How Many Jobs?
By David Henderson
My wife and I were driving by a P.F. Chang’s restaurant in Monterey today and we recalled how much hassle the city government gave the restaurant when it wanted to put a sculpture of a horse in front. The city relented and the restaurant got its horse. That got me thinking.
I know a number of people in Monterey and Pacific Grove who want to add a room to their house or do some other improvement. Some of them don’t bother because it’s too hard to get permission and, even if they do all the paperwork, hire the right consultant, etc., permission is not assured. I know others who would like to cut down some Monterey pines in their yards. But the city government of Pacific Grove requires that if they cut down one Monterey pine, they must plant two. There is even a group of Pacific Grove citizens who go around making sure that people comply.
Here’s what I’m wondering. If a local government in Pacific Grove or elsewhere got rid of such laws, how many extra productive jobs would be created? How many people would hire workers to cut down trees, build extra rooms, etc.? The city of Pacific Grove is also hostile to anyone who wants to have a medical marijuana clinic. It also doesn’t allow bars. If the city government started allowing these things, how many extra jobs would be created? I know that jobs are not the measure of wealth, but in all these cases, the jobs would create wealth.
Also, I talked to a friend who returned from Spain and told me that the government there is far more tolerant of people selling beer to people on the beach. What if the governments here were to allow that. How many additional people would find work?
I know that many of the people who got such jobs would simply leave other jobs that produce less wealth. So the new jobs would overstate the net addition to employment. Still, probably some of the people who take these jobs would be people currently out of work and not in the labor force or currently out of work and looking for work (unemployed.)
Here’s what I’m wondering: Think of some example of a peaceful activity in your community that government bans or prevents or discourages that, if the government would allow, would occur. Put it in the comments. An (unspecified) prize for the best entry. (The prize will probably be that I write a future post praising your idea.)