Ye Olde Question for Mister Brooks

by Don Boudreaux on July 5, 2011

in Complexity & Emergence, Growth, Innovation, Myths and Fallacies, Seen and Unseen, Work

In his column in today’s New York Times, David Brooks lists as among America’s “problems” (his word) the fact that

[m]anufacturing employment is cratering even as output rises.

I wonder if Brooks writes his columns, essays, and books using only a quill, parchment, and snailmail.  If he doesn’t use these inefficient means of production – that is, if he in fact uses computers, word-processing software, ink-jet printers, e-mail, and other modern techniques that increase his productivity (and, thus, that cause the amount of time that he and others spend producing punditicities to crater even as their output rises) – why does he bemoan increasing worker productivity in the manufacturing sector?

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{ 90 comments }

kirby July 5, 2011 at 10:15 am

the free market is more progressive than progressivism.

Methinks1776 July 5, 2011 at 10:42 am

Progressivism is so progressive that yesterday is already better than tomorrow will be.

Peter McIlhon July 5, 2011 at 10:44 am

Boistrous laugh.

kirby July 5, 2011 at 10:47 am

of course it is, once you’ve hit rock bottom you can’t continue going down.

Richard Stands July 6, 2011 at 12:11 am

Progressing towards…? :)

vikingvista July 6, 2011 at 3:14 am
Jim July 6, 2011 at 12:32 pm

Always been told learning two languages is good for the mind.

Progressive = Regressive
David Brooks = Conservative intellectual

There’s a whole dictionary to learn. Next they’ll be telling me Friedman is a thinker.

Scott July 6, 2011 at 4:24 pm

Jim, Milton was, but Thomas isn’t.

Bob July 5, 2011 at 10:27 am

David Brooks is the so called conservative wind up doll of the NY Times, NPR and the “progressive” class. His statements are to be ignored and are merely weak defenses designed to buttress “progressive” ideas!

kirby July 5, 2011 at 10:30 am

and THAT, Vidoyhs (or however your name is spelled), is a luddite. Efficiency is rising too quickly, regulate it!

vidyohs July 5, 2011 at 11:48 am

I would suppose that Davids Brooks doesn’t read what he has written, that seems to be a good explanation. If he’d stopped to think he’d see Don’s point and hit delete.

But why castigate Brooks any more than Kirby. After all Kirby tells us that value is subjective and then proceeds to tell us what/who creates value, who transfers value, and who destroys value. A claim to subjectivity and an objectivity denial of that claim, all in the same breath.

Kirby, I understand Daniel(disingenuous) Kuehn has a blog where it appears you would fit in very nicely with his way of commenting.

:-) Be nice to yourself.

kirby July 5, 2011 at 11:58 am

my point was that some people take value in regulating, say….
abortion. Some people believe that regulating abortion is worth the 100 million dollars that they will cost society. For some, regulation is valued.

mike July 5, 2011 at 9:32 pm

way to make a valid argument. so glad you just didn’t resort to name calling

Speedmaster July 5, 2011 at 10:35 am

The Bozo Bit ( http://wp.me/p1x8OC-1Ya ) is now officially switched to “On” for David Brooks.

Scott July 5, 2011 at 10:48 am

Why ask useless questions? How deep is the ocean? How high is the sky? Who is John Galt?

Ivan July 5, 2011 at 10:50 am

What a nice way to minimize the message of a head on op Ed by taking a single line out of context. If you had it right you would at least try to attack the realities he’s showing, i.e. your irrational fanatics mob, cheering up your half baked truths

Marecha July 5, 2011 at 10:58 am

Ivan,

I went back and re-read Brooks’ article. I don’t see how you can claim that Brooks’ statement re: manufacturing jobs was taken out of context. It seems to me that Brooks could have said that the Republicans need to address the shift in employment from manufacturing jobs due to high productivity gains. Instead he just laments that manufacturing jobs are “cratering” and the Republicans are paying more attention to tax rates.

Please explain to us how Prof Boudreaux took Brooks’ statement out of context.

Don Boudreaux July 5, 2011 at 11:01 am

Thanks. I meant, in my earlier reply to Ivan, also to point out that I did not pull that line out of context. Brooks unmistakeably lists a decrease in manufacturing employment in the face of an increase in manufacturing output as being among America’s current “problems.”

mike July 5, 2011 at 9:31 pm

Yes, because it was accompanied by falling wages

Don Boudreaux July 5, 2011 at 11:00 am

Why must I take on those other issues? If Jones says A, B, C, and D, then even if A, B, and C are correct, pointing out the fallacy that is D is worthwhile (or at least not inappropriate).

