An Op Ed entitled The Great Job Machine (the link no longer works) was on the New York Times editorial page recently — cheek by jowl with Krugman.
I hope old Paul gets himself a nasty rash from the exposure.
The article is an excellent short summary of the process of creative destruction. It lays out how the American economy is structured both to destroy jobs and to create jobs, that it has always been that way, and that tolerance for the rigors of this process has led to our country being dynamic and increasingly wealthy.
Societies grow richer when new products emerge that better meet consumers’ needs, and when producers adopt new technologies that reduce costs by making workers more productive. In a dynamic, innovative economy, these forces unleash waves upon waves of change. Some industries and companies prosper while others wither. Some companies find themselves with too many workers while others struggle with too few. A free-enterprise system responds by moving resources — in this case workers — to where they’re more valuable.
Some illuminating numbers:
Since 1980, Americans have filed 106 million initial claims for unemployment benefits, each representing a lost job. Facing unemployment and rebuilding a life can be hard on families, but the United States today is better off for allowing it to happen. Even with the net decline in jobs over the past three years, during the past decade total United States employment has risen to 130 million from 91 million since 1980, a net gain of nearly 40 million jobs. Productivity, measured by output per worker, increased a staggering 56.2 percent.
This process of “savage capitalism” is what the folks in Old Europe want to “protect” themselves from. That’s fine. Suit yourself. Build yourself a cocoon, move into it, guarantee yourself a “right” to a cozy, trouble-free, event-free life. Like Arnold Schwarzenegger said, eighteen year old kids in Austria talk about their pensions, and he wanted more. Everyone with any gumption, globally, now hear this, straight from Lex: Get your ass to America, and we’ll build the free and prosperous future here. The Old Europeans can park their beach chairs on the ash heap of history, look around at the rubble of the great things their ancestors did, think about the kids and grandkids they never had and will never have, grumble about how the Americans are cowboys, and wait for their pension checks.
It’s been nice knowin’ ya, folks. See you in the rear-view mirror.