The saddest part of President Donald J. Trump’s (R-New York) decision to drastically shrink the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments is that it will not create any jobs.
Trump is trying the cut size of the two monuments by 80% and 45% through an executive order, The Salt Lake Tribune reported. The purported rationale behind his controversial action was to create jobs by opening that land to mining and oil and gas drilling.
The bothersome reality here is that oil and gas drilling does not create that many jobs. During the peak of the last oil boom in 2015 around 700 Americans were employed on drilling rigs. Futurism’s Scott Santens estimated. Today, around 174 people are employed on oil and gas drilling rigs in the USA, and those numbers are falling dramatically because of automation.
If Santens’ figures are true, the number of people employed on the oil and gas rigs on the land the monuments sat on would be tiny. The work would be done by crews that would stay for a few weeks, and leave. There would be little or no permanent impact on the local economy. More jobs might be created in tourism generated by the monuments.
Sorry Utah no Jobs Coming Anytime Soon
Nor are there likely to be any mining jobs on the land Trump claims to have opened. No mining company is likely to dig there; because legal challenges to Trump’s action will probably keep the land tied up in court for years if not decades.
Even if courts open the land, there’s another reason why no mining company will ever dig there, and no bank will loan money to finance such a mine. The next president can easily undo the Donald’s action and restore the monuments with the stroke of a pen.
Since Trump’s approval rating is currently sitting at 37.8% according to FiveThirtyEight; the prospect of his reelection is about as realistic as Hillary Clinton’s chances of winning the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. That means we are likely to have a new Democratic president; under intense pressure to undo everything Trump did, as early as January 2021.
Nobody is going to invest a cent in a mine; or oil and gas well, that might be illegal in less than four years. Therefore, there will be no new jobs in Southern Utah and the rural residents there will see their children move to Las Vegas to find work.
Is Trump’s “Jobs Agenda” a Lie?
All this raises the prospect that Trump’s Job’s Agenda is little more than a publicity stunt.
Strangely enough, the new monuments might create lots of jobs through tourism. The Bear’s Ears’ National Monument is part of “John Ford Country” where many classic Western movies were filmed. That alone should attract lots of foreign tourists, especially French and Germans who are crazy about Westerns. The magnificent scenery would also be a big draw for both film crews and tourists.
The only drawback to the tourist-related jobs is that they would pay poorly. That can easily be solved by raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, which would make such work attractive and beneficial to the community. The only real attraction to mining and oil and gas rig work is the high wages.
To add icing to the cake, the tourism work will be hard to automate. That means those jobs might be permanent; the mining oil and gas jobs are likely to be replaced by robots or vanish when commodities prices fall. Santens pointed out that most of the oil and gas rig jobs in the United States have been replaced by robots in the past few years.
Trump Ignores Homelessness Promotes Imaginary Jobs
Disturbingly, Trump wasted taxpayers’ money to fly to Utah for his sorry publicity stunt at the monuments on 4 December 2017. Two days later on December 6, 2017, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced that America’s homeless population had grown for the first time in seven years, the BBC reported.
There are now more than half a million (554,000) homeless people in the U.S.; 55,000 in Los Angeles alone, and Trump did not say a thing. The housing developer president is strangely silent on the homeless crisis.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we had a president willing to address real problems like homelessness, rather than promote imaginary jobs? The real Republican President Theodore Roosevelt (R-New York); who crusaded against income inequality and created national monuments, is obviously rolling over in his grave.