Before the phrases “economic development” or “job creation/growth” can be used from here on out, appropriate evidence must be provided to whoever the message is directed towards. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar recently commented that “Alaska’s energy resources…hold great promise and economic opportunity for the people of Alaska and across the nation.” Political representatives in the Republican Party use these phrases with as much alacrity and certainly more gusto. Indeed, the Virginia GOP in particular has turned the utterance of such phrases into a fine art that awes as much as it infuriates.
Apparently, drilling or investing, cutting or building all inherently create jobs, maybe even thousands of them. The economic genies must therefore be fast at work for many politicians who pull the “job creation” or “economic development” card out of their hats. That is, these individuals throw out job numbers and economic figures appendixed upon proposals like the Keystone XL pipeline or drilling in the “Artic frontier” without offering the first shred of evidence to substantiate their sometimes wild or slightly exaggerated claims (or if they do provide evidence, it has become increasing industry-based). Perhaps they truly believe the almighty free hand of capitalism will swiftly come in to save the day, or maybe they are merely cynical politicians and government bureaucrats. However, the end result is usually the same.
In reality, the actual jobs created by such dubious projects that fall along the lines of the Keystone XL pipeline, mining for uranium, or drilling in Alaska are difficult to estimate and far less impressive than their advocates and dupes make them out to be. Of the jobs that are created, their duration may often be short-term, measured in the months and years and not decades. Moreover, relative to other major occupational groups tracked by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (you know, another “socialist” arm of the federal government), “Construction and Extraction Occupations” fall low on the totem pole in terms of the percentage of workers whose wage range start at $28.75.
The question must therefore be asked, is any job a “good” job or are some better than others? The answer may be obvious, but to hear some politicians speak, it’s as if any job was the pick of the litter. Doctor, plumber, janitor, it makes no difference, right, a job’s a job? The imagination and acumen of our nation’s political “leaders” has gone by the wayside, particularly within one political party.
Not every job is created equal and the jobs that we seek to create now will have ramifications for the most important sectors and their respective jobs that our country is able to fill in the future. For instance, where are the calls for math and science related jobs? Presumably, if a greater emphasis was placed on entering career-fields that emphasize these skills, America would be better able to confront the increasing information and technologically advanced temporal sphere that is the future. It would therefore create more jobs!
I do not have perfect knowledge or information. I can only report on what I see and hear. And what I see and hear is the unimaginative and politically spineless clarion calls for “Keystone XL job creation” and the supposedly numerous jobs of economic endeavors like uranium mining in southern Virginia. No one is arguing that these jobs are not much needed in Southside VA or throughout the country, but our economic future is not digging holes in the ground to extract toxic and nonrenewable sources of energy. Our economic future is in information, math, science, and technology. In sum then, not only should government bureaucrats and politicians be obligated to release evidence to back up their “job creation” and “economic development/growth” claims, they should also be hamstrung into creating jobs for the future.