Dey took ur jerbs!

The above title is a culture reference to South Park, and is red neck speak for “They took our jobs!”

Anyways, any commentary on politics, be it a network television broadcast, a blog, or a guy in the UK trying to produce a computer game which attempts to simulate modern democracy is impossible to produce without the opinions of the producer becoming evident. However, there is a line. At a certain point opinions stop being opinions and become demonstrable falsehoods. One such falsehood is unfortunately in this game. That is, that a high technology, high immigration nation will invariably have high unemployment. That, and that there is no fix to unemployment which will be effective without cutting back immigration and slowing technology.

I happen to live in a high technology society. If I didn’t care about information security I wouldn’t need a data plan for my phone, I could just wifi hop everywhere. Factories that used to provide immense employment to boomers now have big yellow robot arms doing most of the work. I can go to a restaurant which is experimenting with table waiting robots. My friend who works at a brewery which gives occasional tours to customers gave a tour to an old boy who’s first job was at a brewery. Half the jobs that people did when he was young are done by machines now. I could go on. I also live in a high immigration society. With a population of fewer than 40 million, Conservatives screamed like toddlers when immigration rose to over 300 thousand per year. We’re now talking about 500 thousand per year in the near future.

Therefore, by this game’s model my society ought to be awash in the masses of unemployed. There ought to be crowds gathering at opening hours of every employer in town with people undercutting one another with offers to work for ever cheaper. The trains ought to be full of people who heard that the next town over has jobs, and society should be at the brink of revolution with Leninist zeal.

Now, I’m talking about Canada here. Is Canada at the brink of revolution because of crushing unemployment? No. Canada Unemployment Rate - December 2022 Data - 1966-2021 Historical We’re sitting pretty at 5%. Within that 5%, restaurants are shortening their hours due to staff shortages, wait times for meals are longer because what few waiting staff are left are run off their feet covering too many tables, menus are getting smaller because of high turn over rates in the kitchens, and smaller menus require less training for replacements. Retailers who used to be open until 9 are now closing at 7 because those last 2 hours weren’t that productive and they need to be efficient with the staff hours of minimum wage employees. The bus service is unable to meet demand because of a shortage of drivers. Ferries are canceling sailings because of a shortage of ship’s mechanics. Bars are closing early because honestly, nobody wants to work past midnight. Construction projects are falling behind schedule, sometimes even sitting idle because of a lack of construction workers. My province can’t keep hospital staff for long because the next province over is paying them better. Again, I could go on.

Point is, that Democracy 4 really ought to have a red condition called “labour shortage”, which is triggered by low unemployment, has a big red bar for GDP, and generally annoys all the people who aren’t getting services. An accurate simulation of Canada would start with this condition active, all while having a high tech, high immigration society.

So, to wrap up, what is wrong with the beliefs that technology and immigration create unemployment? Regarding technology, it takes work to design, create and maintain the technology, all these things are jobs. The net result is that the same efforts create more wealth, but as they do so living standards rise and people expect more. As for immigration, this assumes that larger populations should generally have higher unemployment rates. Taken to extreme, countries with fewer than 1 million people should always have full employment regardless of global economic conditions, and countries with over 1 billion people should generally have 99% unemployment like seen in the 2012 Dredd movie. Now, it’s not just Cliffski here who has made the mistake of thinking this way. My county’s own PM seems to think this way and keeps trying to plug the holes in the labour market by further ramping immigration. This just isn’t working, as the new immigrants participate in society and as a consequence of working, spending and investing they create more economic activity and therefore need for employment. Then, our blessed leader in his infinite wisdom keeps trying the same thing expecting a different result.