Auto-Robotic Asphyxiation

By Bill Maher

There's a statistic that I think reveals something about the American economy that politicians of both parties know about privately, but lie about publicly. They repeat this notion that we’re going to bring back all of these jobs we've lost, or keep them from going overseas, or create lots of new ones in those industries, when the reality is that they're not. And it’s not always because those jobs are gone. It's usually that someone else is doing them -- someone overseas or an immigrant or a robot. Lord help us if they invent a Mexican robot.

And here's the stat: The unemployment rate for someone who didn't graduate high school is 12%. If you only graduated high school it’s 8.1%. But if you went to college it's only 3.7%. Unless you majored in art history. Then you blow people for cash to smoke rocks.

And that's the new reality: for our most educated workers there wasn't much of a recession. From 2007 to 2013, Whole Foods was always crowded. For the rest of America, there was a huge recession and it's still going. And this is because the economy is changing, and "surprise, surprise, surprise!" it favors people who had the money to go to Wesleyan.

This is the new reality: you've got to have a J.O.B. if you want to be with me, and a G.E.D. ain't getting you the J.O.B. Not anymore. Because we've taken lots of those jobs and either outsourced them to someone named Ling or Sanjay who'll do it cheaper, not to mention better, or we've automated them. The only thing left is sandwich artist. Or burger flipper. And don't think McDonald's isn't going to figure out a way to eliminate those jobs too. Soon you'll order what you want on your phone, and a burger will drop out of a machine, and then you'll eat it and die. 

Think of the people who used to work in the checkout line at the Vons, and the pimpled teen who used to bag your groceries. Well, now we have self-checkout, so that's one less job for the clerk and the pimpled teen. Now they have to sell rocks to the art major.

Customer service jobs have been replaced by extremely irritating automated voice technology. Driverless cars are coming in the not-too-distant future, so subtract all of the jobs for drivers, cabbies and truckers from the pile of available blue-collar work. Soon you get to see what's happening: automation and robots are good for the company that makes them, the engineers with the PhDs who design them, and the CEOs who get to lower their labor costs. Same with outsourcing: it's good for owners and investors. Who it's not good for is the worker it's replacing. It leaves fewer and fewer jobs for those workers to do. So, I understand why the Tea Party is mad. I’m just saying it's not black's robots.

Now, I'm not saying there aren't any jobs for someone without a high school degree. Look at all the Palin kids. They're employed. I think. Okay, bad example.

But in the new economy you're going to need education and skills, or you're going to be fighting over the scraps. We need more people who graduate in the sciences and math, who go on to be engineers and God made a farmer.

And that's why I’m saying: forget God. He keeps giving us farmers. We don't need any more farmers, God! Quit it!

Seriously, what was that Super Bowl ad? "Farmers get up early and have dirt under their nails. Now buy this truck." Wha?? And the tagline was "For the farmer in all of us." I mean, I've dabbled in hydroponics, but I don't think there's a farmer in me. Though I did black out once in the South and...anything is possible.

But back to the point: in Primary Colors, you'll remember the scene where Clinton tells a bunch of blue collar factory workers that their jobs aren't coming back, and that he's not going to lie to them. I wish Obama would give that sort of speech as well.

Because despite the sizable portion of America who wants to hear "We're the greatest country in the world! With the greatest people in the world! With the best health care!" I still think that's the minority. More and more, Americans want authentic. They want to hear at least a little truth. That's why Chris Christie is so popular, despite being kind of a prick: because people finally sense that he's a guy who isn't playing a character. That's the actual man. And he's hungry for change. Also baby back ribs.