Magazine August 12, 2019, Issue

Higher Productivity Is Good for Workers

(Ralph Orlowski/Reuters)

For most of our history Americans have supported increased productivity, even if it led to economic disruption and worker displacement. Unfortunately, over the last decade that support has weakened. Productivity gains are now portrayed as a tool for greedy corporations to jack up their profits at the expense of workers. Moreover, workers are now seen as so fragile that all automation must be feared. So, rather than support productivity, the dominant narrative favors redistribution and protection from change. 

The emergence of this new “productivity doesn’t benefit workers” narrative matters because government policies in a wide array of areas — from taxation

Robert D. Atkinson — Mr. Atkinson is the president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation and a co-author, with Michael Lind, of Big Is Beautiful: Debunking the Myth of Small Business.

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