Creating the jobs of yesterday, tomorrow

We see this everywhere in NZ politics, the demand by various politicians and parties to create the jobs of yesterday, tomorrow. It’s a great line and one I borrow from David Harsanyi at RealClearPolitics as he discusses Obama’s State of the Union speech.

It was a speech not unlike that which David Shearer would give, or is indeed giving when he talks about manufacturing…but make no mistake it is the sort of speech and ideas that focuses on the past, for our future.

Take Labour’s insistence on building railway wagons in Dunedin….jobs of the yesterday…with demands for them to be there tomorrow.

Does it bother anyone else that the president of the United States seems to believe that our collective future entails assembling battery parts in a government-subsidized factory for $9 an hour? Is that really what Americans envision for their kids — an assembly line? Because when you look past Barack Obama’s mesmerizingly hollow rhetoric, what he’s proposing is a return of jobs that progress and prosperity have left behind.

In his State of the Union speech, the president laid out a vision that we’ve heard countless times. In his world, billionaires and their high-powered accountants are sticking it to the middle class. It’s a place where wealth is static and one person’s success always diminishes another’s fortunes. The president explained that “it’s not a bigger government we need but a smarter government that sets priorities and invests in broad-based growth.” 

The politics of envy gets you nowhere. It never has. Yet Labour, and Obama follow it assiduously.

What are Obama’s priorities, anyway? The president proposes that politicians set up “manufacturing hubs” to assist the private sector in “restoring” and “bringing back” low-paying manufacturing jobs. And who better to create centers of inefficient production and unsustainable boondoggles than an institution that spends $1 trillion more than it brings in every year? Can’t think of anyone.

The president, a man who once lamented the rise of job-killing ATMs, mentioned manufacturing eight times in his speech. But these jobs never “left” (they were phased out), and one hopes they never come back. America is producing about 80 percent more than it did 30 years ago with nearly 8 million fewer workers needed. Technological advances and a boom in productivity have not only made life more tolerable for the average American worker, opening up far better opportunities for them, but also been a godsend to consumers.

The same goes for NZ. The Post Office and the Railways used to employ tens of thousands, but the advent of competition and technology have increased productivity to such a magnitude that to return to those old failed ways will not be tolerated by the population.

It is time New Zealand celebrated the wealth creators, the builders of companies, the risk takers who prefer to deploy their capital into build and making things rather than seek answers from those who would wish to tear all that down.

I am not talking about finance company bosses either. I am talking about those 1000s of business owners who employ tens of thousands of workers. Their livelihoods and those of their employees are at serious risk, especially with the inane and ill conceived “living wage” campaign currently being waged by unions and the countries largest newspaper.

I find it incongruous that a newspaper of record would mount a political campaign, and make no mistake, for that is what they are doing.


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  • “The politics of envy gets you nowhere. It never has. Yet Labour, and Obama follow it assiduously.”

    The problem is Cam, that plenty of people will vote for them – the level of economic and historical literacy in the West is pretty low.

    • StupidDiscus

      the level of economic and historical literacy in the West is pretty low.

      As the mean over the total population, it’s higher than it’s ever been.

      that’s not the problem.

      As the median & mode of the voting electorate it’s lower than its ever been.

      that’s the problem.

  • StupidDiscus

    80 percent more than it did 30 years ago with nearly 8 million fewer workers needed.

    Right!! In other words the US simply has at least 8 million more bludgers. There is no need or reason whatsoever for taxpayers to somehow have to support any one of these, in fact to do so in any way is completely and utterly economically illiterate — the labour market equivalent of insisting, say, the FAA Air Navigation aids should be based on the belief that the earth is flat! These bludgers are nothing but a drag on the economy, plain and simple.

    But then:

    I find it incongruous that a newspaper of record would mount a political campaign,

    Oh for goodness sake! Newspapers have always been and are political – you at least should know that. The problem is any newspaper running a progressive, communist, and plain innumerate campaign.

  • johnbronkhorst

    The railway wagon example is brilliant but as brian says it, people are economically ignorant. So it needs, I feel, the following explaination.
    If we build rail wagons in NZ, they will cost more, staff will need retraining (cost) as they haven’t “built” a wagon in nearly 30 years, if the lifespan of these wagons (with maintenance [ a different skill using existing staff, not the manufacturing staff]) is 20 years and they take 2 years to build…..what are the manufacturing staff going to do for the remaining 18 years? If they build wagons for the international market, they will be competing with (and losing to) the …………..CHINESE!!!! But when did we think that labour and the unions ever did any thinking around the ACTION and CONSIQUENCE area of analysis????

  • Patrick

    Smarter government – what an oxymoron

  • Theres an old saying: If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys! Company shareholders only invest their money to make money. Workers only invest their time to make money. Thats what its about. The mighty dollar. When Henry Ford doubled his factory wage in 1914, every businessman, economist and entrepeneur slammed him, however, his move actually cut his costs by retaining trained productive staff, whilst attracting trained staff from his opposition. It costs money to hire and train staff. Ford’s idea was to spend that money retaining staff. It worked to the point where he was saving money.
    A high staff turnover is a sign of lousy management. So too is a low staff morale (with the resultant low productivity).