The Unappreciated Effects of Making Stuff
Matt Yglesias talks about it a bit in this post. I fully agree with this sentiment. Making stuff has spillover effects on the economy that aren’t easily measured in statistics.
For example, when you make something, you might be able to figure out how to make it a bit better, faster, or cheaper. Plus you then need to hire other people who might also slightly improve the products.
This is why cities are useful – they are serendipity machines for humans. Manufacturing zones like we used to have across the entire Midwest have value outside of the jobs created – they also create innovation.
Check this other article about Steve Jobs by Matt. Apple computer exists because of a highly localized computer science focus around the bay area allowed Apple to get over the initial hump.
In short, we’ve got the iPhone because it was exceptionally easy for Steve Jobs to get started in computers. If this hadn’t exited, we might have a few more nice looking fonts. Instead, we have civilization changing products like the desktop computer and iPhone.
Density of making and designing things is extremely valuable for reasons beyond jobs. I know, the Trade Deficit is really people giving us stuff in exchange for a few bits in a computer. But is that all we’re giving away?
I suggest we’re giving away more than just bits. Perhaps we’re giving away more.