Tag Archives: Economic Illiteracy

Is Obama right to say that technology destroys jobs?

From the Wall Street Journal, a rebuttal to the community organizer’s latest episode of economic illiteracy.

Excerpt:

Today, a couple of workers can manage an egg-laying operation of almost a million chickens laying 240,000,000 eggs a year. How can two people pick up those eggs or feed those chickens or keep them healthy with medication? They can’t. The hen house does the work—it’s really smart. The two workers keep an eye on a highly mechanized, computerized process that would have been unimaginable 50 years ago.

But should we call this progress? In a sense it sounds like a deal with the devil. Replace workers with machines in the name of lower costs. Profits rise. Repeat. It’s a wonder unemployment is only 9.1%. Shouldn’t the economy put people ahead of profits?

Well, it does. The savings from higher productivity don’t just go to the owners of the textile factory or the mega hen house who now have lower costs of doing business. Lower costs don’t always mean higher profits. Or not for long. Those lower costs lead to lower prices as businesses compete with each other to appeal to consumers.

The result is a higher standard of living for consumers. The average worker has to work fewer and fewer hours to earn enough money to buy a dozen eggs or a pair of shoes or a flat-screen TV or a new car that’s safer and gets better mileage than the cars of yesteryear. That higher standard of living comes from technology. It isn’t just the rich who get cheaper TVs and cars, plus the convenience of using an ATM at midnight.

Somehow, new jobs get created to replace the old ones. Despite losing millions of jobs to technology and to trade, even in a recession we have more total jobs than we did when the steel and auto and telephone and food industries had a lot more workers and a lot fewer machines.

Why do new jobs get created? When it gets cheaper to make food and clothing, there are more resources and people available to create new products that didn’t exist before. Fifty years ago, the computer industry was tiny. It was able to expand because we no longer had to have so many workers connecting telephone calls. So many job descriptions exist today that didn’t even exist 15 or 20 years ago. That’s only possible when technology makes workers more productive.

This is discussed more in Jay Richards’ book “Money, Greed and God“, which is an excellent little introduction to economics meant for Christians. The chapter you want is on “The Materialist Myth”, which is the idea that wealth is only ever shuffled around, and never created.

OAS report details violence and lost freedoms in communist Venezuela

Story from the Washington Post. (H/T Red State)

Excerpt:

THE ORGANIZATION of American States has failed to respond to the steady deterioration of Latin American democracy during the past few years, even though the defense of democracy is supposed to be one of its primary missions. Now the OAS — and governments throughout the region — have been shamed by one of its own branch organizations. Last week, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights issued a searing and authoritative report on the destruction of Venezuela’s political institutions and the erosion of freedom under President Hugo Chávez.

[…]In meticulous detail, the 300-page report documents how Mr. Chávez’s regime has done away with judicial independence, intimidated or eliminated opposition media, stripped elected opposition leaders of their powers, and used bogus criminal charges to silence human rights groups.

[…]Particularly shocking is the commission’s account of the role that violence and murder have played in Mr. Chávez’s concentration of power. The report documents killings of journalists, opposition protesters and farmers; it says that 173 trade union leaders and members were slain between 1997 and 2009 “in the context of trade union violence, with contract killings being the most common method for attacking union leaders.” The report says that in 2008 Venezuela’s human rights ombudsman recorded 134 complaints of arbitrary killings by security forces, 87 allegations of torture and 33 cases of forced disappearance. It also asserts that radical groups allied with Mr. Chávez “are perpetrating acts of violence with the involvement or acquiescence of state agents.”

There has been no accountability for these acts.

Here’s a picture of two socialists, Barack Obama and Hugo Chavez.

Hey, Chavez! Nice job on that torture!

I wonder why Obama and the people who voted for him oppose waterboarding interrogation of mass-murdering terrorists for national security purposes, but sanction actual torture against innocent civilians by Democrat socialist regimes?

But maybe violence isn’t an essential part of the political left’s plan. Neil Simpson has a nice post up about how the socialists can take over the world without using violence. I wonder if they will take him up on that?

Relate posts

Chavez marches Venezuela down the road to serfdom at gunpoint

CNN reports that Chavez has devalued the Venezuelan bolivar.

In the wake of his decision to devalue Venezuela’s currency, President Hugo Chavez on Sunday said he would put the military on the streets to ensure that business owners don’t raise prices.

Speaking on his weekly television program, “Alo Presidente,” Chavez railed against merchants who re-price their items in reaction to Friday’s announcement that the Venezuelan bolivar currency, which had been fixed at 2.15 to the U.S. dollar since 2005, was devalued to 4.3 to the dollar. For food and medicine, Chavez announced a second fixed exchange rate for these “necessity” goods at 2.6 bolivares to the dollar.

