need to import inexpensive foreign workers is over. In fact,

Automation Makes Immigration Obsolete.

So don’t mend it: end it.

Robots Are Replacing Workers Where You Shop, Wall Street Journal, July 19, 2017

Wal-Mart and other large retailers, under pressure from Amazon, turn to technology to do workers’ rote tasks

Last August, a 55-year-old Wal-Mart employee found out her job was being taken over by a robot. Her task was to count cash and track the accuracy of the store’s books from a desk in a windowless backroom. She earned $13 an hour.

Instead, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. started using a hulking gray machine that counts eight bills per second and 3,000 coins a minute. The Cash360 machine digitally deposits money at the bank, earning interest for Wal-Mart sooner than if sent by armored car. And the machine uses software to predict how much cash is needed on a given day to reduce excess.

“They think it will be a more efficient way to process the money,” said the employee, who has worked with Wal-Mart for a decade.

Now almost all of Wal-Mart’s 4,700 U.S. stores have a Cash360 machine, making thousands of positions obsolete. Most of the employees in those positions moved into store jobs to improve service, said a Wal-Mart spokesman. More than 500 have left the company. The store accountant displaced last August is now a greeter at the front door, where she still earns $13 an hour.

“The role of service and customer-facing associates will always be there,” said Judith McKenna, Wal-Mart’s U.S. chief operating officer. But, she added, “there are interesting developments in technology that mean those roles shift and change over time.”

Shopping is moving online, hourly wages are rising and retail profits are shrinking—a formula that pressures retailers, ranging from Wal-Mart to Tiffany & Co., to find technology that can do the rote labor of retail workers or replace them altogether.

As Amazon.com Inc. makes direct inroads into traditional retail with its plans to buy grocer Whole Foods Market  Inc., Wal-Mart and other large retailers are under renewed pressure to invest heavily to keep up.

Economists say many retail jobs are ripe for automation. A 2015 report by Citi Research, co-authored with researchers from the Oxford Martin School, found that two-thirds of U.S. retail jobs are at “high risk” of disappearing by 2030.

(Continues)

Tucker Carlson: Trump’s Trash Talk about Attorney General Sessions Harms Administration

On Thursday, Tucker Carlson criticized President Trump for his unwise bashing of the attorney general he chose, former Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions. Tucker was responding to the July 19 New York Times article, Citing Recusal, Trump Says He Wouldn’t Have Hired Sessions.

Senator Sessions must have seen the position of attorney general as a greater opportunity to improve law enforcement, particularly in the immigration realm which has veered into near-anarchy after eight years of open-borders Obama. Sessions likely could have kept his Senate seat indefinitely: one measure of his popularity at home is that he ran unopposed in both the primary and general election in 2014.

On March 22, General Sessions announced that the government would begin to withdraw funding from sanctuary cities that protect dangerous illegal alien criminals.  On April 28, the AG visited Long Island to offer strategies of help for law enforcement officials plagued by gang violence.

Certainly MS-13 arrests are up under the new administration, and Border Patrol agents report greater job satisfaction when allowed to perform their duties (Border Patrol union president says morale at 2-year high under Trump, Washington Times, July 17, 217). So the Sessions’ model of pro-borders law enforcement is already showing results.

It’s clear that President Trump is still angry about Sessions’ recusal, but sniping in the Fake News press is no way to treat him.

TUCKER CARLSON: (0:57) Now take a step back and you can kind of see how this all happened. The president is a 71-year-old political novice, and all of a sudden he’s the subject of a vague, open-ended federal investigation whose goal may be to imprison him and his family. Ask anyone who’s had an independent counsel on this case — and there are a lot of them here in Washington — what that’s like. It’s terrifying. The pressure is soul-distorting. You can wind up lashing out at the people around you, even maybe especially, the ones trying to help you the most.

So that’s probably what’s going on, and yet attacking Jeff Sessions was still a useless and self-destructive act. The first rule in politics, as in war, as in life: don’t shoot the friendlies. Sessions is the closest ally Trump has in this administration, one of the very few who even understands why the president won in the first place. Unlike most political appointees in Washington, Sessions made big sacrifices to work in this administration. A year ago, he’s one of the most popular people in the state of Alabama with a Senate seat he could have held forever. Many on his staff didn’t want him to endorse Donald Trump, but he did anyway, purely because he felt it was important. Continue reading this article

Kris Kobach and Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity Move Forward

Preventing voter fraud by dead people and illegal aliens in 2018 and beyond is an important project to fight against anti-sovereignty interests. We can be sure that Democrats will turn out every voter they can recruit from cemeteries and foreigner hiring halls to defeat efforts to enforce immigration law.

