ATMs (Or Something) Killed the Economy

ATMOf all the dumb things that President Obama has ever said, this one ranks near the top. On Monday he told NBC News that the reason our economy sucks is because of ATMs. Seriously. In a one-on-one interview with Ann Curry, Obama explained:

There are some structural issues with our economy where a lot of businesses have learned to become much more efficient with a lot fewer workers. You see it when you go to a bank and you use an ATM, you don't go to a bank teller, or you go to the airport and you're using a kiosk instead of checking in at the gate.


This is worse than misspeaking. This is a basic lack of understanding of how the world works. It also shows a lack of knowledge, since the number of bank tellers in the United States has increased since the invention of electronic money spitter-outters. Consider this:

At the dawn of the self-service banking age in 1985, for example, the United States had 60,000 automated teller machines and 485,000 bank tellers. In 2002, the United States had 352,000 ATMs -- and 527,000 bank tellers.

I know math is hard, but it seems like both numbers went up. If ATMs killed jobs, then tellers would become obsolete. Not only have bank tellers not become obsolete, but they’ve increased in rank. 

Furthermore, even if tellers one day did become obsolete, would that be so bad? You know what else is obsolete? Chamber pots. Hand-cranked washing machines. Sanitary napkins that have to be pinned to your underpants. And I’m pretty sure that’s an SUV sitting in my garage, not a horse and buggy.

It’s called progress.

For President Obama to suggest that automated teller machines are to blame for the bad economy is silly at best. Maybe enough time has passed that he can no longer blame George W. Bush for everything. 

Image via Duc Digital/Flickr

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