“I want the national guard in the streets, with the people, to fight speculation,” Chavez said, calling re-pricing a form of robbery.

[…]He encouraged people to publicly denounce businesses where prices increase and threatened to expropriate businesses that do.

The government would transfer ownership of such businesses to the workers, Chavez said.

Yes, attacking and nationalizing businesses with the Venezuelan army will do a lot to create jobs and increase competition among product and service providers. Surely lower prices and increased quality will result from this consumer-friendly policy. And foreign investors will be rushing to Venezuela to invest so they can take 700 million Euro losses in a split second.

Investors Business Daily explains the result of devaluing a currency.

For starters, it’s a tax. “The government has decided to recognize the massive accumulated inflation in the country and is trying to increase the purchasing power of the (dwindling) dollars it has . .. (by selling) dollars to the private sector at a higher price,” explained Hausmann. “In the short run, this is like a tax on the sale of dollars.”

[…]”The poor have no way to protect themselves from devaluation,” said Johns Hopkins University’s Steve Hanke, who has advised previous Venezuelan leaders about currency. “Their only means are awkward and inefficient.”

Meanwhile, the “tax” on dollars “means a transfer of resources out of the private economy to the government’s coffers,” said Hausmann. “As a consequence, the rest of society will have less income.”

Teachers and doctors, already in short supply among the poor, will likely be hard hit, along with small businesses.

Worse, inflation’s likely to surge, another burden for the poor.

Inflation was already on its way to 30% before Friday’s devaluation. Food, which makes up 80% of what the poor buy, has been hit with a 20% immediate increase in price. This effectively lifts inflation for the poor to a devastating 50%.

Costs for other goods, such as car tires, will rise by 100%. A banker in Caracas tells IBD this will push average inflation to 60% — adding to accumulated inflation of 600% over the past decade, a brutal tax on poor Venezuelans.

The very complexity of the new currency scheme will be a nightmare for the poor, says Hanke.

“More regulations will lead to repression,” he said, citing the weakening freedom to spend money. More controls mean shortages.

I think that people who elect communists like Chavez need to be more careful about listening to honeyed words about the benefits of wealth redistribution. When you attack the rich, they stop hiring workers. And if you attack them enough, they leave your country. Communism causes poverty and famine. It always has, and always will. If you want to know where it ends, look at Cuba and North Korea. That’s where Venezuela is headed.

More on this story from Fausta here and here. ECM sent an article about scheduled blackouts here.

Is Obama any different from Chavez on economic policy?

Here they are shaking hands:

Is there such a thing as a secret handshake for communist dictators? Just asking. Not saying that Chavez or Obama are communist dictators. Just wondering if communist dictators have a secret handshake. A communist dictator handshake conducted by communist dictators to congratulate themselves on how well their ignorance of economics “helps” the poor to starve to death.

Here is the currency graph of the US dollar versus the Canadian dollar. A decline of about 20% in 12 months. (The current exchange rate is 1.03301)

How many Canadian dollars is 1 US dollar worth?
January     1.22664 CAD   (21 days average)
February    1.24684 CAD   (20 days average)
March       1.26275 CAD   (22 days average)
April       1.22697 CAD   (21 days average)
May         1.15311 CAD   (21 days average)
June        1.12458 CAD   (22 days average)
July        1.12350 CAD   (23 days average)
August      1.08796 CAD   (21 days average)
September   1.08182 CAD   (22 days average)
October     1.05427 CAD   (22 days average)
November    1.05978 CAD   (21 days average)
December    1.05366 CAD   (22 days average)

I wonder which one knows the least about economics. Chavez? Obama? Or my keyboard? Hmmmmn.

Here is my previous story about energy rationing in Venezuela.

A brief introduction to the blind faith religion of Marxism

The American Thinker has this post up explaining the blind faith of Marxism. (H/T Douglas Groothuis)

Marx thought that value was proportional to the labor spent in creating a product:

Marx claimed that all products contain value that is directly proportional to the amount of labor embodied within them. He was wrong. All the rest of Marxism is based entirely on this mistaken and falsifiable premise.

That’s clearly wrong. The price of products varies depending on supply and demand!

Marx thought that the free market would create monopolies:

Marxists claim that the operations of markets have a natural tendency to spawn monopolies. They call this “monopoly capitalism.” In reality, markets have a natural tendency to break up and undermine monopolies. Almost all monopolies under capitalism are those set up by governments stifling and interfering in the operations of markets.

That’s clearly wrong. Government regulation is needed to insulate monopolies from competition. And in capitalism, capitalists agree that government should take an active role in destroying monopolies and fostering competition, in order to give consumers choices. When consumers can choose, producers have to add value and reduce prices. Socialism, on the other hand, allows consumers one choice: the state-run firm.

