Free Markets, Free People

“Painful ignorance”

As I mentioned in an earlier post, it is frightening to read the words by this President and it is hard not be appalled by the apparent economic ignorance they contain.  We’ve remarked on it several times.  In particular this statement is stunning in that regard:

Factories where people thought they would retire suddenly picked up and went overseas, where workers were cheaper. Steel mills that needed 100—or 1,000 employees are now able to do the same work with 100 employees, so layoffs too often became permanent, not just a temporary part of the business cycle. And these changes didn’t just affect blue-collar workers. If you were a bank teller or a phone operator or a travel agent, you saw many in your profession replaced by ATMs and the Internet.

Richard Epstein of the Hoover Institution noticed it too.  And in very blunt language, points the very same thing we’ve been talking about:

To anyone schooled in economics, these statements reveal a breathtaking ignorance about the sources of national prosperity.  It is a good thing when plants can achieve the same output with less labor. Do we really want an America in which thousands of people work in dangerous occupations to turn molten lava into steel bars? Far better it is that fewer workers are doing those jobs. The jobs lost in that industry will be in part replaced by newer jobs created in the firms that build the equipment that make it possible to run steel mills at a lower cost and far lower risk of personal injury. The former workers can seek jobs in newer industries that will only expand by competing for labor.

And what about those ATM machines? Does the president really want people to have to queue up in banks to make deposits or withdraw cash in order to make a boom market for human tellers? Perhaps we should return to the days before automation, when phone calls were all connected by human operators. And why blast the Internet, which has created far more useful jobs than it has ever destroyed?

The painful ignorance that is revealed in these remarks augurs ill for the long-term recovery of America. With the president firmly determined to set himself against the tides of progress, innovation will be harder to come by. The levels of unemployment will continue to be high as the president works overtime to impose additional restrictions on the labor markets and more taxes at the top of the income distribution—both backhanded ways to reward innovation and growth.

The problem, therefore, with the president’s speech is not that it is demagogic in tone. The problem is that it is intellectually incoherent. As a matter of high principle, the president announces his fealty to markets. As a matter of practical politics, he denigrates and undermines them at every step. It is a frightening prospect to have a president who lives in a time warp that lets him believe that the failed policies of 1935 can lead this nation back from the brink. His chosen constituency, the middle class, should tremble at the prospect that his agenda might well set the course for the United States for the next four years.

Well said, but frightening.  Take the time to read the rest of Epstein’s piece.  It’s worth the read.


Twitter: @McQandO

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36 Responses to “Painful ignorance”

  • “Change … a difficult concept”

  • “Painful ignorance”

    Very diplomatic. I would have said Transcendent STOOOOOOOoooooopid.

    “Factories where people thought they would retire suddenly picked up and went overseas, where workers were cheaper.”

    Extraneous crap…tax rates, regulatory expense, tariffs…aside, American workers are “cheaper” because they are highly productive.

    They are highly productive because American business INVESTS HUGE in plant capital.

    Seriously, is there ANYTHING this putz really DOES get…????

    • @Ragspierre Uh, no.

    • @Ragspierre If he ever figures out the fundamental laws of thermodynamics, he will come to the realization that you have to work with givens, not declare them null and void.
      (Suddenly, I get this image from the old record album that made fun of the Kennedys back in the 60’s .. Teddy asks why he has to follow Jack’s rules; Jack explains that it’s his football)

      • @Neo_ Thermodynamics…??? You mean like signing an edict that suspends them in favor of Moonpony Engineering…such as the new CAFE standards…???

        HAS the man EVER watched a movie from the 30s or early 40s…??? What happened to all those guys who brought us blocks of ice, or milk to our doors. When was the last time you had three guys run out to meet your car when you pulled in to buy gas…and not in that bad “car-jack” way….???

        • @Ragspierre The laws governing (or lack of governing) entropy

        • @Ragspierre Forrest Gump was smarter. At least he knew that “sh–it happens”

        • @Neo_ “I’m not a smart ma-yan, but even I know…”

          The beginning of wisdom is knowing you don’t know everything…and CAN’T.

          I wish Bad Luck Barry could make a beginning…

          Can’t recall, but I read a piece by somebody (Ace?) asking when Barry last learned ANYTHING…last had his world-view changed even slightly? The power of a closed mind…???

        • @Neo_ @Ragspierre I’m pretty sure that Obama tried to pass the 4th law of thermidynamics, which states that entropy is alternative energy (and so you can get good mileage from your clunker if you install Solyndra’s flux capacitor, once it is released to market after another billion bucks of bribery, errr, r&d is done) but was blocked by the anti-science Republicans.

        • @Neo_ @Ragspierre I’m pretty sure that Obama tried to pass the 4th law of thermidynamics, which states that entropy is alternative energy (and so you can get good mileage from your clunker if you install Solyndra’s flux capacitor, once it is released to market after another billion bucks of bribery, errr, r&d is done) but was blocked by the anti-science Republicans who are so deep in the pay of big oil that they refused to see the consensus of the 99% of 12 academics that perpetual motion was now certainly real.

