Our workers are the most productive on Earth, and if the playing field is level, I promise you -– America will always win.

Obama State of the Union 2012

Manufacturing activity is increasing. Inflation is low. Interest rates are low. Exports are growing. Productivity is high, and jobs are on the rise.

Bush State of the Union 2002

Think of it: Instant access to information will increase productivity, will help to educate our children. It will provide better medical care. It will create jobs.

Clinton State of the Union 1994

Bell Curve
Productivity versus Employment
Everyone seems to think that increased productivity is a good thing, that thought is drummed constantly. But there is a question...Can we have increasing productivity and increasing employment at the same time? If, reducto ad absurdum, productivity went to zero nobody would be producing anything, including food, and we would all starve. At the other end of the curve, if productivity went to infinity then everyone would be out of a job. So productivity is a good thing up to a point, beyond which unemployment becomes the issue. Are we beyond that point, beyond the peak of the bell curve? Are we on the down-slope where increasing productivity equates to increasing unemployment?

I submit we are seeing the results of moving beyond optimum productivity. There are several qualified applicants for every good job and education is not going to overcome the plain math of the problem. Too much productivity means that the required goods can be produced by only a few workers, leaving the rest standing in unemployment lines.  Or, and this is a big or, we can face the fact that society as a whole must see that everyone is supplied with their needs. Yes, it sounds socialistic, sorry 'bout that.

This is not an argument for reducing productivity, I am not a Luddite longing for the good old days. Indeed, I have designed and produced some of the labor-saving equipment that allows factories to make a better product with fewer employees and I 'm happy to have made that contribution. Nor do I suggest that society could ever approach infinite productivity, we will need teachers (and those who print textbooks), nurses (and those who produce bandages), and likewise in many other fields. But as productivity increases we need fewer of them.

So do we resort to name-calling like Obama the "food stamp President", or do we understand that increased productivity leads towards socialism?  Or is there another path altogether?

Let the discussion begin!


Is Productivity Good?

45%10 votes
9%2 votes
9%2 votes
9%2 votes
18%4 votes
9%2 votes

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