The Jobs Straw Man

Another Device for Controlling the Masses

Oh, Howard Hughes
Did your money make you better?
Are you waiting for the hour
When you can screw me?
‘Cause you’re big enough

To do the Wall Street Shuffle
Let your money hustle
Bet you’d sell your mother
You can buy another

– “The Wall Street Shuffle,” 10cc from their 1974 album Sheet Music

Of all the corporate media propaganda which warps reality in America, one echoed statement makes me wretch more than any other, and that’s “the jobs straw man” in defense of laissez faire capitalism, a commonly-used device to declare that greed is good despite the damning evidence.

The jobs straw man exists to convince the public that the things which most hurt them are really good things, providing jobs, so they should not complain.  This fools the vast majority of citizens, echoed as it is daily throughout the mainstream media without any attempt at balance, and stifling any reasonable debate.

I will describe how it’s used with lines beginning “Propaganda,” and follow those lines with facts that don’t air on TV news in the Land of the Free.

Propaganda:  We must keep producing fossil fuels because it provides jobs.

We could create more jobs producing solar panels and wind turbines if we did so without the multi-million dollar salaries that go to the executives of existing carbon-based industries, and didn’t put so much of the profits into rewarding wealthy investors, and cut off government subsidies to Big Oil, Big Coal and Big Gas.  In fact, most of the jobs from fossil fuels we use are abroad, in places like Saudi Arabia.

We’d also reduce the impact on global warming, while cleaning up the air quality, thereby serving the public interest.

Propaganda:  We must support free trade because it provides jobs.

We produced far better paying jobs before the primary rival of American capitalism, the USSR, dissolved and capitalists realized they no longer had to compete for the loyalty of workers, since workers only had one place to go.   Corporate bosses (to paraphrase Jefferson) never so loyal to so much as the spot on which they stand, moved jobs from the USA to the third world in response with what is euphemistically called “free trade.”

Nobody in corporate media ever asks those who’ve lost their jobs because of it, what they think of “free trade.”  A small part of the US workforce is employed in “free trade,” but most workers are hurt by it.  We would also have a much cleaner environment if workers produced products closer to where they would be used.

Propaganda:  We must keep the largest military force on earth because it provides jobs.

For the money which goes into the US national security system, we could easily provide far more jobs doing something to improve the nation, such as rebuilding its infrastructure, creating a national mass transit system, or implementing a national health care system as exists in the rest of the industrialized world, actually improving things, rather than using the government primarily to provide security for the wealthy investors of the world.

The military/industrial complex is filled with fraud, waste and abuse.  Billions of dollars often go missing and nobody is ever held accountable.  It is nonsense to claim that this is a good way to provide jobs.

Propaganda:  We must support capitalism because it provides jobs.

Many nations with mixed economies, that is partly socialist, enjoy much better average working conditions than do Americans, even though the USA is the wealthiest nation on earth.  Workers in other major industrialized nations enjoy better pay and benefits, with lower and less severe unemployment (The number of unemployed in the US is always at least twice the official numbers).

There are countless more examples of things that go against the public interest justified by the jobs straw man in the mainstream press.

Listening to this nonsense one would think jobs are a primary concern of the establishment press and the business interests they represent.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

American businesses lay off employees by the millions at the drop of a hat.  Any hint of economic downturn and the workforce is jettisoned.  Profits for transnational investors who don’t give a damn about the nation, the planet, or anything beyond profit comes before all else.  Second, the multi-million dollar salaries of corporate executives are protected over any cost in jobs.

Arms must often be twisted for businesses to create jobs, with incentives such as tax breaks.  Ironically, corresponding tax increases are not demanded of these companies when they lay off employees.  In short they ask to be rewarded for hiring, but not punished for firing, having it both ways.

Jobs straw man statements are made in the mainstream press as if they are true, and are not questioned.  If one listens to the TV journalists, where most Americans get their news, they will hear this nonsense pop up daily.

It is one of the reasons so many of our fellow citizens will “correct” us, if we should propose something better.  We can’t interfere with the system, they will say, because it provides jobs.

The only time authorities in the corporate controlled press or corporate controlled government appear to “care” about jobs is when profits are threatened by proposals to cut military spending, clean up the environment or have the government actually do something on behalf of its citizens.

The propaganda works because the masses cannot see the forest for the trees.  The statements are repeated like machine gun fire at us nonstop, blurring the senses.  Until citizens understand how the propaganda works, they will be controlled by it.

Jack Balkwill is an activist in Virginia. He can be reached at Read other articles by Jack.