Chart of the Day

posted at 12:55 pm on January 6, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

This comes from Business Insider, and it provides a natural follow-up to my post from last week as to why public-sector workers are more optimistic than private-sector employees.  For the first time, the US has more government workers than goods-producing workers:

The significant dropoff comes from the sharp increase in unemployment over the last year.  As I wrote before, that drop in employment has only impacted the private sector.  Government jobs are only off of their peak by 35,000, while the private sector has lost three million positions.

But there’s more to this than just the current economic system.  That line stretched back to 1939, and in 71 years, there has only been two significant declines in government employment.  The first came at the end of World War II, when we released large numbers of workers back to the private sector.  The second came in the early 1980s, when Ronald Reagan tried scaling back the size of government.

Otherwise, in 71 years, the rate of growth in government employment has been more constant than anything I’ve seen in economics.  It has been an inexorable inflation of government, a symptom of the encroaching bureaucracy and capital destruction that has plagued the US since the New Deal.


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

Comment pages: 1 2

The overall goal of the Obama Administration appears to be full employment.

Everyone will be employed by the federal government.

Just like the old days. East Germany comes to mind.

coldwarrior on January 6, 2010 at 2:10 PM

I’ve read in several places that the US is not losing manufacturing, we are losing manufacturing jobs. The reason for this is automation. As long as labor continues to get more expensive, businesses will find ways to replace labor with machines.

MarkTheGreat on January 6, 2010 at 2:14 PM

What is more disturbing is the decrease in the percentage of those who produce actual Wealth… ie, those who produce goods.

Romeo13 on January 6, 2010 at 2:04 PM

Do not the people that think of and engineer objects to make create wealth even though those objects may be made overseas?

WashJeff on January 6, 2010 at 2:16 PM

Wow, it looks like the Soviet/Cuban kinda model. What’s that old saying; when politics became a career choice, it’s the beginning of the end. (Or sumpthin like that) We, as a country, need to PRODUCE stuff to sell to other countries. As it is now more os less, we are a service based economy. Folks, that ain’t a good thing.

Deckard on January 6, 2010 at 2:17 PM

Beck sounding any less crazy yet, Ed and Allahpundit?

RightWinged on January 6, 2010 at 2:19 PM

As long as labor continues to get more expensive, businesses will find ways to replace labor with machines.

MarkTheGreat on January 6, 2010 at 2:14 PM

If you can use machines, it seasier to:
- Run 24×7
- Require less building\real estate (less taxes & utility costs)
- Less benefits\HR staff
- Quality of good is probably more consistent

Even Hollywood got it right in the recent remake of Willy Wonka, Charlie’s Dad was better off support the machine that put toothpaste caps on then putting the caps on himself.

WashJeff on January 6, 2010 at 2:20 PM

We either got more efficient by a couple of orders of magnitude, or we shipped about 25,000,000 manufacturing jobs oversees during those years.

Johnnyreb on January 6, 2010 at 1:26 PM

We got more efficient by several orders of magnitude.
Why do you find that scary?

MarkTheGreat on January 6, 2010 at 2:20 PM

Do not the people that think of and engineer objects to make create wealth even though those objects may be made overseas?

WashJeff on January 6, 2010 at 2:16 PM

Yeah. But also remember that at one time, America made quite a lot of its own stuff.
Obviously there will alawys be stuff to import. And there are some things we export, like food.
But Americans have also been far too generous with their knowledge & technology by giving it away or selling it off & the piper gets paid by those 3rd world countries using our sweat & tears that went into making something that might have never been made by themselves bcs their govt system/economies would never have allowed it to happen.
We have cut off our nose to spite our face.
Now when we do export, we are often given a really crappy deal.
And why doesn’t our govt really ever stick up for our goods?