In charge of fixing the voter mess is the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, which was set up to examine how many votes are ineligible and what might be done to make elections more honest.

The pushback by some states to hand over public records to the commission has been intense. Democrats have apparently decided on privacy concerns and the claim that no voter fraud has been proven as talking points against the reform measure. Virginia’s D-Governor Terry McAuliffe refused to co-operate, saying, “This entire commission is based on the specious and false notion that there was widespread voter fraud last November.”

Voter fraud does happen: the question is how common it is. Last November, Hans Von Spakovsky (co-author of Who’s Counting: How Fraudsters and Bureaucrats Put Your Vote at Risk) opined in a Breitbart interview that “We know for a fact, from all kinds of different reports we’ve had and cases, that there are non-citizens registered and voting all over the country.” On June 19, the Washington Times headlined, Study supports Trump: 5.7 million noncitizens may have cast illegal votes.

The vice-chair of the commission, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach reflected on the scope of the problem in his remarks at the opening session on Wednesday:

KRIS KOBACH: I’ve often thought that at the very foundation of our republic are really two bedrock things — the American Constitution and the faith and reality that our elections are conducted fairly. If you take away either of those two things I believe that our republic cannot stand for long.

So for a long time there’s been lingering doubt among many Americans about the integrity and fairness of elections, and it’s not a new issue at all. If you look at the polling data, it goes back decades. Public opinion has been consistent on this, in that there is a substantial number of people who wonder if our elections are fair. A 2014 survey showed that only 40% of voters thought elections were fair to the voters which indicates that 60% either did not think so or were undecided.

We owe it to the American people if you take a hard dispassionate look at the subject. . . .

For example in my state of Kansas we’re engaged in litigation right now defending our proof of citizenship requirements at the time of registration, and we engaged in extensive fact-finding for the federal courts involved and have discovered 128 specific cases of non-citizens who either registered to vote or attempted to register to vote. . . .

You can watch a longer video (1 hour 13 minutes) on C-SPAN where the members of the commission discuss ideas of what they would like to investigate.

The long-standing support for voter IDs shown in polling may reflect the public’s suspicion about voting integrity as well as a basic desire for fairness:

Vice-Chair Kobach wrote on Wednesday about how the commission is moving along through the obstacles placed in front of it.

Kobach: A Victory for Public Information, Breitbart.com, by Kris W. Kobach, July 19, 2017

On Tuesday, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida denied temporary restraining orders (TROs) sought by the ACLU, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, and others. The plaintiffs were attempting to prevent the Presidential Commission on Election Integrity, of which I am Vice-Chair, from having its first meeting on Wednesday in Washington, D.C. Continue reading this article

Tucker Carlson Argues Immigration Numbers -- Politely

Immigrant Pablo Manriquez challenged the border-defender Fox News host in a recent Huffpo article, Why Tucker Carlson Should Debate Me On Immigration (July 13). So a “gentlemanly” debate ensued on Tuesday, where Tucker brought up the overriding issue first thing — the numbers. If America admitted 50,000 legal immigrants annually (or ZERO ideally as the automated future suggests), there would be no problem.

Tucker immediately brought up the possibility of more than a billion US residents in 2100 caused by continuing high levels of immigration, but the Mexican Manriquez instead talked about the tribes that have “helped build this country . . . culturally” — whatever that could possibly be.

Here are the opening salvos:

TUCKER CARLSON: We’ve got 330 million people in the country. If immigration rates stay at their current level 1.2 million a year, we’re going to have about half a billion people by the end of the century. If we followed the UN’s lead on this, we would have 1.5 billion people in America by the end of this century. Those are estimates. What do you think the right level of immigration is?

PABLO MANRIQUEZ; I think that the right level of immigration has always been in this country the level that’s going to build the country and not detract from it, and I think that obviously like you know the immigration of the last several waves that have come through — mostly from Europe obviously, the Chinese as well — have helped build this country both infrastructurally, culturally, in a lot of different ways. I think that the current Hispanic immigration wave which has been so controversial politically lately is having the same effect, and we’re going through sort of like the birth pangs with a hunger, or the birth pangs of that cultural sort of assimilation which I think is happening.

There are many reasons against filling America with uneducated and hostile Third Worlders, but a numbers argument often leads to environmental points of resource sustainability. A paved-over overpopulated United States cannot provide the water and food for vastly increased numbers of humans. Business likes constant immigration-fueled population growth because profits and the GNP go up with the number of shoppers. But the environment has limits, as we Californians learned in the historic drought that just ended with last winter’s record rainfall.

