Open Letter to Barack Obama

by Don Boudreaux on June 15, 2011

in Complexity & Emergence, Creative destruction, Innovation, Seen and Unseen, Stimulus

Mr. Barack Obama
President of the Executive Branch
United States Government
Washington, DC

Dear Mr. Obama:

In your recent interview with NBC News you explained that your policies would promote more private-sector job creation were it not for (as you put it) “some structural issues with our economy where a lot of businesses have learned to become much more efficient with a lot fewer workers.  You see it when you go to a bank and you use an ATM, you don’t go to a bank teller, or you go to the airport and you’re using a kiosk instead of checking in at the gate.”

With respect, sir, you’re complaining about the source of our prosperity: innovation and the increases it causes in worker productivity.

With no less justification – but with no more validity – any of your predecessors might have issued complaints similar to yours.  Pres. Grant, for example, might have grumbled in 1873 about “some structural issues with our economy where a lot of businesses have learned to become much more efficient with a lot fewer workers.  You see it when you go to a bank that uses a modern safe and so employs fewer armed guards than before, or when you travel on trains which, compared to stage coaches, transport many more passengers using fewer workers.”

Or Pres. Nixon might have groused in 1973 about such labor-saving innovation: “You see it when you step into an automatic elevator that doesn’t require an elevator operator, or when you observe that polio vaccination keeps people alive and active without the aid of nurses and all those workers who were once usefully employed making iron-lung machines, crutches, and wheelchairs.”

Do you, Pres. Obama, really wish to suggest that the innovations you blame for thwarting your fiscal policies are “structural issues” that ought to be corrected?

Sincerely,
Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA 22030

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{ 308 comments }

Mao_Dung June 17, 2011 at 2:10 am

This comment is to the owners of the blog. Trolls who co-op other people name should be banned, permanently.

Warren Smith June 17, 2011 at 7:38 am

http://www.carolinajournal.com/exclusives/display_exclusive.html?id=7889

Obama democrat idea of full employment….hire more bureaucrats and use less automation.
He actually believes that if we used more red tape and manual labor there would be full employment.  ”The Wealth of Nations” replaced by “Gone with the Wind”.

James Burke June 17, 2011 at 11:11 am

Talk about pandering…. The current resident of 1600 Pennsylvania only speaks to those with the lowest level of economic comprehension. What about speaking to the entire nation ? Our problems are serious and real; a “we” versus “them” rhetoric addresses none of them.

Gene Berman June 17, 2011 at 2:12 pm

Dammit, Boudreaux, talk about low-hangin’ fruit!

socal bil June 18, 2011 at 1:45 am

Your comment about the elevator operator losing his job inspired me to bring you this blast from the past. Things are a bit better now. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sU6X12vyIq0

Philat June 20, 2011 at 3:23 pm

As usual, Professor Don takes a statement and twists it to make a charge not made in the original. That businesses have learned to get more out of fewer employees, in part through continued technological advances is a simple statement of fact. It is not a complaint that innovation and increased productivity should not continue, but only an observation that countervailing forces are present that make a rapid recovery from the Bush recession more difficult and lengthy. And the “your fiscal policies” meaning what? That TARP, approved under GWBush and the stimulus that saved a million plus jobs or more are to blame? But then, reading the good professor B is an exercise where no matter what happens, the professor has his own pat answer and reasons, answers and reasons that fit all circumstances and used over and over to denigrate the present occupant of the White House.

JRBeaman June 20, 2011 at 7:00 pm

“That TARP, approved under GWBush and the stimulus that saved a million plus jobs”

Uh, it saved jobs? Really?
Do you realize that the Democrats pushed it thru, and held Bush hostage on things he wanted in exchange?

What about NAFTA, and GATT?

Sorry, but Democrats (Mob Rule by definition) are trying to change
our Republic into a Socialist/Marxist country. That is all but treason.

Remember how Regan beat the Russians, without firing a shot?
Well, it seems Obama and his ilk are doing the same to America.

WILLIP June 20, 2011 at 7:14 pm

I agree 100%. I thought when President Bush caved in to the Dems and signed the TARP bill that he should not have been so nice.

Nancy June 20, 2011 at 7:46 pm

Philat,
I don’t reply to comments often. Make that never. But, in your case I’ll make an exception. You’re an idiot, plain and simple.

Mary June 21, 2011 at 8:06 am

Krishnan- I totally agree with you that Philat is an idiot–He’s one of the USEFUL IDIOTS that BO used in the 2008 election. I have never, not once, read a reply from a liberal that didn’t bring up GW Bush…..Get over it. BO and the Dem’s OWN this economy and we will take that BURDEN away from them in 2012.
So Help Us God.

Alton June 20, 2011 at 8:00 pm

Excuse me folks, Did we not have Demoncrat majority in the house and senate the last 2 years GW was there??

WhyNot June 21, 2011 at 6:24 am

“some structural issues with our economy where a lot of businesses have learned to become much more efficient with a lot fewer workers. You see it when you go to a bank and you use an ATM, you don’t go to a bank teller, or you go to the airport and you’re using a kiosk instead of checking in at the gate.”

Why don’t you, Mr. President (government), try to become more efficient with far fewer employees. Say, maybe, cut out all of those czars and their staffs, and voila, fewer employees! Why not just cut the EPA, Dept. of Education, etc. out completely? VOILA! Many more employees gone and the country will run much smoother with the private sector in charge and the gubment much smaller and in the background, where it belongs! Efficiency, Mr. President? That would be efficiency!

Geri June 21, 2011 at 4:48 pm

Right On!

AddressPolice June 21, 2011 at 1:00 pm

Nice letter. but next time try to learn how to address the president in your letter.

Acceptable address should be:

The President
The White House
Washington, DC 20500

Mr. President:
or
Dear Mr. President,

There is no need to write
President of the Executive Branch
United States Government

That is understood.

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