Badger40 on January 6, 2010 at 2:23 PM

How could we be proud of being a service oriented economy?
jeridhill on January 6, 2010 at 1:31 PM

If you are a consultant, you are part of the service economy. Consultants often work for overseas clients.
If you are programmer, you are part of the service economy. We sell lots of software overseas.
If you are a musician, you are part of the service economy. We sell lots of music overseas.
If you are an actor, you are part of the service economy. We sell lots of movies overseas.

The service economy encompasses a lot more than burger flippers and greeters at Wal-Mart.

MarkTheGreat on January 6, 2010 at 2:24 PM

I used to think when we got to this point the government would have to start taking ownership of our natural resources to pay the bills.

cntrlfrk on January 6, 2010 at 1:32 PM

Just selling most of the land that they own would cover most of the debt.

MarkTheGreat on January 6, 2010 at 2:25 PM

Wait until a HC bureaucracy takes hold, an extra million federal employees to pay for. Yay.

Bishop on January 6, 2010 at 1:38 PM

In Britain, Health Services is the largest single employer in the country.

MarkTheGreat on January 6, 2010 at 2:26 PM

Are you suggesting we should free up our market so that American workers can make the same wages as workers in a Chinese sneaker factory?

Bleeds Blue on January 6, 2010 at 1:39 PM

Are you actually stupid enough to believe that govt regulations increase wages?

MarkTheGreat on January 6, 2010 at 2:28 PM

At some point, as that redline keeps ascending, free men and women will starting looking around for a new land of opportunity. Where will that be?

james23 on January 6, 2010 at 1:50 PM

I’m hoping that the Moon or Mars will be opening up by then.

MarkTheGreat on January 6, 2010 at 2:29 PM

What is more disturbing is the decrease in the percentage of those who produce actual Wealth… ie, those who produce goods.

Romeo13 on January 6, 2010 at 2:04 PM

The service sector also produces real wealth.

MarkTheGreat on January 6, 2010 at 2:33 PM

Even the burger flippers are producing wealth. They do so by allowing other workers to providing food to people more quickly than they can do by themselves. Giving them more time to spend on things they value more. Be it doing their own jobs, or more time with the family.

MarkTheGreat on January 6, 2010 at 2:34 PM

OK< but what is Goods Producing Workers? We talking factory?

WoosterOh on January 6, 2010 at 2:35 PM

Yeah. But also remember that at one time, America made quite a lot of its own stuff.

Badger40 on January 6, 2010 at 2:23 PM

Do you believe that you would be wealthier if you were to make everything that you use, yourself? Even your car, tv, and computer?

MarkTheGreat on January 6, 2010 at 2:36 PM

Even the burger flippers are producing wealth. They do so by allowing other workers to providing food to people more quickly than they can do by themselves. Giving them more time to spend on things they value more. Be it doing their own jobs, or more time with the family.

MarkTheGreat on January 6, 2010 at 2:34 PM

But you don’t want to do it as a career. There’s no $$ in it.
I can see the point you’re making about this, but I perceive, at least, that there are way too many service jobs vs technical.
That may also be due to the ‘lazy’ American syndrome.
No one wants to work hard anymore to get ahead.
The current young generation thinks they can get something for nothing.
They don’t want to work for anything.
So what do companies w/ tech jobs do to fill their positions?
They evidently fight for the few green cards there are available to get engineers, etc. here.
Sad state of affairs.

Badger40 on January 6, 2010 at 2:40 PM

There’s no need to create wealth, if you can print more money,

is there?

franksalterego on January 6, 2010 at 2:40 PM

This graph is printed and attached to the outside of my office door. The only real creation of wealth happens during the manufacture of goods, when the direct or indirect application of human labor transforms input materials into something greater than the sum of their parts. Like 52 tons of steel scrap ($285/ton for the scrap plus a bunch of process costs)into 45 tons of finished steel worth $785/ton. Them “process costs” include taxes, etc. Our co. made and sold about $110 Million worth of steel last year, but made a net profit of $53,161.

I shoulda been a doctor. The curriculum would have been easier.

