Yesterday, Barack Obama gave away the game. Without actually using the words, Barack Obama admitted he is completely and utterly ignorant about job creation and economics. In an interview with the Today Show, Barack Obama declared that the unemployment rate remains so high because of ATMS.
Sadly, many people will agree with him because they lack the vision to see the whole picture. They see less bank tellers and more ATMs — much as Barack Obama does — and presume this must mean higher unemployment. This myth, and it is a myth, is older than even the great lament that cars put blacksmiths on the unemployment line by getting rid of the need for horse shoes.
This left-wing populist thinking does not create jobs and often leads to dangerous policies that stifle the innovation that create the jobs that spring forth from the ATM’s replacing the bank tellers. Barack Obama sees less tellers at the banks because of ATM’s. But he does not see new IT workers at the bank to manage the ATM — higher paid than the tellers. He does not see the computer programmers. He does not see the manufacturers of the machines and their component parts.
Barack Obama should read Henry Hazlitt’s Economics in One Lesson. The book was written in 1945 and debunks Obama’s myth succinctly. K. E. Campbell links to the relevant portion:
Among the most viable of all economic delusions is the belief that machines on net balance create unemployment. Destroyed a thousand times, it has risen a thousand times out of its own ashes as hardy and vigorous as ever. Whenever there is a long-continued mass unemployment, machines get the blame anew. This fallacy is still the basis of many labor union practices…
The belief that machines cause unemployment…leads to preposterous conclusions. Not only must we be causing unemployment with every technological improvement we make today, but primitive man must have started causing it with the first efforts he made to save himself from needless toil and sweat…
For starters, this Obama comment really is odd when he wants the government to subsidize the production of electric cars, which would destroy whole sectors of the economy centered around gas fueled cars. If he believes ATM’s destroy jobs, why does he want to subsidize government innovation in green jobs, which would destroy other jobs? Of course, the answer to that is that he wants to destroy the other sectors.