Green jobs. We always hear about them and how they’ll be created over the next few years. Presidential nominee Barack Obama vows to create 5 million of them. But as John Stossel eloquently explains, the government can’t really create jobs. They can shift resources and force investment to make it appear like they are creating jobs, but that’s about it. Stossel explains:
Governments create no wealth. They only move it around while taking a cut for their trouble. So any jobs created over here come at the expense of jobs that would have been created over there. Overlooking this fact is known as the broken-window fallacy. The French economist Frederic Bastiat pointed out that a broken shop window will create work for a glassmaker, but that work comes only at the expense of the cook or tailor the shopkeeper would have patronized if he didn’t have to replace the window.”
(Tangentially, Frederic Bastiat’s The Law is one of the best books written arguing for limited government and in response to socialism.)
In any event, if politicians want to talk about jobs and people want to hear about jobs, then let’s talk jobs.
The private investment in nuclear energy will create jobs – lots of jobs. And lots of good jobs. The American Council on Global Nuclear Competitiveness has commissioned a study by Oxford Economics to examine the state-level occupational and economics of a revived nuclear endeavor in America. The study assumes 52 new reactors will be operational by 2030 and estimates the creation of 350,000 jobs.
Two things to keep in mind. First, these are high paying jobs we’re talking about here. To build and operate nuclear power plants, the industry will require high paying manufacturing jobs as well as a slew of nuclear engineers. Secondly, a lot of these jobs aren’t going anywhere. Unlike a windmill that requires little or no man power after it’s built, nuclear plants will have an estimated 900 full-time jobs generated for each reactor. That’s 47,000 jobs by 2030 and these reactors last approximately 80 years.
It’s also important to note that theses jobs can and should be driven by private investment and not government handouts. As Stossel summarizes, if it makes sense to invest in green technologies, the market will do so. The same should be said for nuclear energy.