Not a clue

Comments like this are one of those little markers of someone getting entirely the wrong end of the stick. It is to entirely invert the point and purpose of everything we do in and with the economy:

The Women’s Budget Group has shown that if you invest 2% of GDP in the care sector, you get double the number of jobs compared to the same investment in construction.

A desperate failure there – jobs are a cost, not a benefit.

What we’re interested in is the output and we’d much prefer to get that with minimal inputs. If we can build a bridge with 100 tonnes of steel then no one at all is going to applaud because you’ve used 200 tonnes to build it now, are they? Equally, if we’ve task x to perform and we can do it with the labour of 100 people then that’s better than doing that same task with the labour of 200. Jobs are a cost of our getting that task done.

Even people don’t like having jobs. They like to be able to consume and for that, often enough, they’ll need an income. A job is the cost of gaining an income. For the employer the same is true, they want the work done, creating a job and paying someone an income to do it is the cost of getting that work done. At the societal level jobs are a cost. If all need to be out in the fields harvesting the corn then we can’t have short Danes making cute jokes on baking shows, can we? The lack of quips is a cost of jobs in agriculture.

Flip it slightly, we all know that higher productivity is what makes us richer. Great, so what is higher productivity? It’s more output from the same labour, or the same output from less labour. Again, we’re insisting that labouring to do something, a job doing something, is a cost.

Now, it might well be true that we’d prefer to have that caring output than more things that can be dropped on feet. Might well desire more of that traditionally female output than male. But the argument that such and such creates more jobs is an argument against doing it, not one in favour. And absolutely anyone who indicates that they don’t understand this is revealing that they’ve really very little clue of the subject under discussion, economics.

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9 COMMENTS

  1. Damn, Tim. Disqus… why? Whyyyyy?

    Anyway, Sandi:

    recently delivered the annual Adam Smith lecture in Kirkcaldy, Fife

    Cool.

    It was the first time a woman had been trusted to give this economics lecture all by herself.

    Nice way to thank her hosts, eh?

    I chose as the subject of my lecture women’s exclusion from the formal economy.

    Presumably women buy all their clothes, furniture, nick-nacks and groceries on the black market.

    Never, as it happens, has this been more relevant than now, as the full horror of the gender pay gap is revealed

    It’s horrifying how the BBC expects marginally charismatic middle aged TV women to scrape by on six figure salaries.

    Anyway, lots of passive-aggressive blah blah blah about how some of the richest, free-est and most privileged women on the face of the planet are ACTUALLY helpless victims of the patriarchy. It’s too tedious to even refute at this point. The Wimmins Pay Gap is like global warming or Allah, mere facts and logic won’t convince the faithful.

    Because, as Sophie Walker, leader of the Women’s Equality party, has repeatedly pointed out, “while tax cuts are benefiting men, benefit cuts are harming women”

    So women are benefits-snaffling scroungers?

    The Women’s Budget Group has shown that if you invest 2% of GDP in the care sector, you get double the number of jobs compared to the same investment in construction.

    She’s literally spent several paragraphs complaining that women are oppressed by poorly paid care jobs, then demands more poorly paid care jobs.

    Women, eh?

  2. “Even people don’t like having jobs.” I question that. Benefit scroungers apart, most of us feel the urge to do something productive with our time. Jobs are a challenge, an opportunity to test our skills, prove our worth and find our place in the hierarchy. If our jobs don’t satisfy us, we normally wish for a better job. Hobbies are evidence that when we have idle time, we seek for work to occupy it. For most of us, we are what we do.

  3. Listened to the lecture. (1 hour) Not too much about Adam Smith’s other than acknowledging his insight that markets allow people do things for other people acting in their own interest. Sandi tacks on equality as also being in everyone’s self interest . She does rather adopt a stands to reason kind of approach to calling for equality of outcome rather than opportunity. Would have been nice to delved a little bit more on that.

    To be fair Sandi doesn’t claim to be an economist. Pretty much only claims to be a Dane and points out that Nordic countries’ happiness is because of their egalitarianism. Sandi was more comfortable talking about the historic role of women and how revolutions that could have transformed things didn’t work out in favour of women (french, chinese). Then she went on to say that we need another revolution to accomplish women’s equality. Presumably to re-impose the danelaw and appropriation of a new danegeld.