It is, to say the least of it, a very horrifying thing indeed that someone in this position of power actually believes an economic canard of this caliber — a canard that’s been bunked a billion times, and which, in fact, is so easily debunked — and yet it’s even more horrifying to realize that so much of this country’s economic fate is in the hands of one whose economic knowledge is this puerile.
I, for one, was absolutely appalled when I saw the following:
Russell Roberts, professor of economics at George Mason University and a research fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution, recently rebutted and demolished Obama’s absurd notions, by pointing out the obvious:
The story goes that Milton Friedman was once taken to see a massive government project somewhere in Asia. Thousands of workers using shovels were building a canal. Friedman was puzzled. Why weren’t there any excavators or any mechanized earth-moving equipment? A government official explained that using shovels created more jobs. Friedman’s response: “Then why not use spoons instead of shovels?”
… Or look at eggs. Today, a couple of workers can manage an egg-laying operation of almost a million chickens laying 240,000,000 eggs a year. How can two people pick up those eggs or feed those chickens or keep them healthy with medication? They can’t. The hen house does the work—it’s really smart. The two workers keep an eye on a highly mechanized, computerized process that would have been unimaginable 50 years ago.
The savings from higher productivity don’t just go to the owners of the textile factory or the mega hen house who now have lower costs of doing business. Lower costs don’t always mean higher profits. Or not for long. Those lower costs lead to lower prices as businesses compete with each other to appeal to consumers.
… Despite losing millions of jobs to technology and to trade, even in a recession we have more total jobs than we did when the steel and auto and telephone and food industries had a lot more workers and a lot fewer machines.
Why do new jobs get created? When it gets cheaper to make food and clothing, there are more resources and people available to create new products that didn’t exist before. Fifty years ago, the computer industry was tiny. It was able to expand because we no longer had to have so many workers connecting telephone calls. So many job descriptions exist today that didn’t even exist 15 or 20 years ago. That’s only possible when technology makes workers more productive (boldface mine).
This, incidentally, is another manifestation of Bastiat’s economic law: “What is seen and what is not seen.”