Kamala Harris talks Wolverine and the American job market


Senator Harris discussed Wolverine and the X-Men to encourage realism about the economy

Sometimes, public figures try to latch onto pop culture as a weird and ineffective way to keep relevant. Now, it’s not as if the issues they’re discussing aren’t important. It’s just that you want to sit them down for a weekend of superhero movies just so they can get their metaphors right.

California Senator Kamala Harris, however, appears to have already done her homework. Moreover, she just proved that she can make a meaningful, relevant connection between our world and pop culture without falling flat on her face.

Sen. Harris participated in a live taping of Pod Save America, a podcast hosted by Jon Favreau, Tommy Vietor, Jon Lovett, and Dan Pfeiffer. During the hosts’ interview with Harris, she first discussed her love of the X-Men. Later, Harris addressed the issue of America’s future job market, drawing in her favorite superhero team along the way.

Much has been made in recent months of the changing nature of jobs available to Americans. Trump ran in part on the promise that he would revitalize struggling job sectors, such as the dramatically dwindling coal industry.

However, Harris has a different opinion. After all, how exactly will the Trump administration revive coal jobs when there is such stringent competition from other energy industries and dwindling resources in coal regions? Instead, the Senator argued that American citizens must accept some very hard truths. Namely: some jobs just aren’t coming back.

What’s Wolverine got to do with it?

The recent Wolverine movie, Logan, provided fodder for one of her examples. Next time you watch Logan, take a look at the highways. Notice anything different? Specifically, a majority of cars appear to be entirely driverless.

Though Logan starts the film as a limo driver, it soon becomes clear that, employment-wise, he’s something of a unicorn. Also, given his grimy digs and money issues, it’s obvious that Wolverine isn’t raking in the cash. In the near-future world of Logan, trucking and transportation jobs have become largely automated.

Sadly, we don’t live in a world where Hugh Jackman sports for-real adamantium claws and Ian McKellen can control anything with a magnetic field. Still, parts of Logan seem almost inevitable.

Driverless cars, for instance, have already started to hit the streets. Should we then impose artificial limitations on what will likely be a far safer and more efficient means of transport, simply to provide more jobs? Perhaps we should also hire old-time elevator operators in order to create another job source.

The future of the U.S. job market is in flux. We can’t be entirely sure what employment statistics are going to look like in ten or twenty years. Still, there are a few clear trends. Many jobs will soon be automated. A large number of manual labor jobs will fade away, while service-sector positions will likely grow in importance.

It’s highly unlikely that artificial limitations imposed by companies or government agencies will work in the long term. Capitalism, after all, can be frankly uncaring when it comes to human happiness and comfort.

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As long as we’re all taking part in this system, it behooves us to be straightforward about its realities. Kudos to Senator Harris for being forthright and for getting her Wolverine references in line.