Marx had no idea what incentives and laws were needed in order to foster conditions in which entrepreneurs would want to create wealth:

Marxists and socialists in general care a lot about the distribution of material wealth. But they have no idea how to bring about the creation of the material wealth that they wish to redistribute. They just assume it all gets produced all by itself. That is why people in communist regimes starve.

Wrong again!

Marx believed that capitalism was bad for workers.

Marxists claim that workers are oppressed in capitalist societies. Workers in communist societies always try to sneak out into capitalist societies. No one in South Korea is trying to sneak into North Korea. The Berlin Wall was not built to keep West Germans from sneaking into East Germany’s collective farms. Cubans in Florida do not steal boats to seek asylum in Cuban collective farms.

Why is it bad to encourage people to take risks, start their own companies and hire workers? Isn’t it better for for workers to have a choice of employer, so that they can leave if their working conditions or remuneration are unacceptable? How do people leave their employer in Marxism? Oh yeah – by firing squad or by jumping the wall.

But what about companies? Aren’t they all owned by greedy, colluding capitalists?

Marxists claim that capitalists do not work and that workers do not own capital. That is why they comprise “social classes.” But nearly all capitalists work, often in work days with very long hours. Meanwhile, a huge portion of capital is held by workers themselves through their pension funds and other institutional investment intermediaries.

…Marxists claim that businesses are owned by a small closed clique of capitalists. Actually, most businesses are “public,” meaning they are owned by shareholders and anyone at all can be a shareholder in them.

But isn’t capitalism opposed to democracy?

Marxists claim that capitalism cannot be democratic. But every single democratic society on earth is predominantly capitalist. Not a single communist regime was ever democratic. Communists take power via military coups and military conquest, not via elections.

But isn’t violence used against people in order to preserve capitalism?

Marxists claim that capitalists use violence to protect their perquisites and privileges. In truth, Marxists in power use violence to protect their perquisites and privileges. They use violence to suppress opposition wherever they manage to seize power, including violence against opposition groups of workers. It is conservatively estimated that 100 million people were killed by Marxism and by Marxists in the twentieth century.

But aren’t workers less well off in capitalist economies?

Marxists think that only things matter in economics, meaning tangible products, and so services do not. They believe that big products are more important than small products, big industries being more important than small industries. They also believe that consumer goods are superfluous and should not be produced much. All those ideas are why the quality of life and the standard of living are so miserable under communist regimes. In wealthy countries, small- and medium-size enterprises are the main engines for producing wealth.

But aren’t people poorer and less free in capitalist economies?

Marxists claim that under Marxism everyone receives according to his needs and contributes according to his capabilities. In reality, under Marxism everyone receives according to whatever the entrenched party apparatchiks decide their needs are, usually sub-sustenance levels of consumption, and the same people decide what are your abilities, generally assumed to be your ability to work endlessly at whatever you are told to do without getting paid much. To put this differently, in the absence of positive incentives, no one is capable of doing anything and everyone’s needs are infinite.

But isn’t a centrally-planned economy with fixed prices better than a free market capitalist economy?

Marxists think that “experts” can tell what needs to be produced. They cannot. That is why Marxist experts produce starvation. In some cases Marxist starvation has produced cannibalism. There is not a single Marxist scholar or expert on earth who could produce a pencil by himself.

But letting people earn money based on what they do leads to lower productivity, right?

Marxists believe that economic incentives do not matter. That is why they think there is no need to pay people more for working hard or exerting effort. It is enough to appeal to their “class interests.” That is why people starve under communism.

But in a Marxist economy, everyone is equal, right?

Marxists pretend to be in favor of the working class collectively owning all property. In reality Marxists always steal the property of members of the working class and turn it over to well-paid party apparatchiks.

But in capitalist economies, when two parties freely agree to exchange items of value for money, one of them is oppressing the other, right?

Marxists believe that in every voluntary transaction, one side wins and the other loses, and so it is impossible for two sides to profit from it. That is why they think you should be told what to buy and how much you should pay for it.

But capitalists go all around the world imposing their free market ideology through military force, right?

Marxists claim that capitalist countries engage in imperialism. But since World War II the largest empires of imperialist conquest were those headed by Marxist regimes.

Marxists believe that there are no real conflicts of interest between the workers living in different countries and speaking different languages or coming from different cultures. That is without a doubt the very stupidest idea of all coming from Marxism. In any case, that is why Marxism is generally spread only via military conquest.

This article is one to e-mail to all your friends who voted for the Marxist Obama. Obama’s Marxism was well known to everyone who took the time to read his books, and to read about his past actions and policies. Now we are going to be governed by someone who knows less about economics than Al Gore knows about climate science.

Maybe one day Obama will release his grades, so we can finally find out which of them is smarter.