by Art Woolf
Businesses don't create jobs because it's the right thing to do. They create jobs because it's the only way they can produce the goods and services they need in order to make a profit. Put another way, the function of jobs is to create wealth. That happens when workers' output is greater than the cost of resources (including labor) used to produce that output.
That's why looking at job creation is the wrong way to think about economic development. Economic development is about creating wealth. The GMP-CVPS merger is a case in point. The real benefit of the merger (assuming there are benefits--and that's what the PSB has to figure out) is to bring lower-cost electricity to Vermont consumers -- both residential and business.
I come down squarely on GMP's side on this one. Dorothy Schnure says low cost electricity is a
job enabler not a job creator.....it [tlow-cost electricity] enables our customers throughout the state to be more competitive and for them to bring more jobs into the region...But that's really what drives a thriving economy, to do it in that way as opposed to loading up the utility with a lot of additional jobs that we don't need.
She's exactly correct.
Vermont State Senators (and Senate president) John Campbell (D) and Kevin Mullin (R) are not. Senator Campbell says
"The last thing we want to do as a state is to put people on the street without jobs," said Campbell. "I think it's time the curtain is taken back on this whole deal as we start looking at what is in the best interests of Vermonters."
and Senator Mullin is equally misguided:
In an era where we're talking about trying to create jobs, if we're going to be proud of $144 million in cut jobs and employment, I think it's despicable.
If it's jobs they are looking for, they are easy to create. Ban self service gas stations. Eliminate ATM machines. Don't allow supermarkets to use checkout scanners. Next time the state wants to build a highway, use workers with shovels instead of backhoes. Better yet, have them use spoons, as Milton Friedman once suggested.
It's much more difficult to create wealth, which in the process does create good jobs. But that is so hard to do that it's best left to the private sector and entrepreneurs. What government economic development program could come up with something like this, for example?