SteelGuy on January 6, 2010 at 2:41 PM

Do you believe that you would be wealthier if you were to make everything that you use, yourself? Even your car, tv, and computer?

MarkTheGreat on January 6, 2010 at 2:36 PM

Never alluded to that. Vertical integration is great to a point, IMHO.
I don’t think the Jeffersonian view of America is ideal, but then neither is Hamilton’s.
Point is, if we give up making everything, along with giving up our knowledge to make those things even, then we will eventually be at the mercy of other nations.
And from a security standpoint, that is suicide.

Badger40 on January 6, 2010 at 2:42 PM

The need for hardware increases with the population. Things like toasters, cars, washing machines all need to be made. At one time, we made those things here. With the passage of NAFTA, American businesses sold out their countrymen and decided to ship all of the American jobs overseas to benefit their bottom line. Stifling environmental regulations also helped push the outsourcing.
American business needs to relearn what Henry Ford knew: the workers needed to be paid enough to afford the products they made.

BackwardsBoy on January 6, 2010 at 2:45 PM

To truly understand whether this is good or bad, we also need a line labelled “population of the United States”. With such a line, we can compare slopes.

If the population line has the same slope than the government line, then we can say that the rate of government increase is equal to the rate of general population increase, which would be expected if the productivity of each worker has remained constant over time.

If the population line has a lesser slope, then the rate of government increase is faster than the rate of population increase. Given that we supposedly, through automation, have increased the productivity rate of the modern worker, that would be a telling statement about the growth of Government.

We can argue that, with modern technology leveraging the productivity of each office worker, the rate of increase of Government workers should be substantially slowed.

You’ll note that the blips for end of WWII and Reagan are really minor.

unclesmrgol on January 6, 2010 at 2:45 PM

Chart of the CENTURY!

Star20 on January 6, 2010 at 2:45 PM

but I perceive, at least, that there are way too many service jobs vs technical.

Badger40 on January 6, 2010 at 2:40 PM

Did you see my list of occupations that are counted as service jobs?
Many service jobs are very technical. I wouldn’t be surprised that if you averaged all “service” jobs, and all manufacturing jobs, you will find that service jobs are better paying and involve better working conditions.

A few years ago, one of the automakers spun off it’s accounting department. The same workers, working in the same offices, continued to do the books for the automaker, but they were now employed by an independant company instead of the automaker.

On that day, 1000 manufacturing jobs were lost, and 1000 service sector jobs were created. All that changed was the classification of the company that the workers worked for.

MarkTheGreat on January 6, 2010 at 2:51 PM

Well, what do you know? Another chart showing how much closer we are to where America reaches private sector producers versus a government employed population point of critical mass. Who will be working more months of the year to pay for those government workers? This is a statistical nightmare for people saying that an even bigger government is sustainable. While the democrats appear to have been getting exceptional GPA’s in school by taking elective art courses instead of basic math, this visual aid provided by the BusinessInsider should even enlighten the numerically challenged. Oh wait, who am I kidding, they would not believe this chart because the wrong people are telling them about it.

Americannodash on January 6, 2010 at 2:52 PM

I remember a cartoon in The New Yorker back in the late 70′s showing a huge crowd in the unemployment office with one clerk. Over several panels the number of people in line decreased while the number of clerks increased until in the final panel the office was full of clerks with no one in line. Pretty funny. (sigh)

davo on January 6, 2010 at 2:55 PM

Never alluded to that. Vertical integration is great to a point, IMHO.
I don’t think the Jeffersonian view of America is ideal, but then neither is Hamilton’s.
Point is, if we give up making everything, along with giving up our knowledge to make those things even, then we will eventually be at the mercy of other nations.
And from a security standpoint, that is suicide.

Badger40 on January 6, 2010 at 2:42 PM

Vertical integration is when one company makes everything. For example, when a steel making company owns the mine that produces the ore that it needs, that’s vertical integration, and it is the exact opposite of what I am talking about.

