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  • Four 'Green Job' Realities

    President Barack Obama tours the Solyndra solar panel company with (rt) Ben Bierman, Executive Vice President of Engineering of Solyndra, in Fremont, California, on May 26, 2010. EPA/PAUL CHINN/POOL

    Solyndra’s bankruptcy has put federal spending for green projects under the microscope—and rightly so. Green jobs programs have been a profoundly wasteful use of taxpayers’ money and are doing more harm to the economy than helping it. They don’t even provide the promised grand environmental benefits. It’s important to keep these points in mind when discussing green jobs.

    1.)   Government spending does not create jobs. Government spending will “create” jobs in the sense that subsidies will allocate labor and capital to build windmills and solar panels. But the government is taking from one (by taxing or borrowing) and giving to another. When the government gives money to build a windmill, those resources cannot simultaneously be used to build other products.

    As George Mason University economist Russell Roberts says, “It’s like taking a bucket of water from the deep end of a pool and dumping it into the shallow end. Funny thing—the water in the shallow end doesn’t get any deeper.” It’s what French economist Frederic Bastiat called the broken window fallacy. When it comes to spending on green energy, some of is the resources are lost in the transfer, because we’re subsidizing inefficient sources of energy when those resources could be put to more productive use, which leads to the next point.

    2.)   Jobs per unit of energy produced does not measure the economic desirability of an energy source. Proponents of renewable energy often argue that because renewable energy creates more jobs per megawatt hour than other forms of energy, the investment is a good one. This is a fundamental misunderstanding of what creates jobs and what grows the economy. It is the same mistake President Obama made when he said ATMs were stealing bank tellers’ jobs. By that reasoning, we could replace all of the world’s mechanized agriculture equipment and give farmers shovels and rakes, and that would create jobs. But it would also significantly reduce productivity and efficiency.

    Mandating or subsidizing an inefficient way of doing any economic activity, including energy production, is baseless policy. If we can produce more energy for less human capital, that frees up human resources to be productive elsewhere in the economy. If it costs less to use human resources than machinery, that’s what businesses will do. Efficiency and cost should drive production.

    3.) Environmental regulations don’t create jobs, either. Another claim that falls under the broken window fallacy is that regulations imposed by the Environmental Protection Agency will create jobs—because companies will have to build new plants, or existing power plants will have to install scrubbers or other technologies to comply with stricter rules. This claim purports that the higher the compliance costs, the more jobs will be created.  This is not the case.

    First, the money spent on complying with these onerous regulations could be spent elsewhere. In addition, these regulations increase energy costs and cut consumers’ income while raising manufacturers’ costs of production. Higher energy prices drive up production costs for businesses. That, in turn, causes higher sticker prices. Since everything Americans use and produce requires energy, consumers are hit again and again. To survive the higher energy prices, companies must shed jobs. More regulations and higher energy prices could force other business to close entirely or to move to other countries where the cost of doing business is cheaper. The net effect is job and income losses.

    4.) Green jobs have been expensive. President Obama admitted that his “shovel-ready” stimulus program wasn’t so shovel-ready, but he never acknowledged the wasteful price tag per job created.

    Thomas Pyle, president of the Institute for Energy Research, writes in U.S. News, “The president’s own Council of Economic Advisors admitted recently that only 225,000 clean energy jobs were either created or saved and cost the tax payer $355,000 per job (assuming a low-ball estimate that $80 billion in economic stimulus went towards green jobs).” For some projects, the price tag was as high as $2 million per job.

    Even before the green stimulus, however, experience has shown that renewable subsidies haven’t paid off. The Manhattan Institute’s Robert Bryce writes in The Huffington Post:

    In February, the Renewable Fuels Association put out a report which claimed the domestic ethanol sector directly supports 70,000 jobs. The CBO estimates that each gallon of gasoline displaced by ethanol costs taxpayers $1.78. With the ethanol sector now producing the equivalent of 9.1 billion gallons of gasoline per year, the total cost to taxpayers of the ethanol scam is therefore about $16.2 billion. That works out to $230,000 per job created by an industry that produces a product that is inferior in nearly every way when compared to conventional gasoline.”

