Loss of Jobs Bogeyman

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This
morning I took out the trash. It is now picked up almost completely
mechanically – the truck drives by, stops, and the driver pushes
a button that makes mechanical arms reach out and pick up the huge
container and lift it in the air and dump the contents in with the
rest that's been picked up around the neighborhood.

Oh,
but what a crime this is. I recall when three or four people ran
around collecting the trash, lifting the container manually and
dumping the contents into the truck. Whoever invented that mechanical
contraption must be – if we are to believe John Kerry, John Edwards
and it seems the entire Democratic Party of the United States of
America, as well as a bunch of their academic apologists – a lowly
criminal, a thief. He robbed all the folks who used to pick up the
trash of their jobs!

Never
mind that at the same time new jobs opened up at the plants where
these mechanical contraptions are being manufactured. There are
now people making these new trucks, administering their various
paperwork, guarding the plants and so forth, with new jobs, jobs
that didn't exist before. These folks, too, must be in cahoots with
the thieves, of course, since they are beneficiaries of the loss
of jobs suffered by the trash crews that are no longer needed in
our neighborhood.

What
nonsense. And the same nonsense is being peddled to people around
the country now, by these folks who are banking on monumental economic
ignorance so they can get elected to office where they will attempt
to enact laws and regulations that only an out-and-out Luddite could
be proud of. Luddites were a bunch of British workers in the 19th
century who went about destroying machines that replaced manual
laborers and saved a lot of money in the process. They thought that
this must be some kind of plot against working people because on
first inspection they were, indeed, laid off, replaced by the machines.

The
fact that the money saved with these machines – indeed, with
most machines that are introduced to take over the physical or even
mental labors of actual human beings – is then spent on new
devices and contraptions which require the creation of new jobs
to be produced, marketed, and sold didn't much bother the Luddites.
They saw only what stared them in the face, namely, some people
no longer working at a job they used to hold down. Thinking it through
would, of course, have informed them about just how these things
work out, but that was too much trouble.

Or,
perhaps, many of those who do the work that's being replaced either
by labor saving machines at home or by lower-paid workers abroad
simply cannot fathom having to be reeducated to meet the needs of
a changing market place. This is what is most frightening –
that the Democratic Party and all those who pitch their misguided
economic views are really simply catering to the laziest folks in
the labor force, those who are unwilling to cope with the need to
make some changes in their preparedness for work.

Now,
of course, many of us get into a kind of mindless routine and begin
to wish that the world would just calm down so we need no longer
bother with retraining, learning new tricks, changing our habitual
ways. Maybe in our later years this is taken to be prudent, sensible
– after all, the rat race to keep up can appear rather exasperating.

But
what about old dogs learning some new tricks? What about living
in the present and not in the obsolete past? Even apart from the
narrow-mindedness of this ideology of "loss of jobs" when
it comes to begrudging the world the benefits of innovation, what
about one's own premature mental and physical retirement? Is it
really such a wonderful thing for one to get caught in a static
state, a rot, in other words? I doubt it. And Democrats should be
ashamed to be kowtowing to those who prefer to stand still and prevent
the world from moving forward, toward improved ways of living and
working.

February
19, 2004

Tibor
Machan [send
him mail
] holds
the Freedom Communications Professorship of Free Enterprise and
Business Ethics at the Argyros School of Business & Economics, Chapman
University, CA. A Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford
University, he is author of 20+ books, most recently, Putting
Humans First: Why We Are Nature’s Favorite
.

Tibor
Machan Archives


        
        

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