GDP Is Wrong and Trade Deficits Are Good
Imagine that in 2016 one particular firm produced $347 billion worth of goods for the US economy. By using advanced technology, this firm was able operate using exactly zero labor. This hypothetical firm would have contributed $347 billion to our GDP. That's no small chunk of change.
Let's call this firm "China."
Our Moral Compass Is Broken
Last month I applied for food stamps in the state of Massachusetts. Food stamps are great, but they're not perfect. Among other drawbacks, food stamps come with a job search requirement. This is unsurprising. We naturally expect people to do their best to pull their own weight. It is an expectation as fundamental as it is pernicious.
"Who doesn't work doesn't eat"
— Soviet Propaganda Poster, Uzbek, Tashkent, 1920
What Are We Fighting For?
It's unusual for any discussion of the economy to continue for long without someone bringing up wages or unemployment rates. We care about jobs. It's evident from our political discourse that we also care about protecting the middle class and sending our youth to college. But how important are these and other issues we feel strongly about?
A Game of Privilege
Our society holds the rich and the poor to different standards. We expect the poor to earn a living. We expect them to work hard and to contribute to society in some measurable way. We consider long-term unemployment among the poor to be a condition that primarily afflicts the lazy. The poor aren't free to abstain from work as the rich are. We indoctrinate poor people with the idea that their hard work will one day be rewarded.
The Intellectual Property Cold War
In my previous post, I discussed how technology was revolutionizing education, but what's happening in education is only a small part of a much larger transformation being brought about by the internet. Never before has humanity enjoyed access to as rich an ecosystem of creative inspiration and collaboration as we have today.
If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.
—Sir Isaac Newton
Too Cool For School
I can't help but feel sorry for American college students. Many of these kids have mortgaged away their future by way of student loans that they may never be able to repay. But do they have any other choice? People will pay whatever it takes for the best education possible.
We Can Do Better
One thing that economists and software developers have in common is a love of optimization. We always want to find the best way to achieve the best results. And in pursuit of that goal, we repeatedly ask questions about how we can improve things.
The Technological Economy
I love being a software developer. Once I've performed a task a few times, I can then write some code to perform that task for me. This is fantastic! It allows me to continually focus my mind on new and exciting thoughts. The result is that I'm never bored.
All around the world, people like me are creating software and other technology that takes routine labor out of the hands of human workers. But what are the social and economic implications? The purpose of this blog is to explore that very question.