Faux Recovery

Don't believe the hype about green jobs

One glorious day, all of us will awaken in our mixed-use neighborhoods, rustle up nutritious garden-grown breakfasts, and pedal our bikes to "green-collar" jobs using paths generously provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

As of this moment, however, the "green energy economy" is incapable of spurring the taillights on a motor scooter (much less an economic recovery) without a backup gas-powered generator and government subsidy.

Why, then—just as we learned that 85,000 Americans "unexpectedly," as news stories put it, had lost their jobs last month—did the Obama administration pin recovery hopes on a colossally misguided social engineering project?

We're not talking about last year's colossally misguided stimulus plan, which "created" and/or "saved" an incalculable number of nonexistent jobs in various imaginary ZIP codes—though we do continue to learn more about that slapdash experiment.

At the time of the stimulus debate, President Barack Obama asserted that the "urgent need to accelerate job growth" would be tied to spending on (ethically approved) transportation projects. Yet The Associated Press reported this week that unemployment rates rose and fell regardless of how much money Washington doled out; the report was reviewed by independent economists at five universities.

No, this time the administration will renew its focus on stimulus through a new "green jobs" boondoggle. President Obama announced this week that Washington will offer $2.3 billion in tax credits for "clean energy" jobs. Using his very own pie-in-the-sky calculations, it puts the cost of every job at a tax-financed $135,000.

The uncalculated part of the above equation is this: Bogus jobs kill real jobs. At Madrid's King Juan Carlos University, for instance, a study found that in Spain—the very country Obama has held out as the exemplar of greening (and with only a 19-plus percent unemployment rate!)—every green job created had destroyed 2.2 jobs in other sectors of the economy.

The administration plans on spreading an additional $100 million of wealth on green job training and another $500 million on energy efficiency and renewable energy companies—on top of the billions already subsidizing these sectors on the state and federal levels. It is a deeply unserious way to pretend to assist American recovery.

For instance, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis—announcing the green effort on The Huffington Post—claims that green jobs will increase American competitiveness by preparing workers for "a range of careers," including "weatherization specialists, wind and energy auditors, and solar panel installers."

Yep, that should do it.

One can forgive Solis for her absurdity, I suppose, as she never, from what I can tell, has held a paying position that wasn't footed by taxpayers—a trend in this administration.

Now, despite this effort to mold the economy to ideological tastes by predetermining which industries should succeed and fail, real jobs will return one day—and it will have nothing to do with any high-minded legislation that layers on more centralized economic control.

In the meantime, utilizing unemployment fears, this administration continues to pursue social policy through faux stimulus plans, funneling money into acceptable sectors, no matter how inefficient, no matter how unviable, no matter how unsustainable.

What we've learned is that the Obama administration will do anything humanly possible to rescue the economy, as long as it doesn't relieve the pressure on the private sector. After all, this president explained last year that he believes "only government" can get us out of our troubles.

And that's our biggest problem now.

David Harsanyi is a columnist at The Denver Post and the author of Nanny State. Visit his Web site at www.DavidHarsanyi.com.

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  • Suki||

    But the White House announces daily (hourly?) how many millions of jobs they saved, down to the last digit!

    And that photo is racist.

  • ||

    Because renewable energy, recycling, and efficient energy usage is for faggots!
    War and fossil fuels is what made this country great!

    AMERICA, FUCK YEAH!

  • ||

    One time I asked my mommy why my farts smell bad and she said, "No they don't, Cuddley Crayon. They smell like carmel corn."

    I love my mommy!

  • ||

    Ha-ha, the joke's on you:
    my mom's dead, you insensitive clod!

  • ||

    Died of shame, no doubt.

  • ||

    Look at that picture. LOOK AT IT!

    How in Hord's name did that man ever get a reputation for being cool?

  • ||

    Dangit, I meant "how in Kord's name".

    I bet Obama knew that.

  • poo - tee - weet||

    Because there are a ton of Urkle fans out there.

  • monkeys||

    +1

  • Kyle Jordan||

    "One glorious day, all of us will awaken in our mixed-use neighborhoods and pedal our bikes to "green-collar" jobs using paths generously provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act."

    Fuck that shit.

