Adding “Green” Does Not Free the Industry of Market Forces
In the aptly named “Green Jobs and Rose-Tinted Glasses” (subscription required), Iain Murray argues that evidence does not suggest that the “green” subindustry is a windfall just requiring a little initial shaking:
Green jobs, it would seem, are a magic bullet for the administration, solving the problems of unemployment, poverty, community degradation (and therefore crime, presumably), class struggles, public health, terrorism, and global warming at a stroke. What could possibly lead anyone to object to them?
The answer is, as ever for a conservative, real-world experience. Germany and Spain went down the green-jobs road many years ago, for much the same reasons as the administration. They saw it as a way to make their countries world leaders in coming technologies, provide good jobs to replace decaying industries, and insulate against energy shocks originating overseas.
It didn’t work out that way.
According to Murray, other countries (notably China) undercut Germany’s production prices, even as the country continues to import most of its energy in the form of Russian natural gas, all without having contributed to job growth, once the jobs lost to higher energy costs are taken into account. In Spain, the green industry has lost jobs, and the government has reduced subsidies.
Of course, the United States has been picking up some of that slack. Murray notes that hundreds of millions of American tax dollars have slipped across the Atlantic as “green energy” investments to the Spanish company Iberdrola:
And Iberdrola isn’t the only foreign recipient. According to a report from the Watchdog Institute, there are plenty of countries that received stimulus cash to create green jobs, but created plenty overseas and few or none here. Most of the jobs that were created here were temporary. Despite all the stimulus money, the American wind industry lost permanent manufacturing jobs (while creating temporary construction jobs) last year, because demand for over-expensive energy plummeted (without the stimulus money, the industry would likely have collapsed).
It ought to trigger suspicion when massive money giveaways are justified with miraculous promises, and that’s one area in which “green jobs” have led the field.