In Whitewater and Elsewhere, Employment’s Only Part of the Story

 In times of high unemployment, of course it makes sense to get people back to work. Jobs, jobs, jobs isn’t a bad mantra when people don’t have work.  (Work isn’t simply about an income, but a place in society.)  Today is not, however, the Great Depression.

Listen to ‘development professionals’ go on about job-creation at public expense for Foxconn, or subsidies to low-end manufacturers in Whitewater, and they sound and act like state planners in a command economy: touting employment figures without regard to the cost of job creation or whether the jobs are productive and sustaining.

These aren’t men who believe in productive, free markets in capital, labor, and goods; these are men who talk private business while using public money to boost wasteful schemes and junk projects.

By their own admission, after decades of meddling in the economy, Whitewater is only a low-income community.

The jobs these ‘community development’ men produce are mostly dead-end, low-level positions so that they can fill in a number on a press release.

In Americans Want to Believe Jobs Are the Solution to Poverty. They’re Not, Matthew Desmond writes

These days, we’re told that the American economy is strong. Unemployment is down, the Dow Jones industrial average is north of 25,000 and millions of jobs are going unfilled. But for people like Vanessa, the question is not, Can I land a job? (The answer is almost certainly, Yes, you can.) Instead the question is, What kinds of jobs are available to people without much education? By and large, the answer is: jobs that do not pay enough to live on.

In recent decades, the nation’s tremendous economic growth has not led to broad social uplift. Economists call it the “productivity-pay gap” — the fact that over the last 40 years, the economy has expanded and corporate profits have risen, but real wages have remained flat for workers without a college education. Since 1973, American productivity has increased by 77 percent, while hourly pay has grown by only 12 percent. If the federal minimum wage tracked productivity, it would be more than $20 an hour, not today’s poverty wage of $7.25.

One can guess that Desmond and I would not agree on the cause of, or solution to, these problems; he lacks confidence in free markets.

And yet, we’d not disagree about where we are now: nowhere good.

Previously10 Key Articles About FoxconnFoxconn as Alchemy: Magic Multipliers,  Foxconn Destroys Single-Family HomesFoxconn Devours Tens of Millions from State’s Road Repair BudgetThe Man Behind the Foxconn ProjectA Sham News Story on Foxconn, Another Pig at the TroughEven Foxconn’s Projections Show a Vulnerable (Replaceable) WorkforceFoxconn in Wisconsin: Not So High Tech After All, Foxconn’s Ambition is Automation, While Appeasing the Politically Ambitious, Foxconn’s Shabby Workplace ConditionsFoxconn’s Bait & SwitchFoxconn’s (Overwhelmingly) Low-Paying JobsThe Next Guest SpeakerTrump, Ryan, and Walker Want to Seize Wisconsin Homes to Build Foxconn Plant, Foxconn Deal Melts Away“Later This Year,” Foxconn’s Secret Deal with UW-Madison, and Foxconn’s Predatory Reliance on Eminent Domain.

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