Study Complains About Use of "Job Killers" Term to Describe Government Policies

A new research study complains that journalists have not been verifying claims that certain government policies “kill jobs.” The study was completed by a professor of communications and a professor of urban & environmental policy. I guess they could not find an economist to help? Here’s the laundry list of complaints, from the study, with helpful links added to largely Reason articles explaining how these policies hurt or otherwise distort the economy:

In the last few years– especially since 2009–charge of “job-killer” have been used against an ever-increasing list of federal policies and policy proposals including:
• environmental clean air regulations
• financial reform
• National Labor Relations Board rules
• public health and safety regulations by the Environmental Protection Agency, the
Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and the Consumer Product Safety
Commission
• voluntary healthy food marketing guidelines proposed by the Federal Trade
Commission
• tax code changes
• health care reform
• minimum wage increases
• student loan reforms

Which isn’t to say stupid politicians will make stupid job-killing claims, but the effect government has on destroying economic productivity is not a “meme,” as the researchers were quick to repeat.  One example cited by the paper was this reference to the 2010 cap-and-trade effort as a job killer in an Associated Press story:

Republicans slammed the bill as a "national energy tax" and jobs killer, arguing that the costs would be passed on to consumers in the form of higher electricity bills and fuel costs that would lead manufacturers to take their factories overseas.

The study complained that the story “provided no evidence to support the conjecture that the energy plan would kill jobs,” even though the argument is spelled out in the very portion of the article the study pulls out.

There’s no mention, either, of the contemporary pervasiveness of the “technology is a job-killer” misconception, though some early manifestations of it are relayed. For example, Henry Wallace, FDR’s secretary of agriculture, blamed unemployment on automated farming equipment and the Democrats of the era picked up on the theme. From the study:

Syndicated columnist Mark Sullivan pilloried Wallace for blaming unemployment in part on the development of automated farm machinery  for example, Wallace estimated that 15,000-20,000 farm laborers were thrown out of work in Iowa due to the mechanical corn-picker . Sullivan instead accused Wallace of putting people out of work by limiting farm production: 
Are you trying to make people believe that invention destroys jobs? ...You, Mr. Wallace, are the real job-killer in the United States.  When you limit the quantity of cotton raised, you by that act limit the number of jobs ginning cotton, spinning it, weaving it, carrying cotton and cotton goods on freight trains.  You are not only the Herod of the little pigs, you are the Attila of industry, the scourge of trade.
On the other side of this issue, Congressman Edward Crump, a Tennessee Democrat, worried that “negroes will have nothing to do and millions of them will be idle,” called for  the ban on the mechanical cotton-picking machine, which he described as a “job-killing monster.”

The paper traces the origins of the “job killer” phrase to… the FDR administration:

Seven years later, in 1938, Raymond Moley, a close advisor to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, used the term. In a speech laying out his plan for recovery, Moley mentioned repealing “two particularly oppressive, job-killing taxes.” Several newspapers in the following months picked Moley s phrase up and attributed it to him. This seems to be the first use of the term in the modern context. So, ironically, Moley, one of FDR s so-called “brain trusters” who invented the term “New Deal,” is also in a certain sense the inventor of  the “job killing”  meme. In a similar context, a Los Angeles Times editorial in 1938 castigated FDR for vetoing “an act designed to alleviate punitive, job-killing, misery-creating forms of taxation.

The pearl-clutching over “uncited” job-killer claims is almost reminiscent of intelligent designers.

John Stossel on who’s really confused in the job-killer debate

(Via the White House Office of Management and Budget’s twitter feed )

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  • Brett L||

    How dare people we disagree with find effective phrasings!!

  • NotSure||

    Would they prefer "employment distorters" instead ?

  • sarcasmic||

    But, but, but... Intentions!

  • JW||

    How's Federally Assisted Euthanasia for Jobs Program? Is that better?

  • Mensan||

  • Almanian...still||

    I know it's wrong, but I'm rooting for the bullets

  • anon||

    The real question is... which one of your fuckers is doing this while posting comments today?

  • Almanian...still||

    Huey Long? No, wait...

  • John||

    I haven't seen Dunphy all day.

  • Pound. Head. On. Desk.||

    From the article:
    Several police vehicles have been struck and one officer was reportedly “struck with shrapnel.”

    Really? He's firing shrapnel shells? Big rifles!

  • anon||

    Know who else used popular rhetoric propaganda to ride into power?

  • anon||

    There was supposed to be an ampersand in there, but I think the squirrels ate it.

  • Almanian...still||

    AMPERPWND!

  • CE||

    You know who else blamed the squirrels?

  • Almanian...still||

    Huey Long?

  • Brandybuck||

    Sean Hannity?

  • RFID||

    Technology usually does "kill jobs". If it didn't do so it wouldn't be worth it. The loom allowed the replacement many textile workers with a single operator with the same output. There were still people who had to build and maintain the looms of course, but the total cost of all the loom-related jobs couldn't equal the total cost of replacing all the textile workers - if they did it wouldn't be worth it to own the loom.

    Of course, that's only looking at half of the equation. The other half is that consumers get cheaper clothing. They can then spend the money they save on other things, making everyone better off.

  • Brett L||

    "The other half is that consumers get cheaper clothing. They can then spend the money they save on other things, making everyone better off."

    Or work less and have more, which is basically the story of the Industrial Revolution on.

  • Rasilio||

    Or it allowed the factory to retain the same number of workers with higher output and lower costs allowing consumers to afford a new shirt for every day of the week rather than just owning 2 working shirts and 1 Sunday shirt.

    This is why the number of textile workers in England shot up by 400 to 500% after powered looms were invented.

    Technology may eliminate jobs or it may create even greater employment, it just depends on where the unmet market demand happens to be

  • Hugh Akston||

    Is it really that difficult to understand how regulations that impose compliance costs reduce company's hiring capabilities?

  • Brandybuck||

    The study was done by "a professor of communications and a professor of urban environmental policy". That's sufficient to explain it.

  • anon||

    Of course, that's only looking at half of the equation.

    Not even half the equation.

    The looms will use more cotton than the workers could've used, which will require more cotton, which will require more cotton farming. The workers will also be available labor for other tasks, which will make other products cheaper... That's just two examples off the top of my head; the results of the loom being invented are pretty incalculable.

  • The Other Kevin||

    Wow, you guys are off a bit today. Must have been a long weekend.

    The correct term for policies that destroy jobs is "Job-creating policies."

  • anon||

    "Job-creating or saving policies."

    ftfy.

  • ||

    I read that little "study". It's not a study, it's a fucking op-ed. It takes some balls to complain about the misuse of words while raping more important words.

  • Ed||

    Oh I'm glad I'm not the only one who read it. The problem with these kinds of researchers is that they consider their assumptions and even biases as axiomatic when they're not.

  • plu1959||

    The pearl-clutching over "uncited" job-killer claims is almost reminiscent of intelligent designers.

    I'm having trouble connecting the dots here.

  • SugarFree||

    Liberals don't like the phrase "job-killing regulations" and they don't like creationist, therefore they the same thing.

    Think with your emotions, conservalibertardnutwing!

  • CE||

    They prefer the more dignified term, "employment sub-optimization efforts".

  • Sam Grove||

    Government isn't destroying jobs, it's transforming value producing jobs in the private sector into value consuming jobs in the public sector.

  • DantoRang||

    I have a feeling they will get over it lol.

    www.Anon-Anon.tk

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