Tag Archives: Producer

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.

Poll: Disengagement grows the longer workers stay in government jobs

Map of Canada
Map of Canada

From the Ottawa Citizen. (H/T Andrew)

Excerpt:

Recent post-secondary graduates recruited by the federal public service appear to become more disengaged and less ambitious the longer they’re in their jobs.

That’s a key conclusion of a new study that provides an intriguing window into perceptions of government employment by new public service hires and potential recruits. The study, recently posted to a government website, was done for the Public Service Commission by EKOS Research Associates.

It involved online surveys with two groups of people hired through the government’s Post-Secondary Recruitment Program (PSR), as well as recent hires recruited through other methods and “potential recruits” — mostly university graduates under age 35.

As part of the study, EKOS re-interviewed 219 PSR recruits who were surveyed in an earlier phase of the study in 2009. It found some “troubling shifts” in their attitudes.

The importance these recruits attach to “key intrinsic job aspects” has declined over the past year, the study reports. The weight they give to the opportunity to be creative declined by nine percentage points from 2009 to 2010, it says, while the importance they attached to the prestige associated with their jobs fell by 10 points.

There were also smaller declines in the importance ascribed to meaningful work and opportunities for career advancement, while “more extrinsic issues” — such as attractive compensation and a good work-life balance — assumed greater significance.

“These findings suggest that PSR recruits become less ambitious/intrinsically motivated as they spend more time in the federal public service,” the study concludes.

Can people who are disengaged serve the public as well as private sector workers whose compensation and continued employment depends on their being engaged in their work? This is why we need to privatize as much as possible.

Walter Williams explains why the free market is better for consumers

Walter Williams

His column is here.

He is talking about whether we people should take their services and products from businesses or from government.

Excerpt:

Compare our level of satisfaction with the services of those “in it just for the money and profits” to those in it to serve the public as opposed to earning profits. A major non-profit service provider is the public education establishment that delivers primary and secondary education at nearly a trillion-dollar annual cost.

Public education is a major source of complaints about poor services that in many cases constitute nothing less than gross fraud.

If Wal-Mart, or any of the millions of producers who are in it for money and profits, were to deliver the same low-quality services, they would be out of business, but not public schools. Why? People who produce public education get their pay, pay raises and perks whether customers are satisfied or not. They are not motivated by profits and therefore under considerably less pressure to please customers. They use government to take customer money, in the form of taxes.

The U. S. Postal Service, state motor vehicle departments and other government agencies also have the taxing power of government to get money and therefore are less diligent about pleasing customers. You can bet the rent money that if Wal-Mart and other businesses had the power to take our money by force, they would be less interested and willing to please us.

The big difference between entities that serve us well and those who do not lies in what motivates them. Wal-Mart and millions of other businesses are profit-motivated whereas government schools, USPS and state motor vehicle departments are not.

Businesses can only make money by pleasing customers. Customers who freely choose to trade money for products and services. But government can make money by raising taxes. All they have to do is tell lies, win popularity contests and buy votes.

Supreme Court sides with Conservative Party against price-fixing monopoly

Prime Minister Stephen Harper

Story here from the Vancouver Sun. (H/T Andrew)

Excerpt:

The Canadian Wheat Board cannot spend money on advocacy to protect its monopoly, following a Supreme Court of Canada decision Thursday against hearing an appeal from the Winnipeg-based agency, which asserts that it has been silenced by the Conservative government.

Without giving reasons, the high court declined the appeal application to a Federal Court of Appeal ruling that sided with the federal government in its 2006 order from then-agriculture minister Chuck Strahl for the board to refrain from spending its money on lobbying.

[…]The federal Conservatives are seeking to end the board’s monopoly, which is controlled by farmers. The monopoly makes the agency one of the world’s biggest exporters of wheat and barley.

The board maintains that the monopoly ensures farmers receive the best prices for their grain, but the federal government, along with some farmers, say that they would be better off in a free market, selling their products on their own.

Conservatives are for a free market and competition, because we believe that it is the best way for consumers to get a low price and high quality. The proper role of government is to ensure that no organization or business enjoys monopoly status due to the government insulating them from competition. The Canadian Wheat Board is just one option, but farmers should have other choices to sell their product.

Capitalism is opposed to monopolies and it is the proper role of government to make sure that no government policy is set up to favor one corporation over any competitor. Let the farmers choose what is best for them. Choice and competition.

How changing prices signal buyers and sellers in a free market economy

Here’s a lesson in capitalism from the New York Times. (H/T ECM)

Excerpt:

The oil industry has been on a hot streak this year, thanks to a series of major discoveries that have rekindled a sense of excitement across the petroleum sector, despite falling prices and a tough economy.

These discoveries, spanning five continents, are the result of hefty investments that began earlier in the decade when oil prices rose, and of new technologies that allow explorers to drill at greater depths and break tougher rocks.

“That’s the wonderful thing about price signals in a free market — it puts people in a better position to take more exploration risk,” said James T. Hackett, chairman and chief executive of Anadarko Petroleum.

And what do we learn from this? Do oil prices go up because of greed? No.

When supply is low or uncertain, but demand is high, then prices must rise. Rising oil prices signal consumers to curtail their consumption, and they signal producers to invest more and take more risks to find more oil.

The government must not interfere to set prices lower when prices rise due to a shortage. Lower prices means that producers will not invest or take risks in order to find more oil for consumers. We have to let producers have their profits in order to for them to invest and take risks to find more oil. And when more oil is found, the price of oil will go down naturally, without the government having to get involved. The more government gets involved, the more opportunity there is for corruption.

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