Income-producing Opportunity

Kurt Bouwhuis, Mackinac Center Intern

Don Boudreaux has been on a role lately.  Here is just one of his many great letters:

Working on a pet peeve.


4 December 2009

Editor, The New York Times
620 Eighth Avenue
New York, NY 10018

To the Editor:

RE yesterday’s White House “Jobs Summit” (“Obama Turns to Job Creation, but Warns of Limited Funds ,” Dec. 4): the language is misleading.

Jobs themselves do not need to be created, for they are among the most abundant opportunities in our midst.  You can paint my house, serve as my personal masseuse, cook my dinners and clean my kitchen every evening.  You’re hired!  But you refuse, because I won’t pay you enough to do so.

It’s obviously not jobs that people ultimately want; it’s opportunities to earn income.  If the word “job” were replaced with “income-earning opportunity,” the added clumsiness of expression might be more than made up for by greater clarity of thought – namely, the recognition that what matters is each worker’s access to opportunities to produce value so that he or she receives in return as much spending power as possible.

Jobs are super-abundant; access to consumable goods and services is not.  It is widespread access to the latter that ultimately matters.  But this access is diminished by policies that create or protect “jobs” by taxing and regulating in ways that reduce the economy’s capacity to grow and produce the goods and services that are the ultimate motivation for people to work.

Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA 22030

* Don’s ex post addition to this letter: It occurred to me after sending my letter on jobs that an even better replacement name for jobs than “income-earning opportunity” is “income-producing opportunity” — for THAT is what a real job in a prosperous economy really is.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s