President Barack Obama recently came to North Carolina State University to announce a new electronic center for the campus. The president said the discoveries and inventions this center will develop will be keys to improving the economy and standards of living. And N.C. State University economist Mike Walden says the president is “absolutely correct.”
“If you look at history and you look at how societies change and hopefully improve over time, you see one of the elements behind improving standard of living is a lot of innovation — that is, that people and businesses discovering new ways of doing things, and usually those new ways are less expensive.
“So, for example, when there’s a new invention that lowers the cost, for example, of energy, that means you and I save money on energy. We can use that money to buy other things.
“And so I think what the president has tried to do with these centers is obviously trying to encourage innovation, and, again, this is extremely important to our economy.
“Now, it can cause some short-term disruption. For example, again, if you find a way of making something that requires fewer people, but you get it done with machinery technology, obviously then, those people may be put out of work. So there certainly can be some short-run disruptions to certain people from inventions, innovations, but I would argue for most people over the long run, this is really the way to get ahead.”