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InsiderOnline Blog: June 2011

Efficiency Is the Source of Our Prosperity

President Obama thinks our economy should get less efficient. He recently told NBC News that the failure of his stimulus policies was caused by “some structural issues with our economy where a lot of businesses have learned to become much more efficient with a lot fewer workers.” His wrongheadedness continued: “You see it when you go to a bank and you use an ATM, you don’t go to a bank teller, or you go to the airport and you’re using a kiosk instead of checking in at the gate.”

Imagine if previous Presidents tried to use the same excuse. Don Boudreaux imagines it:

Pres. Grant, for example, might have grumbled in 1873 about “some structural issues with our economy where a lot of businesses have learned to become much more efficient with a lot fewer workers.  You see it when you go to a bank that uses a modern safe and so employs fewer armed guards than before, or when you travel on trains which, compared to stage coaches, transport many more passengers using fewer workers.”

Or Pres. Nixon might have groused in 1973 about such labor-saving innovation: “You see it when you step into an automatic elevator that doesn’t require an elevator operator, or when you observe that polio vaccination keeps people alive and active without the aid of nurses and all those workers who were once usefully employed making iron-lung machines, crutches, and wheelchairs.”

Do you, Pres. Obama, really wish to suggest that the innovations you blame for thwarting your fiscal policies are “structural issues” that ought to be corrected? [“Open Letter to Barack Obama” Café Hayek, June 15, 2011.]

Posted on 06/17/11 12:29 PM by Alex Adrianson

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