Fixing the “Jobs” in Economics

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Right wing politics is inspired by industrial requests for changes in laws. The top of that food chain consists of banks and the fossil industry, who have to be served by changes no matter what (as far as they can control it). The goal is to create consumers and use fossil fuels to allow as much cashflow to occur in the economic system (as consumers consume all resource using fossil energy, including fossil energy).

One way to sell projects to people is to mention jobs. This airport creates 2000 jobs! This is because most people are in jobs, which are not very secure (Right wing politics always reduces job security as it executes request from industry!). Telling them there will be more jobs is telling them there’s less risk. It also talks to the rest of industry : If you support this project you will get a piece of the action (because employees buy products), not only the state that taxes our income.

But this is a blind economistic argument “jobs”. What about jobs in a highly polluting chemical factory? Or Jobs at casino’s? There should be a way to qualify jobs as to their effect on the rest of the economic ‘ecosystem’ (weird juxtaposition). Not all jobs are equal. Not all jobs are desirable. Some expose workers to toxins. Some lead to waste of natural resources or addiction (tabacco).

The value of a job should be seen as the sum of all its consequences for the real world, not its effect on the economy

So one can say that any job that is created should be counted in relation to the effect on the overal wellbeing of people in using the products or services created. This can almost be calculated. Now jobs are only qualified from the perspective of industry, on how much they cost, what education level is required, where they are located. For products there are some tracking options that will tell you if it has been produced sustainably, but I have not yet seen this for jobs. How would you calculate?

  1. Energy gain/cost per hour on the job
  2. Fossil fuel gain/cost per hour on the job
  3. Biomass gain/cost per hour on the job
  4. Water gain/cost per hour on the job
  5. Education level gain/cost per hour on the job

The above is not a strange process in economics. But if you take the example of a local baker compared to a big bread factory for a region, that factory will have less jobs. Those jobs will be energy intensive because these people need to drive to the bread factory, but the bread itself will be made less energy intensive because of the use of a large baking oven. Maybe the flour has to be transported less times to the factory than to the baker. You can see that fossil fuel cost quickly translates into production cost, so the idea to minimize costs as the economy does is not entirely stupid.

Jobs at a big supermarket quickly become undesirable because everybody needs to drive to it, in all kinds of old vehicles. How is that better than having local stores that are closer to the end consumer?

A farmer using fertilizers and GM crops and diesel as fuel is putting 10 calories into producing 1 calorie of food (this is an old statistic, may bave improved). He holds 1 job, but maybe 10 farmers with less sophisticated methods will be energetically and environmentally efficient.

An airport may create 1000 jobs and people will say they bring cash to tourist destinations, but that means that for the pleasure of the tourist call kinds of emissions are produced in these destinations. Some are good some are bad. Car miles are saved, but airco hours are gained.

Building an oil pipeline which makes fuel available to millions may be seen to create a lot of jobs, but all those jobs will depend on emitting more greenhouse gasses. So then those jobs would get a negative score.

It is clear that modelling of the value of jobs is more complex the more you want to tie it to actual real life consequences, instead of just a number in a bank account (salaries which will become turnover in local stores and online). Still this would make it easier to see if, when jobs are created, they are jobs we actually want.