Get unlimited digital access to $0.99 for 4 weeks.
News Opinion Readers Respond

How can economy grow by shrinking?

I was riding in a van near York, Pa. last week when one of the passengers pointed with pride to a giant new facility owned by a major grocery chain and announced, "That's going to be their regional distribution center. It will be fully-automated, requiring only about 10 people to keep it running day and night. It will replace a distribution center that requires more than 100 workers."

Wow, I mused, so this is how businesses create jobs. Hire 10 techies so they can fire 100 laborers. "What will businesses do if they keep making more products with fewer workers when they run out of people who have a salary so they can buy those products?" I asked. "That's not a business problem," was the reply. "That's a political problem."

"So your only concern is for a company's bottom line — and a short-term bottom line at that?" I said. "That's what they pay me for," he replied.

The only thing he said that day that I agreed with was that yes, it is a political problem because businesses seem to refuse to take any long-term responsibility for the general welfare unless it has an immediate and positive bottom-line implication. And it's a political problem that I'm not sure President Barack Obama knows how to fix. I am, however, confident the president at least recognizes the problem and wants to fix it. I don't think Mitt Romney — or any other politician who wants government "run more like a business" — even understands that producing more with fewer workers inevitably leads to fewer buyers.

David F. Warren, Havre de Grace

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
Related Content
  • How Republicans are ruining America
    How Republicans are ruining America

    On the national level, the cost of citizens not voting is quickly becoming apparent. Economically, the seeds of the next recession have been sown by the Republican weakening of financial controls so once again the greedy of Wall Street can gamble on dangerous financial derivatives with...

  • Regulate the banks
    Regulate the banks

    Dan Rodricks' recent column attributing amnesia to our Congress and president for dispensing with the requirement that big banks refrain from making risky investments with taxpayers' deposits was right on target ("For too many in Washington, a phantom recession," Dec. 21).

  • Milking the rich is not a solution
    Milking the rich is not a solution

    I was saddened and disappointed to read The Sun's editorial regarding President Barack Obama's State of the Union address ("Mr. Obama's tax plan," Jan. 21).

  • Mr. Obama's tax plan
    Mr. Obama's tax plan

    It's a pretty safe bet that Congress is not going to react to President Barack Obama's State of the Union address by immediately turning around and agreeing to his priorities like free community college and mandatory sick leave. When was the last time any presidential initiative got that kind...

  • Obama's middle class 'help' is useless
    Obama's middle class 'help' is useless

    All we hear from President Barack Obama is that he is for the middle class. Well, I consider myself middle class. I am a retired homeowner, so let's see how this pans out for me.

  • Obama is a socialist, not a 'populist'
    Obama is a socialist, not a 'populist'

    President Barack Obama is a populist? How about cradle-to-grave socialist? There is no area of your life where government will not intrude, impose its will and dissipate any sense of individual responsibility you might have had left ("Obama turns populist in State of the Union speech," Jan....