        • @DocD @Neo_ Dude, the flux crapicitor is SOOOO pie-in-the-sky…YEARS off. We could have the carburetors that burn water NOW if they would just make the BIG 3 and oil companies release it from Area 51.

          OccupyELRONHUBBARD…!!! (Hope I didn’t offend anybody…)

    • @Ragspierre Why does this come to mind …

    • @Ragspierre He really needs to thank all those folks that helped his campaign use the “social media” so well because he has no idea what it is all about. In a sense, this is the reincarnation of Bush 41 seeing the bar code readers in the supermarket.

      • @Neo_ Well, except that 41 might NEVER know from bar-codes and NOBODY would have lost their job, retirement, education savings, etc.

        • @Ragspierre … and the streets aren’t hip deep in horse shit

        • @Ragspierre @Neo_ AND 41 never thought our future was tied to educating kids to work in the bar-code factory.

        • @Neo_ True that…not to speak of the aerosols of suspended horse poop hanging in the air.

          OR the tens of thousands of us who would be killed in horse-related mishaps (no kidding…horses will do crazy things. Like Collectivisits…but way stronger.)

        • @Ragspierre @Neo_ “Like Collectivisits…but way stronger.)”
          And possibly more intelligent.

        • @looker @Neo_ Way purtier, fer sure… Ask any 8 yr old girl…

      • @Ragspierre Didn’w we get here by picking a President based on his abilities in a debate.
        Seems an awfully stupid way to pick an administrator, and look at the nincompoop that got selected.

        • @Neo_ @Ragspierre I thought we picked him based on his ability to, uh, to….what was his ability again?

          Was it this? –

        • @Neo_ As I asked elsewhere the other day…

          The POTUS is–

          1. Chief executive of the Executive Branch

          2. Champeen debater

          3. IQ-by-remote-sensing audience vote getter

          Perry is the longest-serving chief executive of Texas in history. Politics is not bean-bag in Texas.

          And…Chesterton’s Fence Fallacy.

  • “They should be rebuilding our roads and our bridges, laying down faster railroads and broadband, modernizing our schools — (applause) — all the things other countries are already doing to attract good jobs and businesses to their shores.”

    Yes, roads and bridges that you won’t be able to drive on because the government has done it’s level best to make sure petroleum products are priced to a level that makes inefficient solar and wind look economical.

    “Franklin Roosevelt worked with Democrats and Republicans to give veterans of World War II — including my grandfather, Stanley Dunham — the chance to go to college on the G.I. Bill. ”

    Stanley Dunham, who, uh, actually SERVED his country, as opposed to a motley collection of questionable major studies students who’s idea of service was the guy bringing them their pizza after they phoned in the order on their I-Phone. People who think they are OWED a college education, as opposed to Stanley, who probably thought he OWED the country his service during WW II and almost certainly didn’t sign up just for the college loan.

    “Of course, those productive investments cost money. They’re not free. And so we’ve also paid for these investments by asking everybody to do their fair share. Look, if we had unlimited resources, no one would ever have to pay any taxes and we would never have to cut any spending. But we don’t have unlimited resources. And so we have to set priorities. If we want a strong middle class, then our tax code must reflect our values. We have to make choices.”

    Not free, no, damn right, if you wanted government to invest in your solar power plant, there for damned sure needed to be some money bundled back into the campaign fund, and everyone in the country needed to pay their fair share of that so that pay back went to those contributors. But we don’t have unlimited resources, and choices had to be made, and that’s why his contributors got paid off, and McCain’s probably (but not certainly) didn’t.

    “Today that choice is very clear. To reduce our deficit, I’ve already signed nearly $1 trillion of spending cuts into law and I’ve proposed trillions more, including reforms that would lower the cost of Medicare and Medicaid. ”
    And then signed legislation and executive orders that probably exceed $3 trillion in additional spending, you do the math as to which direction we’re headed.

    • @looker Personally, Obama forever lost me when after weeks of negotiating with the Republicans over the debt limit and debt reduction (where they cobbled together a meaningless $1.2 trillion debt reduction “good intentions”), he turned around the next week and asked Congress for another $400+ billion in additional unfunded spending (now part of his “Pass This Bill” campaign). I’m surprised that Tea Party half of the Republican caucus didn’t have a stroke. It’s easier to herd cats than teach this idiot anything.

  • Funny how most industries evolve and change, appear and disappear, except prostitution and politics. The former I can understand, but I don’t see why politics requires an ever growing workforce.

    • @DocD For the right funding, I could do an in-depth study to explore a possible linkage/consolidation. “Just think, Igor…a politician with an actual practical use…!!!”

      • @Ragspierre ” For the right funding,”

        Just don’t call it a stimulus package…

        • @DocD Oh, no! “Pure research”. Well…

          But think of it…they could be self-sustaining! It really should be…explored!!!

    • @DocD “I don’t see why politics requires an ever growing workforce.”

      to cover the ever growing population. Bigger herd, more parasites.

  • On the subject of “Painful Ignorance”…

    or Excruciating Delusions….

    Ditzy Wassername Schultz, as only she can do it…


    An excellent little piece that should make Erp’s head explode. It may deserve its own post, McQ.