Scott July 5, 2011 at 11:09 am

Ivan, this is not taking a single line out of context. It’s a stand alone sentence. It doesn’t even need context. Just like the two words “tax expenditures” doesn’t need context. He obviously believes that taxes are on the other side of the balance sheet.

Bill July 5, 2011 at 10:59 am

Brooks must really be depressed with what has happened to employment and output in the agricultural sector.

Duncan July 5, 2011 at 11:12 am

Brooks also says this in the same article “Economists have identified many factors that contribute to economic growth, ranging from the productivity of the work force to the share of private savings that is available for private investment” , paraphrased as productivity leads to growth. I like Brooks and this site. The two are not mutually exclusive. The point of the article I think was more on the line of a big decrease in gov spending might be worth some tax increases. That would be something interesting to debate.

Duncan

Don Boudreaux July 5, 2011 at 11:23 am

I agree that the debate you mention is worthwhile, AND that that question is the one that motivates the bulk of Brooks’s column today.

But his lament about rising manufacturing output in the face of “cratering” manufacturing employment is strong evidence that he doesn’t connect the dots – that he doesn’t realize that growing worker productivity is the source of the phenomenon that he explicitly categorized as a problem. It’s not a problem; it’s a blessing.

And, frankly, when someone make such an egregious error when punditiciting on the economy, that someone’s other economic pronouncements should be approached a bit more skeptically than otherwise.

John Dewey July 5, 2011 at 11:27 am

Are you suggesting that Professor Boudreaux should only discuss the main point of an editorial?

By the way, I didn’t see the tradeoff you mentioned as the only point of David Brooks opinion. He went to great lengths to disparage the Tea Party movement. I believe Mr. Brooks main point was to try and discredit the Tea Party, and the debate about compromising on tax increases as an opportunity to do so.

tdp July 5, 2011 at 4:42 pm

For every extra dollar in taxes the government has collected, it has spent $1.18. Leave the tax rates where they are or cut them and close loopholes and eliminate the red tape, big spending projects like ObamaCare, and other things that are discouraging businesses from hiring and slowing down economic recovery.

Jim July 6, 2011 at 12:34 pm

While it may be an interesting discussion topic, it is not far from the argument that if we free our right hand to become more productive, it is only fair to bind our left hand a little.

kirby July 5, 2011 at 11:56 am

Curious question, do people actually believe stuff like this:
http://www.cepr.net/documents/publications/ryan-waste-2011-04.pdf
I love this line:
“However, the total cost of purchasing Medicare-equivalent insurance would be $16,900 – more than 50 percent higher than the $11,200 spent by the government and beneficiary combined under traditional Medicare. The difference of $5,700 represents a gift to the private sector.”

vidyohs July 5, 2011 at 11:58 am

I support the Republicans being pushed by the Tea Party representatives to take a hard inflexible line to cut spending and reduce the budget.

The reason I do so is I remember very well the entire broohaha surrounding the Graham-Rudman-Hollings act of 1985, which was passed to lock Congress into spending controls that could not be broken.

WAFJ! I was shitcanned within the year and Congress went merrily along the spending spree path unimpeded even to this day.

An agreement with the democrats and the socialist republicans to cut spending and reduce taxes would not be worth the paper it was written on or the hand shake that sealed the deal.

Brooks is a two faced looney left sycophant.

vidyohs July 5, 2011 at 12:00 pm

Edit function….where are you?

WAFJ! It was shitcanned within……….. (1985, maybe I was too.:-) )

Jim July 6, 2011 at 12:36 pm

Exactly.

The stupid party has no PR.

River July 5, 2011 at 12:13 pm

Mr. Brooks, in his op eds and on NPR, dismisses the Tea Party activists because they don’t subscribe to the opinions of his preferred inside the beltway experts. He seems to always advocate that the great unwashed should submissively quietly, thankfully and reverently accept their direction. I am from Missouri and think Show Me is a good test. Those oracles that policy makers have consulted have intervened in our economy and private lives like Grant took Richmond for decades with very unsatisfactory results. I don’t blame Tea Partiers if they dismiss the Kings court since they have been shown the result that the “best” minds have produced when dictating policy.

nailheadtom July 5, 2011 at 12:21 pm

“The members of this movement do not accept the legitimacy of scholars and intellectual authorities. A thousand impartial experts may tell them that a default on the debt would have calamitous effects, far worse than raising tax revenues a bit. But the members of this movement refuse to believe it.”
—————————————–
If the level of debt keeps rising at the rate it has for the last few years, there is no amount of tax revenues that will prevent default. “Raising tax revenues a bit” isn’t the solution to the problem.

