Innovation and technology are killing the economy?


The global economy is being reshaped by machines that generate and analyze vast amounts of data; by devices such as smartphones and tablet computers that let people work just about anywhere, even when they’re on the move; by smarter, nimbler robots; and by services that let businesses rent computing power when they need it, instead of installing expensive equipment and hiring IT staffs to run it. Whole employment categories, from secretaries to travel agents, are starting to disappear…

For more than three decades, technology has reduced the number of jobs in manufacturing. Robots and other machines controlled by computer programs work faster and make fewer mistakes than humans. Now, that same efficiency is being unleashed in the service economy, which employs more than two-thirds of the workforce in developed countries. Technology is eliminating jobs in office buildings, retail establishments and other businesses consumers deal with every day.

News flash from 1910: buggy whip makers decimated. News flash from 1913: Ford’s new invention of the “assembly line” destroys jobs at other makers of auto-mobiles. News flash from 1960: railroads’ passenger business destroyed by the jet airplane. Newsflash from 1970: Eastman Kodak investigated by Department of Justice for monopoly on photographic film. News flash from 2012: Kodak goes out of business. News flash from 1969: DOJ sues IBM for having illegal monopoly on “computers”. News flash from 2013: IBM? What’s that?

It couldn’t be policy choices, could it? How many jobs have been created in China since 1989? 300 million? 500 million? This silliness from AP is what you get when Ivy League professors’ political donations are 96% in one direction. We first warned just a few years ago that the young were becoming dangerously out of touch with the history of this country, and the marvels of technology, innovation and capitalism. Since then we’ve had smartphones, tablets, ubiquitous wireless and the social networks — all without government. But it’s technology that’s ruining things, not government policies. Thanks, AP.

(And on the government side, because of environmental regulations, no oil refineries have been built in the US in 30 years. We’re still importing dangerous levels of foreign oil when there is no technical or economic reason to be doing so. And it takes 10x longer to build some skyscrapers than it did 80 years ago. Oh yes, how many millions of children have died worldwide from malaria since the US took the lead in banning DDT in 1972?)

4 Responses to “Innovation and technology are killing the economy?”

  1. Maggie's Farm Says:

    A nation of takers…

    Related to the post we linked this morning from (the Liberal Dem) Mead on one of the assumptions of modern Liberalism (ie the notion that most of the masses will never do much or reach full self-sufficiency), A nation of takers. Naturally, we…

  2. Andrew_M_Garland Says:

    Most of the jobs available in 1900 have gone away and have not been replaced by anything immediately related.

    Farming has been particularly devastated. In 1900, 38% of the population worked in farms, compared to 2.6% in 1990. A large segment of the population doing simple, manual labor has died out, it seems.

    The growing efficiency of labor has led to the utter desolation of our society. The standard of living in 1900 is now provided by 10% of the workforce, leaving everyone else to beg for nourishment from the lucky few who have those new and vastly more productive jobs.

    All sarcasm aside, the growing efficiency of machine-assisted labor has been a very good thing. The efficiency of specialization, mass production, and trade is what gives us our modern incomes and lifestyles. There is no reason to believe that current developments in mechanization, specialization, and trade is any different, even across national boundaries.

  3. MarkD Says:

    I’m old enough to have had a summer job in a factory that produced silicon carbide in open air furnaces. The soot would get in your lungs, and it was fine enough to work its way into a watch and grind it into immobility. Those jobs are gone, and that is not a bad thing. I’m sure they killed some people.

    The problem, of course, is what to do with the people who have no usable skills in the information age economy. There’s a debate worth having, because machines and automation will eventually do away with labor as we know it.

  4. fiona Says:

    It’s worse than you think – recently our waste removal company moved to new methods – where once we had a truck driver and 2-3 loaders, the new company has one driver with a robot arm, requires special waste cans and runs the same route in less time. I assume there are some additional higher paid jobs in keeping the truck running, but probably not as many as were lost. This continues the tread toward “outsourcing to your customers” – think self service gas stations, busing tables at fast food restaurants, etc. All examples of low skill customer service jobs driven out by minimum wage rules and workers’ comp expenses. As in factories, any additional jobs required by the change are higher skilled than the unemployed could qualify for.

    The US now produces more manufactured goods by $ value than in any time in the past, with fewer workers.

Leave a Reply