Father John Catoir

For me, the concept of spirituality is not restricted to pious devotions. Everything we do reflects our spirituality, including the way we spend our money.

The best economists in the world admit that they do not know exactly what is going to happen next when it comes to the economy. There are signs that the stock market is steadily improving. Nevertheless, unemployment remains at a high level. A recent concern is the widespread use of robotic tools and its potential to reduce the labor force drastically. This may be inevitable, but it’s not in the best interest of the economy.

Robots are influencing the cost of production, and even reducing the demand for cheap labor. Foreign labor will no longer have the powerful lure it once had. Companies in the U.S. will find that they no longer need to leave the country to maintain their profits. This is a good thing, but as robotic tools dominate the workforce more and more, they will end up costing men and women their jobs.

Years ago, robots could not compete with the low cost of foreign labor, but today that is no longer so. As soon as profits reach levels where businesses will benefit financially from leaving places that produce a lot for very little, like China, they will take advantage of tax incentives and transportation savings and return home.

Unfortunately, while the companies themselves will be returning, the old jobs will not return with them. Labor unions will face a whole new set of obstacles. More and more men and women will end up on bread lines. Robotic tools will replace workers. It is that simple.

I’ve been reading “Einstein on the Road,” by Josef Eisenger, which tells the story of how Albert Einstein, the greatest scientist of the 20th century, reacted to the political and economic problems of his generation.

He scolded the businessmen of his time for increasing the use of machinery because it was putting more and more men out of work. The drive to increase profits, which is the norm for business executives, was working against the common good. As a result, millions of unemployed men and women were selling pencils on the street to put food on the table.

Einstein’s ideas were thought to be naive, but he didn’t back down. He knew that for businesses to survive, they had to keep a sharp eye, not only on their margin of profits, but also on the common good. Einstein predicted that the economic depression of his time would engulf the nation for a long time, and he was right. If he were alive today, I feel certain he would be calling for a gradual slowdown in the use of robotic tools.

Maybe he would demand that an increase in research and development be introduced to improve our economic policies so they would bolster the overall common good, and not jeopardize it. The American experiment is in decline, and we need to think ahead.