Obama Blames Job Losses on Technology

We’ve been told that President Obama is a graduate of Columbia University and Harvard Law School, where he was the president of the Harvard Law Review. Anybody who gets into Columbia and Harvard has to have some smarts. Then please tell me why he often sounds so stupid.

At a stop in Atkinson, Illinois, the President spoke about the need for education at an agricultural company named Wyffels Hybrids, Inc. He said that America is no longer a place where you can just “work hard” and thereby find a good job. Actually, just working hard has never been the ticket to finding a good job. That aside, he went on to say some stupid things. He may have a degree in law, but it looks like he didn’t take a single course in history or economics:

One of the challenges in terms of rebuilding our economy is – businesses have gotten so efficient, that, uh, when was the last time somebody went to a bank teller? Instead of using an ATM. Or, used a travel agent instead of going online. A lot of jobs out that that used to require people now have become automated.

In June of 2011, the President followed a similar script when he was interviewed by NBC News:

“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 all these things have created changes. . . .”

Yes, there have been changes similar to when the automobile was invented and put buggy manufacturing and related industries out of business. But the automobile industry created many more jobs than the buggy business ever could have created. In addition, the automobile cut down on horse pollution and the diseases that came with it.

The natural gas industry opposed the electric light because it would cut into their near monopoly of the in-house lighting business. Again, electricity and the lighting business are multi-billion dollar business today employing tens of thousands of people. Then there’s the added safety benefit that comes with electricity.

The movie industry worked hard to stop the production of video tape recorders. They argued that it would hurt their theater business. It didn’t.

Obama mentioned travel agencies. Yes, many of them went out of business, but new businesses were created out of their ashes. There are a plethora of travel options all over the internet that compete on price. Consumers are the beneficiaries. More jobs were created.

When I got into the publishing business, the first book I wrote was done on a typewriter. The typed pages had to be retyped for an electronic typography machine which had replaced lead type, which had replaced wooden block type, which had replaced painstakingly copied and expensive written books that only the wealthy could afford.

This all changed with the computer and desk top publishing. Many, maybe even most, typography shops went out of business, but publishing became less expensive. The process of getting a book from conception to the press was laborious and expensive the old way. Now a book can be typeset in hours and sent electronically to the printer in seconds. Beyond the printed book, books can be downloaded and read as PDFs or any number of eReader formats. Think of the jobs that have been created by the Nook and Kindle.

My wife and just got back from Nashville. One of the places we went was The Mall at Green Hills. The busiest store was the Apple store. It was packed. There wasn’t a store selling type writers, record players, or vinyl records. All these industries have nearly been put out of business. Environmentalists should be happy. Selling digits is less environmentally damaging than producing vinyl records and CDs. By the way, we didn’t pass a single typesetting shop or business selling typewriters on our way to the mall.

Here’s a comment by an Obama automaton that I found on a website where he responded to an article about the President’s comments on job losses and technology:

Technology is TAKING our jobs. What jobs exactly has technology created? I’m not talking about the rare computer geek, I’m talking about for regular folks who worked as cashiers, for teenagers, for guys who drove forklifts? There needs to be a special place in hell for Republicans who are so hell bent on defending the rich you have forgotten about everyday people.

The same could have been said about Gutenberg’s helpers or those who worked for the local buggy whip manufacturer. The neo-Luddite asks, “What jobs exactly has technology created?” It would take me all day to list them. The fact that he’s using a computer is one of them.