The new wave of conservative policymakers in Minnesota’s statehouse campaigned on the slogan of putting people back to work. That brings up an interesting question. What kind of jobs do they intend to create?
Progressives tend to think of job creation in terms of good-paying work that will sustain a middle-class family, provide some type of health care coverage, a reasonable amount of vacation time, and at least a modest retirement plan.
But Alan Miller, host of the local TV show Access to Democracy, has a much less optimistic outlook on the type of jobs conservatives want to create:
“What they meant is working your backside off for salaries that are lower than a decade ago, while the corporate benefactors they support continue to downsize, outsource, and ship jobs overseas to protect the bottom line, obscene corporate profits and bonuses,” he writes in a recent commentary submitted to Minnesota 2020.
Not to be a complete pessimist, but Miller has a point. How can we create good jobs when the first priority is to cut? When we let infrastructure crumble, defund education, slash support services for courts and other regulatory agencies, it doesn’t create the kind of climate for companies looking to create good paying, family-sustaining jobs.
That’s an environment ripe for exploitation and cheap labor; it devalues generations of Minnesota public policy that built up strong workers’ rights, fair compensation, and a commitment to a well-trained workforce.
At this point, most Minnesotans without work likely wouldn’t quibble about long-term public policy goals. They want a job and might take anything that provided a salary in a relatively safe environment. In the short term, these types of jobs might help keep Minnesota families afloat. But they won’t move Minnesota forward long-term.
It’s important conservative policy doesn’t prevail because it preyed upon desperation and undersold our state’s potential for prosperity. Let’s work to create the right jobs, not just any jobs.