Below, the drought-stricken Lake Oroville (which is also a reservoir) was nearly empty in September 2014.

Well-informed water worriers know about the Medieval mega-droughts that struck the west from 900 to 1400 AD, which is quite recent in terms of climate burps. Nature won’t take a holiday just because nearly 40 million California residents use water daily.

For an interesting historical perspective on the devastation caused by long-term drought, see Ten Civilizations or Nations That Collapsed From Drought from the weather channel Wunderground.com. When archaeologists investigate impressive abandoned cities, they ask why the people left such amazing places. In some cases — like the accomplished and stable Maya of central America — the answer is prolonged drought.

It’s hard to imagine how even our advanced technology could cope with a dust-bowl California of 40 million residents. If the government had a plan of what to do beyond conservation, it was never revealed to the little citizens. If the rains hadn’t come to end the drought, would we eventually have seen millions of water refugees moving to other parts of America? It’s unimaginable — still. . .

Therefore, scaling down the immigration system is way overdue, with Zero being the optimum number because of robots replacing millions of human workers.

So let’s get real about this immigration debate.

 

 Somali Cop Shoots Innocent Woman: Tribe Claims Backlash

In Minneapolis, the local Muslim reaction over the murder of Australian woman Justine Damond by a Somali immigrant policeman has taken on a familiar theme — the old “backlash” dodge which attempts to make the Somalis into the victim.

Below, Justine Damond was shot dead by Mohamed Noor, an officer in the Minneapolis Police Department when she tried to report a crime.

Portraying Minnesota Somalis as the injured party is a heavy lift, largely because of their years-long record of violence, jihad and non-assimilation. In 2009 (when the Somali population of the state was only 32,000), the AP reported that the Rise of Somali Gangs Plagues Minneapolis. In the same year, Shirwa Ahmed (a 2000 graduate of Roosevelt High School in Minneapolis), traveled to Somalia to blow up himself and 29 others in Mogadishu.

Last September Somali refugee Dahir Aden stabbed 10 persons in a St. Cloud shopping center while shouting Allah. Making local people fear a jihad attack while browsing in the mall will not convince them trust Muslim immigrants.

Dozens of young Somalis have returned to their cultural homeland to pursue jihad, like the fabulous foursome shown below. Why does Washington continue to import a people that doesn’t like Americans?

Some of those who remain don’t care to assimilate to American values: when filmmaker Ami Horowitz interviewed Somalis in Minneapolis, quite a few said they would rather live under sharia than American law. (Hint: Mogadishu has a brand new airport despite the recent al Shabaab unpleasantness.)

So if indeed there is a backlash against Somalis in Minnesota, an argument can be made that they brought on distrust and ill feeling themselves, by their years of violence, jihad and hatred of the US — which Americans have recognized as a threat.

After Minneapolis officer in police shooting is named, Somali community braces for backlash, Washington Post, July 18, 2017

When Mohamed Noor joined the Minneapolis police force and was assigned to patrol the city’s southwest corner, the Somali community there — the nation’s largest — threw a party for him to celebrate.

He was the first Somali American officer to serve in Minneapolis’s fifth precinct and one of fewer than a dozen Somali American officers in the department. His presence on the squad brought Somali activists some pride and reassurance at a time of Islamophobia in America and nationwide racial tension stoked in part by shootings of black people by white police officers.

Now that same Somali community is bracing for a backlash against Noor that has already begun.

On Monday, multiple media outlets named Noor as the officer who fatally shot an unarmed Australian woman in the city’s popular Fulton neighborhood over the weekend, an incident that has grabbed global attention and thrust Minneapolis into yet another uproar over police violence….

The report stoked fear among Somalis in the Twin Cities, who have worked for decades to become part of the city’s fabric. There are now Somalis on the police force, the city council and in the Minnesota House of Representatives. But the largely Muslim population of Somali Americans in the region still face Islamophobia and innuendo about terrorism.

“They fear this will be just another event used to create animosity toward the Somali community,” Mohamud Noor, executive director at the Confederation of Somali Community in Minnesota, told The Post.

Already, hateful posts criticizing Islam and sharia law are filling social media in response to the police shooting. Several far-right blogs featured sensational headlines that blamed the officer’s ethnicity for the deadly use of force. Continue reading this article

Coal Miners Face Replacement by Smart Machines

It was a sweet early moment in the Trump Presidency: a group of miners had been invited to the White House to watch the new Chief Executive end Obama regulations that were designed to cripple the coal industry.

