Technology is marching ahead. Many jobs are going to be eliminated because of robotics and artificial intelligence.
William J. Baumol, who recently died at 95, was not widely known beyond the ranks of economists, all Americans are living with, and policymakers are struggling with, “Baumol’s disease.”
It is one reason brisk economic growth is becoming more elusive as it becomes more urgent. And it is a disease particularly pertinent to the increasingly fraught health-care debate.
Consider this from 1993:
Senator Moynihan: “Montefiore Hospital was founded in New York City in the 1880s. At that time, how long did it take for a professor of medicine to make his morning rounds, and how many interns would he take along with him?”
Dean: “Oh, about an hour; say 12 interns.”
Moynihan: “And today?”
Dean: “Got it!”
Perhaps technological advances will somewhat increase the productivity of teachers (e.g., online learning) and doctors (e.g., diagnostic advances using the human genome) as they have of policing (e.g., more efficient deployments of personnel). But there are limits.
Consider rounds conducted via Facebook Live or YouTube. Could be 1,200 interns engaged rather than 12. Our world is changing rabidly. We all need to deal with it.