Russel Norman’s Green party issued a report this week claiming they can add 100,000 “green jobs” to the economy—new jobs created by taking $2.5 billion away from an existing group of producers and giving it to a new group who will vote green—“green jobs” created out of renewable energy technologies, i.e., energy that would not be economic without a government subsidy. New green jobs “created,” if they are at all, by taking away existing jobs., somehow, by spending $2.5 billion
Haven’t we heard this before, somewhere?
Yep, in Spain: where each “green job” costs taxpayers around $752,000 to $800,000 each in subsidies, and entails the loss of 2.2 other jobs, resulting in a subtracted of around 110,000 jobs from elsewhere in Spain's economy.
And where else have we heard it before? That’s right, in the US: where the White House sank half a billion taxpayer dollars into Solyndra, a company it knew was failing—but whose owner happened to be a large Obama donor famous for saying on Zero’s election “we’re trying to get as much stimulus money as we possibly can.”
What’s the bet Russel has people in the wings thinking along the same lines as George Kaiser.
Now don’t get me wrong. There’s clearly scope for alternative technologies—it’s unlikely we’ll be using the same energy sources one-hundred years from now as we do today. But the chances of a government selecting today which out of the many thousands of alternatives might be successful tomorrow, and then shovelling our money at them in the expectation of, in Russel Norman’s words, “capitalising on the growing international market for clean energy technology”? About zero too, I’d say. (If you must have a political party picking winners, then at least have the sense to simply give your champions tax cuts instead of just throwing pork at them.)
Mind you, Russel’s report really is a great looking piece of work. Great report. Great cover. Serious typeface. Important-sounding numbers. It weighs about the right amount. It just doesn’t even begin to hold water. It looks like it was put together not by a team of employment and energy specialists, but by a public relations expert only in weighing words by the dollar. In fact, I reckon this (from Aussie TV show Hollowmen) is how they put it together:
[Hat tip Offsetting Behaviour]
UPDATE: Watch the story of the US’s poster child for “green stimulus”—“demonstrating,” said Zero, when announcing the pork, “that the province of green energy is not just an article of faith.” Yeah right.
[Hat tip Daniel B.]