Paul Krugman has two posts today, on two different subjects, which prove that he really should stick to economics. He may or may not know anything about economics, but at least he has received an education on that subject and doesn’t make a total fool of himself.
In one article he discusses the benefits of electrification, describes a typical factory before electricity came along as being a “multistory building with narrow aisles” which allowed machinery to be driven with shafts and pulleys. Fine so far, but then he says that the “big payoff” of going to electricity was “let you shift to a one-story, spread-out layout with wide aisles and easy materials handling.”
Well, no. That was an advantage, of course, but not really a major one and offset by having to move the material longer distances. The “big payoff” was to be able to deliver a great deal more power to each of the machines; orders of magnitude more power that was more easily controlled.
In the very next piece he discusses tomato canning, which he says, “produces a pretty good product.” So, in addition to being exquisitely ignorant on the subject of mechanical engineering, he has no palate either. Canned tomatoes are not fit to eat. Even canned tomato sauce requires a great deal of massaging to make it palatable, but nothing can make canned tomatoes fit for human consumption.
Well, okay, chop them in small pieces and them bury a smallish quantity in a sufficiently large dish and they are marginally useful. But even then they are nothing more than useful and cannot reasonably be considered a “pretty good product.”
You could still have electric powered machines at each cramped narrow aisled station, just no mechanical steam powered stuff, and you'd still be better off. How about larger machinery, and ones that combiined multiple processes in one machine? Or assembly lines? That would require the large one story laid out thing he was talking about.ReplyDelete
And canned tomatoes are not that bad, considering the nice red tomato is almost flavorless anyway. Fresh ones would be better than canned, but he may not be able to get them year round, unlike some people living in Southern California.