Jay Inslee is basing his run for the Presidency on a display of naked economic ignorance. He says that he wants to create 8 million well paid and lovely jobs in climate action. Forgetting two rather important things, firstly, that jobs are a cost of doing something, not a benefit, the second being that America doesn’t actually have 8 million people without jobs but who want one.
Which is, when you think about it, a bit of a problem:
Eight million jobs, $9tn in spending: Jay Inslee’s radical plan to tackle climate change
The Washington governor and Democratic 2020 hopeful wants to decarbonize the economy while boosting employment
The first error here is to think that “boosting employment” is a good thing. Nonsense.
If we had a magic button that produced all the power – Green power if you prefer – that we want would we be better off using that or getting our power by using the labour of 8 million people? Quite, obviously, the magic button. We’d be better off by whatever it is that those 8 million people went and did instead. Even if it’s just lounge in leisure we’re better off by 8 million people lounging in leisure.
8 million people having to work to provide it is a cost of our having power.
But it’s worse, obviously. The American unemployment rate is currently about 3.8%. The workforce is some 160 million people. 8 million is 5% of 160 million. That is, he’s cooking up jobs for more unemployed people than we have unemployed people.
As well as being impossible even trying will make us poorer. For the more people we suck off into doing this power stuff the more we’ll miss being able to consume whatever it is they do now for a living. That is, you can just about make an argument for “creating” jobs in a depression, but not at full employment.
But then we’re in election season, aren’t we? This isn’t going to be the only example of economic stupidity we’re offered.