Everybody loves a good party! And, that’s especially the case when someone else is paying. But every party has a price: someone pays.
Yesterday, President Barack Obama spoke at an Amazon “Fulfillment Center”, in Chattanooga, Tenn. Fulfillment centers from where the items that you purchase from Amazon.COM are packaged and shipped. It’s a very efficient operation.
That Amazon facility will supposedly provide 7,000 new jobs, which is a very commendable accomplishment But, we have to consider where those jobs came from. Out of thin air? No, it is the efficiency of on-line marketing combined with regional packaging and shipping facilities. Thus, fulfillment brings jobs to Chattanooga, or other fulfillment centers.
Now, do you remember those small bookstores, right down the street or over by the strip mall, that employed people who you actually got to know. They scheduled storybook hours, grouped by age of interest and comprehension, for Children. And, the employees, book-lovers all, got to know you–and the type of books you liked. Also, they helped the local economy by patronizing the stores and establishments that employed your neighbors–and paid local taxes.
Le’s make some assumptions as to Math: jobs were “created”, sure…in Chattanooga; but, at the same time, jobs were lost elsewhere, if only a few at a time. Now, people didn’t just start reading; listening to music, watching movies, etc. Those new Chattanooga jobs really came piecemeal, from your town, my town, and various other cities and towns across America. If you match-up the jobs gained and lost, they might even balance-out. So, is the opening of that facility really cause for a celebration?
Now, this is not meant to be a knock against Amazon. (Well…) Consider the many Big-Box Stores, as well. But, the most ridiculous example of this practice, at least to me, is the way the various states are all, more-or-less, doing the same thing. Every new Governor, right after their Inauguration, is promising to bring jobs to the state.
When California was having even worst financial problems than today, the surrounding states were focusing their job-creation efforts on luring jobs from over the boarder. Likewise, Washington State saw the vultures when Boeing moved it’s headquarters and jobs to Illinois. But, again, the job “creation” was really only moving from one state to another.
Sure, praise job growth and what it can mean to the local economy; however, be realistic about the successes. Consider the tax breaks and other concessions that had to be extended to attract them. Were thyey worth it? But, the real focus should be on creating jobs both from new technologies and markets. Otherwise, its just a board game–moving jobs from the Blue Squares to Red, or vice-versa.