Jesse Jackson, a United States House of Representatives member from Illinois, has gone and flip-flopped his position regarding the iPad. In March, he stated that the United States Federal Government should provide an iPad to every student because “…[it] will fundamentally alter how we educate our children.” He’s certainly correct in this statement — the iPad is fundamentally changing how children interact with the world and how they learn.
However, more recently, Rep. Jackson has stated that the iPad “is now probably responsible for eliminating thousands of American Jobs.” How, you may wonder, is this possible?. According to Rep. Jackson, users no longer need to go to Borders or Barnes and Noble to purchase books — they can just download them instead.
Rep. Jackson also brings up Chicago State University, where they give incoming freshmen iPads to use for their textbooks instead of the physical books. Within four years, Chicago State University wants to go entirely e-textbook. Rep. Jackson is concerned with what will happen to the publishing jobs, bookstores, librarians, and all the other the jobs associated with paper.
Rep. Jackson also states:
“Steve Jobs is doing pretty well. He’s created the iPad. Certainly it has made life more efficient for Americans. But, it is produced in China. It’s not produced here in the United States. So the Chinese get to take advantage of our first amendment value. That is to provide freedom of speech through the iPad to the American People. There is no protection for jobs here in America to ensure that the american people are being put to work.”
What the heck is he thinking? True, he makes some valid statements. The iPad is a disruptive piece of technology and industries are going to have to adapt to this disruption or they will suffer by being eliminated. Yes, the iPad is manufactured in China. If the iPad were to be manufactured in the United States, the price of the iPad would jump significantly due to labor costs.
In regards to the Chicago State University information provided by Rep. Jackson, I don’t believe he fully understands how much publishers overcharge for textbooks. Having the ability to purchase, or rent, textbooks at a significant price reduction might make going to college more affordable, and possibly even more enjoyable for students, simply because they wouldn’t have to fret so much over how much school is going to cost them. Therefore, by reducing how much school costs, you can reduce the amount that must be borrowed, which reduces the burden on the government for funding.
The piece that I find the most interesting is that he thinks librarian jobs are going to be eliminated. Having worked in an Illinois library for 12 years, I can say that we don’t just sit back and read books all day. We are keenly aware of the impact that items like e-books, audiobooks, and even research databases have had on our collections. Guess what? We are still thriving. As a matter of fact, the circulation for our library has gone up, not down, and our primary product is still — wait for it — physical paper books. This may change over the next decade, but we’ll adapt and provide what our patrons are seeking.
I think Congress needs a good lesson in exactly how technology works, and more importantly, should verify their facts before making false claims and blaming technology for the loss of American jobs instead of other factors that may be at play. Sometimes we receive affirmation that the representative body of the United States is aptly named Congress.
Article Via Real Clear Politics