All Productivity Is Good: Even Automation

Robert D. Atkinson July 2, 2020
July 2, 2020

Paul Krugman famously wrote, “Productivity isn’t everything, but in the long run it is almost everything.” Yet, today, this statement is not only passé, but downright suspect, at least among many U.S. elites. For in a world characterized by neo-Luddite fear of new technologies and outlandish claims that technology will destroy most of our jobs, public and elite opinion has shifted to a view that “productivity is almost nothing, especially if any worker loses their job from it.” 

Rob Atkinson explains in American Compass that this dominant narrative is diminishing support for automation and enhancing support for productivity-reducing policies.

While economic policy should do more to reduce income inequality and Congress should seriously consider world-class worker training and adjustment assistance programs, our nation is doomed to second-class status if we cannot support all forms of productivity, including worker-replacing automation.