“The members of this movement have no sense of moral decency. A nation makes a sacred pledge to pay the money back when it borrows money. But the members of this movement talk blandly of default and are willing to stain their nation’s honor.”
————————————————–
Where’s the moral decency in committing citizens yet unborn to the payment of debts they weren’t alive to incur? Individuals might be able to make a “sacred pledge” but a nation cannot. As for stains on the “nation’s honor”, that honor has been defiled plenty by the very politicos Brooks defends.

Anotherphil July 5, 2011 at 12:25 pm

Why? I’m guessing that the White House has emailed its accolytes to continue the luddite narrative that Obama began with his ATMs displacing tellers saw. Occam’s razor applies here.

EG July 5, 2011 at 12:57 pm

There’s a simple answer to that; economists like yourself have done a poor job at explaining to people that what they are observing is increasing worker productivity. ie…they see only one side: decreased employment in the manufacturing sector. To them, this means ‘we don’t make anything anymore”.

Of course, we make more today than ever before. But they don’t get the second part of this equation: increasing outputs.

And economists, or others, simply don’t make this argument visual enough for people who find it politically expedient to play the jobs card.

Kirby July 5, 2011 at 1:13 pm

And then there’s “economists” who think like the public too, don’t forget.

mike July 5, 2011 at 9:29 pm

Increased productivity loses much of its benefit if you aren’t compensated for it. Everyone on here is ignoring the fact that one should expect the worker producing greater output, and thus generating greater profits, to see his wages rise. Instead they have been falling

Dan J July 6, 2011 at 1:32 am

Why pay more for less work? The technology is doing most of the work. You say wages are falling. I say the jobs have shifted to more educated and trained individuals. But, indeed, less. More engineers, less need for highly trained plant workers whose expertise comes from years of repetition.
Mike, your argument sounds like Dr. Thomas Sowell description of individuals stopping at some talking point without investigating further all of the dynamics. Unions love guys like you.
Include the engineers who replaced the repetitive motion plant worker into the avg pay.

Jameson July 5, 2011 at 1:15 pm

I think this is pretty ridiculous. David Brooks is, generally speaking, a pretty responsible thinker, and quite sympathetic to the free market. And to say something is a “problem” doesn’t thereby dictate a certain kind of solution. I don’t understand this tendency among free market advocates to deny that problems are problems. This goes against what F. A. Hayek actually stood for. Instead, what an advocate for freedom should point out is simply that there are non-coercive methods of dealing with the problems that exist. That is, I do think it’s possible to actually address real problems (and I do think major shifts in employment trends are real problems) without increasing regulations and creating mandatory inefficiencies.

Don Boudreaux July 5, 2011 at 1:41 pm

Increasing productivity – that is, producing more using fewer resources (including fewer workers) – is not a problem; it’s a blessing.

Brooks missed this elementary point.

ArrowSmith July 5, 2011 at 1:50 pm

You say that so blithely – as someone who was never “downsized” due to technology. Do you understand the pain and suffering millions of Americans are going through?

kirby July 5, 2011 at 1:58 pm

those millions of americans can benefit from cheaper things. Plus, none of this even comes close to comparing to places like India where the lack of available technology and education cause millions to lack drinking water. Having technology is much better than not. Advancement is binary, you advance or you don’t (or, in the case of Communism, you go backwards), and it is much better to have a 9% unemployment rate with commodities like water or aspirin cheaply available at a grocery store or from a tap company than ignore the benefits of technology because some people lose their jobs. Not to mention, unemployment is not typically permanant, whereas child death is.

Don Boudreaux July 5, 2011 at 2:14 pm

Do you, Arrowsmith, understand the great comforts and benefits that market-driven technology supplies today even to persons who lose their jobs because of further advances in technology?

