There’s been a lot of talk these days about robots eventually displacing the human workforce. The 21st Century has seen the rise of the machine assuming all kinds of job responsibilities — which, heretofore was the work of men and women.
Whether it’s IBM's supercomputer Watson preparing our taxes, smaller home devices like Roomba cleaning our homes, or the new robocops rolling off the assembly line in China, humans are facing a dramatic change in our work lives . . . a transition period when we will not be able to compete for certain jobs any longer.
But it’s not only Robots . . .
According to CNBC’s correspondent Abigail Hess, it's not just robots taking our jobs. She singles out other life-forms, also competing for the jobs of humans: “Job-stealing robots seem to be on everybody's minds these days. Whatever the reason for lost jobs, people point fingers at the coming robotic workforce — but what if the scapegoat was an actual goat?”
It’s Hess’ contention goats are being hired to take on landscaping job assignments — resulting in certain laborers losing their paychecks.
Goats for Hire - no kidding!
Back in 2009, Google launched an initiative, which received widespread national publicity when they took a low-carbon approach to mowing fields at their Mountain View headquarters’ in the Silicon Valley. Instead of using noisy lawn mowers that run on gasoline and pollute our air, they rented goats from California Grazing to do the job.
Following in Google’s footsteps [literally], Y’herd Me?Landscaping was founded by Morgana King in 2013 to create a similar service.
Having been a goat owner for 10 years in New Orleans and with a herd that had grown from one to two fold, her business model was fairly simple. She, similar to Google used goat-powered landscapers to do the job of clearing brush.
In so doing, King won a contract with the city's Parks and Parkways department, which awarded her with a six-month, $5,000 landscaping contract.
Elsewhere in the country, another team of goats appropriately named the " Muchers on Hooves” caused a bit of a stir after Western Michigan University hired them to virtually clear out a woodlot on campus.
So upset were the displaced human workers, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) recently filed a grievance with the university, arguing that these four-legged union-busters were taking jobs away from their members.
Western Michigan spokesperson Cheryl Roland defended the university's decision, saying, "The area is rife with poison ivy and other invasive species, and our analysis showed the goats to be a sustainable and cost-effective way of removing them."
While the AFSCME may be in their rights to continue with this litigation, The Washington Post asserts that the goats might have the upper hand, or upper hoof, as the case may be. It’s been calculated that if all of the 2.5 million goats in the U.S. were hired to control brush, only 347 full-time jobs would be lost.
So while the odds appear to be in favor of a small number of goats taking these jobs, the response from the AFSCME underscores the reality of the situation: “Cute story. Too bad they didn't interview the 9 actual employees who are laid off without work or unemployment. Not so cute to a single mom without work.”
Is this just baaaad business, or a case of the grass is greener on the other side? Weigh in readers and let us know your thoughts?