One month ago, President Obama blamed the sluggish economy on technologies like ATMs and self-service kiosks, extremely underestimating the value Americans find in innovation. To prove how vital new technology is to the economy, Southern Methodist University professor Michael Cox asked his students how much money they would have to be paid to give up the internet for the rest of their lives, but found few takers to his proposal.
Do you think you could be paid to give up the internet forever? Check out a video produced by the free market group the Fund for American Studies after the break, and let us know what you think in the comments.
Beyond giving up the internet, the video also questions how much people are willing to pay for new technological devices. Computers once cost millions of dollars, cell phones cost thousands, and cameras cost hundreds, but their prices have all dramatically fallen since their invention due to competition to create the best, most cost-efficient products.
Because of what the video explains as a free market system, the wealthy buy new products first at their peak prices. After glitches are ironed out and production costs are lowered, the products gradually become affordable to an increasingly wider audience.
The market that allows for this technological growth is also a driving economic force. As Ted Balaker at Big Government explains,
About a century ago roughly 40 percent of Americans worked on the farm, but technology–from tractors to new irrigation techniques–has made agriculture vastly more efficient. Today less than 1 percent of us works on the farm. But the fact that we can feed far more people with far fewer workers is progress. Likewise, if food magically appeared in our refrigerators, it would be tough on the remaining agriculture workers, but free food would be one of humanity’s greatest achievements.
Technology allows us to do more with fewer workers, and that efficiency allows the folks who would have been farmers or travel agents to get to work meeting society’s other needs and wants by, for instance, creating software. Today America is home to more than a million software engineers. These and countless other jobs were “created” because the market served the needs and wants of consumers.
Technology may not create as many jobs as we’d like as quickly as we’d like, but as an engine of growth it’s much more effective than a big blast of government spending. And when Obama’s own economists admit that each job the stimulus “created or saved” cost taxpayers $278,000, it’s clear that the White House’s tweeting technocrats are in no position to criticize efficiency.
How much would you have to be paid to give up the internet forever?