Why do you insist on believing that only when a physical product is made, that wealth is created?
Is the CD worth more or less, after a program, song, movie, is imprinted on it?

MarkTheGreat on January 6, 2010 at 2:56 PM

American business needs to relearn what Henry Ford knew: the workers needed to be paid enough to afford the products they made.

BackwardsBoy on January 6, 2010 at 2:45 PM

There’s one thing about a comfortable myth. It never dies.
Ford paid his workers more because factory work was uncomfortable and dangerous. (Though less dangerous than many other jobs at the time.) He was able to pay them more because his assembly lines were more efficient.

If you double the wages that you pay your workers, and as a result, have to double the price of what you sell. Are your workers better off? Of course not. Not to mention that most of them will quickly be unemployed because nobody else will buy your goods either, because they are over priced.

Wealth comes when productivity allows each worker to make more goods. This allows the price of goods to fall.

MarkTheGreat on January 6, 2010 at 2:59 PM

Badger40 on January 6, 2010 at 2:23 PM

But Americans have also been far too generous with their knowledge & technology by giving it away or selling it off & the piper gets paid by those 3rd world countries using our sweat & tears that went into making something that might have never been made by themselves bcs their govt system/economies would never have allowed it to happen.

This comment seems to apply mostly to China. I remember reading many instantances where the China govt demand design knowledge for entry into their markets. It should have been and still should be evident that turing over Intellectual Property (IP) to China is just dumb.

From a friend of mine that does business in China that honor only extends within the family. After that, anything goes. I wished the companies would have said adios to China and went to India. I think we can trust India to be more fair because I believe the English left their mark on their society.

Now when we do export, we are often given a really crappy deal.
And why doesn’t our govt really ever stick up for our goods?

This is not a free trade problem, it is a government problem. It seems our government makes many of our industries compete with one hand tied behind our back. I would much rather see this issue tackled first versus trade practices that some may consider unfair.

WashJeff on January 6, 2010 at 3:01 PM

Vertical integration is when one company makes everything.

MarkTheGreat on January 6, 2010 at 2:56 PM

I mis-spoke (typed?). Vertical integration is when a company owns the companies that produce it’s raw materials.

The example I gave earlier still holds.

MarkTheGreat on January 6, 2010 at 3:01 PM

Badger40, earlier you gave an example of the Canadians using antibiotics that were banned in the US on their cattle, then selling the meat to the US.

If the antibiotic makes the meat dangerous, then the meat should indeed be banned. If not, the proper thing to do is to get govt to allow our producers to use the antibiotic as well. Get govt to stop hamstringing our businesses so that they can compete.

Don’t use govt to drag everyone down to the lowest common denominator.

MarkTheGreat on January 6, 2010 at 3:04 PM

The same services provided to a larger population usually (but not always)requires a larger number of people employed to provide those services. Population has been increasing at relatively the same rate so it makes sense that the number of government employees would rise at about the same rate. So – no – I don’t think this chart represents “an inexorable inflation of government” so much as a maintenance of approx. the same government.

What I would find more disturbing is how small that drop under Reagan was given the massive size of some of his cuts. Pair that with how small the bump upwards under LBJ’s Great Society programs. Outlay has increased at a steadily higher rate than people employed and even massive cuts don’t result in as large a reduction as one might expect. THAT suggests something far more inexorable.

dieudonne on January 6, 2010 at 3:04 PM

Wealth comes when productivity allows each worker to make more goods. This allows the price of goods to fall.

MarkTheGreat on January 6, 2010 at 2:59 PM

The concept of lower prices seems to get lost in these types of discussions. If business can pay less for its COGS and overhead supplies, it has more money to invest and pay better wages.

Efficiency is the best position to support. It is unfortunate that our governments to their best to impede efficiency improvements.

WashJeff on January 6, 2010 at 3:08 PM

The guy above who mentioned parasites got me thinking about the evolution of a system in which we allow our parasites to run the show.

