Although environmentalists sometimes (rightfully) cringe when they hear announcements about “job creation in the Amazon”—viewing such projects as the tip of a corporate glacier inexorably sliding south, crushing any resistance in the form of jungles or tribes in its path, in general “job creation” sounds like a good thing.
Except to conspiracy analysts, a.k.a., “conspiracy theorists” (which is what they are called when they are not believed).
But how could job creation ever be not only a bad thing, but also an intentionally bad thing?
Setting aside the worst, most obvious and most conspiratorial job creation program in recorded history—the “Arbeit Macht Frei”-themed (“Work Shall Make You Free”) concentration-camp tragedy and travesty of WW II, what in the 21st century could possibly resemble, if not match that, in deliberateness and nastiness?
Those with a conspiratorial mind set may suggest the following real-world and imaginable scenarios:
- Create worse jobs by destroying better jobs or livelihoods: For example, imagine—or better yet read about—the case of corporate intrusion into a jungle culture, penetrated with connivance, if not collusion, of a government that authorizes the sale or expropriation of land and homeland resources and economic (if not physical) displacement of the local population.
Forests, villages and fields are bulldozed, razed or and vanish. Their livelihoods, homes and cultures destroyed, the villagers are forced to take jobs created and offered by their victimizers—in a hideous irony and in facilities built on the very land they always called “home”.
Instead of economic self-sufficiency, harmony with the land and nature, a rich cultural and economic legacy to transmit to their children and preservation of their property rights, the villagers find themselves in a state of neo-feudal servitude and dependency, doing alien, if not repetitive, robotic “jobs” utterly at odds with their values, talents, culture and hopes, usually at subsistence wages.
If the Amazon or some other jungle seems safely distant, consider a version of this scenario that can play out closer to home: A company replaces administrative, executive, creative or front-line staff with automated services, perhaps even robots. It then creates less engaging, worse-paid jobs for robot repairmen or automation supervisory and maintenance staff.
Or how about corrupt judges who throw young people (including some with jobs) into detention centers for misdemeanors or truancy, in order to exact payoffs from the privatized facilities, which then exploit the young inmates as captive workers creating products for market? Destroy their real jobs; replace them with worse ones.
- Create jobs through a plan that deliberately creates correspondingly greater unemployment: Creating jobs that create unemployment is not inherently bad or conspiratorial. Henry Ford did precisely that by creating massive unemployment among blacksmiths while creating more massive and good employment for auto workers.
This scenario becomes conspiratorial when the unemployment created is a prime objective, rather than either an unintended or regrettably inescapable consequence of the jobs created and of the creation of their parent enterprise.
But who would do such a thing—engineer disproportionate unemployment as a prime objective, rather than as a “price” to be paid, of other job creation?
Imagine a bank in some remote country (if it troubles you too much to allow that this may happen at home) that decides to offer sub-prime loans to unqualified, risky home-buyers, knowing that the demand will be so strong that hiring of additional loans officers will be necessary. That’s one aspect of the job creation phase.
The bank figures that this will create a win-win situation: Because the borrowers will be high-risk, they will have higher interest rates on their loans, which means bigger profits for the bank if payments are made as required.
On the other hand, if the mortgagee defaults, the bank can foreclose, seize the home (or farm) as an asset and hold it in anticipation of a rise in demand and prices later—especially if banker-backed quantitative easing can increase demand for those assets. (Of course, this carries a bank risk of carrying costs for idle foreclosed assets that can’t be sold in the meantime.)
It has been claimed that in 1891, the American Bankers Association issued a memorandum to U.S. bankers to renew no loans in 1894, with the expressed goal of foreclosing on farms and other valuable properties out west.
Foreclose on the farm, and the farmer becomes unemployed. To the extent that deliberate foreclosure entails unemployment, this is a program of job destruction.
However, presumably this would, as a side job-creation program, create more work for sheriffs and bailiffs sent out to seize the properties in default and enforce evictions—not to mention work for lawyers, loans managers, moving companies, etc., required to process the paperwork and the cases (see Flint, Michigan, below).
Here is the alleged memorandum, reportedly published in the Congressional Record of April 29, 1913:
“On Sept 1, 1894, we will not renew our loans under any consideration. On Sept. 1st we will demand our money. We will foreclose and become mortgagees in possession. We can take two-thirds of the farms west of the Mississippi, and thousands of them east of the Mississippi as well, at our own price… We may as well own three-fourths of the farms of the West and the money of the country. Then the farmers will become tenants as in England …”
Red flag: My personal online search for this record was unsuccessful. I could not find it in the approximately 50-pages of the April 29, 1913 microfilm House records I viewed and the online Senate records available date only from 1994.
Sources of the report include William Still, producer and narrator of the investigative documentaries “The Money Masters”. This link is to the 1996 film’s transcript reference to the alleged memorandum. The film itself is available on YouTube, here), which was followed-up with Still’s 2009 “The Secret of Oz”. (These links are provided only to invite readers to judge for themselves.)
Bogus or not, the alleged memorandum does outline a possible scenario in which unemployment is deliberately created, with spinoff job creation (negligible or substantial) for either those displaced or others in the loop.
For a more readily documented case, we can look to Michael Moore. In his “Capitalism: a Love Story”, Moore documents the plight of an older Peoria, Illinois farm couple paid by the foreclosing bank to help with the disposal of their own belongings.
That’s an example of the conspiratorial model in action (unless you imagine their bank was reluctant to foreclose). On the ironic upside were the jobs created in Moore’s economic basket-case home town, Flint, for workers tasked with sending out what Moore reported as 60% of America’s foreclosure notices.
- Create a dependent, unemployed submissive population through job destruction: Conspiracy buffs will maintain that our Illuminati overlords and their New World Order underlings want to create a very large, hopelessly dependent economic underclass through outsourcing, automation, declining and irrelevant educational standards, entitlement programs (such as food stamps), systematic dumbing-down through pop culture, etc., in order to gain irreversible total control over the general population—preferably on a global scale.
On this model, the associated job creation does not cause the job destruction. Instead, it advances in tandem with or follows the engineered unemployment trend, e.g., creation of the army of bureaucrats, police, military and other civil servants required to serve the desperate unemployed or to protect us from them.
One More Job-Creation Conspiracy
There is one more conspiratorial job-creation scenario worth mentioning: jobs that such conspiracies and conspirators unwittingly create.
Jobs for conspiracy analysts/theorists.