May 5, 2018


Why Are We So Obsessed With Jobs?: What's so important about jobs, anyway? And what's the best way to make them? (Richard N. Lorenc, 5/05/18, FEE)

Observe most any political conversation, and you will discover "jobs" as the common cure-all. Whether to solve illiteracy ("hire more teachers!"), illness ("hire more nurses!"), aging infrastructure ("hire more construction workers!"), or government budget deficits ("hire more taxpayers!"), the discussion inevitably turns to how to secure more resources to hire more people.

These perspectives miss the true meaning of a job as an opportunity to engage in valuable behavior for other people.

This obsession with more and more job creation isn't limited to one party or group--far from it. The democratic socialists regard having a job as a basic human right, freeing the individual from the tyranny of a boss who can suddenly revoke their livelihood. Social conservatives see a job as a validation of human dignity, channeling a person's fallen human nature away from antisocial behavior and lethargic self-destruction.

Both of these perspectives miss the true meaning of a job as an opportunity to engage in valuable behavior for other people. This is because every new job created is fundamentally a bet that it will create value before a better opportunity comes along. Each job's value is, therefore, a function of proper timing in service of fickle human preferences. Our changing preferences are why so many businesses either never get off of the ground and why even businesses that were once massively successful (e.g., Toys "R" Us, Kodak, and Borders Bookstores) sometimes break our sentimental hearts and close their doors.

The limited resources available to apply toward valuable opportunities are constantly changing, and this is why a top-down, government jobs guarantee or minimum wage is a fundamentally wasteful exercise. All they do is tie up talent and treasure that could otherwise be applied in more valuable ways.

The Left is stuck clinging to the labor theory of value and the Right to its terror of the idle poor when the reality is that human history, since God sought to punish Man, is one long story of the separation of wealth creation from labor input.  They are left treating our greatest achievement as our biggest problem.

Posted by at May 5, 2018 2:43 PM