Economics 101

Where do jobs come from?  Jesse Jackson Jr continues his thoughts on the subject.  In the video below he claims the Ipad is threatening employment at Borders Bookstores.

Earlier, Jesse Jackson Jr waxed poetic on the potential of the Ipad and wanted to change the Constitution to make sure everybody got one.  But that was before he realized they closed bookstores.

So what's a guy to do? Jackson apparently believes that the Constitution and the First Amendment create jobs. Maybe they do (though one wonders where he got this idea) but not in the manner he imagines. Maybe government and civil society don't employ people directly or mandate job creation so much as create an environment in which the private sector can successfully pursue opportunities.

Why aren't the Ipods and Ipads being manufactured in the United States? Why is the automotive industry leaving Detroit? Is it because we've had too much government of the kind Mr. Jackson yearns for? Or not enough?

Before anyone says that Jesse Jackson Jr represents a kind of failure in human intelligence, it's fair to point out that a Harris Poll taken in March 2010 found that 38% of Democrats surveyed believed government spending created jobs.  Thirty six percent were not sure. Only 26% of Democrats, or 1 in 4 surveyed, believed that government spending did not create jobs.  There are many people who count themselves as well educated who sincerely think the lack of jobs is the result of a "failure of capitalism" and that the solution lies in socializing the economy, beginning with health care. Jackson, far from being a kook, is arguably in the mainstream.

Is Jackson kinda-sorta right? Have the forces of globalization so altered the factors of comparative advantage that wages alone must drive them offshore so that the only prospect of preserving employment lies in such measures as mandating that people buy their books at Borders or compelling manufacturers to build only in the United States?

Open thread.


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