Kirby July 5, 2011 at 2:30 pm

thank you.

mike July 5, 2011 at 9:26 pm

Yes, he takes comfort in knowing there are wonders of technology out there that he will never be able to afford, and that will be of little benefit to him. What good is a CAT scan if you don’t have access to it. Who cares how cool an iPad is if you will never own one?

mike July 5, 2011 at 9:24 pm

It’s a blessing for the corporate owner, it is a disaster for the rest of society. You keep pushing workers to produce more, but refuse to compensate them for it. Eventually uou have fewer people working, and the competition for jobs drives wages down. Then no one can afford to buy anything and out consumer economy collapses. You’d think that possibility would be obvious to someone who studies economics…

Dan J July 6, 2011 at 2:18 am

Workers are not necessarily producing more…. The technology is producing more…… From the higher paid worker who engineered the tech and the higher paid worker who assembled the technology. Mike may not be aware of re-allocation of workers. Indeed, it is not pretty for the 20+ yr vet when his occupation is outdated. But, as an economy progresses and society advances, the changes will occur.
Luddites…… The technology upgrade requires less Skilled labor at one end of production in exchange for more skilled individuals at the new other end of the production.
If there is a soul out there who believes his occupation will stand the test of time and forever be passed on from generation to generation, then he/she is fooling his/herself.
I am always keeping aware of when my occupation may become obsolete. Competition and innovation is likely to reduce employment in my industry. Legalized and/or universal acceptance of digital transference of legal documents will reduce the need for the services my industry provides. Luckily, you can’t e-mail products. But, In due time products will become more localized or innovation/competition will be utilized to save on costs, ultimately, saving consumers money and making those products more affordable and accessible to less affluent folk.
A type of iPad will make it’s way into hands of less affluent. Already, quality laptops are available fro well under $500. Used desktops and laptops can be had for under $200.
Inferior and superior goods ……..
And, society has ZERO obligation to assure the possession of products to those who are not productive and/or not engaging in employment…….ZERO!

Andrew_M_Garland July 5, 2011 at 2:10 pm

Workers in 15th century Netherlands threw their wooden shoes into machinery to protest the loss of jobs due to machines and innovation.

Workers in the 21st century can throw their nylon/leather athletic shoes and IPods into the machinery to protest the loss of jobs due to innovation, downsizing, and cruel increases in productivity.

That is progress.

danphillips July 5, 2011 at 9:32 pm

Jameson, are you a politician by trade? You just wrote an entire paragraph, and, as far as I can tell, you didn’t say a damned thing.

Dan J July 6, 2011 at 1:49 am

Describing higher output with less resources as a ‘problem’ is thee problem.
Maybe the assembly line was the the first problem.

Those darn ATMs are stealing ‘our jyoobs’. And, the remaining tellers have less to do or require less responsibilities…… Sooooooooooooooo…… Maybe, less pay?

ArrowSmith July 5, 2011 at 1:46 pm

David Brooks is the fanatic, not the GOP House. Can anyone explain what is fanatical about trying to reign in spending while not raising taxes?

mike July 5, 2011 at 9:21 pm

It’s fanatical if you refuse to put defense spending, which covers about 40%, of it on the table. The GOP House isn’t fanatical, they are delusional and really bad at math, apparently….

T Rich July 5, 2011 at 11:26 pm

I think that the house is willing to tighten belts on defense. However, the defense of the nation is one of the powers actual designated to the federal government by the Constitution. So, perhaps, the Republicans are acting on the belief that they should reduce spending in non-designated areas first before slashing away at defense. I know this is complicated when one does not recognize that the intent of the Constitution was to constrain the politicians (our betters).

I would be interested to hear your detailed explanation, though, of how the GOP is delusional and bad at math (and please name the party that you are comparing them to along with examples of their superior talent at math and grasp of reality – and using larger numbers (trillions instead of billions) to represent the deficit does not necessarily mean that one is “better at math.”)

Dan J July 6, 2011 at 2:23 am

Liberals, mostly, abhor the restraints. The look, continuously, to lift those restrictions. They see the constitution as means of empowering the federal govt, rather than recognizing it’s main purpose of limiting govt, of restricting govt, of keeping govt from expanding into a monstrosity which would inevitably implode under the weight of malfeasance and corruption.

T Rich July 6, 2011 at 11:03 pm

Our republic has been effectively turned into a democracy. The founders strove mightily to avoid such a thing, but the spread of suffrage (to the dead, debilitated, alien) has led to that which they feared – mob rule. Wtih the CotUS effectively brushed aside, probably starting most aggressively with Lincoln, the restraints and restrictions that you mention are gone.

