We Need Jobs!

That’s the political clarion call du jour – give us more jobs. And it’s what the economy needs most. But economy is a product of jobs, not the other way ’round.

The theory is that a person can produce more than they need, and will create a surplus. That’s true of some jobs, but some jobs produce nothing. Congress may do a pretty good job of selling their skills for more than they’re worth, but executive jobs produce nothing but paper. And debt.

The post-WWII boom was actually a bubble created with borrowed money. But rising consumerism drove the engine of economy as babies boomed and consumption climbed.

The Boom meant an economy driven by production. From furniture to automobiles, houses to agricultural products, there were plenty of buyers and plenty of jobs. But a dark cloud fell over the economy when imports began taking over the shelf spaces and lots.  Not to worry – import duties kept Americans in jobs. But we never seemed to be able to keep that balance of trade working right. There was a glut of ingenious and cheap foreign goods that exceeded what we could export.

The so-named “trade agreements,” such as NAFTA, did more harm than good. For example, Mexican farmers cannot compete with subsidized crops from the U.S., and U.S. workers cannot compete for wages from the Mexicans driven over our borders by the ensuing poverty.

Little by little, the Free Markets (read: licenses to steal) chipped away at any restrictions to foreign products, or protections that might have kept our own manufacturers from setting up shops just across the border or overseas on the Pacific Rim where wages are near nothing and hours are long. No surprise, then, that we have a Rust Belt where our steel industry once was and closed-up buildings where our auto plants used to be. General Motors is making a comeback, so they say, but they use government loans to pay back government loans and their employees are being paid one-half of what their fathers were in the same plants. And half of the vehicles that they produce are being shipped to China. You didn’t think that U.S. citizens could suddenly afford new vehicles again, right?

So, on with the current problem: how to create jobs. One bad theory holds that if the corporations are given tax breaks and incentives they will hire more people, or that if the very rich have to pay little in taxes they will then hire people with that money. The fault in this is that their money isn’t always invested in manufacture and when it is it’s almost always somewhere else.

So we look at public works projects. These are expensive jobs. To offset the expense we must consider that the U.S. infrastructure is in terrible shape and expensive though it is it’s a necessary thing to rebuild bridges, roads, public buildings and so forth. It needs to be done. But prying dollars loose from a bankrupt government isn’t an easy task. A country could be compared to buying a fixer-upper house. You can just keep pumping money into it forever. It may pay back something from the investment in wages but it will just wear out again.

The real basis for a good economy is good jobs at good wages, be they service or manufacturing. And the only way to get both good wages and good jobs is manufacturing – without the myth of the Free Market. Competing against workers in countries who have nothing is not the way to a good economy. We need to remove the protections of Free Markets.

Those protections are not something that protects the U.S. economy or the U.S. worker. They protect the corporations who have been writing the rules and pulling the strings on their government puppets. Why did GE not pay taxes last year though they made $41 Billion in profits? Because most of their operations are not in the continental United States. What did Halliburton do after bilking our government for all those no-bid contracts in Iraq? They moved their headquarters to the United Arab Emirates.

We need protection – those of us who depend upon an economy in our own country. We need import duties, restrictions, and even subsidies. If we want the green industry, such things as wind generators and solar panels, to become prolific then these things should be subsidized, rather than subsidizing killer oil that is currently holding our economy by the throat. We need plans to get these products to end users without punishing contracts or high expense. Yes, we could subsidize that, too.

And the whole high-speed rail thing, and public transport of other kinds. We need those because the automobile is too expensive. There are a number of ways that we can attack our problems of economy. But two parents working two jobs to try to make enough money to keep up on a mortgage on a house that has lost more than half its perceived value is probably not the way to do it. It can be done with protectionism for the worker, not for the bloody corporations.

Bloody? Xe, formerly Blackwater, is currently building a secret security force in the UAE. That should scare somebody. Corporations of any kind are operated as a microcosm. They do not care if they cause global weirding. They do not care if they contribute to war. They joyfully break laws as long as the penalty for being caught is less than the amount they profit.

And I haven’t yet touched on the banks. As long as banks are allowed to create bubbles and then collect the insurance (bailouts) whenever they screw up, the economy cannot be stable. Get your money out of the bank and put it under your mattress. If it’s under your mattress, it may be stolen or it may not. If it’s in the bank you may never see it again. You know that if they can they will find a way to steal it.

