Why governments should never have a ‘jobs plan’

As long-time readers will know, my favourite economic commentator
is Ross Gittins from Fairfax Media. Gittins writes about the economy without
fear or favour and speaks a vast amount of sense amongst the nonsense being
spouted by people who should know better.  

The weekend before last, Gittins titled his  article Why the jobs will come, though we
can’t say where
in response the
widespread reaction to the Toyota manufacturing shutdown in Australia in 2017.

I won’t quote Gittins to revisit my 2013
about government
money propping up inefficient industries but suffice to say Gittins is not a
fan of ‘industry policy’ which he rightly derides as ‘disguised protection of favoured industries, amounting to
propping up losers rather than picking winners’

Gittins also, rightly, derides the moronic urgings of
the Opposition leader, Bill Shorten for the Government to pony up with their
‘jobs plan’.

As Gittins says:

‘Has everyone suddenly turned socialist? Do
they imagine we live in a planned economy? It amazes me that people who spend
their entire lives living in a market economy don’t have a clue about how
market economies work. Well, let me give you one: market economies are driven
by market forces, not governments.
Those silly people demanding to see the
government’s ”jobs plan” and concluding that, unless it successfully pursues
such a plan, few if any future jobs will be created, seem to assume the economy
works like a glove puppet: unless the government sticks its hand in the puppet
and moves it, nothing happens.
If you want to know in which particular industries or occupations the government plans to ensure new jobs are created – which winners the government has picked – the answer is: none. It’s leaving the market to determine all that.’  
So what should the Government, any
government, actually DO according to Gittins?  


‘One is to borrow as much as necessary to
provide our businesses with adequate public infrastructure and ensure existing
infrastructure is used efficiently through such things as appropriate pricing.


Another is to ensure our education and
training system – from early childhood to postgraduate – is doing enough, and
is effective enough, in raising the skills of our labour force.’


And Gittins concludes:


‘I don’t know where the jobs will come
from this time, but I’ll give you a hint: virtually all of them will be in the
services sector. How can I be so sure? That’s where virtually all additional
jobs have come from for the past 50 years.’


Stop the panic everybody. Just get on with
the job of making this country more efficient and please stop asking
governments to prop up failing industries.


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