Automated Trucking Will Suck in What Way?: A case against UBI

in ubi •  5 months ago

About a year or so ago articles were making the rounds on social media with people talking about the impending storm of automation in the coming years. One of them talked about the large number of people who work as truck drivers who will be put out of work when automated trucks take the road. Flash forward to today and I see this article pop up, talking about how there's an actual shortage of truckers.

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Apparently trucking companies are so hard up for drivers that "'As long as you can get in and out of a truck and pass a physical, a trucking company will take a look at you now,'". Over the road drivers are being offered 70k a year to start! Now I've heard of guys who own their own trucks working their asses off and making six figures, but 70k to start, in a job that requires like a month of training? That's insane. It's almost as much as I was making as a manager before I became a stay at home dad. That job required a masters degree and ten years of experience by the way.

So my theory about these jobs being automated out of existence has a strong piece of evidence for it that is unfolding right before our very eyes. When automation was the boogeyman everyone was worried about, truck drivers were going to be left without jobs, and this was a bad thing. Now that truck drivers have the actual option, however, to work elsewhere because the unemployment rate is so low, drivers are nowhere to be found. Companies are forced to offer advanced-degree-level salaries to attract NEW applicants, not just to bring in veterans who actually know how to drive trucks. This means veterans are probably making significantly more, which probably includes salaried truck drivers who make six figures with benefits. In other words, these jobs pay very well, and there's a path to upper middle class status in them.

My theory about automation of truck driving is that driving truck sucks really bad, and so that when people don't have to drive trucks any more, they'll gladly find something else more valuable to do with their time, and probably make more money than they do now. Nobody starving in the streets. Nobody losing their houses. Nobody without work. No need for Universal Basic Income schemes, because even without driving truck, these human beings have value, and the market proves it, and is proving it right now. These guys really don't have to drive trucks right now (for different economic reasons unrelated to technology), and like I predicted, they're doing other jobs instead, because it is that undesirable to drive trucks.

So if you literally can't pay someone 70k a year to do this with no prior experience, it must be a pretty horrible job to do. The article talks about how much more likely it is to die driving truck than it is to die being a police officer. If you drive over-the-road, you're away from home for weeks at a time, often ending in messy divorces and familial disconnection. Road food is horrible and unhealthy. Accommodations are worse. Many of these guys have a hard time finding a place close to the main routes that will let them just take a shower, and some just do without. It's a monotonous, difficult, dangerous and dirty job; and when automation does away with it, I say good riddance.

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