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The Jobs President's Very Bad Ideas

Feb 24, 2017 05:44PM ● By Randy Robinson

Donald Trump giving a speech at CPAC in 2011 (Photo by Gage Skidmore via Flickr)

President Trump, our self-identifying anti-establishment executive, proposed a series of pro-establishment moves this week.

One was cracking down on the recreational cannabis industry, which White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said is an industry in violation of federal laws. Another was Trump's promise to remove "job-killing" environmental regulations on manufacturing industries. (There were more, but for the sake of your time and mine, I'll just focus on these two.)

Although nothing's set in stone yet, both policies–if followed through–could be really, really bad for our economy.

1. Cannabis is the nation's fastest growing industry.

That's not an exaggeration. No other industry is growing as fast as legal pot.

According to Business Insider, Colorado has the second best economy out of all US states. And before you question if pot is responsible for that, consider that Washington state is considered number one; Washington being the other state with a flourishing recreational pot industry.

In Colorado, recreational pot made over $1 billion in sales. That's one thousand millions.

According to most estimates, if left alone, our nation's pot industry could hit $50 billion by 2025. In comparison, that's more than Hollywood makes in domestic movie sales each year.

2. Legal cannabis revitalized a number of satellite industries.

The impressive growth of our industry doesn't exist on an island. Other businesses have been affected in positive ways, too: soil, fertilizer, watering system, and lights manufacturers; tourism; restaurants; hospitality and hotels; law firms; consulting firms; real estate contractors; and the list goes on. And on. And on.

Clamping down on recreational pot will affect not just cannabis growers and dispensaries, it'll hit the pocketbooks of all these peripheral industries, too. 

3. Workers in pot-legal states are more productive.

Current estimates place the number of Americans directly employed by the cannabis industry around 150,000. If we add satellite industries, the number of people employed because of recreational pot goes up. Way up.

But here's a little secret about states with legal pot: our workers take fewer sick days compared to prohibition states. That difference reaches as high as a 15 percent reduction in sick days, resulting in more productive workers, less wasted spending, and higher profits.

4. Environmental regulations are a good thing.

Practically every analysis looking at environmental regulations and job losses concludes the same thing: regulations have little to no net-effect on unemployment.

It's true that in some (rare) cases, EPA rules resulted in job losses. However, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, businesses report just 0.3 percent of jobs are lost because of environmental regulations. Compare that to the 25 percent of jobs lost because of lack of demand

The net-effect is key here. For every job lost, another job pops up elsewhere, either because operations moved to another state or because new positions were required to install technologies to meet regulations.

In fact, there's evidence that regulations create jobs in the long-run. Scaling back regulations may end up doing far more harm to the environment and the economy, in favor of quick and easy "blue collar" employment which, unfortunately, pays 13 percent less than jobs in solar or wind.

And I already mentioned sick people aren't as productive as healthy people. With pollution getting jacked into our soil, air, water, and food, we can pretty much guarantee there'll be more sick days called in nationwide.

5. Green technology can provide more jobs than fossil fuel industries.

Yes, green tech holds far more promise for our economy than fossil fuels. 

Last year, the US Department of Energy conducted a study on employment in various energy industries. They found solar energy employed more people than coal, gas, and oil combined. Wind energy came in third largest in terms of employment.

Keep in mind this study was overseen by a Department of Energy run by physicists with PhDs, unlike Trump's Department of Energy that may be overseen by a career politician from Texas with a bachelors degree in... animal science. (A C & D student of animal science, at that.)

Conclusion: Trump can't stop the death of US manufacturing. But we can.

Trump's promise to restore manufacturing jobs in the US is, for all intents and purposes, a scam. 

These jobs are gone. They're not coming back–not for the long-term, anyway. That's because of innovations in robot and AI design. The heaviest cost to any business is human labor. Remove human labor, and that translates into hefty profits for industry.

Since 2000, 88 percent of US manufacturing jobs were lost to robots–not China. Even with the loss of that human labor, US manufacturing grew by nearly 18 percent between 2006 to 2013. That job decline has been going on since the 1980s, long before we started outsourcing jobs to China and India en masse (that started in the late 1990s and early 2000s). 

If traditional industries like automobiles, petroleum, coal, and steel cannot restore employment levels in the US, then we have to look to new, novel industries to create permanent jobs. Green energy is a start, but so is the other green–legal marijuana, which, as I noted earlier, is boosting our economy and revitalizing industries across the board.

But tell that to the Jobs President who surrounds himself with only smart, successful people. If he continues on this blatantly pro-establishment, pro-elitist warpath, we'll see America slip deeper into the nuclear shadows of the 2008 recession.