Writes economist Richard Salsman over at Forbes in Obama The Luddite: Friend To Labor Unions, Enemy Of Job Creators:

Before citing the many ways Washington’s policies impede job creation, let’s first consider Obama’s pet theory, which is centuries old and as fallacious as ever. Believe it or not, he blames high joblessness on automation, technology and efficiency. In a recent interview with NBC News, the president, asked why the U.S. jobless rate remained so high, answered:

There are 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 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.

So Obama prefers that humans again perform such automated tasks?

The economic illiteracy exposed by Obama’s resort to this ancient, bogus claim is truly astounding. Citizens should be shocked to find their political leader (and his advisors?) spouting such junk — and worse, pushing labor policies that embody the idiocy. The myth that automation or technology kills an economy’s job growth has been refuted by political economists (and empirical history) at least since the 16th century. Indeed, the Industrial Revolution itself (since 1750) entails the near-incessant introduction of new machines, factories, technologies, energies and transportation-communication systems — all of which saved physical labor and made skilled labor more productive (thus better paid), and coincided with massive growth in all kinds of jobs, including in services, intellectual fields and in the invention, design and creation of new technologies.

When it comes to genuine, pro-capitalist job-creation, Obama is a saboteur, in the original meaning of the word. Its root is sabot, which is French for “wooden shoe,” and it was such shoes (clogs) that insecure, ignorant Dutch workers threw into the gears of new machines centuries ago, hoping to impede output gains and prevent job losses among colleagues. To sabotage something means to purposely weaken or destroy it through subversion, obstruction and disruption. That’s what public policy does today to those who might hire labor.

Similarly, the “Luddites” were a gang of disgruntled British textile artisans in the 19th century (headed by a stupid thug named Ned Ludd) that tried to prevent the entry of more productive and mechanized looms by destroying them. The Luddites were applauded by village idiots who thought the destruction would “save” jobs. Obama is a current-day Luddite who obstructs industrial development and obsesses about such old-fashioned things as windmills, solar power and “shovel-ready” projects.

If economic activity is to be rational, profitable and thus beneficial to human well-being, the aim must be not more work or jobs for the mere sake of it, but to become wealthier and improve one’s living standards, through greater productivity. That goal often entails working less and devoting more time to leisure, perhaps even by reducing the number of workers per household, if it’s affordable.

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