  • Johnny Longtorso||

    So to sum up, the evil idiotic capitalist free market sold us the lie that we'd get rich selling each other houses. The good and intellectual government, on the other hand, says we'll get rich weatherizing each others' houses.

    Got it.

  • ||

    Yeah, the fwee mawket gawt us into this mess. Nevawmind the fact that us membaws of Cawngress foawced wendaws to make homewoans to people who couldn't even affoawd to went.

  • John||

    Even though I agree with this article, I just want to take this opportunity to say that David Harsanyi is really boring and does not offer any insight that could not be found if I flipped on AM radio right now. Reading his articles is like listening to a coworker/family member tell you what they heard on Glenn Beck last week.

    I just really don't understand, as a long-time Reason reader, what they see in David besides perhaps a net to catch disillusioned republicans who heard about this new libertarian thing, or rather a way to make money off of it at the expense of quality, original substance.

  • .||

    Maybe it's because he's a good writer, a libertarian and not a whack job.

  • John||

    I can just think of a lot more novel ideas than to hire this turdfest.

    For example, in this month's print edition, they had a followup on an interview with a scientist who discussed geoengineering some years back. That was cool. This magazine has interviewed Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Norman Borlaug etc. We get Peter Bagge as a cartoonist, and THIS is what we get in the online edition? Some Colorado local opinion piece in the vein of Michael Savage? Bor-ing. Harsanyi is a dime a dozen. When I heard about the climate e-mails, I though "well, I know what Harsanyi will be writing about in a few days", and sure enough, I get more predictable garbage on the front page of Reason week after week. Thanks a lot, reason!

  • .||

    He's a columnist. He's supposed to write about topical subjects.

  • John||

    Yeah, but couldn't he write about a topical subject that's, like, still interesting? His opinion is not fresh; it's available verbatim everywhere from the wsj to the Washington Post. I also realize that reason presents relatively diverse views. I'm just saying that, I look at reason and I see, basically, "dey took er jobs! Global warming is a hoax!1!!one" and I'm just like, this is punditry; he doesn't provide much supporting evidence for his claims, nor does he seem to have any background in the topic on which he is speaking; he just insinuates things and acts smug/sarcastic. It's a classic formula, but the average Reason subscriber is I think a little above this intellectually. What we're getting is simple messages for simple people.

  • Tim2||

    It's not that "global warming is a hoax" but rather the hoax is that expensive measures that may not even effectively reduce carbon or energy dependence are being sold as a magical cure all to the economy.

    If global warming is a problem, something I don't want to debate because I'm not a climate scientist, then the government's role would be at most to put a price on carbon emissions and fund R&D, rather than trying to subsidize the production of a random assortment of carbon reduction projects most likely determined by politics rather than science. Retarded things like corn ethanol. However unless we discover some new super fuel, such a process is going to make us less well off on the short run for some alleged gains in the long run; dependent on the severity of global warming to human life. It is simply a lie that green jobs will usher in a new liberal utopia, and I would suggest that for every conservative who thinks global warming is a hoax because it would be cause for bigger government, some closet Marxist progressive thinks it's great for that same reason; or at the very least for that reason hasn't given global warming any serious personal analysis and just shills for it as a means to get greater control over the economy.

  • John||

    I agree (minus your incorrect use of the term "Marxist")

  • Tim2||

    Its not an incorrect usage, as not all progressives are Marxists; just as if I said closet racist Republican by no means does that imply that all Republicans are closet racists.

  • ..||

    Harsanyi's writing for a wider audience because it's a syndicated column. I read this column in my newspaper in Ohio so I doubt it's a local Colorado opinion piece. Sounds like John is no libertarian to me.

  • John||

    If I disagreed with reason or thought they didn't at least give me anything to think about, I wouldn't come here. As I've said, I'm a fan. Again, it's not that I disagree with his opinion; I think it might very well be right, but this is tedious bullshit.

    [shitty attitude] + [predictable paleo-conservative talking point that's already been played-out on Glenn Beck] - [evidence/reasonable attempts to understand or explain alternative viewpoints and address common criticisms] = David Harsanyi

  • insight on odor in site||

    Maybe it's because it is hard to find people who will work with the guy in the smelly jacket.

