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Thoughts Online Magazine
Collected Articles on Culture & Politics
Jobs Promises: the Green Job 
21st-Apr-2009 01:44 pm
Inspiration
Seen the promises out there for "new, green jobs"? Wondered what you were being promised?

Well, let's start by saying what it isn't (paper on SSRN, HIGHLY RECOMMENDED:

A rapidly growing literature promises that a massive program of government mandates, subsidies, and forced technological interventions will reward the nation with an economy brimming with green jobs. Not only will these jobs improve the environment, but they will be high paying, interesting, and provide collective rights. This literature is built on mythologies about economics, forecasting, and technology.

Myth: Everyone understands what a green job is.

Reality: No standard definition of a green job exists.

Myth: Creating green jobs will boost productive employment.

Reality: Green jobs estimates include huge numbers of clerical, bureaucratic, and administrative positions that do not produce goods and services for consumption.

Myth: Green jobs forecasts are reliable.

Reality: The green jobs studies made estimates using poor economic models based on dubious assumptions.

Myth: Green jobs promote employment growth.

Reality: By promoting more jobs instead of more productivity, the green jobs described in the literature encourage low-paying jobs in less desirable conditions. Economic growth cannot be ordered by Congress or by the United Nations. Government interference - such as restricting successful technologies in favor of speculative technologies favored by special interests - will generate stagnation.

Myth: The world economy can be remade by reducing trade and relying on local production and reduced consumption without dramatically decreasing our standard of living.

Reality: History shows that nations cannot produce everything their citizens need or desire. People and firms have talents that allow specialization that make goods and services ever more efficient and lower-cost, thereby enriching society.

Myth: Government mandates are a substitute for free markets.

Reality: Companies react more swiftly and efficiently to the demands of their customers and markets, than to cumbersome government mandates.

Myth: Imposing technological progress by regulation is desirable.

Reality: Some technologies preferred by the green jobs studies are not capable of efficiently reaching the scale necessary to meet today's demands and could be counterproductive to environmental quality.


Let's spend a moment on those notes about employment: will more people have jobs as a result of these policies? Start with a report from a country that has actually tried the policy: Spain. What do we learn about employment under green jobs?

Optimistically treating European Commission partially funded data, we find
that for every renewable energy job that the State manages to finance, Spain’s
experience cited by President Obama as a model reveals with high confidence,
by two different methods, that the U.S. should expect a loss of at least 2.2 jobs
on average, or about 9 jobs lost for every 4 created, to which we have to add
those jobs that non-subsidized investments with the same resources would
have created.


In other words, if we look at everything in the best light possible, we expect that those green jobs should RAISE unemployment, not decrease it. Do you think that is a good public policy? Do you think perhaps your congresscritter might be open to listening to you? Your family and friends? Take a moment and speak to one of these choices. It's your country.
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