Coal miner Michael Nelson thanked President Trump for keeping his election promise to help the industry’s workers.

Nelson appeared later on Fox News to discuss how he hoped for better times in coal country. “For a politician to such as Donald Trump to stand up and hold good to his promise is absolutely fantastic, and he’s an inspiration to all working Americans,” he remarked.

I wondered at the time whether the miners knew that automation posed a bigger long term threat than even business-buster Obama.

Miners have already been threatened by immigrants workers willing to perform the tasks more cheaply, as I wrote a decade ago in American Miners Now Targeted. Mine executives wanted to scrap the English-only policy, which would have further endangered worker safety in a dangerous workplace.

Now the machines are here, and even the smartest ones don’t worry about survival — yet.

Bloomberg reported March 27 in Trump’s Executive Order Won’t Save Coal Mining Jobs that the industry has changed quite a bit:

. . . The image of miners toiling underground is increasingly antiquated, as companies use automated tools to extract coal from giant seams in the Powder River Basin in Wyoming and Montana. There, electric shovels are able to claw 400 tons worth of coal at a single time from open pits, and load them up onto rail cars bound for plants as far away as Georgia. 

As a result, total U.S. coal employment plunged to 53,000 last year; in the 1940s, West Virginia alone was home to 126,000 miners. . .

A recent recent article from an industry pub was a reminder of the automation pressure on mining:

Robots and recruitment: the impact of automation on mining jobs, Mining-Technology.com, July 13, 23017

. . .The job drain of recent years, felt across the mining sector globally, can be attributed in part to automation, which has made the profession significantly safer.

 ‘Smart’ mines, which incorporate everything from drones and wearables to 3D printing, are becoming more commonplace, and recruitment and human resources have simply not kept pace with the growth of technology. But there is hope.

“The message is that it’s not necessarily fewer jobs in mining – it will just be different jobs,” says Philip Hopwood, Deloitte global head of mining. “In reality,” he adds, “employment will be growing in the mining sector as we see mining investment ramp back up again, leading to opportunities in jobs related to investment in building what we term the digital mine.”

At present, Hopwood says the mining sector is still playing catch-up with the likes of real-time data analytics and the phasing out of manual labour in favour of the back office, whereby on-site technology is connected to back-end systems. The next step for miners is to find the right talent to operate the tech.

Translation of that last bit: there will be a computer operator in an office running the machines that do the extraction, similar to the way the oil business is going: New York Times Reports Automation-Fueled Job Loss in the Oil Patch

Farm Robot Is Touted as Kinder to Workers

Down on the farm in Salinas California, a new robot harvester uses “water knives” — actually high-powered water jets — to pick lettuce. To hear the industry flacks describe it, the machines end unhealthy stoop labor in lettuce fields. But details in the story suggest that President Trump’s border enforcement is having an effect when it says, “Fewer immigrant workers are coming to the fields.” Big ag is explaining in a way to portray itself as a humanitarian when other factors are the cause.

In fact, automation has been transforming agriculture just as it has changed factories.


Welcome to Salinas! The Farming Town Where… by wired

The story also does a little dance when it says the machines reduce the need for labor, but workers won’t lose their jobs. In the case of the lettuce robo-harvester, the workers are now doing different tasks like sorting and packing, but how long until automation does those jobs as well? Growers are always looking for less expensive means of production, and that means more smart machines are coming in the long run.

So the Salinas case is another example that America’s cheap worker immigration must end: unskilled foreigners will just end up on the welfare rolls.

Automation makes immigration obsolete.

Below, a robot lettuce harvester moves through a Salinas field.

Robots Wielding Water Knives Are the Future of Farming, Wired.com, May 31, 2017

JUST AFTER DAWN in the Salinas Valley south of San Francisco, a raucous robot rolls through a field spitting clouds of vapor. It’s cutting lettuce heads with water knives—super-high-pressure beams—and gobbling up the produce. The heads roll up its mouth and onto a conveyor belt, where workers in hoodies and aprons grab the lettuce and tear off the loose leaves.

Right across the road, workers are harvesting lettuce the agonizing old-fashioned way—bent over with knife in hand. “If you’re a beginner, it kills you because your back really hurts,” says Isabel Garcia, a harvester who works atop the robot. “It takes somebody really strong to be doing that kind of work.”

