Here’s a letter to Politico:
Helen Greiner and Jared Cohon rightly sing the praises of robotics, which have unmistakably improved manufacturing processes and, as a consequence, raised people’s standard of living (“Robots are a boon for the economy,” August 19).
But their tune turns discordant when they call for more government “investment” in robotics. It’s both logically and historically fallacious to conclude that, because something is desirable, government should subsidize it.
The lone example Ms. Greiner and Mr. Cohon offer to make their case for robotics subsidies actually does the opposite. That example is of Drew Greenblatt, CEO of Martin Steel Wire Co. In 2002 Mr. Greenblatt invested in robotics for his production facilities. As Ms. Greiner and Mr. Cohon explain, “What seemed like a risky decision has paid huge dividends. Revenues increased six-fold…. Greenblatt is [now] exporting his wire baskets to China and 34 other countries.”
The profit motive clearly inspires firms that can profitably use robotics to use robotics – and, hence, inspires robotic researchers and builders to improve robotics in order to make robots ever-more attractive investments to the likes of Mr. Greenblatt. And this market-driven process is unalloyed by the partisan gamesmanship and lack of on-the-ground expertise that invariably poison political decision-making.
Donald J. Boudreaux
(HT Scott Lincicome)