Dear Editor,

I regularly share with relatives, former students, friends and close acquaintances, that I refer to as Emailpals, essays/articles that are politically conservative. Recently I shared a Wall Street Journal article written by Russell Roberts an Economics Professor at George Mason University. The opening paragraph caught my attention: "The story goes that Milton Friedman was once taken to see a massive government project somewhere in Asia. Thousands of workers using shovels were building a canal. Friedman was puzzled. Why weren't there any excavators or any mechanized earth-moving equipment? A government official explained that using shovels created more jobs. Friedman's response: "Then why not use spoons instead of shovels?"

Friedman's response is humorous but as I wrote to my Emailpals: "Surely your common-sense pre-teen relative or friend would have understood the economics behind Friedman's question. My Union Beach fifth graders in 1956 would have understood why Friedman posed that question. But our President does not understand." The essay continues:  "That story came to mind in a recent speech when President Obama linked technology to job losses. 'There are some structural issues with our economy where a lot of businesses have learned to become much more efficient with a lot fewer workers,' he said. '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.'"

Roberts contnues, "The president calls this a structural issue—we usually call it progress. And it isn't exactly a new phenomenon. It's been going on for centuries, and its pace has accelerated over the past 50 years. Businesses relentlessly look for ways to replace workers with machines. The machines get better and smarter. We go from spoons to shovels to excavators, not the other way around.Telephone switchboard operators lose jobs to automated switching. Toll collectors get replaced by E-ZPass. Auto workers get replaced by robots. Or look at eggs. Today, a couple of workers can manage an egg-laying operation of almost a million chickens laying 240,000,000 eggs a year. How can two people pick up those eggs or feed those chickens or keep them healthy with medication? They can't. The hen house does the work—it's really smart. The two workers keep an eye on a highly mechanized, computerized process that would have been unimaginable 50 years ago."

And that's how Capitalism works but our Democratic, Socialist, Progressive, Liberal President Obama just doesnt "understand."


James Robbins
Eatontown, NJ