To quote John Adams:
Democracy… while it lasts is more bloody than either aristocracy or monarchy. Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There is never a democracy that did not commit suicide.

Richard Stands July 6, 2011 at 12:56 am

It should also be noted that defense is around 40% of the so-called “discretionary” budget. It’s only about 18% of the entire budget. Legislators have the discretion to put any budget item on the table for spending reduction; they simply have to re-legislate.

This presupposes that incentives for balancing the budget are greater than the incentives to obtain campaign funds and votes from invested constituencies.

Sadly, it’s not hard to guess where the smart money lies.

Andrew_M_Garland July 5, 2011 at 2:03 pm

David Brooks should be required to make his own pencils. That would put the craftsmanship back into punditry.

Richard Stands July 6, 2011 at 12:57 am

*Like*

Floccina July 5, 2011 at 2:25 pm

[m]anufacturing employment is cratering even as output rises.

Makes you wonder if he rereads his articles before he publishes them.

Another Dave July 5, 2011 at 3:50 pm

I think Mr. Brooks’ point is that the low-skill, lower middle class jobs that used to be found in the manufacturing sector are disappearing, without being replaced elsewhere. Surely that can be seen as a problem even as we laud increased productivity. Thus, “manufacturing employment is cratering even as output rises.”

jeffrey neal July 5, 2011 at 4:15 pm

Another Dave,

Which of your dear relatives would you propose we trap in a “lower middle class job?” And who’s money are you going to TAKE to pay that relative to do something for which there is no market?

Progress and innovation produce obsolescence, true? Labor either keeps up or atrophies. That’s called LIFE. Get on board – you’ll enjoy it, . . . or die. Either way, the world isn’t going to bend to your demand that it stop, unless you have enough guns, that is. Ask a Cuban or an exile from the USSR. They’ll tell you what no progress feels like.

Have a nice day.

kirby July 5, 2011 at 4:25 pm

Technology creates the recessionary gap. Huh.

jeffrey neal July 5, 2011 at 4:40 pm

Yeah, HUH?

Kirby July 5, 2011 at 9:17 pm

Well I never actually thought about it before.

Dan J July 6, 2011 at 2:26 am

Kirby…… You have to adjust your name when using separate devices to post.

mike July 5, 2011 at 9:19 pm

Groups of people, when pushed far enough, form organizations and yield their political power. How did the last guilded age work out for ya? The next New Deal is coming because of corporate greed and the undue influence the wealthy have bought. The pendulum is about to swing far back the other way because the plutocrats have pushed it too far. They should have taken the lowest tax rates they’ve had for 60 years and kept their mouth shut, but no…

AH July 5, 2011 at 9:48 pm

Ditto.
All this rather intelligent conversation above you discussing the finer points of economic theory misses -of course- the whole point of Brooks’ column. His Welchian ‘moral decency’ struck the core of the matter. And they were fighting words. Some deaf ones on this page need to hear the guillotine being sharpened. I’m beginning to rather like Madame Defarge.

Kirby July 5, 2011 at 9:49 pm

The commies didn’t push it far enough in the other direction to keep ticking on for a while longer?

Dan J July 6, 2011 at 2:28 am

Well, get busy on taking your money to keep buying typewriters or on handing over your earned compensation.

AH July 6, 2011 at 7:35 am

Every time I hear the word ‘commies’ I reach for my Browning.

jeffrey neal July 6, 2011 at 9:34 am

“Groups of people . . . y[w?]ield their political power.”

Precisely – that’s why we have the document called the Constitution – to limit the amount of power any one partisan group can wield. What your retort has to do with progress and productivity I’ll let you explain to me, but . . .

So you want a different set of plutocrats to embolden the mob to take more money from the ‘rich’? What definition of justice is operative when you suggest that a majority has the power to impose upon a minority (the rich) a set of rules that don’t apply to the majority?

BTW – you’re mistaken to say that we have the lowest tax rates in 60 years. Late ’80s saw 28% top marginal rate. Gov’t is collecting less in taxes as a %age of GDP, but that has more to do with a perverse tax code and a slumbering economy than it does with what the top marginal tax rate is today – 36%.

John Dewey July 5, 2011 at 4:19 pm

Another Dave: “I think Mr. Brooks’ point is the low-skill, lower middle class jobs that used to be found in the manufacturing sector are disappearing, without being replaced elsewhere”

He can try to make that point, but it hasn’t been true over the past three decades. As manufacturing jobs were eliminated, the much larger service sector has added millions of jobs. Many of those jobs pay as well as factory jobs but only require skills easily learned at vocational schools and on the job.

