Progressive Against Progress

Robert Reich
Robert Reich (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The future has the potential to be extraordinary. With technological progress in the area of 3D printers, robotics and computers, the standard of living for ordinary people could rise beyond any limit imaginable. But to ask former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich, we should worry that these advances could reduce employment opportunities for people. He asks “who is going to buy that stuff” when production can be accomplished without the need of top-heavy, centralized manufacturing.

What Reich doesn’t appreciate is that, with labor-saving technologies, people will be employed to produce those things that there weren’t enough resources beforehand to produce economically, and we will be wealthier for it. Freeing up resources, like labor, makes it possible to produce more of the existing goods or services and to add to the catalog of products available. There can be short-term challenges to advances (as nothing is costless), but we experience more wealth, leisure and product diversity because of these inventions and the freedom to use them.