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'stealing jobs'

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I've been thinking about a few related things lately:

1) an article which said 'voluntourism' whereby Westerners pay a few thousand pounds to an organization which sets up a trip for them to go to somewhere in the southern hemisphere and do volunteer work in poor communities (building schools, orphanages, re-painting shelters, low skilled stuff) for a few weeks/months. The article claimed that doing this is counterproductive to the (foreign) economies and prevents the locals from being employed to do these things and earn a living at the same time

2) another article which complained about the UK Conservative party auctioning off 'summer internship' positions to the highest bidding students/graudates, and keeping the cash. the article claimed this was very elitist as only rich kids could afford to spend several thousand pounds for a little CV padding (the actual internship was only a 3 weeks) and the better employment prospects it brings

3) in general the practice of having interns who work for free, is exclusionary to the people who can't afford to work for free

4) the idea that somebody getting a job because they have some personal connection is unfair, and that the job should always be advertised and opened to all potential applicants

5) advertising jobs but requesting only people who are currently in employment, thus denying the unemployed a chance to get back into work

Now obviously as far as Objectivism goes, if it's a business/employment contract between consenting adults, there is no ethical problem whatsoever, the whole point is moot. But most people one talks to don't know anything about Objectivism, HOWEVER I suspect that even on their own terms, or by the principles of economics, there concerns are illogical.

For the first point, it just seems daft - voluntourism simply injects value into these poor economies, the costs incurred by the volunteers themselves, and any expenditure saved can go towards employing a local person for something else. The second point and third points though, are more intuitive. The immediate defence is just that if you don't let companies do what they want in terms of hiring, you're going to screw up the economy anyway, and further that any hiring process which downplays talent will ultimately be detrimental, so competitive companies will abandon it. Maybe there's more arguments though. The fourth idea, I was thinking, really it doesn't matter how a job is filled, in the end you're going to have exactly the same number of jobs and applicants. And the last point, if you only employ people already in work, then when that person leaves their current company, a new position will become available there, so the net effect is the same.

I just wanted to ask if you guys had any observations on these things. Anything I've not considered, or the people who hold those views have not considered.

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When it comes to your topic you dont really need to speculate or get to much into details on this.

The concept of "stealing jobs" presupposes that there are a certain amount of jobs in circulation at all times and that these need redistribution. This is basically the same marxist economic view of a static rather then dynamic marked, where wealth is constant rather then created and expanded.

It also appears some of the points your bring up imply positions that nobody are currently holding (such as the internship), but it is still somehow "stealing" that job from someone else. With nobody holding the position to begin with I find this hard to comprehend in the first place, but the point is obviously suggesting that someone else deserves it more.

But if you can make that argument about an internship you can make it about anything, and claim injustice over billionairs traveling in space while other people probably much more interested in astronomy will never get the chance/etc.

Coming back to the first point in question, regarding foreigners putting up a bunch of money to travel to poor countries and run schools and such - they are obviously not taking any jobs. There is probably close to no real demand for such services in these countries, and consequently no way anyone could profitably run a school comparatively to other occupations.

And the last point, if you only employ people already in work, then when that person leaves their current company, a new position will become available there, so the net effect is the same.

- This is certainly not necessarily a consequence, he could in theory be a big value for the firm and his departure could lead to bankrupcy or downsizing, or he could be changing industries all together (Lets say he worked as a telegrapher, demand have somewhat shrinked the past few decades..)

But what is true is that on a large scale if people change occupations to more productive positions, that will create more jobs in long run.

Which again benefits the unemployed not being able to take advantage of this opportunity.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Using the word "stealing" here implies taking away something that belongs to someone else - that is, their property. Jobs do not fall into the category of property and, hence, cannot be "stolen". People compete for jobs - they have no "right" to work or to a particular job, in my view. If there are fewer jobs than folks looking for a job, then some aren't going to be able to get a job and it is not the fault of the job market or anything/anyone else that this is the case.

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