Sunday, July 12, 2015

Learning Economics Through Pictures - Washing Cloths

Thanks to Dirk Mateer for taking and posting this great picture on his facebook feed!  (And for his permission to use it!)

As Dirk writes:
Check out the photo at the self laundry facility! See the old black and white photo of the women washing and drying by hand above the new stainless machine? Those labor intensive jobs are long gone but society is better off because it takes less time to wash and dry than before.

He's absolutely correct here.  This is a great example of an innovation that displaced labor.  Throughout history, there have been thousands of innovations that have caused tasks to be completed less expensively and with less labor.  At the time, however, those tasks could cause some pain to those who are displaced.

Even today we hear about machines replacing people at tasks (and some previous pictures I've posted have covered that).  In the long run, however, when more is produced using less labor - society is better off!

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