Trump Still Won't Even Acknowledge Automation

Donald Trump continues to brag on the regular about how he has magically made the economy great again.

In the White House's "500 Days of American Greatness" fact sheet, issued earlier this week to mark his presidential milestone, among the many demonstrable lies is this whopper: "The American economy is stronger today and American workers are better off thanks to [Donald] Trump's pro-growth agenda." And this one: "Since taking office, [Donald] Trump has advanced free, fair, and reciprocal trade deals that protect American workers, ending decades of destructive trade policies."

The word "automation" appears nowhere in the document.

Trump still makes deeply dishonest promises to the working class, even as more and more jobs paying livable wages are lost not to the familiar hobgoblins of bad trade deals or regulation or unionization or outsourcing, but to automation.

There are stories about automation every day. Following is just one I happened to read today.

Venessa Wong at BuzzFeed: McDonald's Kiosks Are the New Cashiers.
McDonald's will roll out self-order kiosks to 1,000 stores every quarter for the next two years, according to CEO Steve Easterbrook.

The kiosks were already in roughly 3,500 US McDonald's restaurants as of March, or about one-fourth of its domestic stores. They will be in about half of US restaurants by the end of 2018 and in all stores by 2020.

...As part of its modernization efforts, the fast-food chain is offering customers alternative ways of ordering, including through kiosks, the mobile app, and delivery through Uber Eats.
Its "modernization" efforts — which is quite the euphemism for what is in actuality its "profit protection" efforts.

You see: "In the first quarter of the year, McDonald's payroll and employee benefits were 30.2% of sales, up from 27.8% during the same period in 2017." So something has to give. And it's going to be the employees.

McDonald's assures us that their cashiers will still have jobs:
While [McDonald's spokesperson Terri Hickey] did not say roughly how many cashiers are being replaced by kiosks, she said the restaurants are shifting those workers to other roles: "[With] the addition of self-order kiosks, restaurants are transitioning some roles to more customer engaging positions like Guest Experience Leaders and table service."

What solutions does Donald Trump have for this? Absolutely none. Because this — maximized corporate profits at the expense of workers who are disproportionately women/people of color — is precisely the objective of his economic agenda.

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