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Monday, December 12, 2011

America’s Luddite President

Over the past few weeks President Obama has, among other things, bemoaned the fact that we no longer have telephone operators, that we have ATM machines, and that the Internet was invented (Al Gore beware!).  Certainly this must qualify the President for the Luddite Award of the Year.  As you may recall, the Luddites were a 19th Century English political movement that turned violent and destroyed machines because they believed that they were destroying their jobs.  The Luddites were against progress of any sort and apparently Barack Obama is fully on board.

One can only hope that this is crass political rhetoric, because if the President does indeed believe that technical advancement kills jobs it is not only an embarrassment, but economic ignorance on a colossal scale.  In fact, it is hard to find a word to describe such an excursion from reality. 

On the basis of the President’s reasoning we should have scuttled the first wheel because it put the folks who built skids out of work.  We should have outlawed the first automobile because it put the buggy manufacturers out of work.  We should have grounded the first airplane because it made train travel obsolete.  In fact, trains should have been derailed because they ended jobs of moving freight by oxen and people by stagecoach.  Tractors should have been scrapped because they put donkeys and oxen out of work.

All of this is so silly.  The President should be embarrassed.  Does anyone really believe such nonsense?  Is this a measure of the low regard that the President and his advisors have of the American people?  Do they really think the American people are that stupid?  Or are they truly that ignorant?

All you have to do is to look around you to see that technical advances create jobs and make all of our lives better.  When government stifles technological advances it reduces the standard of living of all Americans.  Contrary to the ignorance of the Luddites, the industrial revolution raised the standard of living of the entire world.  Food production became abundant and diets became more healthful.  Luxuries became within the reach of average citizens.  Travel became faster, more comfortable and less expensive.  

It was, of course, of the miracle of the free market that made the industrial revolution possible.  It spread wealth among the people farther and wider than ever before.  The free market made it possible to rise from the most meager circumstances to become successful beyond your wildest dreams.  Prior to the free market, widespread food shortages were common, diseases killed tens of millions, and poverty gripped hundreds of millions around the globe.  Yes, the poor and impoverished are still with us because dictatorship still reigns around the globe, especially in the Third World.  Dictatorships and all centralized governments can only regulate misery.  They are the sole source of poverty and shortages in the world.

The idea that a few “enlightened” bureaucrats or politicians or a benevolent dictator can allocate goods and services better than the free market is a dangerous myth.  Centralized governments of all kinds can only ration goods and services.  When you kill off the miracle of the free market and the distribution of goods and services is driven by a few autocrats instead of by you and me, only misery ensues.  Obamacare is a good example of such silliness.  Socialized medicine brings to an end all efforts to develop new drugs or new techniques.  It is based on the false assumption that a powerful few can better distribute limited medical services than can the free market.  

When the Nazis (members of the National Socialist Party) took over in Germany all innovation in the private sector came to a screeching halt.  Nothing changed when the Soviet Socialists replaced the German socialists.  After Ronald Reagan brought about the collapse of the Soviet Union and Germany was reunited West Germans were given the opportunity to purchase manufacturing plants and facilities in the East.  Of course, those in West Germany were recipients of William Röpke’s “German Economic Miracle” (re-institution of a free economic market). When a neighbor of a friend of mine who lives in Germany visited a plant he was considering buying in East Germany he was shocked.  Nothing had changed since the Nazi’s took over in the 1930s.  The roads were awful, the telephone system antiquated, the sewage system inadequate, the water supply system out of date, the electrical systems dangerous—nothing had improved.  Everything was in total, absolute disrepair and East Germany was the “showcase” of the Soviet Union of Socialist Republics!  The situation in East Germany is indeed a showcase for socialist schemes like Obamacare.  In fact, the socialized medicine provided in East Germany was also of a 1930s variety.

Don’t folks who believe in this nonsense get away from their Marxist theories to study history?  Where has centralized government ever worked?  And please don’t tell me that this time it will be different.  No, before we ever listen to such silliness again you must provide empirical evidence of socialism/Marxism/ Fascism working just once in past history.  

Our president is clearly uninformed about simple economics—reality, not theory.  Nor does he apparently have any knowledge of human nature.  If he really believes that the advent of the internet, automated telephone switching, and ATMs destroy jobs he is an economic ignoramus.  But should I really be surprised?

I have observed over the years that liberals and fascists and Marxists have two common failings.  First, they have no confidence in the power of freedom for the average citizen.  They feel that if left to his or her own devices that the average person will make a mess of things.  Second, they work backwards.  They don’t start with facts and empirical evidence, but rather start with the answer they want and then try to make the facts fit their cockamamie solution.  It’s no wonder that they come up with such inanities as progress puts people out of work.  Instead of having an open mind to explore all the possibilities, including expanding individual human freedom as a means to address a problem, they are wedded to the idea that only a few elite can and should solve everyone else’s problems.  Liberals-Progressives-Luddites (is there a difference?) are the most closed minded, anti-intellectual movement to ever establish a foothold on American soil.  They deal in fantasy and ignore the truth of reality.  There is nothing intellectual about an ideology that always has the same solution to every problem—less freedom and more government control.

President Obama seems to be a nice family man.  He is youthful, handsome and stays in good shape physically.  He also is apparently clueless when it comes to understanding human nature or to understanding the marketplace.  He is a poster child for American liberalism.  In all of American history there never has been a more unqualified man to sit in the Oval office.  He has no real world experience.  He has never held a job that produced anything.  He has no understanding of economics.  He sees America through a distorted prism.
I believe it was Edmund Burke, the great English statesman who said, “People get the kind of government they deserve.”  If Americans really believe such nonsense as that ATM machines, automated telephone call switches, and the internet destroy jobs then they deserve Barack Obama.

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