    The government-subsidized green jobs agenda was a failure long before Solyndra filed for Chapter 11. It’s time to end this bankrupt idea.

    Posted in Featured [slideshow_deploy]

    22 Responses to Four 'Green Job' Realities

    1. Jeff, Illinois says:

      Most americans want our nation to be a world leader in green technology and of course green jobs . .!!!

      • NEEDTHIRDPARTY says:

        …they just want someone elses "green" to pay for it!
        If/when a green technology is truly viable (i.e., earns a place in the market without a corresponding involuntary contribution of my tax dollars) the market will end up dictating whether or not we are "world leaders"….
        Until that happens: subsidize it with your own dough- not mine!
        (And the same with oil & gas/coal/LNG…..NO business should be subsidized by the US taxpayer!)

        • Dixon in Michigan says:

          So you're OK with ending the subsidies for the coal, oil and gas industries? Or in doing so is that — in the words of Grover Norquist, anti-tax advocates and these companies — is this a "tax increase?"

        • Dixon in Michigan says:

          Someone should ask the Heritage Foundation how they think nuclear power plants can be built w/o government loan guarantees, security help, etc?

      • Brad - Detroit says:

        Please let me see your polling results. It is also in the way that the question is asked. If you say, "Are you for Green Energy ?" Of course most people will say "Yes !", but if you re-phrase the question, "Are you for Green Energy (such a stupid term anyway, especially when attached to things like Hybrid cars, but I digress) if it doubles your taxes ?" I'm guessing you will get dramatically different poll results.

      • Bobbie says:

        You imply "most Americans" frequently, as if you know them! Who are they, Jeff? Special interests?

    2. Bobbie says:

      "Green jobs programs have been a profoundly wasteful use of taxpayers’ money and are doing more harm to the economy than helping it." MUST BE THE GOAL AS OBAMA KEEPS SMILING!!!! KEEPS SPENDING!!!! KEEPS IGNORING HIS REALITY DUMPS ON AMERICA!!!! One man, many unknowns. The land of the free home of the brave holds American leadership accountable to their actions and the deliberate damage done!! Ignorance doesn't make it in American leadership!

    3. jweb says:

      Green on the outside…red on the inside. Let's get real about the enviromental movement. It is the platform that globalist use to implement their initatives. They set-up a communications and compliance grid, and then they will roll out the "policy" by the barrel of a gun (green police). What's in 5 years? One child policy for the plant? Forced inoculastions for large regions of the world? Redrawing of boundry lines because of some unscientific fraud. The enviromental movement is designed to usher in population controll. Last time I drove through the midwest, it looks like there was plenty room.The enviromental movement is designed to set the stage for "the next thing". Give govenemnt an inch, an like a wild fire, they take a mile or more. They must be told NO sometime and somewhere. Withdrawal from the UN, cease from funding foreign powers, cut income tax, let private charities have the oppurtunity to lead in social assistance, and certain non-profit organizations need to be investigated (Carnigie, Rockefller, Ford, RAND, Bill and Milinda, etc). The government must be contained within the Founding parameters, and the People must be permitted to be respsonsible. Let the school of hardknocks come off the bench/sidelines.

      • Connie says:

        Pretty straight thinking. You should be a politician, but no, straight thinking wouldn't work in this Government.

    4. H Snyder says:

      It seems to the history student that every society which had a modicum of democracy either devolved into despotism (Ancient Greece, Rome) or were destroyed by invaders (Mesopotamian Christian villages). There seems to be a powerful impulse in certain persons and groups to gain power in the community or country and establish central control. Western societies have held on pretty well to Democracy (government by elected officials who can be recalled) and Japan has held fast. But China, Russia and the Muslim countries are evolving or maintaining central control. Such regimes also seem to have a proclivity for expansion. Democracy is not gaining in South America, either. The 21st Century will not be an exception barring some kind of miracle. We'll see.

