Work, Jobs, and Worth
By Bruce Walker
July 27, 2009
The Left has long confused work, jobs, and worth. The Stimulus Package, the grand catastrophe, was intended to create and preserve jobs which could make America poorer, not richer. A century ago nearly everyone in America had a "job," and most had jobs on farms. Men, women, and children got up before sunrise. Women slaved with iron stoves to make breakfast, while men and boys ate in preparation for a long grueling day of generally boring work. Then the women, after doing all their chores, prepared lunch, and at sundown, they made supper.
Everyone had a job. Everyone engaged in productive labor. And everyone looked toward a hopeful future in which there would be less work that needed to be done. We reached that goal after the Second World War. Our nation had what we call "full employment," but the jobs were engineers, oil field workers, men in factories, clerks in stores and shops. We had people engaged in activities that produced goods and services which people in the free market wanted to consume.
Government can end "unemployment" tomorrow by paying people to sit home and watch television, reporting in every fifteen minutes. Instead, it has done something else. The Left has "invented" whole areas of work which no one really wants, except for those whose livelihood is connected to that industry. Consider, for moment, the civil rights "industry." One reason why this noxious doctrine is defended so fiercely is that hundreds of thousands of white collar Americans work in federal, state, local, corporate, charitable, advocacy, school, and academic bureaucracies supervising this meaningless work. No one wants the dubious "goods" these functionaries provide, but who can tell them that they are no longer needed?
Anytime government steps into our lives, it creates "jobs" which are the equivalent of one company of men digging a whole and the other company filling it in. Why don't the media expose this grand fraud? Because all of the major news organizations, all the journalism schools, all the self-important pundits who reside in Washington, along with all the countless armies of lobbyists need us to believe that every single vital decision in our life is made in Washington. So we have a whole army of such odd creatures as "reporters covering the Supreme Court." Make-work in Washington, which itself makes nothing more than hot air, is seen not as a problem, but rather the way to full employment.
But what do legislative staffers "produce"? Bills which literally no one has read or analyzed or may never fully understand? What do presidential Czars produce, except an additional layer of confusion regarding who is responsible for what policies in our government? Yet no one in Washington can imagine the farmers, oilmen, chefs, architects, nurses, car dealers, grade school teachers, policemen, drug companies, surgeons, heating and air conditioning businesses or all the other folks who actually produce good and services we want could function without the unproductive employment of Washington and the unproductive employment invented and shipped to us from Washington.
This accounts for some of the weirdest language in the stimulus bill. The money cannot be used, for example, to build swimming pools or golf courses. Why, in Heavens, not? People use those. Not only that, but public swimming pools and golf courses can generate their own revenue and create more actual productive jobs for life guards, caddies, and cafÃ© staff. It would actually make sense to fund parts of the country that lacked adequate swimming polls and golf courses, and fund their construction - if market studies indicated even a mild chance of success.
Building a nuclear defense shield, if we really threw resources at it, could create a lot of high paying jobs for scientists and engineers. That would produce something we could use. Obama, in his stimulus, does not want that sort of work. America , to him, is rich enough already. He wants jobs that do nothing but glorify the majesty of his Leftist doctrines. So do not look for Obama to grant each small business a big tax credit for each additional employee hired after the stimulus was passed, although small business is a mighty generator of real jobs. Look, instead, for Obama to have stimulus funds trickle down the well worn lines of federal largesse through its many pointless intermediaries until, at some point, the dregs are used to hire, say, another community organizer in Chicago.
It is hard to say whether the Left has simple contempt for productive genius or simply fear of it, but it is very easy to see that creating nominal "jobs" with no purpose seems noble and logical to those who have never really created a good or a service in their lives.
Bruce Walker is a long-time conservative writer whose work is published regularly at popular conservative sites such as American Thinker.