Mr. President, meet Mr. Hazlitt

Apropos of the President’s ignorant—or demagogic—blaming of ATMs for unemployment, let’s visit The Curse of Machinery, a chapter from Henry Hazlitt’s Economics In One Lesson:

Among the most viable of all economic delusions is the belief that machines on net balance create unemployment. Destroyed a thousand times, it has risen a thousand times out of its own ashes as hardy and vigorous as ever. Whenever there is a long-continued mass unemployment, machines get the blame anew. This fallacy is still the basis of many labor union practices. The public tolerates these practices because it either believes at bottom that the unions are right, or is too confused to see just why they are wrong.

The belief that machines cause unemployment, when held with any logical consistency, leads to preposterous conclusions. Not only must we be causing unemployment with every technological improvement we make today, but primitive man must have started causing it with the first efforts he made to save himself from needless toil and sweat.

There’s more at that link. If you read that chapter and that chapter alone, even, you can claim superior economic literacy over our president. I don’t quite know how I feel about that, but I actually feel a little sorry for the guy.

One thought on “Mr. President, meet Mr. Hazlitt”

  1. I heard the President’s comments and immediately thought of this chapter. Ugh.

    I’m no economist, but he has an economic team. SOMEONE has to be advising him that he just demonstrated a big hunk of silly, right? Remind me, don’t they have blackberries and computers? Don’t they drive home at night or use phones? Or lights?

    I agree that I kinda feel sorry for him, but I do hope that this bites him quite hard in the election.

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