People in government say silly things sometimes. Illinois Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. certainly did in a recent presentation he brought before Congress. He, like so many others, takes issue with the level of unemployment in our country and the outsourcing of jobs to foreign nations. While he makes some valid points on the latter in his speech, he builds the entire argument out of a misguided attack on the iPad, Apple and the forward march of technology.
Jackson, who recently purchased an iPad himself, claims that the tablet is “responsible for eliminating thousands of American jobs.” He said that this is due in part to Apple’s outsourcing of manufacturing duties to Chinese company Foxconn, and he blames the system that allows such a move to occur. While this does indeed speak to the larger issues influencing the U.S. job market — Apple is hardly the sole offender here — Jackson also gets into an anti-technology rant in which he rails against the idea of continuing advances in technology making jobs obsolete.
“Now Borders is closing stores because, why do you need to go to Borders anymore? Why do you need to go to Barnes & Noble? Buy an iPad and download your book. Download your newspaper. Download your magazine,” he said, going on to criticize a Chicago State University plan to establish a “textbook-less campus” within the next four years.
“What becomes of publishing companies then? And publishing company jobs? What becomes of bookstores and librarians and all of the jobs associated with paper? Well, in the not-too-distant future, such jobs will not exist.”
Publishing companies aren’t going anywhere, Mr. Jackson. Some are expanding to meet the demands of the increasingly popular media portal that the tablet PC offers, and the rest will almost certainly follow suit before too long. Those that don’t, and fail as a result, only have their own short-sightedness to blame. Librarians, same deal. Maybe paper books are becoming less popular, but libraries aren’t going to go away. They’ll change, and some job requirements might change with them, but that’s really just the way of things. As time passes, technology advances and the world simply adjusts to it.
Some brick-and-mortar stores will certainly close, and in some cases already have closed. Blame the Internet and the rise of online shopping. Why should a retailer maintain a physical store location when all of that overhead can be cut out by moving to the web? It all comes back to the system that allows for such a scenario; not so much that it’s wrong, simply outdated.
Jackson’s misguided rant is a product of the confusion, particularly among lawmakers, that the global online community has created. The Internet has forever changed the way we can and will do business, and it’s a much larger issue than one company’s outsourcing activities or even the job market as a whole adjusting to the march of technology.