WASHINGTON - Just what explains today's continuing high unemployment remains a central economic question of our time.
I have largely exonerated the computer revolution, which - according to some economists - eliminates more jobs than it creates.
This (the argument goes) makes it hard to reduce the joblessness that resulted from the Great Recession.
To the contrary, I wrote, past technological upheavals have tended to be net job creators through two mechanisms: lower prices, which expand demand for their output; and higher wages and profits, which increase purchasing power across the economy.
There's little evidence that computer technologies depart from this history.
Interestingly, two longer essays appeared on the same subject almost simultaneously with mine. They make fascinating reading for anyone engaged by this vital issue.
The first, "Automation Anxiety" by Daniel Akst in The Wilson Quarterly recounts a similar episode at the start of the 1960s.
Akst writes that "unemployment in the Kennedy and early Johnson years remained stubbornly high, reaching 7 percent at one point.
Automation, seen loitering in the vicinity of the industrial crime, appeared a likely culprit."
To take one example: Life magazine published a picture in 1963 of a new automated machine tool called Milwaukee-Matic that could replace 18 workers.
It was feared that this was the new norm.
Robert Heilbroner, a well-known economist who wrote a widely read book on economic history ("The Worldly Philosophers: The Lives, Times, and Ideas of the Great Economic Thinkers") warned: "As machines continue to invade society . . . it is human labor itself - at least, as we now think of 'labor' - that is gradually rendered redundant."
So concerned was President Johnson that in 1964 he appointed a National Commission on Technology, Automation and Economic Progress.
To be fair: Not everyone fretted about technology. Americans still lived in the shadow of World War II, when new technologies were credited with helping win the war.
For many, there was a lingering optimism that automation would solve many social problems. Herman Kahn, a prominent futurist, predicted a four-day workweek and 13-week annual vacations.
Both technological optimists and pessimists were proved wrong.