Economics in One Lesson: VII – The Curse of Machinery

Every week over 26 weeks, I’ll be publishing a précis of a chapter of Henry Hazlitt’s brilliant 1946 book, Economics in One Lesson, prepared by Michael Dowsett during his internship. The index page is here.

This week, The Curse of Machinery, which destroys the luddite fallacy that mechanisation makes us all poorer. For example, from the original:

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 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.

Buy or download Economics in One Lesson.

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