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The World Economic Forum Tells Us How Expensive Their Lovely Green Plan Is

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A normal manner of selling something is to tell everyone how lovely it is and also how cheap. You know the routine, look, you get not just this toilet brush but also the holder! Plus, and this is a bargain, the holder for the loo roll as well! Line up ladies etc etc.

The modern understanding of economics is so pitiful that we’ve actually that Davos lot – which is who the World Economic Forum are – telling us this the other way around. Come look at our plan! It’s so expensive that you’ll love it! What makes this so dismally pitiful is that if you pointed this out to them they’d not understand. Which does, when you think about it, explain quite a bit about the modern world. Those who would rule it haven’t a clue.

So, they think that the recovery should be greener. Well, OK, that’s arguable, maybe it’s a good idea and maybe it’s not.

Tackling the global nature crisis could create 400m jobs and $10tn (£8tn) in business value each year by 2030, according to a report published by the World Economic Forum.

The report warns that when the world recovers from the coronavirus pandemic there can be no business-as-usual, with today’s destruction of the natural world threatening over half of global GDP. In 2019 scientists warned that human society was in jeopardy from the accelerating decline of the Earth’s natural life-support systems.

It’s that “create 400 million jobs” that is the problem. Jobs are a cost, not a benefit.

No, really. OK, to us working stiffs of course a job is a cost. Sure, we like the income because we like to eat. Picky that way really. But think on it. If we could eat without requiring an income to do so we’d be really pretty sure we were better off. Further, if someone gave us an income without our having to go to work to get it we’d be delighted. The job is the cost of gaining the benefit, the income.

You know, obviously going to work is a cost that’s why we insist they pay us to do it.

To an employer a job is clearly a cost. He’s got to pay out money to get it done – it’s a cost.

To society at large equally clearly a job is a cost. We face a universe of scarce resources and human labour is one of those things that is scarce. After all, we can’t get ahold of all the human labour we’d like – lawns mowed, meals cooked and intimate massages – it’s often necessary to get married to gain it. Even then it might not arrive. Rather more importantly if we devote what human labour there is to one specific piece of production then it’s not available for something else. We do hope to separate cooking and massages even if the meaning of lawns to be mowed can be variable.

That is, there is always opportunity cost. We have to give up something in order to gain this other thing over here. Diverting labour to this one thing means we cannot have that other set over there.

So, the WEF, what do they say in their own report about their plan:

Its ability to create
395 million jobs in 2030 while pivoting the global
economy to be nature-positive is perhaps the single
most important takeaway for decision-makers.

They really do say it. In fact, this is their most important lesson they tell us. It’s going to cost so much! 400 million people must work on our plan! Think of all the things you can’t have because they are!

Seriously, they’re saying they require an entire 5% of the species and this is a recommendation for the scheme. Sigh. And yet if you went to them and explained that jobs are a cost of doing something, not a benefit, they’d goggle at you in round eyed amazement. Because, you know, they’re ignorant.

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5 COMMENTS

  1. You say jobs are a cost. This is not true. Jobs *have* a cost. They also have a benefit. When the benefit is worth more than the cost, the job is profitable and so viable. When there is available labour, the most sensible thing to do is to devote it to the most profitable of the viable jobs.

    When someone says that a plan creates some number of jobs, it is implicit that they are viable jobs. If a country has any significant level of unemployment, a plan which creates profitable jobs is worth considering (there may, of course, be a better plan which creates jobs which are more profitable).

    It would be a fair criticism to say that you have looked at the plan and found that the jobs would not be profitable, or that it is likely that available labour will be taken up by more profitable jobs, but it’s not reasonable to dismiss it based on the fallacy that jobs are a cost. That’s the fallacy which makes companies get rid of QA people and then wonder when they go bust due to disgruntled customers.

    • “When there is available labour, the most sensible thing to do is to devote it to the most profitable of the viable jobs.”

      Contrast that with the state employing civil servants and explain how it holds true. We’d be much better off without the Border Agency (that can’t secure the borders) or PHE (that is more concerned about bacon than CV-19) or the Environment Agency (that causes floods because it won’t dredge waterways).

      So the bigwigs at the WEF come up with a plan over champagne and canapes and we are to believe that this will be profitable, viable jobs? Pull the other one – it has bells on it.

  2. it is implicit that they are viable jobs
    And therein lies the rub. Digging a trench with a teaspoon is a “viable job” but is it sensible?

  3. Yes but Tim I thought you LOVED carbon taxes and making everything more expensive to make the world a better place, especially if it’s backed up by a whole lot of prominent civil servants and a report. Cognitive Dissonance much?

    • You’ve rather missed my view here. Which is.

      If there is climate change which we are responsible for and also that something that must be done about then the answer is a carbon tax. Anyone accepting the first two and not the third is not being serious. Most likely they are using climate change as an excuse to argue for their pet project.

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