Historically, economists and policymakers have led the effort to explain that technological innovation is good for workers throughout the economy, even as creative destruction causes dislocation for some individuals. So why have so many become so eager to throw robots under the bus by blaming automation for labor market woes? In his provocative new book The Once and Future Worker, the Manhattan Institute’s Oren Cass argues that economists and policymakers today are distracting attention from their own culpability. The bipartisan consensus that has prioritized economic growth and rising consumption over a healthy labor market is to blame for the wage stagnation and social unwinding that afflicts the country. Turning things around will require more innovation, not less, and replacing the borderless, green, college-educated, consumption-oriented agenda that has dominated the national stage with one that puts the American worker’s interests first.
Please join ITIF for an expert discussion of Cass’s book, related technological and economic trends, and their implications for policymakers. Cass will present his critique of the consumption-based view of economic policy and describe the potential of an alternative, production-based approach. A panel of experts will respond to Cass’s arguments and weigh potential policy options.