Other than wanting to be the next president of the United States, what do Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders, John Kasich, and Ted Cruz have in common? Each in his or her own way has promised on the campaign trail “to bring our jobs back from China, from Mexico, from Japan, from so many places,” to quote Mr. Trump. But as the Cato Institute’s Michael Tanner points out, bringing back jobs in low-end manufacturing is not the answer.
After all, do American parents really aspire to have their children sitting at a sewing machine making shirts? Or do they want their children to become doctors, computer programmers, or technology specialists — good jobs with good futures.
… the single biggest reason that the manufacturing sector has shed so many jobs is that American workers are increasingly productive. Simply put, it takes fewer workers to produce the same thing.
Mr. Tanner relates a story—“apocryphal” though it may be—about Milton Friedman. While touring China, Mr. Milton was shown a team of nearly 100 workers building an earthen dam with shovels.
Friedman pointed out that with a bulldozer, a single worker could create the dam in an afternoon. A Communist official replied, “Yes, but think of all the unemployment that would create.”
“Oh,” said Friedman, “I thought you were building a dam. If it’s jobs you want, then take away their shovels and give them spoons.”
“Trying to preserve low-skilled manufacturing jobs in America today makes little more sense than Friedman’s spoon brigade,” writes Mr. Tanner. Instead, in order to prepare for a vibrant economic future, as starters, Tanner suggests:
- Boost entrepreneurship by cutting taxes and regulations—not by piling on more regulations and taxes, as candidates Clinton and Sanders propose.
- Break the stranglehold that the teachers’ unions have over our schools so that we can educate our youth for future jobs.
- Embrace economic growth as a goal.
Read more from Mr. Tanner here.
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