We Don’t Need No Stinking Jobs

Don Boudreaux has an outstanding op-ed explaining the futility, and the misnomer, of “creating jobs”

Jobs are not scarce. They never have been. They’re all around us. There are far too many of them ever to be done.

My house needs to be painted. I’d enjoy having a personal masseuse. I’d love to employ a live-in housekeeper to cook my meals and clean my home each day. These are jobs that can be done — indeed, jobs that I wish would be done.

Will you do them for me?

The correct answer, I’m sure, is “It depends.” It depends upon what I offer to pay you in exchange for your services.

To survive, enough food, clothing and shelter must be produced to nourish and protect society’s members. And for members of that society to thrive, they must together produce not only adequate amounts of life’s necessities, but also large amounts of an increasing variety of goods and services that add diversity, richness and comfort to their lives.

To promote such economic growth, markets ensure that people are paid only when — and always when — they produce value for others. 

Substituting “value-producing opportunity” [for “jobs”] would also help expose the flaws in policies such as protectionism and government make-work programs. Such policies can indeed transfer wealth from society at large to people whose jobs exist only because government relieves them of the need to participate fairly in the market process. But such “jobs” clearly are not “value-producing opportunities” — for the amount of value that such workers produce is less than they are paid.

And no society can long survive by institutionalizing such unproductive policies on a widespread scale.