Garcia and the other workers here didn’t lose their jobs to a robot—they work in tandem with one. And just as well, because California farms are facing a serious labor shortage of perhaps 20 percent. Increasingly sophisticated robots have to pick up the slack, here and around the world. Because if humanity expects to feed its booming population off a static amount of land, it’s going to need help.

Here in the Salinas Valley, farmers and tech types are teaming up to turn this into a kind of Silicon Valley for agriculture. And they’re not stopping at water-knife-wielding robots. Because it’s data that will truly drive this agricultural revolution. It’s not just about robots doing jobs humans don’t want to do, but AI doing jobs humans can’t do. And AI can’t go anywhere without data.

For sure, the robots will definitely support the dwindling farming workforce. Fewer immigrant workers are coming to the fields, and their demographics are shifting. “Just with a changing population here in California, we’ve got an aging workforce,” says Mark Borman, president of Taylor Farms California, which operates the robot. “So people who are coming out to do agricultural, we’re not getting that younger population into the job.”

(cont.)

Pew Poll: Conservative Americans Think Universities Have Become a Negative Influence

On Thursday, Tucker Carlson opined briefly about a recent Pew poll that shows a growing divide regarding how Americans across the political divide think about our social institutions. Republicans in particular have come to believe the influence of universities on America has become harmful.

TUCKER CARLSON: Our country’s most powerful institutions have hated the rest of the country for a long time. When the people who run tech companies or Hollywood studios look out the window of their G5s they commute from Santa Monica to Teterboro, they see a population that’s fat, bigoted and dumb. They feel pure contempt for the people below them.

Well now at long last middle America is returning those feelings. A new poll by Pew finds that Republican-leaning voters have come to distrust the higher education establishment a lot: 58 percent of them believe colleges and universities have a negative overall effect on the country; just 36 percent think they have a positive effect. It’s a swing of about 20 points from just two years ago.

Okay you say, that’s just because stupid uneducated conservatives naturally hate schools they could never get into — right? Wrong. Actually Republicans with college degrees are even more hostile to college than those without them because they know how bad it is.

But if colleges have lost the confidence of non-liberals, consider the media: 85 percent of Republican voters say the national news media are hurting the country. Once again, a substantial swing from just a few years ago. Republicans aren’t that impressed by labor unions either, or banks remarkably. Continue reading this article

Is ICE Honcho Homan a Swamp Creature?

On Wednesday, the Acting ICE Director Thomas Homan appeared on Fox News and sounded like a tough enforcer as he discussed his agency’s duties, but his history is a little more complicated.

He railed against MS-13 and sanctuary cities in the interview. When Fox host Neil Cavuto observed how widespread the violent gang has become, Homan responded, “Our intelligence shows they’re in over 40 states across the country” and “we’re coming after them very hard.” He further expounded:

When [President Trump] signed executive orders, he basically told the Border Patrol agents and the 20,000 American patriots that work for ICE: you can now do your job, you will enforce the laws on the books. There’s no population of aliens that’s off the table any more, and we’ve been waiting on that almost a decade now. So you know I’ve made it clear when you enter this country illegally, you have committed a crime, and you can’t want to be a part of this country and not respect its laws, so those who enter the country illegally, you may get past the Border Patrol and in the past you had this feeling that, ‘Okay I’m home free, I got by the Border Patrol and no one’s looking for me’ — well, those days are over. We’re looking for you, we’re gonna prioritize what we do, but we’re going to enforce the law without apology.

Regarding those special safe spaces for illegal aliens, Homan said, “Sanctuary cities in my opinion, they’re unAmerican: that’s not an America I grew up in.”

He certainly has the enforcement song-and-dance patter down, just the sort of thing his new boss likes to hear.

Director Homan sounds like a tough immigration law enforcer, right? Deportation is happening, is it not?

In May, ICE gang arrests netted more than 1300 illegal alien criminals in largest sweep to date.

Interestingly, Breitbart News paints quite a different picture of the ICE leader, that he was Obama’s willing and enthusiastic henchman who released criminal aliens into America like the MS-13 monsters Homan now condemns:

Trump’s ICE Director Helped Author Obama’s Immigration Priorities and Executive Orders, Praised Them, Breitbart.com, by Brandon Darby, July 10, 2017

The Obama-holdover chosen by DHS Secretary John Kelly to direct Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for the Trump Administration helped author Obama’s controversial immigration priorities and executive orders, and he also publicly praised them. Acting ICE Director Thomas Homan made the comments on video shortly before the 2016 presidential election at a time when most thought Hillary Clinton would win, but Donald Trump won and now Homan claims to be an immigration hawk. Continue reading this article

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