Perhaps I read more into Google CEO Larry Page's comments on work than what was necessary.
During a recent event he and co-founder Sergey Brin had differing views on work and the interview was written up here on recode.net.
A first faulty assumption was the article on recode.net was the view on automation:
What happens as machines and artificial intelligence push humans out of the workforce? It’s one of the more important problems of our time — theoretical as it may seem in some sectors today — as technology makes industry after industry more efficient.
It's easy to think that way. After all, robots can perform many of the same tasks as humans but only they do it much faster and with fewer mistakes. So robots and other forms of automation will replace humans, right?
Lately, I've been hired to write blog posts for an automation association and I've read several in-depth pieces on automation making it possible for small business owners to expand operations to different customers and compete globally.
There are many cases where automation has boosted employment.
Today, for many, the environment is everything.
In fact, today humanity does dumb things like destroy the environment, in part because people work when they don’t have to …
I'm not sure if these are Page's comments or the author's but statements like this without any supporting facts are – dumb. Seriously. If fewer people went to work, how would that benefit the environment? And who are those who are working when they don't have to?
I'm sure Larry Page has made enough money. So he doesn't have to work. He chooses to work. Just like many in the labor force. Is Larry Page harming the environment because he works when he doesn't have to? I'm sure someone else at Google could fill his position.
If he didn't work, though, he would be miserable.
Larry Page said he believes people want to work less and he may be right and he also says people want to feel needed. Sure. We want significant work and that's the basis for many of my work-related decisions over the years.
Is part-time work appropriate for many? If so, it will dictate where they live and how they live.
I've heard that in Page's neck of the woods in San Francisco, rents are as high as $5 per square foot. That means a 500 square foot studio apartment rents for $ 2,500 monthly.
Wow. How can any one afford that on part-time wages unless they're a highly paid attorney or techie working for a company like – Google!
If much of the work-force goes into part-time work mode, then earned wages will simply be less than those who work full-time. You can't have it any other way. People in the work force will be working multiple part-time jobs and imagine what that will do to the environment.
Later in the article Page says people don't need to work hard to have adequate housing, clothing, and opportunities for the kids.
I believe policies get in the way. If the minimum wage keeps getting pushed up the price of labor goes higher and fewer people will get the part-time jobs they want. Higher labor costs push up the price of fuel and other costs and then doesn't Page think that prices for what we buy in the store won't also go up?
To me he seems out-of-touch. But, heck, that's just my opinion.
This post was written by Don Simkovich, a journalist who owns Running a Small Business.net and provides content marketing services for companies. Learn more about him at Donsimkovich.com.