Q: What's The Fastest Way to Get 5 Million Green Jobs?

A:  Start with 10 million current jobs.

Kenneth Green argues that Obama's claim that obsoleting current infrastructure and requiring its replacement with new, greener infrastucture creates jobs is just the broken windows fallacy  (where have you heard anyone else say that?)

If Obama's energy promises rely on questionable science, they rely on even more questionable economics. We are to believe that replacing conventional energy sources (especially coal) with renewables (especially wind) will create 5 million new "green jobs." The hope is that armies of workers will be enlisted to build
tens of thousands of windmills; to manufacture and deploy solar-power installations; to harvest, transport, and process huge amounts of biofuel feedstock; and to string the power lines that will allow the U.S. power grid to incorporate a major expansion of intermittent energy.

Unfortunately, the idea of government "job creation" is a classic example of the broken window fallacy, which was explained by French economist Frédéric Bastiat way back in 1850. It is discouraging to think that nearly 160 years later, politicians still do not understand Bastiat's basic economic insight...

Now consider Obama's "green jobs" plan, which includes regulations, subsidies, and renewable-power mandates. The "broken windows" in this case would be lost jobs and lost capital in the coal, oil, gas, nuclear, and automobile industries. Currently, these industries directly employ more than 1 million people.
Conventional power plants would be closed, and massive amounts of energy infrastructure would be dismantled. After breaking these windows, the Obama plan would then create new jobs in the renewable
energy sector. The costs of replacing those windows would ultimately be passed on to taxpayers and energy consumers.

  • Obama isn't very bright, by now most have figured that part out.

  • rxc

    They will NOT be able to close all the fossil plants, just because they build a lot of windmills. The fossil plants will still be needed to run things when the wind does not blow, and someone will have to be available to run/maintain/fuel them. This is the issue no one in the green camp wants to talk about. If they were really honest, all of the peple who trumpet green power would go completely off the grib, and go dark when they don't have solar/wind power available. Similarly, people who are buying a share of a windmill should be cut off whenever "their windmill" is not turning.

    We just drove down from Paris yesterday, along the route down the center of France that is lined with windmills. I would estimate that only about 1 in 10 of them was turning. The wind was quite still, so I think the ones that were turning were motoring for some sort of preventative maintenance/PR purpose. The people who bought energy from them should NOT be getting their energy from the grid of nuclear plants in France that are on-line to provide reliable power, but the greens will not allow this. So, the charade continues.

  • I don't think this is a black or white solution. It's not all green and no non-green, or vice versa but surely a combination. That being said it is important that the government kickstarts this green initiative (as was done for the internet, of course this is a way bigger scale), as green is the way of the future whether we like it or not. We operate our lives, governments and businesses inside of a linear function, but resources are not linear, they will one day disappear.

    Furthermore let's remember the president doesn't make laws, congress does. All the president can do is prod congress forward. So we don't know what crazy and arcane regulations they will pass.

    In the long run I think our greatest opportunity as a nation is to create the world's most admired green enterprises. The same way we came to dominate the internet we need to dominate the green revolution.

  • Allen

    The government kick started the internet??????? Exactly how was this done, Ethan? And do you mean to imply that the internet as we know it today would not have existed if the government hadn't done whatever those things are?

  • Ravindran

    It seems you are in a make-believe world. Nobody is talking about renewable energy replacing fossil fuel, but get real, guys, fossil fuels are simply depleting by the day and for incremental energy generation, you need green alternatives. And in another 100-150 years, fossil fuels will be more or less exhausted and you will have nothing but renewables like solar and wind, whatever be the cost. So don't malign the only energy source of your future generations. Impacts on global warming and pollution etc. are just bonuses.