    5. Lloyd Scallan says:

      We still don't yet recognize why Obama is determination to shove "green" down our throats? It's not just about making American life harder of all of us. It's about power and money. We now learn George Soros, and other Obama pals, have "investments" in green energy companies. Before he was elected, Obama personally "invested" almost $100,000.00 in the company that is now known today "Lightsquared". That's the same "green company" that Obama is protecting by forceing a 4 star Air Force general to change his Congressial testimony concerning the dangers to our national securty. That's why Obama
      allowed a half a billion of our tax dollars to be flushed down the toilet in the Solyndria failure. The half billion was not for the company, it was to cover the Obama pals investments.

    6. Lee Burns says:

      Want to create more jobs? Take away chain saws, use crosscuts. Take away ATMs, use tellers. Take away purse seiners, use rod and reel. Government didn't invent chain saws and ATMs and if they hadn't proved to increase efficiency, provide better customer service and lower overall costs of product, they wouldn't have succeeded. Want a job? Learn a new trade, find a new route. Times change and we must change too. Be part of the new way because the government can't and shouldn't do it.

      • rockncoal says:

        And as many have said, if we took away mechanized farming equipment and went back to hand rakes, hoes, and shovels, thousands upon thousands of farming jobs would be created, but efficiency and productivity would go to hell. The idea is to create jobs in development areas that maintain or enhance our quality of life, rather than creating jobs by regressing to the horse and buggy days.

    7. RedBaker says:

      Green jobs are green only because of the dollar bills they burn up. Green jobs kill real jobs. Even socialist Europe is starting to realize that. When green energy makes financial sense, we'll all buy some voluntarily. The entire premise of green jobs to combat global warming is bunk. Warming has been by a tiny amount, and has been beneficial to crops and nature. The predicted warming from CO2 increasing is simply not happening. The warming theories are false, the predictions have failed.

      • Dixon in Michigan says:

        The theories are false? Predictions have failed? What science (really! SCIENCE) are you looking at? And I don't mean the pseudo-science that's funded by the Oil, Gas and Coal Industry (just like Big Tobacco trotted out their if-the-price-is-right experts) and shoveled though the Heritage Foundation. I keep hearing a lot of loud mouths (Rick Perry and Michelle Bachmann come to mind) bellowing that there are many climate scientists who dispute the prevalant global warming conclusions. Name or or two? (No, Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh are not scientists).

    8. Lloyd Scallan says:

      We now know Obama and his buddy George Soros have "investments" in Lightsquared. Any wonder why
      they are attempting to force a 4 star Air Force general to change his testimony before Congress.

    9. Guest says:

      The "green jobs" agenda has nothing to do with the environment. It's all about redistribution of wealth. Our tax dollars go to whomever the White House decrees. Decide who you want to receive the money, then slap a "green" tag on it, and try to convince the public that they are creating or saving "green' jobs.

    10. C-Mac says:

      We have to reverse course and keep the Federal Govt out of the way. Free market solutions will always be more effective and spur economic growth. Look at what they(Feds) did to housing ………every American should be angry! Issue the permits ….develop all the domestic oil…..creating real jobs and work towards greener solutions. This will help us climb out of the depression…take away money and power from our enemies in the Middle East

      • Dixon in Michigan says:

        Yeah. Just like free markets gave us the huge oil, railroad and telephone trusts! Great for competition!

    11. mike holton says:

      one should understand that green jobs are not "taboo" they simply should be a growing part of our economy, just as any other facet of it. encouraging the "green movement" is the task of the people , not the government per se, however eventually a stronger green economy needs to happen. this green economy can happen with softer more gradual regulation which allows the private sector to phase in the changes within the natural business cycle. unfortunately the left doesnt see it that way , they view it as a crusade, a war that must be won regardless of price , regardless of casualties. in the history of this country , no program has ever flourished when forced upon the people, however many have done very well and have encorporated into the mainstream when allowed to grow on their own with minimal regulatory demanding.

    12. Rand says:

      Enviroism is Feudalism with computers. Enviroism is a forest fire of Controller-Lust. Enviros would rather destroy any resource than allow it to be useful.

      • Dixon in Michigan says:

        So, the people that brought us the Clean Air Act, the Toxic Substances Control Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Clean Water Act and regulations that force strip-mining cleanup, clear-cut erosion control and phosphates out of the water … they just want to destroy stuff? And the free market, left to itself, would have brought up environmental improvements? ?????

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