In case you’re still scratching your head, I’ll let Henry Hazlitt explain:
Among the most viable of all economic delusions is the belief that machines on net balance create unemployment. Destroyed a thousand times, it has risen a thousand times out of its own ashes as hardy and vigorous as ever. Whenever there is a long-continued mass unemployment, machines get the blame anew. This fallacy is still the basis of many labor union practices. The public tolerates these practices because it either believes at bottom that the unions are right, or is too confused to see just why they are wrong.
The belief that machines cause unemployment, when held with any logical consistency, leads to preposterous conclusions. Not only must we be causing unemployment with every technological improvement we make today, but primitive man must have started causing it with the first efforts he made to save himself from needless toil and sweat.
Now recently I had the misfortune of watching the leader of The Zeitgeist Movement, Peter Joseph Merola, get grilled by the RT News Network anchor Lauren Lyster when he made a claim I’ve never heard before at about 3:20-3:37
“Many economists”? “Like John Maynard Keynes”? Look, say what you will about the guy, but he’s not stupid enough to fall for the Luddite Fallacy. In fact, no major economist from any school of economics agrees with this, aside from some Neo-Keynesians who blame outsourcing but not technology. If there is one thing most economists agree on, is that this is a fallacy. So was Peter lying or just making yet another uneducated comment? We’ll see. First let’s examine Keynes.
I did some digging though some Zeitgeist material and within a few minutes I found what it was they were using to back this up in their “Activist Orientation Guide”
As John Maynard Keynes, in The General Theory of Unemployment, Interest and Money
disdainfully points out:
”We are being afflicted with a new disease of which some readers may not yet have heard the name, but of which they will hear a great deal in the years to come – namely ‘technological unemployment’. This means unemployment due to our discovery of means of economizing the use of labor outrunning the pace at which we can find new uses for labor.” -Keynes, John Maynard, The General Theory of Unemployment, Interest and Money, 1931
Interesting, yes? However that quote is not in ‘The General Theory of Unemployment, Interest and Money.’ In fact there is no book called “The General Theory of Unemployment, Interest and Money.” I’m sure some of my economic junkie readers are folding their arms reading that, but let me clarify.
There is no book titled: ‘The General Theory of Unemployment, Interest and Money.’ Keynes treatise was titled ‘The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money’ and it wasn’t written in 1931. It was written in 1936 and discusses the Great Depression mostly in the years 1929-1935. This quote was from an essay published in 1930 titled: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren
I submit this error was intentional. The reason why is because the very next paragraph shows clearly that Keynes did not hold this to be accurate. This is a deliberate quote mine, there’s no way around it.
For the moment the very rapidity of these changes is hurting us and bringing difficult problems to solve. Those countries are suffering relatively which are not in the vanguard of progress. We are being afflicted with a new disease of which some readers may not yet have heard the name, but of which they will hear a great deal in the years to come – namely, technological unemployment. This means unemployment due to our discovery of means of economising the use of labour outrunning the pace at which we can find new uses for labour.
But this is only a temporary phase of maladjustment. All this means in the long run that mankind is solving its economic problem. I would predict that the standard of life in progressive countries one hundred years hence will be between four and eight times as high as it is to-day. There would be nothing surprising in this even in the light of our present knowledge. It would not be foolish to contemplate the possibility of afar greater progress still.
There you have it, all pink and naked. Peter Joseph is the new Kent Hovind. He pretends to have credentials, he quote mines, has a double standard on copyright, and holds to a unscientific worldview which is not scientific at all. We already know he thinks you don’t have to pay income tax, so we’ll wait for the IRS to bust him so we can have 2 fake Doctors in one cell.
This wouldn’t be the first time Peter Joseph took an economist out of context. In Zeitgeist: Moving Forward Peter Joseph intentionally quote mines Milton Friedman to make him look like a heartless asshole who wants the electric company to be allowed to kill people. See the first minute or so of this video:
Here’s the entire clip.
Thanks to justintempler for reminding me of this.