ArrowSmith July 5, 2011 at 4:33 pm

Not everyone can flip burgers or be a Wal Mart greeter. Service economy = dead end. We need to MAKE things again. We need steelworkers, auto-workers, welders, machinists! We need strong unions!

tdp July 5, 2011 at 4:36 pm

Assuming this is satire.

ArrowSmith July 5, 2011 at 4:39 pm

I aim to please.

Kirby July 5, 2011 at 9:17 pm

-laugh- Jolly good show.e

Dan J July 6, 2011 at 2:30 am

Should have known…… You have not taken up silly muirgeo positions like that b4.

mike July 5, 2011 at 9:16 pm

This is a joke, right? Service jobs pay as much, really?

John Dewey July 6, 2011 at 4:00 am

mike: “This is a joke, right? Service jobs pay as much, really?”

Millions of U.S. service sector blue collar jobs pay as much as manufacturing jobs. Here’s a few:

Median hourly wage (and number of workers):

Tractor trailer truck drivers – $18.16 …. (1,466,740)
Auto mechanics – $17.21 …. (587,510)
Diesel engine mechanics – $19.64 …. (220,770)
Firefighters – $21.76 …. (302,400)
Dental assistants – $16.09 …. (294,030)
Telecom equipment installers – $26.30 …. (190,100)

By contrast, the median hourly wage for all production (manufacturing) occupations is only $14.58. Certainly a few, such as autoworkers in assembly plants, earn more than $14.58 an hour. But half of all production workers earn less than $14.58.\

Mike, you can find more data on wages by occupation at http://www.bls.gov.

T Rich July 6, 2011 at 11:08 pm

Please don’t confuse our (apparent) new troll with facts and data. That tends to enrage them; however, I am noticing that this Mike fellow tends to go away when directly challenged. He may be the exception that proves the rule of “Don’t feed the troll!”

Sam July 8, 2011 at 4:25 pm

Mike,
Service jobs include professions such as doctors, lawyers, civil engineers, IT workers, etc…

tdp July 5, 2011 at 4:38 pm

If we want to solve unemployment/people worrying about manufacturing someone has to go to the rust belt and tell them that however important manufacturing jobs were in the past, those days are over and not coming back. America is at a more advanced stage of its economy now. Time to move on.

Another Dave July 5, 2011 at 4:55 pm

Agreed. Let’s have that conversation, without the hysterics.

mike July 5, 2011 at 9:15 pm

The problem just isn’t in manufacturing, it is virtually every sector (aside from creating fake wealth on paper, a la Wall Street) All American workers are becoming more productive, but are being compensated less for it. Hence, corporate profits at all time highs

mike July 5, 2011 at 9:13 pm

I find it a little hard to believe that this writer really doesn’t understand Brooks’ point. But in case he is actually sincere, I’ll spell it out for him: WE CONTINUE TO INCREASE OUR PRODUCTIVITY, BUT CORPORATE AMERICAN PAYS US LESS FOR IT

mike July 5, 2011 at 9:13 pm

America, sorry

Don Boudreaux July 5, 2011 at 9:36 pm

I’m sorry, but Brooks’s saying that manufacturing employment is “cratering” is Brooks here saying nothing about how much ‘corporate America’ is paying workers.

Dan J July 6, 2011 at 2:34 am

You assume and add your own opinion. When Obama said to ‘redistribute the wealth’, what he really meant was………… Insert your own opinion……. Mine, is that he meant we need to ‘fundamentally transform’ US into an authoritarian society more like China as Thomas Friedman usually marvels at.

Jim July 6, 2011 at 12:43 pm

Listening to Mr. Brooks argue that Republicans should take a deal that has been honored by the breach in every instance of the last 50 years is like listening to Mr. Friedman argue that Netanyahu should have agreed to indefensible 1967 borders because USA is a friend.

Erik Brynjolfsson July 11, 2011 at 12:07 am

I’m confused by your strong stand. Productivity certainly makes the pie bigger and helps the economy as a whole, but do you also believe that each and every person in the economy necessarily benefits from every productivity improvement? Could some workers, e.g. those laid off, be made worse off and if so, would that be a problem worth noting and perhaps addressing? Or more specifically, if as Brooks writes, some workers lost their jobs and incomes, perhaps for a long time, even when output was rising, would that be worth noting as a problem?

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