Russ’s new book, of course, is now out; a copy already graces a bookshelf in my home. But for those of you who haven’t yet read Russ’s first book — The Choice — I urge you to do so ASAP. It offers the best explanation of trade, and case against protectionism, penned since Bastiat last wrote more than 150 years ago.
A major theme of The Choice is that free trade — or, more generally, producing any good or service with fewer and fewer resources (including human resources) — releases resources (again and especially, including human resources) to produce other goods and services that would not otherwise be possible to produce.
And when human resources are released from many of the tasks that demanded it over the years (agriculture, manufacturing), human beings are able to find other occupations that generally are more fulfilling. Although the span of time over which this emancipating process takes place is long enough to avoid detection and appreciation by those whose observation is only casual, stepping back and looking at our society today in comparison with that of 200 or even 50 years ago makes clear that this process of emancipating human labor from tedium is real and is responsible for much (I would say most) of what is fine and wonderful about our world today.
This comic-book account of robots replacing human labor makes the point. (HT Ronald Hayden, who found this nice story at ColbyCosh.com)