The Myth of Stealing American Jobs

by | Sep 10, 2015 | Economics

America doesn’t lack economic growth and jobs because China, or other countries, “steal” them. America lacks economic growth and jobs because its own government will not permit its economy to function freely and fully, as a private market economy can and should.

Donald Trump and others have been accusing other countries of “stealing American jobs.”

Trump is half right. China is an authoritarian government that manipulates its economy for the sake of power. Governments like this — i.e., most governments, throughout history — qualify as thieves (and usually as murderers, too). Trump is also right that the U.S. federal government, under the Obama administration, has — for its own reasons of wishing to acquire more power and votes — refused to enforce existing immigration laws, thereby creating a crisis of illegal aliens now qualifying for billions in government assistance and programs.

However, none of these facts imply that it’s possible for another country — including a fully free country, if one existed — to “steal” jobs from another.

If not enough jobs exist in a country, then something is wrong in the country failing to produce those jobs, capital and wealth. Either businesses, despite the profit motive, have failed to produce enough jobs for the population; or business is too hampered by government regulations, taxes, and other impairments to be as economically vibrant as it might have been. The latter is almost always the problem, and it’s surely the main problem in the United States today.

America doesn’t lack economic growth and jobs because China, or other countries, “steal” them. America lacks economic growth and jobs because its own government will not permit its economy to function freely and fully, as a private market economy can and should. Don’t blame China’s government, as unjust or irrational as many of its policies are; blame the United States, not just Obama, but the citizens who continue to vote for and support these unsustainable entitlement programs, ever-rising corporate and income taxes and back-breaking mandates and regulations that kill small business and hamper big business every day of our lives.

If Trump wishes for Americans to have more jobs, then the solution is to privatize our own economy, as quickly and fully as possible. To be fair, Trump understands this on some level. In his 2011 book, Trump calls for eliminating the corporate tax, and seems to favor lowering taxes in general. At the same time, he wishes to sustain Social Security and Medicare, programs which Obama’s own Treasury Secretary acknowledges are not sustainable. Trump does not say how he proposes sustaining them, but it’s certain these programs — particularly with an endless influx of immigrants who will become eligible for, and dependent on, all government programs, including public schools — will lead to an impossible fiscal situation before long.

Donald Trump also criticizes the Chinese government for manipulating its currency. Well, so does the United States government. It’s called the Federal Reserve. The United States went partially off the gold standard under Franklin D. Roosevelt, and fully off the gold standard under Richard Nixon. A fully free market economy would operate under a gold standard, or some system of objective measures determined, ultimately, not by the manipulative will of government officials, but by real human beings with skin in the game — producers and consumers in the marketplace, i.e. supply and demand. (For arguments in favor of restoring a gold standard, and free banking over central banking, see the best economists, such as Ludwig von Mises, George Reisman and Richard Salsman.)

Fascist economies like China, which allow profit for selected “business” people who follow the dictates of the government, and who allow the government to do whatever it wishes with their “private” property, cannot and do not work nearly as well as a hands off, truly free market economy would. If the United States repealed most of its taxes and controls, along with starting the process of privatizing entitlements, and became a fully (or even mostly) free market economy again, then it would more than give China a run for its money.

“Jobs” are not some abstract form of property which one country may steal from another. Countries and governments are ultimately individuals, not collective gods (or monsters). A job is a contract between a willing employer and a willing employee. The only people who “own” this transaction are the two parties involved. The employer engages in a contract with the employee because each party believes it benefits him- or herself to do so. Aside from upholding and enforcing any written contracts, the best way for the government to deal with jobs is stay the hell out of the way.

Potentially, there’s no end to the wealth, fortune and continued growth that a functioning free market might provide. We whine and complain about fascist economies like China, while failing to look at our own, much more serious self-generated problems.

Immigration is an important subject to tackle and address. However, it’s not the root of the problem. The root of the problem is that we don’t have a free market economy in America, and we have an entrenched welfare-entitlement state. If we repealed and phased out the welfare state, while restoring a free market economy, the problem of immigration would evaporate. In fact, we’d want immigrants like never before. Building a wall would be the last thing on our minds.

Dr. Michael Hurd is a psychotherapist, columnist and author of "Bad Therapy, Good Therapy (And How to Tell the Difference)" and "Grow Up America!" Visit his website at:

The views expressed above represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors and publishers of Capitalism Magazine. Capitalism Magazine sometimes publishes articles we disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.

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