24th November 2016
By George Monbiot,
published in the Guardian 23rd November 2016
Wave the magic wand and the problem goes away. Those pesky pollution laws, carbon caps and clean power plans: swish them away and the golden age of blue-collar employment will return. This is Donald Trump’s promise, in his video message on Monday, in which he claimed that unleashing coal and fracking will create “many millions of high-paid jobs”. He will tear down everything to make it come true.
But it won’t come true. Even if we ripped the world to pieces in the search for full employment, leaving no mountain unturned, we would not find it. Instead, we would merely jeopardise the prosperity – and the lives – of people everywhere. However slavishly governments grovel to corporate Luddism, they will not bring the smog economy back.
No one can deny the problem Trump claims to be addressing. The old mining and industrial areas are in crisis throughout the rich world. And we have seen nothing yet.
I have just re-read the study published by the Oxford Martin School in 2013 on the impacts of computerisation. What jumps out today, to put it crudely, is that jobs in the rustbelts and rural towns that voted for Trump are at high risk of automation; while the professions of many Clinton supporters are at low risk.
The jobs most likely to be destroyed are in mining, raw materials, manufacturing, transport and logistics, cargo handling, warehousing and retailing, construction (pre-fabricated buildings will be assembled by robots in factories), office support, administration and telemarketing. So what, in the counties that voted for Trump, will be left?