It’s pretty common in history, but always ends up the same. In biology, host and parasite usually adapt, eventually, but not always. Parasites don’t let go.

Rome fell for lots of reasons, moral decay, bread and circuses, but one major reason was the flow of wealth outward. Their service economy didn’t save them. Citizens demanded stuff they couldn’t afford, and it bled them out.

jodetoad on January 6, 2010 at 3:10 PM

Badger40 on January 6, 2010 at 2:42 PM

Somewhat reminds me of Isaac Asimov’s “Foundation Trilogy.”

chemman on January 6, 2010 at 3:17 PM

If the antibiotic makes the meat dangerous, then the meat should indeed be banned. If not, the proper thing to do is to get govt to allow our producers to use the antibiotic as well. Get govt to stop hamstringing our businesses so that they can compete.

Don’t use govt to drag everyone down to the lowest common denominator.

MarkTheGreat on January 6, 2010 at 3:04 PM

I agree with govt getting out of business, but it does need to have a skeleton regulatory function.
Meatpackers: do you know that they are allowed to inspect themselves?
The USDA does not inspect meat (much) anymore.
They have recently given that over whole hog to the packing industry.
But they themselves inspect small butchers etc.
If contamination occurs, it occurs at the slaughter site:packers.
But since the packers are inspecting themselves, there magically is little contamination to be found.
Meanwhile, when an E. coli outbreak occurs, often you find the USDA has ‘found’ the outbreak at a butcher, who bough their slaughtered product from a large packer-where the contamination has occurred-and yet who is held responsible oftentimes for contamination?
The small guy who buys his slaughtered product from the big guy.
So while your view is idealistically correct, you cannot get govt totally ‘out’ of business.
They should only be hesitant referees, but they do need at some point to referee.
Profit should not be gotten at all costs.

Badger40 on January 6, 2010 at 3:25 PM

but one major reason was the flow of wealth outward. Their service economy didn’t save them. Citizens demanded stuff they couldn’t afford, and it bled them out.

jodetoad on January 6, 2010 at 3:10 PM

And the lesson is still unlearned.
This will be the death of us.
Looking at my own industry, cattle, we have stuck a knife on our own backs by selling off our genetics & know-how:the very genetics & knowledge we mostly wroekd hard to produce ourselves.
We sold this off to countries like Mexico & countries in S. America, etc.
Now they do not need our product anymore bcs we have essentially given it to them.
Now they try & sell it to us.
Meanwhile, our own govt makes it night impossible to continue raising cows through too much action in some areas & too little action in others (consolidation in the ag industry-reduced competition).
It’s a sad, sad, lesson to learn over & over again.

Badger40 on January 6, 2010 at 3:28 PM

W

e’re a service economy now, and proud of it!

That was /sarc.

Bleeds Blue on January 6, 2010 at 3:30 PM

Badger40, the options are not govt inspectors or companies inspecting themselves. There’s a free market alternative. Private inspectors.

The best example of this is United Laboratories (UL).

UL has created their own standards, no govt involvment.
Companies pay UL to test their products because the companies know that consumers value the UL label.
Being a private company, it is in UL’s interest to not be bribed. (If UL became known as a company that could be bribed, consumers would no longer be willing to pay more for a product with the UL lable. If consumers were no longer willing to pay more, then no company would be willing to pay UL to test their products. No more products being tested means no more UL.)

On the other hand, when govt inspection fails, we are told that the answer is more spending on the inspectors.
In the private world, a failure in inspection results in the company being punished.
In the govt world, a failure in inspection means the inspectors get a bigger budget, in other words, they are rewarded.

WHich would you trust more?

MarkTheGreat on January 6, 2010 at 3:34 PM

Interesting chart. The crossing of the streams is scary and the blue plunge scarier. Doesn’t look like it will stop anytime soon. But look at the separation of red and blue around 1953. According to this chart that was the Golden Age.

curved space on January 6, 2010 at 3:39 PM

Badger40, I must add, that your example bolsters my case, not yours. You first state that some govt regulation is necessary, and then you give an example where govt regulation has failed.

