Out of Control Policy Blog

Outsourcing: more old than new

Today, there's lots of worry about outsourcing. But, depending on the era, you, could replace the o-word, with the internet, NAFTA, trade expanding trains, the mechanical loom or the movable-type printing press.

Don Boudreaux refers to the following from the Story of Civilization by Will and Ariel Durant":

Copyists protested that printing would destroy their means of livelihood; aristocrats opposed it as a mechanical vulgarization, and feared that it would lower the value of their manuscript libraries; statesmen and clergy distrusted it as a possible vehicle of subversive ideas....

Printing replaced esoteric manuscripts with inexpensive texts rapidly multiplied, in copies more exact and legible than before, and so uniform that scholars in diverse countries could work with one another by references to specific pages of specific editions.....

Would we have been better off without the printing press?

If we want progress (i.e. higher living standards, more fulfilling jobs), we will always have to accept a trade-off that involves some pain: giving up some of today's jobs for more and better jobs in the future.

Ted Balaker is Producer


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