I have noticed of late that there is an oft-occurring, near reverential awe accompanying the notion of creating jobs in America. It appears that many want to divide the working world into two distinct categories: those who create jobs and those who don’t — with a built-in clear preference for the creators.
But is it really that simple? Should we non-job-creators actually hang heads in shame? Skirt the cocktail parties? Slink off to die prematurely, clearing the way for more worthy job creators? I think not.
Let me begin by saying that job creation is indeed very important to us and our economy. However I view it correctly as necessary but not sufficient. In other words, it’s not the only thing to look at, but even if you do, you have to be careful how you look. As an example, note my recent posting on McJobs. Lots of jobs. Looks good. Until you examine the details, which reveals a mixed bag at best.
Another example: The recent news about Shoreline Fruit
It is certainly good news that Shoreline Fruit is beginning a $7.5 million expansion south of Elk Rapids. But notice deeper in the announcement that it estimates creating 43 jobs. Should we be concerned by the low number? Or should we check to see, as with McDonalds, what types of jobs are created and, beyond that, what impact the entire enterprise will have on the local economy, even if it creates only 43 jobs?
In an economy like ours, which values and optimizes productivity and efficiency, we can’t rely solely on ‘number of jobs’ as a viable indicator of economic health. Industrialization, automation, as well as technological advances, continue to reduce dramatically the number of humans needed to run a business. And the quality of jobs can vary widely. Plus the rest of us contribute to economic health, too, and not just by working for a job creator or consuming lots of stuff.
So I ask the cocktail-party and business-conference attendees, among others, to stop explicitly and implicitly disparaging my non-job-creator status and start evaluating our local economy comprehensively. You owe it to geezers like me.