Is The iPad Killing American Jobs?

In the halls of Congress, things get said. Things that cannot be un-said. Things that have the potential to contradict other things you’ve said.

Case in point: the Illinois Congressman got on the floor of the House a few days ago and railed against, of all things, Apple and why they’re hurting the American workforce.

A few short weeks ago I came to the House floor after having purchased an iPad and said that I happened to believe, Mr. Speaker, that at some point in time this new device, which is now probably responsible for eliminating thousands of American jobs. 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 newspaper, download your book, download your magazine.

That’s right: Jobs is killing jobs. (Tech pun FTW!)

I happen to agree with Jackson that new technology makes a lot of the old guard obsolete. Borders filing for bankruptcy is no mere coincidence. The rise of e-books has made it easier for people to buy and read books.

And, of course, you have the long-term, pseudo-apocalyptic argument that as our technology advances, we could eventually develop robots smart and capable enough to take over jobs currently performed by capable humans.

But it’s unfair to blame one device like the iPad for so much unemployment. Accelerated technological development has the potential to create jobs, if I’m not mistaken. I don’t necessarily believe that just because we may transition from a system of paper books to digital books that we’re going to put any significant percentage of the publishing industry out of work.

Also, the iPad and similar technological innovations give rise to entrepreneurs and similarly creative individuals who develop content for these devices. Even if the entire world goes digital, we will still need people producing content for consumers. We’ll still need food manufacturers, teachers, writers (for all media outlets), etc.

I’m not saying Jackson doesn’t have a point, I’m saying he’s looking at it the wrong way. The iPad is not part of an unemployment crisis, it’s a part of potential employment opportunities.