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英文解釈の思考プロセス 第168回


今回の題材は、2017年2月21日(Digital Edition は2月20日付)の The New York Times 紙に掲載されたエッセイ、No, Robots Aren’t Killing the American Dream  ”いいえ、ロボットはアメリカン・ドリームを破壊している訳ではありません”  です。アメリカの勤労者を疲弊させているのはロボットに代表される最新の技術ではなく、政策の貧困であることを指摘しているエッセイです。全文の和訳はオリジナルの次にあります。

The Opinion Pages | Editorial

No, Robots Aren’t Killing the American Dream



Credit AJ Dungo

Defenders of globalization are on solid ground when they criticize President Trump’s threats of punitive tariffs and border walls. The economy can’t flourish without trade and immigrants.

But many of those defenders have their own dubious explanation for the economic disruption that helped to fuel the rise of Mr. Trump.

At a recent global forum in Dubai, Christine Lagarde, head of the International Monetary Fund, said some of the economic pain ascribed to globalization was instead due to the rise of robots taking jobs. In his farewell address in January, President Barack Obama warned that “the next wave of economic dislocations won’t come from overseas. It will come from the relentless pace of automation that makes a lot of good middle-class jobs obsolete.”

Blaming robots, though, while not as dangerous as protectionism and xenophobia, is also a distraction from real problems and real solutions.

The rise of modern robots is the latest chapter in a centuries-old story of technology replacing people. Automation is the hero of the story in good times and the villain in bad. Since today’s middle class is in the midst of a prolonged period of wage stagnation, it is especially vulnerable to blame-the-robot rhetoric.

Don’t Pin This on Robots

If automation were accelerating rapidly, labor productivity and capital investment would also be surging. Instead, they are growing at the slowest pace in decades.

Labor productivity

Capital investment


Postwar economic boom




Great productivity slowdown




Technology-led resurgence




Pre-recession deceleration




Great Recession and aftermath



And yet, the data indicate that today’s fear of robots is outpacing the actual advance of robots. If automation were rapidly accelerating, labor productivity and capital investment would also be surging as fewer workers and more technology did the work. But labor productivity and capital investment have actually decelerated in the 2000s.

While breakthroughs could come at any time, the problem with automation isn’t robots; it’s politicians, who have failed for decades to support policies that let workers share the wealth from technology-led growth.

The response in previous eras was quite different.

When automation on the farm resulted in the mass migration of Americans from rural to urban areas in the early decades of the 20th century, agricultural states led the way in instituting universal public high school education to prepare for the future. At the dawn of the modern technological age at the end of World War II, the G.I. Bill turned a generation of veterans into college graduates.

When productivity led to vast profits in America’s auto industry, unions ensured that pay rose accordingly.

Corporate efforts to keep profits high by keeping pay low were countered by a robust federal minimum wage and time-and-a-half for overtime.

Fair taxation of corporations and the wealthy ensured the public a fair share of profits from companies enriched by government investments in science and technology.

Productivity and pay rose in tandem for decades after World War II, until labor and wage protections began to be eroded. Public education has been given short shrift, unions have been weakened, tax overhauls have benefited the rich and basic labor standards have not been updated.

As a result, gains from improving technology have been concentrated at the top, damaging the middle class, while politicians blame immigrants and robots for the misery that is due to their own failures. Eroded policies need to be revived, and new ones enacted.

A curb on stock buybacks would help to ensure that executives could not enrich themselves as wages lagged.

Tax reform that increases revenue from corporations and the wealthy could help pay for retraining and education to protect and prepare the work force for foreseeable technological advancements.

Legislation to foster child care, elder care and fair scheduling would help employees keep up with changes in the economy, rather than losing ground.

Economic history shows that automation not only substitutes for human labor, it complements it. The disappearance of some jobs and industries gives rise to others. Nontechnology industries, from restaurants to personal fitness, benefit from the consumer demand that results from rising incomes in a growing economy. But only robust public policy can ensure that the benefits of growth are broadly shared.

If reforms are not enacted — as is likely with President Trump and congressional Republicans in charge — Americans should blame policy makers, not robots.

Follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook and Twitter (@NYTOpinion).

A version of this editorial appears in print on February 21, 2017, on Page A22 of the New York edition with the headline: Robots Are Getting a Bad Rap. Today’s Paper|Subscribe

< 全文和訳例 >



ドバイで開催された最近のグローバル・フォーラムにおいて、国際通貨基金(IMF)の専務理事であるクリスティーヌ・ラガルド女史は、グローバル化に起因すると考えられているいくつかの経済的苦痛は、グローバル化の問題ではなく、人間の仕事を奪っているロボットの隆盛によるものであると述べました。今年の1月の退任の挨拶の際、バラク・オバマ大統領は、”次の大規模な経済的あつれきの火種は、海外から来ることはありません。それは、多くのミドルクラスの生活を支える仕事を時代遅れのものにしてしまう、容赦ない自動化の速度によってもたらされることになるはずです。” と警告しました。








農業の分野における自動化が、20世紀初頭の数十年においてアメリカの勤労者が農村部から都市部へ大規模に移動するという変化をもたらした際、農業への依存度の高かった州政府は先頭に立って、青少年の将来を見据えて多様な技術の習得を目的とした高校教育改革を実施しました。第二次世界大戦後の技術革新時代の幕開けに際して、いわゆる復員軍人の権利の章典(GI Bill(1944年)大学への優先的入学や学費補助がその内容に含まれていた)は、若き復員軍人の大学入学を促進しました。










もしこの様な改革が実施されないのであれば ― トランプ大統領と議会の多数派を占める共和党がその任にあることを考慮すると、そうなる可能性が高いのですが ― アメリカ国民が非難すべきなのは、ロボットではなく政策の決定者達です。

To be continued.