The evergreen “JOBS!!!” tactic versus anything… green

Incumbent tactics in the nominal democracies (i.e., where the ones were fatal violence is rarely dished out to citizens who are ‘in the way’) are fascinating. (The shifts and continuities of tactics were the subject of my PhD).

Anyone paying any attention for more than five minutes will know that one favoured tactic – deployed when trying to get state approval/funding for the latest extractivist dodginess, or to defeat unwelcome regulation – is the jobs argument. Sorry,


One particularly egregious example is the Adani mine. The number 10,000 keeps getting thrown around, by people who ought to know – who DO know – better. Under oath, an Adani-employed consultant admitted the actual number would be closer to 1600.

And now we learn, via the Grauniad, that those desperate muppets at the Queensland Resources Council (freed from the obligation to keep BHP on board) are running around with more ridiculous numbers. As Richard Denniss (full disclosure – a friend) says in the piece – “These multipliers have no role in any sensible debate about employment…. The consequences of using them are to generate silly numbers.”

This nonsense has been going on for a very long time. If I rummage around in my archives, I’ll find older, but I won’t find better than this –

It works, I think, for three reasons. Firstly, fear and compassion – most of us know what it is to lose a job, the psychological and financial impacts not just on the individual, but their family. Secondly, we are all loss averse to some extent. Third, we have this ridiculous and mis-placed faith in the concreteness of “numbers” (especially “official” ones). We daren’t admit that they are just nonsense. Because if they are then what ELSE is nonsense? Safer, both personally and socially, to nod and move on…

The incumbents know it. They aren’t stupid. If they were stupid, or squeamish about lying, they wouldn’t still be the incumbents, after all.

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