Based on the figures released yesterday for the second quarter, it looks like businesses continue to replace human beings with machines. According to the Times, "[t]he crucial driver of growth in the second quarter was business investment in such things as office buildings, equipment, and software." Such investment roughly doubled over that of the first quarter.
From the perspective of an individual business, it makes sense to replace a human being with a machine. Machines don't call in sick. They don't get time-and-a-half when you need them to work overtime. Once they're programmed, they just keep doing their jobs the same, dependable way, without getting bored and letting their attention wander. They don't go out for lunch and come back with a couple of beers in them.
The drawback of machines, though, is that they don't buy anything. They may create a little demand for energy, spare parts and updated software, but they don't drink Pepsi or eat Froot Loops or wear Levis or talk on cell phones. As consumers go, machines are very limited.
The more of our production done by machines, the less consumption done by our human beings. No wonder the money men are so concerned about our trade imbalance. They're going to have to sell a whole lot of their shit to foreigners because fewer and fewer Americans will have the jobs they need to earn the money they need to buy it.