Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Obama versus ATMs and Kiosks

Beatable, And He Knows It - Investors.com: "'The other thing that happened,' the president claimed in an NBC 'Today Show' interview Tuesday, 'is 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.

'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.'"
I've written about automation and job changes in several blog posts. We gain from technology, particularly in terms of human safety and life expectancy. Automation in factories has made factories safer. Cars replacing horses made cities less prone to disease outbreaks. Factory medications are more controlled than the old "apothecary" mixtures. Generally, automation is a net positive.

Also, there will always be a market for those things that are handcrafted by true artisans. Yes, factory automation has allowed more of us to afford nice furniture and cars, but if you have money you can still buy handcrafted woodwork and a Rolls Royce.

ATMs are not the enemy. I love that I can use an ATM after work, before work, or on holidays. That beats my old bank's hours when I was a college student. The bank opened at 9:30 and closed by 5:00 each day, with no weekend hours. I don't want to go back to those days.

Mr. President, find another explanation for unemployment. You know, like the mess created by the GSEs and mortgage backed securities. The endless environmental lawsuits blocking major infrastructure rebuilding. The NLRB lawsuit against Boeing's new South Carolina plant. How about Dodd-Frank, yet more SEC uncertainty, and everything Elizabeth Warren says? Don't forget uncertainty over tax policy and health care "reform" in the future. Also, the worries about our federal debt and the European debt crisis.

Yes, there are plenty of explanations for slow job growth beyond ATMs and kiosks.

Then again, this is the president who is lauding the return of the "U.S. Big Three" while Chrysler and GM actually did go bankrupt. Chrysler, by the way, is no longer a U.S. company, Mr. President. Or did you forget that Fiat is Italian?

No, we've lost jobs for a lot of reasons. Not the least are the policies implemented by both political parties. When politicians can celebrate a "bailout" that resulted in parts of GM and all of Chrysler being sold to foreign companies, you know they've lost touch with the American workers and employers.

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