And about those bailouts: while the banks are busily paying off the government loans, they aren’t making any loans themselves.


About herkblog

I'm an atheist. Although that's just a part of my life, I consider it to be important enough to me to be the main theme of this personal screed. I am self-employed in a service business and I live in Idaho, a place not known for its liberal qualities.
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4 Responses to We Need Jobs!

  1. Pingback: Blackwater Watch » Blog Archive » We Need Jobs! | Herk's Rants

  2. You make several interesting points, but I don’t follow your reasoning on other points. It would take a long time to go over it all, so let me quick-hit my main concerns.

    You believe that free markets are a license to steal. But why is the voluntary trade of goods and services the same as “theft.” Isn’t the government using the IRS to extort the fruit of your labor more accurately “theft”?

    I liked your implied point about the demand for American goods abroad fueling a post-war boom. I had a friend make this point before, but hadn’t really thought it that hard. I’d like to see the balance of trade numbers as a percentage of GDP to back up this point. Obviously, we both have other things to do.

    As far as oil subsidies, this is very much exaggerated, and I’m being genuine here. Oil companies’ profits are around a penny on the dollar at the pump or otherwise, and governments make anywhere from a dime to fifty cents on every gallon. (Referring just to gasoline.) In addition, the government’s subsidies of green energy dwarf those of oil in terms of BTU generated are around 49-1.


    It appears to me that the numbers are plausible, as someone who researched energy in grad school, and worked as an economics copy editor.

    I like your writing style, even though it appears we don’t agree on all the issues. Keep up the thought-provoking writing. Sincerely, RO

  3. herkblog says:

    As to free markets being theft, my position is that there are no free markets, except for the license that I mentioned for corporations to control the markets. Free markets are usually posed as agreements between nations but consider the recent flak about GE – making $42 billion and not paying taxes. That’s because, although they’re a U.S. corporation, they are operating worldwide and purposefully moving their operations to where they will not be taxed or to where they will be taxed less.

    But look at how the markets were used, say, in South America. Go into a country that’s having financial problems and offer to make them a loan from the IMF. But attach conditions to the loan so that they must do things such as privatize their government-owned businesses. Remove restrictions against foreigners coming in to buy said assets. Now, foreign investors come in and buy off a railroad or something as if it’s a fire sale – pennies on the dollar. The asset that was paid for on the backs of the citizens and is, in theory, owned by all of them, has suddenly lost all its value and they no longer have or own the asset. Meanwhile, the corporation(s) who bought up the assets are only interested in quick profit. They raise the prices and lower the maintenance and run that asset into the ground. But they get rich in the process. A license to steal.

    This is done in areas that you may not think of – parking meters in Chicago, for example. Or water production that results in a large portion of a country unable to either obtain or afford water.

    As to your other point regarding taxation – I cannot figure out a way that modern living can be done without government-sponsored help, such as roads, bridges, levees, schools, and so on. Health care should be high on that list. Any study of the U.S. ranking in health of citizens in the modern world leaves us looking pretty bad.

    And none of that can be done without paying for it, hence taxes. Those taxes at the gas pump are traditionally called “road taxes” because that’s where the money used to be spent. I do not know how much of it, if any, still goes to that. But you can’t use roads without wearing them out.

    And privatization of such things is ludicrous.

    There’s a trend now for broke cities and states to sell off assets to foreign investors, such as the aforementioned parking meters in Chicago. The problems that arise from such foreign ownerships are many and very damaging. Consider first of all that such things are turned into profitable ventures. The Reaganite idea that business can do things more efficiently than government is nonsensical since the primary goal of business is profit – and since the robber barons are once again in charge, the sky’s the limit, especially when the asset in question is a monopoly situation – no one else, for example, can come into Chicago and compete in parking meters. Does that sound like free market to you? The irony is that the city of Chicago could easily have made more money with the meters without giving them away to a foreign country, and in the long run it will cost them, not benefit them.

    When Reagan bluntly described the government as the villain he may have been right – government can be a very dangerous thing – particularly when it’s run by corporate shills.

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