“(Close) all windows, dormers, skylights, inside and outside shutters, curtains, casements, bull’s-eyes, deadlights, and blinds—in short, all openings, holes, chinks, and fissures through which the light of the sun is wont to enter houses.” -Frederic Bastiat from his work ‘The Candlemakers’ Petition’
Frederic Bastiat creatively used satire as a vessel in order to explain somewhat complex and philosophical beliefs. In The Candle Makers Petition, he illustrates how special interest groups, (the candlemakers and tallow producers at the time attempted to lobby the Chamber of Deputies of the French July Monarchy to prevent unfair competition with their products), attempt to sway those in power to grant them protections from changes in the market due to advancements in technology.
Although Bastiat’s essay was written in the mid nineteenth century, fast forward to today and you’ll find an equally disturbing message from the likes of 2020 presidential candidate Andrew Yang.
Similar to the candle makers plea to the government to save their livelihoods, Yang is attempting to use neo-luddite scare tactics in order to garner popularity. He propagates fear of artificial intelligence using the argument that, on net, jobs will be lost and many will be unemployed. The same argument was made against motor vehicles, mechanized machinery and automation, all of which benefit us today.
Unfortunately, Yang’s message has been taken as gospel by those who fail to understand how resilient humanity and the market is. Although some professions are lost to advancements in technology, many others are created. Often, these professions are less laborious and less dangerous.
“Technology serves to make the economy stronger. Machines and tools make us more productive. The entire goal of economic progress is to make us more productive, more efficient, have more consumer goods available, more leisure time, and higher standards of living. This is achieved by higher productivity and efficiency. We are better off not needing twelve people with shovels to do the same thing as a bulldozer.” -Austin Pace (Contributing writer at Mises.org)
Furthermore, Yang ups the ante by dangling the $1,000 per month “stipend” carrot to all Americans of voting age. His attempts at creating both fear of technology, and dependence on the state, are worrisome at best, dystopian at worst.
Carrots and sticks. Beware the stick.