You hear it all the time, the refrain about jobs:
We have to build that pipeline. It will create jobs.
We have to cut these taxes. It will create jobs.
We have to strip mine that wilderness. It will create jobs.
We have to build a highway through this neighbourhood. It will create jobs.
We have to build that casino. It will create jobs.
We have to produce more greenhouse gasses. It will create jobs.
We have to cut the last of the old growth forest. It will create jobs.
We have to sell these weapons. It will create jobs.
Wait a minute.
We need to stop and breathe.
Stop and think.
When exactly did jobs become the pinnacle of human aspiration?
Did Ghandi create jobs? Is the world better for what he did create?
Did Dr. Martin Luther King create jobs?
Did the ending slavery create jobs?
Did the US Constitution create jobs? The Magna Carta?
The discovery of the new world?
Curing Polio? Rabies? Small Pox?
Not directly but the world is immeasurably better for these events.
And the eventual result was more employment.
Think of all the scientists and artists that create works and discover things. They don’t create jobs. They just make the world better. Newton and Einstein, Picasso and DaVinci they did more to make people happier and more comfortable than any corporation.
Than any job.
And in the long run what they did created more jobs than any of their peers, than any Ebenezer Scrooge-like bean counter. More employment than Rockefeller, and Carnegie, and Trump. By concentrating on what is really important they benefited more people and indirectly employed more people. We need to stop and consider what kind of jobs are being created by the current fixation on employment at all costs. Survival jobs that line the pockets of a wealthy elite. Not a winning strategy for the long term. Slavery, whether chattel or wage, is degrading and ultimately self defeating. Think of it another way. Who are remembered as the great inventors and innovators? Edison, Jobs, Touring, Sikorsky to name just a few They were affluent but none of them became what you might think of as super-rich. Yet they benefited the world and in the long run put millions of people to work. Far more people than some filthy rich stock manipulator. Than any businessman who kept his eye on the bottom line.
We have lots of history about this too.
Sure the pyramids put a lot of people to work and they are impressive to look at. But how did they benefit the average Egyptian? Suppose the Egyptians had put all that effort into discovering things and advancing their culture. To inventing technology, to curing diseases, to empowering the individual, to exploring the world. We might all be speaking Egyptian today. The same is true for the Great Wall of China, and the Palaces of dictators, and the Armouries of tyrants, and the hoards of the super rich. They are limited and self defeating. The pyramids are now gawked at by the children of cultures that put innovation, advancement, and freedom above short term profit, and employment uber alles.. The children of cultures that worked to make life better for everyone. What country today has the highest standard of living? Norway. What is the country with the lowest unemployment rate? North Korea. Where would you rather live? More importantly, where does Norway fall on the unemployment list? It is 25th best out of almost 200 countries, very high. This is a pattern that you find all around the world. countries that work to eliminate discrimination, that empower women, that uplift minorities rank high in the quality of life index and the employment index. Countries that scapegoat minorities and abuse their women fall far lower on both accounts. Countries that enable everyone do better for everyone. Countries such as Jim Crow America or Apartheid South Africa, or Fascist countries around the world, spend so many resources on control that even the ‘ruling class’ does not do well. Is not actually free.
Having a good quality of life for all of your citizens is the best way to create jobs for all of your citizens.
Understand, I have been unemployed. I know how important a job is. But jobs are not the only thing in the human experience. They are not the purpose of humanity. It’s time to wake up and realize an important truth. If you have a culture that enlightens, that educates, that uplifts, that heals, you will have happier people with a better life. Put money into schools, health care, pensions, a safety net, fair wages, and opportunity for everyone, and all will be more content. Most importantly though jobs will appear. Look to quality of life, quality of the environment, the quality of the world we hand to our children, and more people will be healthy, happy, and employed. Build a society that concentrates on the quality of life and you will have jobs. Fixate on making jobs and soon you will have no quality of life OR jobs.
Jobs are not the most important thing in life.
LIFE is the most important thing in life.
Jobs are a means.
Not an end.
So ends the lessen for today