The right-wing rhetorical machine has been spinning out the word “job creator” for some time now. Recently, that rhetoric has been ratcheted up as Occupy Wall Street managed to break through and bring attention to the massive economic inequality in the country. It is obvious that the title is just used to replace more descriptive terms like “high-income individuals” or “the rich.” But, it may be less obvious exactly how the logic behind calling these individuals job creators actually works.
The first question we have to answer is what exactly job creation means. A job is not really something that is created; it is something that you do. In essence, a job is just a stable stream of labor. When people talk about a job being created, what they mean is that some set of production is being embarked upon that creates a stable stream of labor for some worker.
So how exactly do rich people create production? The answer to this question is where things start to get slippery. Rich people are said to “create jobs” through investment. But what exactly is investment? Investment involves the allocation of capital towards production. But what is capital? Capital refers to productive resources like land, buildings, and so on.
The right-wing takes these building block ideas and then remarks vacuously that you can’t have production without productive resources. Therefore, it is clear apparently that rich people — the people who own and allocate productive resources — create jobs. But this relationship exists for all sorts of things. You can’t have production without labor. Allocating all the productive resources in the world wont lead to production unless someone actually does the real work. You also wont have production for long without consumer demand. Capital and labor employed at a loss wont be sustained for very long.
So does labor and consumption create jobs? Without them, there would be no production and therefore no jobs. While I guess you could say labor and consumption creates jobs, it is probably more accurate to say that this whole discussion is totally senseless. Of course you need productive resources to produce things. Of course you need labor to produce things. Of course you need demand to sustain a productive enterprise.
None of this type of reasoning gets us anywhere. If it does get us anywhere, it is to say that the rich have the most tenuous connection to “job creation” and production. The only thing the rich do in this particular way of thinking is make available the productive resources (e.g. land) of the world. But of course, we could just take those resources and make them available for production ourselves instead of renting them from the rich as we currently do. The same can’t quite be said for labor and consumption.