The copyright industry frequently waves with a magic wand and conjures up numbers about how many jobs can be “saved” if only the internet’s potential and civil liberties are reduced a little bit more. A lot of focus (and ridicule) have been directed at these numbers, which frequently claim that a good part more than the planet’s total production could be saved if only piracy could be eliminated.
However, I’d like to show how the entire angle is wrong to begin with – how saving jobs is always counterproductive, regressive policy: not just in the copyright industry, but in any industry. Humankind’s entire progress has always depended on eliminating jobs while maintaining the same output – not on maintaining the effort required to produce something.
If we had focused on saving jobs, we would still be plowing the fields by hand.
The photograph illustrating this article is a machine known as Spinning Jenny, which serves as a good example. It revolutionized the weaving industry and eliminated so many jobs that laid-off workers destroyed the machines in outrage, as the workers’ manual labor wasn’t necessary to produce cloth any longer.
On this occasion, government stepped in on the side of progress and quelled the uprising. On many other occasions, however, governments have misguidedly taken resources from competitive industries to “save jobs” in obsolete industries – essentially making sure that we spend more effort than necessary for a certain level of output.
This is counterproductive. Humankind’s progress have always depended on getting more done for less effort. Supporting an industry because it gets less done with more effort is misguided, absurd, and counterproductive.
Thus, the copyright industry’s cries about “saving jobs” is ridiculous to begin with – no matter how many jobs can be “saved” by dampening progress.
(Lately in the UK, the copyright industry has cried for help as it is “creating jobs” instead, in a fascinating take on newspeak. The lobby can’t have it both ways – either it is creating jobs without government intervention, in case it will do well on its own, or it requires government assistance to “create” jobs, in which case it’s obsolete and doesn’t deserve resources from other, healthy industries.)