May

14

 I have seen more and more of this story reiterated over the last few months… That hi-tech and robotic innovation are leading to greater displacement of the middle class in the United States and around the world.

"Think Your Job is Robot Proof? Think Again"

A Stanford professor recently commented that technology and scale are greater drivers of job displacement than previously expected. They are also the strongest drivers of significant wealth. The Forbes 400 is now dominated by innovation and those who have perfected scale.

I am surprised that so many economists have been commenting on this so often so recently, as if it's new news.

Ricardo noted this trend in technological unemployment long long ago, but it completely seemed to have disappeared as a story for 190 years.

Even Krugman admitted that if technology is such a significant driver of the divide between the rich and the poor, then surely it makes a mockery of any attempt to balance wealth in this nation since you cannot tear down innovation in the pursuit of balanced distribution.

How did economists ignore this? For fear of being labeled Marxist?

This reminds me of my first three minutes at Hopkins. I asked a professor who had worked at the DOE what would happen if a radical green innovation displaced oil…

He replied… "You don't want to go down that road…" Innovation has its downside, and to him, it was millions of angry young men in the middle east without a source of income from oil.

Stefan Jovanovich comments:

The principal argument of the intellectuals who supported slavery was that economics itself was an inherently "dismal science". Carlyle genuinely believed that a system of accounts based on money prices was far more vicious than any lash. His spoken corollary was that black people needed slavery because they could not otherwise compete. The unspoken corollary of his intellectual successors was that many other groups of people needed protections from the market because they, too, could not compete. That unspoken corollary became spoken when Progressives discovered Marx.

No believer in liberty in 19th century (the people who called themselves "liberals") had any doubt that machines could do it better, faster and cheaper. That was the point of inventing them in the first place. Those liberals also had no doubt that, in a world of scarcity, "better, faster and cheaper" was a good thing because savings and costs were more important than incomes. That is the same reason why they wanted Money to be made only out of the 16K tons of the one metal that was indestructible and, in milled coinage, impossible to fake. If prices had their unit of account determined by the supply of something that could only be produced with great ingenuity and industry, then the implicit fraud of government (we take money from you as an individual at the point of a gun so people you do not choose can receive benefits) would be limited;and thrift would be rewarded.

The liberals' faith was the presumption that, over time, thrift and family virtue would outrun the machines because accumulated capital would profit from the ever-lower costs that machines always produced. The Progressive/Marxist answer was that we could all speed up economic evolution if we just let the government keep the capital and define the costs. What is truly dismal about much of current academic economics is that the basic argument that produced the science itself is now considered to be a fully-settled question. Meanwhile, the economists on the street are filing for disability with the help of the friendly lawyers they found on TV, highly-penalized work (the stuff classified as "wage and hour" employment remains scarce, and yet per capita discretionary retail sales (what people buy after they pay for food, energy, communications and shelter) are once again rising.

As the Lackey would say, "Hah!"

The principal argument of the intellectuals who supported slavery was that economics itself was an inherently "dismal science". Carlyle genuinely believed that a system of accounts based on money prices was far more vicious than any lash. His spoken corollary was that black people needed slavery because they could not otherwise compete. The unspoken corollary of his intellectual successors was that many other groups of people needed protections from the market because they, too, could not compete. That unspoken corollary became spoken when Progressives discovered Marx.

No believer in liberty in 19th century (the people who called themselves "liberals") had any doubt that machines could do it better, faster and cheaper. That was the point of inventing them in the first place. Those liberals also had no doubt that, in a world of scarcity, "better, faster and cheaper" was a good thing because savings and costs were more important than incomes. That is the same reason why they wanted Money to be made only out of the 16K tons of the one metal that was indestructible and, in milled coinage, impossible to fake. If prices had their unit of account determined by the supply of something that could only be produced with great ingenuity and industry, then the implicit fraud of government (we take money from you as an individual at the point of a gun so people you do not choose can receive benefits) would be limited;and thrift would be rewarded.

The liberals' faith was the presumption that, over time, thrift and family virtue would outrun the machines because accumulated capital would profit from the ever-lower costs that machines always produced. The Progressive/Marxist answer was that we could all speed up economic evolution if we just let the government keep the capital and define the costs. What is truly dismal about much of current academic economics is that the basic argument that produced the science itself is now considered to be a fully-settled question. Meanwhile, the economists on the street are filing for disability with the help of the friendly lawyers they found on TV, highly-penalized work (the stuff classified as "wage and hour" employment remains scarce, and yet per capita discretionary retail sales (what people buy after they pay for food, energy, communications and shelter) are once again rising.

As the Lackey would say, "Hah!".

Jim Lackey responds:

Correction! It is Mr. Vic that says HA! Lackeys say, "get the joke", which is a joke as it takes me 3 times to get it… or the "get the joke is "we are the last to know" when it comes to the "news".


Comments

Name

Email

Website

Speak your mind

Archives

Resources & Links

Search