In response to a recent post on the Liberals' refusal to re-examine the $15 billion arms deal originally struck by the Harper regime with the repressive human-rights violator Saudi Arabia, an anonymous commentator wrote:
Who will tell the 5,000 workers and their families that they are going to lose their jobs? Will you contribute money from your fatty pensions to put food on their table so their children don't go hungry? Or don't you care?
What you are arguing here, Anon, is that jobs are more important than people's lives. It is an argument that likely holds sway during a time when the neoliberal agenda prevails, but it is, at bottom, a totally amoral position, in my view. If followed to its natural conclusion, perhaps we should be attempting to offer incentives for handgun manufacturers to set up shop here as well. They would certainly provide jobs, but at what social and moral cost? As well, should we stop all efforts at mitigating global warming since they will inevitably lead to unemployment in the oil patch and all the industries that supply it?
Short-term gain for long-term misery is a devil's bargain.
In a similar vein, Scott Vrooman recently asked Canadians this question: "Are jobs worth killing for?"
Clearly, many would like to equivocate and take the issue outside of the arena of morality. Are such rationalizations the slippery road to hell?
* For the literalists out there, I am using hell in a metaphorical, not a literal sense.