What Is A Job? 5

Creating jobs is easy but almost impossible: get government out of the way.

At long last, after an extensive tour of the world of nonproductive labor, we have finally arrived at that burning question which occupies the minds of an ever-increasing number of Americans but, apparently, none of our leaders: How can we create more American jobs, preferably good ones?

First, let's recall what a "job" actually is: Doing something that people are willing to pay for.  When the government hires people to dig holes and fill them up again, those are not jobs; they're welfare under a different name, sometimes called "workfare."  It may be socially and psychologically better for welfare recipients to be "doing something" rather than sitting around watching Oprah, but in economic terms they're equally wasteful.

Private sector jobs doing something the people pay for only because the government forces them to, are also not economically-useful jobs.  Do the GM employees assembling Chevy Volts have a job?  They'd say they do, and certainly Obama says so; but in economic terms they don't, because nobody wants to pay for a Volt even with a massive government subsidy.  GM seems to have figured this out, and now the employment status of the erstwhile Volt-assemblers reflects what their economic status has been from the beginning.

So, how do you create jobs?  Simple: do something that people want.

Give the People What They Want!

People do not want green energy.  Sure, they'd like energy that's cleaner, but first and foremost they want it to be reliable and cheap.  Windmills are neither.  Solar cells are neither.  Nuclear power is both but takes a lifetime to build.  Natural gas and oil are both - so why on earth did Obama turn down the Keystone XL pipeline which would have provided a way to sell something people want to pay for at a highly competitive price?

People like to be able to see when it's dark.  They want light that's convenient, cheap, and easy-to-use - something very much like Edison's lightbulb which was just outlawed, leading to the closing of American factories and loss of American jobs.  By banning a product people wanted, the government destroyed jobs; it follows that un-banning the product would create them.

How about un-banning marijuana, a product that a great many people want and are willing to pay for?  It's hard to imagine that drug legalization would not create jobs, or more accurately, bring existing jobs out of the black economy and into the realm of legal taxpayers.

And Get Out Of The Way!

What about health?  Nobody wants to die, and people have a proven willingness to pay good money for things they think will cure what ails them.  Why then do we have a government bureau, the FDA, whose entire purpose is to prevent potential cures from being offered for sale?

Then there's those shovel-ready jobs that, as Obama laughingly admitted after wasting a trillion dollars looking for them, don't exist.  Actually they do exist as any commuter in a large American city can attest; it's just that nimbys, environmentalist wackos, and a panoply of taxpayer-funded obstructive bureaucrats prevent any shovels from moving until lifetimes of environmental studies have rendered the costs uneconomical.

The entire Eisenhower interstate system was built in less time than it took to complete a dozen-mile connector in Maryland, not because the actual construction was so hard, but because of the paperwork.  Sack a bureaucrat and create jobs for 100 productive citizens.

Creating modern jobs requires massive amounts of capital investment.  The left loves to argue that the rich don't pay their "fair share," despite the vast majority of all taxes being paid by the rich.  However, who is it that creates companies and hires people to do actual productive jobs?  Not the government, for sure - so where are we better off leaving the money?

None of these things are hard.  They don't require much imagination or planning.  Really, they don't need the government to do anything at all, so much as to stop doing bad and harmful things.

Unfortunately, stopping doing bad and harmful things seems to be the one thing government is not only totally incapable of doing, but has no desire whatsoever to do.  That's what makes it hard.

But until we put people in office committed, not to solving problems per se, but to forcing government to stop being the problem... well, there will be more and more non-job jobs, fewer and fewer real ones, and less and less wealth and freedom trickling down to ordinary Americans.

Petrarch is a contributing editor for Scragged.  Read other Scragged.com articles by Petrarch or other articles on Economics.
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