MarkTheGreat on January 6, 2010 at 3:39 PM

The crossing of the streams is scary

curved space on January 6, 2010 at 3:39 PM

Didn’t we learn on GhostBusters, that we must never cross our streams?

MarkTheGreat on January 6, 2010 at 3:45 PM

No. Never cross the streams. Under any circumstances. But writing your name in the snow is OK ;-)

curved space on January 6, 2010 at 3:54 PM

The third dip down will be the Palin Slope as the Cuda freezes net federal hiring and scales budgets down.

Sapwolf on January 6, 2010 at 4:14 PM

There’s more detail on this chart. The neoconservatives grew one side of the pie and now Obama is growing the other. Your slice? Gone.

popularpeoplesfront on January 6, 2010 at 4:24 PM

Interesting chart. The crossing of the streams is scary and the blue plunge scarier. Doesn’t look like it will stop anytime soon. But look at the separation of red and blue around 1953. According to this chart that was the Golden Age.

curved space on January 6, 2010 at 3:39 PM

Good observation! The 1953 period was the time when the economy saw a lot of growth. Just after WWII there was a depression, and that’s when the recovery began post that recession.

Sadly, we’ve never been the same since. The whole crossing of the streams occurred while I was on my LDS mission. It sucks when you go on your mission, serve, and come back to an entirely different country.

As it stands, I’ll never be able to return home short of a miracle. Sure it was messed up when I left, but at least it was sane. Now everything is upside down. Black is white. Wrong is right. Down is up and up is down. 2 + 2 now equals whatever the Obama administration says it equals.

My sorrow knows little bounds. It seems this administration has the unthinkable ability to keep getting worse.

Chaz706 on January 6, 2010 at 4:51 PM

1953 may be one of those unsung years that fueled the boom to come. Mercy me, it may have had less to do with babies and more to do with a healthy private sector job market as illustrated by the not-nearly-crossing streams. The war was 8 years gone, can you still call it a “postwar” baby boom? First-child parents in the 18-20 year-old range in 1953 were 10-12 at the end of WWII. VJ Day for them was a happy time but they didn’t rush out and procreate. Eight years later though, and they were working, and what’s more they were confident that they would be employed for a long time, ABND the tax burden was low…va-voom!

curved space on January 6, 2010 at 5:26 PM

AND the tax burden was low

curved space on January 6, 2010 at 5:26 PM

Excellent thread, for the most part – Bleeds Idiocy and the “war profiteer” wanker notwithstanding.

Now, on this quote:

I’ve read in several places that the US is not losing manufacturing, we are losing manufacturing jobs. The reason for this is automation. As long as labor continues to get more expensive, businesses will find ways to replace labor with machines.

MarkTheGreat on January 6, 2010 at 2:14 PM

I’d like to raise two points.

First, automation is not a panacea. There’s a famous Harvard Business School case involving GM’s attempt to use manufacturing automation – robots – to break the power of UAW through the 1980′s. The effort was a colossal failure on three points:

1. GM learned firsthand that automating a sh!tty process means that all you end up with is an automated sh!tty process (quality issues were not cured by automation; GM cars were still made to a far lesser quality standard than their Japanese counterparts);

2. Automation reduces the raw number of heads (FTEs) but requires its own smaller army of technicians to service the equipment. Voila! the smaller workforce has to be paid much higher wages, reducing any gains made by RIFfing away the manufacturing workers; and

3. GM ended up spending so much money on this exercise that it would have been cheaper to simply buy out its two major Japanese competitors outright. IIRC, GM spent more on the automation project than the market cap of both Toyota and Honda at that time – over $60 billion dollars (yes, with a “B”).

Second, someone has to manufacture the machines. If the union and regulatory environment is not friendly towards manufacturing processes generally, it will not spare the robotics manufacturers. This means that manufacturing of automation equipment gets outsourced to countries that have fewer hurdles for manufacturing jobs than the US.

