The greatest economic myth, perpetrated by labor unions, liberal economists, political demagogues and the network news media, is that America doesn't make much of anything anymore.
In fact, we make and sell more than ever before. Exports are at a record level. Our labor force, at least those who have full-time jobs, has grown dramatically in recent decades. The number of people employed in manufacturing has fallen, but manufacturers produce more than ever before, even with fewer workers, lowering their unit costs. We have many more industries and small businesses, though the pace of our economic growth has slowed dramatically under the policies of the Obama administration.
Agriculturally, we have seen a dramatic decline in the number of farms and farmers over the decades. But as a result of higher hybrid yields and more efficient farming methods, we produce, sell and ship more than any other country and feed the world.
In the 1990s, the entire U.S. economy's output, as measured in our gross domestic product, was about $12 trillion a year. Today, it's $15 trillion and climbing.
"Manufacturing in the United States isn't dead or even dying," an Associated Press business story reported shortly after Obama took office in 2009 in the midst of the Great Recession. "It's moving upscale, following the biggest profits and becoming more efficient, just like Henry Ford did when he invented the assembly line" that brought the Model T within the reach of the average American.
"The U.S. by far remains the world's leading manufacturer by value of goods produced. It hit a record $1.6 trillion in 2007 -- nearly double the $811 billion in 1987," the news service reported.
"Americans make more 'stuff' than any other nation on Earth, and by a wide margin," the Boston Globe reported.
Many obstacles beset our economy right now, but American technological innovation, efficiency and productivity are not among them. They are this country's strength and the wellspring of future industries, jobs and economic growth. Instead of preaching zero-sum, jobless economics and blaming job losses on innovations like computerized ticket kiosks, Obama should be praising U.S. inventiveness. And figuring out how we can accelerate it.
Instead, he told Ann Curry that he is trying to identify "where the jobs for the future are going to be ... How do we make sure that capital is flowing into those places with the greatest opportunity."
That's a scary thought. The last thing America needs right now is Obama's central planners in Washington picking the winners and losers in our economy and directing who gets investment capital and who doesn't.
The best thing the government can do right now is get out of the way.