The Robots are here – for better or worse!

Like it or not, more robots are coming to town! Just walk in to McDonalds and try to place an order. A human will guide you – to a machine!

While the new order taking station at Barbourville’s home of the Golden Arches may not meet everyone’s definition, I call it a robot.  It automates the functions of the human order taker, and eventually, once we are trained how to use it, will replace humans. 

Is that a good or a bad thing?

Economic reality is, the higher the price of anything, the fewer the number of people who can afford it. That’s why you don’t see very many people wearing Rolex watches around town.

But, if you are in the fast food business, and you need to sell a lot of meals, you focus on keeping prices low. Since most of us like low prices and burgers, from that standpoint, a robot order taker that lowers burger prices is a good thing.

But, what if you are one of the people who are being replaced by the machine? Or, what if you are a person looking for work? That one machine works all three shifts both weekdays and weekends, and just eliminated 5, 6 or maybe even 7 full time jobs. Then you may think it’s not so good! 

This issue is about to get even more intense.  Why?

Kentucky lawmakers and Governor Matt Bevin approved a requirement for people who get health benefits from Medicaid to work or volunteer (with certain exceptions) at least 20 hours per week to keep their health benefits.  For Knox County, that means over 2,200 people, almost twice the population of the nearby city of Manchester, will soon be looking for work or a place to volunteer here. Many obviously have health issues. Others have limited education and training. 

Does Knox County have a good, well thought out plan, to find work for this many people quickly? Have you heard from any church, agency or civic group about how they can do this?  The robots are definitely not going to help 2,200 find jobs by July!

I believe work is a noble, good thing. But I think this situation is going to be a challenge for our county, and all the other 119 counties in our state.  What do you think?