Those who pointed out that the real wealth creation issue is creation and management of intellectual property, IMHO, are absolutely correct. As an example, while China is gaining manufacturing jobs left and right, it does not yet have a critical mass of inventors or designers. Therefore it can grow only to the degree that it requires Western companies to share IP when they set up manufacturing facilities in China.

Real wealth creation in manufacturing is driven by IP creation and ownership, not production unit cost reduction. This is why I would never buy, say, a heavy high voltage transformer designed, manufactured, and warranted by a Chinese company – but I would buy one manufactured in China by a unit of, say, Alstom. In that example, I know that the item is manufactured to Alstom’s quality standards, and that Alstom will warrant and service the unit becuase their international reputation depends on it. Not so much for an indigenous Chinese company. Oh, and btw, the kind of transformer I’m talking about costs over $5 million dollars, takes over a year to manufacture, and has a service life of over 20 years – longer than most marriages these days. You don’t want to buy one from a company that may or may not be around five years from now, or one that has no risk of reputational loss if the equipment fails.

Anyway, the real danger in all this mess is that eventually, China and India will develop that IP “spark” that will decouple their manufacturing sector from reliance on Western companies. To the degree that the Obamanation depresses the US economy, he provides stronger incentives to the Chinese to focus on decoupling from the US in both IP and market. Eventually the world will shift and when that “spark” lights in China, the world will be a different place.

Remember, one critical issue that allowed the US to win in WWII was the size and flexibility of its manufacturing sector. And the Chinese are learning this lesson a little more every day…

Wanderlust on January 6, 2010 at 5:32 PM

I probably should have said the more generic “productivity” vs. automation. Automation is a factor in productivity enhancement, but by itself it is not a cureall, as Wanderlust points out.

The Japanese did not automate their factories in one fell swoop. They introduced new machines, found out their strenghts and weaknesses, then went on to the next step.

When computers were first introduced to the workplace, productivity actually fell. Once again, it was because in most places, companies just removed the typewriters that secretaries had been using for years, and gave them computers that they had no idea how to use. It took time for companies to figure out how best to use computers.

MarkTheGreat on January 6, 2010 at 5:48 PM

To me, automation means more than just robots.

If I write a script that will back up all of my important files when I press a single button. That is automation, and it saves me a lot of time. It also improves the quality of my work, since I can’t forget to copy one of the files.

Empeding links in a file so that readers can go straight to a document, rather than having to hunt around for it on their own, is a form of automation.

Visual Studio includes wizards that autogenerate hundreds of lines of code for me every time I start a new project. This task used to take several days. This is a form of automation.

These are just a few examples.

MarkTheGreat on January 6, 2010 at 5:54 PM

MarkTheGreat on January 6, 2010 at 5:48 PM

Mark and Wanderlust, in this case (America’s) it has little to do with innovation and automation, and every thing to do with government intervention.
China doesn’t produce and ship to us products cheaper because of innovation, or even because of low wages….they don’t have govt. regulations like we do…they don’t have to have an HR dept. for hiring, and legal experts for firing, they don’t have work rules that specialists are needed, they don’t have mandatory harassment training, they don’t have spray booth certificates that have to be hung 48″-56″ from the floor, and visible from an opening not more then 8 ft away. They don’t weigh their VOC containers every day, log them and have them inspected monthly by both the county and the state…they are not charged $1,500 per year for mapping their facilities for the fire dept., they are not required to have x number of handicap spaces, and a certain number of trees in their parking lot. They don’t have to have all OSHA requirements posted, and the requirements have to be a certain font, a certain size and posted in an approved area, or they are fined. If an overweight person comes in for employment they can’t deny that employment, even if the person can’t do the job. I had a friend forced to hire a deaf person as a receptionist, he paid for her, and the state employee assigned to her…the list is endless.
Each one, maybe not so much, but totaled an immense burden, both financially and physically.
When audited, you must provide an office for the auditor…and that is not just a monetary audit, but a VOC audit, import audit, work hours audit…it is endless and the price is what we have now.
However, they could create a gov. agency to look into the excess agencies….

