16.5.17

WE ARE ALL UNDEREMPLOYED COMPARED TO OUR GREAT-GRANDPARENTS.

I keep stressing this point, perhaps letting John Tamny reinforce it will help.
If it were just about maintenance of existing jobs, the U.S. and other countries could mimic the former Soviet Union and abolish technology so that the jobs of tomorrow will be the same as the ones today.  If so, the world, much like the former Soviet Union, would be very poor.  Never forget that before technological advances that saved on labor, the only work available was on the farm.  All toil was focused on feeding oneself.  No sane person would desire a return to what was a very bleak past in which wealth was wholly a function of one’s ability in the fields.
Yes, and in which Our Betters lived in a much higher style than hoi polloi than is the case today.



Werner Schuch, Two Riders of the Thirty Years' War and Farmers, 1881, oil on canvas.
Painting from the collection of the Grohmann Museum at Milwaukee School of Engineering.

Mr Tamny notes that trade (all specialization is for the purpose of importing something, "Working is all about the getting," as he puts it) leaves the Renaissance-era riders as if paupers contrasted with farmers of today.
Life without trade would be defined by unrelenting poverty, and for a high percentage, death by starvation, from a lack of protective clothing, absence of shelter, or all three combined.  The free trade that is essential for an individual on the way to surging productivity and wealth, is by extension essential for country economies.
But what about those disaffected deplorables, consigned to penury and opioids after the mills and assembly lines closed?  Freeze everything as it currently is, notes D. N. McCloskey, and contemplate what you won't get.
Protectionism, for example, recently popular, relies on an error in accounting. Yes, workers making tires in Ohio are made better off by protection. But Americans buying tires are made worse off, regularly by a large multiple of the annual income of the saved job. The erroneous social accounting does not acknowledge the whole country. Trump voters in Iowa, for instance, soon realized that protection is not good for soybean sales.
It's not so good for milk sales in Wisconsin, either.

How, then, lift the living standards of people? "We do not need at the outset a perfect government. Perfect government is unattainable, and anyway unnecessary for a free economy. We do not need more laws, more education, or more guardians. What we need, comprehensively, is liberty."  The details are at the essay.  Read and understand.

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