Posts Tagged ‘jobs’

Consequential Jobs

Monday, August 29th, ©2011 Marcus Brooks

Aside: I am adding a “News & Politics” category to my blog. I didn’t want to, and I doubt it will make much difference, but it’s something I need to do.

Alcoa Sandow plant located near Rockdale, Texas

Alcoa's Texas plant has been dodging the EPA for decades. (Photo: savingiceland.org)

Rick Perry has promised voters he will “work every day to make government as inconsequential as possible in their lives.”

Former RNC chairman Michael Steele tried to clarify this Monday on MSNBC, saying, “People want government to be there when they need it, but at all other times they expect government to get out of the way and let them do their thing.”

There’s a widely endorsed view in this country that government interference is a bad thing. There are a lot of ways in which government regulations make it harder to do work, be productive, and make money. Looking at that, it seems natural to blame the government for the poor economy. Wouldn’t there be more jobs if employers could just “do their thing”?

By this reasoning, it makes sense to slash funding for programs like the EPA, which is perhaps the poster child for government interference. Maybe you agree that the air and water should be clean, and you worry about climate change, whatever causes it. But maybe you think those concerns are luxuries that we might set aside, at least temporarily, so that businesses can “do their thing” until the employment crisis is over?

So companies can do what, exactly?

Well, be productive. Invest some of that corporate money they’ve been hoarding to hire people and do work that was too expensive to do under EPA regulations.

But wait. Too expensive? How?

Why, to follow the EPA rules, you have to fill out forms, do studies, develop clean technology, get approvals, and do all sorts of other things that you can’t do without spending money to hire a lot of people that you wouldn’t have to, otherwise.

So yes, it’s a lot easier and doubtless much more profitable to just do your thing, and ignore petty concerns like clean air, clean water, and healthy wildlife. But it doesn’t create more jobs.

Government “interference” by the EPA, and by other agencies like the FAA, FCC, FTC, etc., is not about keeping companies from doing their thing. It’s about insisting that companies do their thing right—safely, and with an eye to the future.

By its nature, doing things the right way is usually more work. That can seem expensive, but it’s a good investment. And it tends to create more jobs, not fewer!

Anybody who says otherwise is looking to line their pockets and get away easy.

Edit 31 Aug 11: This last statement is probably too harsh. A great many people probably repeat anti-government doctrine without thinking carefully.