right2bright on January 6, 2010 at 6:03 PM

AND the tax burden was low

curved space on January 6, 2010 at 5:26 PM

Tax and FEES…it is the fees, the hidden costs of government intervention.
Restaurant inspection, food inspection, OSHA inspection, fire inspection, work hours inspection, city fees, county fees, state fees, federal fees, city license, county license, state license, federal license…filing an application fee, vehicle fees, safety fees….fees, fees, fees,…..they don’t have to vote to raise fees, like they do on taxes…Romney found that out when he was gov.
He didn’t raise taxes…in created fees….

right2bright on January 6, 2010 at 6:09 PM

Tax and FEES

Yes, the damn fees too. ;-)

curved space on January 6, 2010 at 6:17 PM

right2bright on January 6, 2010 at 6:03 PM

Agreed completely. I mentioned this issue in my comment above, albeit obliquely. Government intervention in the private sector is birthed by those who believe Government Knows Best (although it does not; the best example in the comments is the one regarding Underwriters Laboratories, IMHO) and midwifed by those who see the expansion of Government as a means to garner votes. Sadly, there are many Republicans who engage in this shite as well as Democrats – Amnesty being perhaps the most egregious example.

The difficulty lies in the fact that people have become so reliant on Government over the years that they automatically expect Government to “fix” things – when the role of Government should simply be that of upholding the Constitutional requirement that one’s actions should not directly infringe upon those of another. I think that Government is best when it punishes those who it can fairly demonstrate hurt others. That’s as far as it should be involved in the private sector.

But we know that power is so addictive that Government has many friends who want to grow it, so that they can benefit from the enforced misery over others. The question is, can we ever roll it back?

Wanderlust on January 6, 2010 at 6:31 PM

There’s no need to create wealth, if you can print more money,

is there?

franksalterego on January 6, 2010 at 2:40 PM

No need at all…as long as you can convince some sucker to give you something of value for your worthless paper money!!

…but eventually even the Chinese wise up!!

landlines on January 6, 2010 at 8:55 PM

With the passage of NAFTA, American businesses sold out heeded their countrymen and decided to ship all of the American jobs overseas to both benefit their bottom line and their customers’ purchasing power. Stifling environmental regulations also helped push the outsourcing.
American business needs to relearn what Henry Ford knew: the workers needed to be paid enough to afford the products they madeAmerican politicians need to learn that illegal immigrants drive down wages.

BackwardsBoy on January 6, 2010 at 2:45 PM

FIFY – your premise was bassackwards. You’re aiming at the wrong targets.

American businesses are in the business of profits – if our govt “allows” them to hire illegals for 1/2 what an American would consider acceptable, whose fault is that?

To whit, in mid-90s, american construction workers could expect to make $12-$15/hr in metro areas of TX. Nowadays, I hear they barely make $8-$10/hr. That is indeed work that Americans won’t do can’t afford to live on. But it’s no problem for illegals who have no qualms about hot-bunking or cramming themselves into housing meant for far fewer occupants.

In ’07, the advocates for illegals screamed that OK’s economy would be ruined by our running out the illegals. Guess what, the salaries went up and unemployment rate went down. Granted the recession took its bite out of us, but it would have been worse had the illegals remained.

AH_C on January 6, 2010 at 10:13 PM

Could we see the same graph as a representation of the percentage of the US population?

The US population in 1966 was 196,560,338, so those 10 million govt employees represent about 5% of the US population.

1977 = 220,239,425 people, so 15 million govt employees represent about 6% of the US population.

1999 = 272,690,813 people, so 20 million govt employees represent about 7% of the US population.

CPL 310 on January 7, 2010 at 7:27 AM

Comment pages: 1 2