The stupidity of the jobs argument.

This is not an example of Godwin’s Law. I’m not comparing Hitler to any current politicians and there has been no discussion I know of on the internet about the topic of this blog, at least not in the way I’m approaching it.

So, the jobs argument is beginning to seriously piss me off. Whenever there is controversy over whether a mega-dam, pipeline or mining project is being sold to the public by some politician or other, they often throw out the jobs argument. It’s a simple argument. It just states that we need the jobs, therefore we need this project.

Simply, that’s a stupid, ignorant argument but compelling to a lot of people it seems. There are jobs and then there are jobs. Not all jobs are created equal. Have you noticed that? Working at a fast food ‘restaurant’ is not quite on the same plane as working as the CEO of a large corporation. Both are jobs. Both are work, but they are so different in their importance and impact that any comparison is laughable.

More importantly, there are jobs that need to go. They need to be eliminated. They are not on the public interest. They need to go. For example, what if after WWII the people who worked at concentration camps and operated the ovens that killed millions of Jews and others argued that it was not acceptable to eliminate their jobs. After all, the economy was at stake and they needed to feed their families. Who would have the temerity to give such an argument any credence whatsoever? Those were jobs that needed to be eliminated and they obviously were. Unfortunately, we are now into the age of the cult of the job. But that’s the topic of another blog post. Back to my point.

At the turn of the 20th Century, the car was rapidly replacing the horse and buggy as the main form of personal transportation. Horse breeders were being put out of business everywhere. Buggy whip producers the same. Poor horse breeders, poor buggy makers, poor buggy whip makers. All out of work…except the buggy makers that transformed themselves into car makers. There weren’t many of them, but there were some.

I think that petroleum producers today are in the same situation as horse breeders and buggy makers were in the early nineteen hundreds. The ones who can make the transformation to producers of alternate sources of energy will survive, the others will die.  The people who work for them are in the same boat. Change or suck air.



Thousands of snow geese killed in Montana after landing in toxic water | Toronto Star

This is absolutely outrageous. Mining companies all over the world are allowed to operate without consideration of the massive destruction they leave behind when they leave, or as they operate. Toxic settling ponds and water-filled open pit mines should never be allowed. If mining companies can’t operate without destroying their environment, if they can’t be responsible for all the costs of mining, even those they consider ‘externalities’ they don’t deserve to be in business. And don’t give me lame excuses that we need the jobs and the material they produce. I’m not saying shut them down period. I’m saying that if they can’t find a way to deal with their garbage and shit, if they can’t find a way to mitigate their negative impact on the world then they need to go. To hell with them.

What is even more galling is the excuses they are giving after the fact, with the companies congratulating themselves for the ‘success’ they have had in not killing thousands more birds. Bloody outrageous. Governments, of course, are complicit. They may fine these companies for not complying to lax government regulations, but they will allow them to continue to operate unimpeded.

Absolutely outrageous! Sickening and disgusting.


Witnesses said the old mine pit looked like ‘700 acres of white birds’ after a snow storm forced the migratory birds to take refuge.

Source: Thousands of snow geese killed in Montana after landing in toxic water | Toronto Star

The “Canadian Economy?”

Following my last post where I look at Statistic Canada’s analysis of intergenerational income in Canada without coming to any conclusions, today, I intend to make one specific point. That point also relates to a Statistics Canada post today on labour productivity in Canada.

The point I want to make has already been make frequently enough. Harold Innis, the pre-eminent political economist who worked at the University of Toronto and who died in 1952 and his mentor and predecessor, Thorstein Veblen, the even more pre-eminent economic historian who taught in various American universities and who died in 1929 both in their own ways decried the use of statistics on a purely national basis. The transnational nature of corporate power and control has been studied carefully by scores of scholars over the decades. See in particular the work of William Carroll at UVic and the network of scholars with whom he is associated worldwide. In my own dissertation (1981) I argued following Innis that the weather doesn’t stop at national borders, nor should statistical analysis.

In an age where corporations are spread all over the globe and where a head office may be in one country, research and development in a couple of others and commodity production in several others, how does it make sense to talk about the ‘Canadian’ economy? If StatsCan wants to get with the times it needs to begin to follow corporations in the various parts of their businesses wherever they happen to be. It’s telling that the former Canadian Manufacturers’ Association is now the Canadian Manufacturers’ and Exporters Association. With the massive reductions in value-added production in Canada over the past half century, the concept of ‘Canadian’ manufacturing is losing its relevance. This is even more true when we consider that the extractive industries in Canada, especially in the petroleum industries are 95% under foreign control.

There is no such thing as the Canadian economy. The sooner we accept that and change our patterns of gathering data the sooner we will get an accurate picture of the global reality of ‘the economy.’ Of course Statistics Canada is there to serve the Canadian government so it’s by it’s very nature political. Harold Innis warned decades ago that scholars should not let politicians lead them around by the nose. It seems like that’s exactly what has happened for a long time now and is still the driving force of data collection in StatsCan.

I deal with this topic in several posts. Check my archives for more.