Entrepreneur and 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful Andrew Yang has spent a great deal of his campaign speech time warning American workers of the catastrophic loss of jobs in the future due to automated alternatives.
That kind of advanced technology is already being seen in fast food restaurants and related industries across the country, but the automation of the freight industry has Yang especially concerned.
But don’t worry, he has a plan. Whether or not he’ll gain support from truck drivers is another question entirely.
According to Big Think, Yang pointed out on his campaign website that the truck driving industry employees roughly 3 million drivers. Another 7 million make up the jobs that support the industry, such as fuel stations and hospitality.
That’s a rather large swath of the American labor force, and if Yang’s prediction of truck drivers being all but replaced by driverless rigs comes true, that would theoretically put a lot of Americans out of work.
“Over 3 million Americans work as truck drivers, and over 7 million are employed related to trucking activity. Self-driving truck technology is rapidly becoming sophisticated enough to replace these drivers, and the economy is not prepared to absorb the loss of so many jobs,” Yang’s website read.
“Truck drivers are 94% male, average age 49, average education high school or one year of college – there are not necessarily other opportunities for them that will pay a comparable salary.”
Yang’s solution is to tax the automated, driverless trucks, which by his estimation would allow for the payment of severance packages to truckers who lost their jobs to automated solutions.
“The estimated cost-savings and efficiency gains of automated freight are $168 billion per year which is enough to pay the truckers significant sums and still save tens of billions per year,” Yang explained on his website.
Even if that estimate is accurate, one might ask how that program would actually be handled, but Yang already has the solution for that, too — he has pledged to also appoint a “Trucking Czar” to oversee the transition from traditional trucking to its advanced, automated evolution.
— WHO Radio (@WHORadio) August 19, 2019
While a complete takeover of the freight industry by intelligent machines seems like something from a futuristic movie, it’s already being implemented by some of America’s largest companies, such as Amazon, the United States Postal Service, and UPS through a pilot program in partnership with TuSimple, a company specializing in self-driving vehicles.
The road to full automation of the trucking industry is probably a ways off due to the unthinkable amount of regulatory law that would need to be in place to actually make it happen, but according to a statement from TuSimple, the company states that they’re on track for trucks to reach full autonomy by 2020.
Yang, whose cornerstone campaign promise is to provide all Americans over the age of 18 with a universal basic income of $1,000 per month, is currently polling at 1.8 percent on average, according to RealClear Politics.