  • ||

    Oh wow, I never really thought about it that way before.

    Whit
    www.web-privacy.se.tc

  • Weatherization Specialist||

    At the time of the stimulus debate, President Barack Obama asserted that the "urgent need to accelerate job growth" would be tied to spending on (ethically ethnically approved) transportation projects.

    ftfy

  • ||

    Don't tell anybody, but I'm betting everything on rickshaws. I'm having them made in China; by slave labor.

    That's green.

  • brotherben||

    pedicabs are much more efficient and more comfortable for customer and businessman doing teh peddling.

  • Pope Jimbo||

    Screw pedicabs. Yay PediPubs!

    The good news is that the city has relented and allowed people to actually drink on the pedipub while it is in motion.

  • Suki||

    That will solve the unemployed homeless problem. If your workers get to sleep in them that will solve both problems.

  • brotherben||

    Whi the heck rides a bike n blue jeans. BLUE JEANS!. I never miss a chance to wrap my twig and berries in a lovely lycra blend.

  • Barack Obama||

    Actually, it's a cyclo.

  • ||

    This country is owned/run by imbeciles.

  • Mike M.||

    If the New York Times ever went out of business, I'd have a really tough time picturing David Brooks getting a job installing solar panels.

    Somehow I could see him being a wind auditor though, and I don't even know what that is.

  • ||

    I think a wind auditor counts how many times a person farts.

  • ||

    My mommy is the best wind auditor ever!

    I love my mommy!

  • ||

    Comrade Harsanyi! Have you no faith in the Dear Leader's Five Year Plan, which will propel us ever onward in The Great March?

    Take another drink of Hope & Change gin. The plan will look better.

  • Slippery Wax||

    My come from a family of engineers, and many of my childhood friends are engineers of various stripes, and they all agree on this: there is no way we will stop using oil in next 30 years. The amount of energy contained in oil dwarfs anything, save nuke power, and it is still found in abundance around the globe.

  • prolefeed||

    Slippery Wax -- with a handle like that, you might want to avoid starting comments with the phrase "My come".

  • John||

    I also was raised by an engineer, and since I'm in an engineering program now, I can tell you that having friends that are engineers does not make you any kind of expert on fuel consumption.

    No one is asking the US to stop using fossil fuels. Bottom line is that fossil fuels are a finite resource. There are many emerging technologies which will allow us to consume fuels responsibly and conservatively.

  • Chad||

    In 30 years?

    It would be easy if we had the political will to do it. We increased our airplane production a thousand-fold in just a few years during WWII.

  • Tim2||

    Of course it can be done, the question is would such measures actually have a net positive effect on society? A carbon tax or R&D spending would be reasonable, but paying people to weatherize homes or put up solar panels is likely to be a boondogle and certainly won't create the magical green economy. The politicians certainly don't know what technologies reduce carbon emissions and fossil fuel use the best, after all the funded corn ethanol which turned out to be a net carbon increase factoring in the use of fertilizers and the clearing of land.

    Provided that global warming is man caused, and provided that its effects will be dire; then we should levy an appropriate carbon tax and then let the market sort out the best way to reduce carbon emissions. I would also doubt that we would ever want to stop using oil, we would just want to use it more efficiently; while we will never actually run out of oil, because as it becomes more scarce it's price will go up and then people will start using something else unless you reject the entire argument behind the carbon tax.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    The only "renewable" engergy we need is to start building breeder reactor nuclear power plants.

  • ||

    Harsanyi's comment on Solis reminded me of this classic exchange from Ghostbusters.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tKT-eWMWXOE

  • ||

    One glorious day, all of us will awaken in our mixed-use neighborhoods and pedal our bikes to "green-collar" jobs

    My neighborhood is mixed-use. Its used by people, deer, armadillos, coyotes, and I believe the occasional bobcat.

    I'm not excited about pedaling my bike 20 miles each way to my job, though.

  • Suki||

    So, you want Obama to fail because you are racist¡

  • John||

    Boy, you're clever.

  • ||

    All I see in David's articles is confirmation bias. I'm pretty sure that will form the basis for all journalism within 20 years.

  • ||

    I wonder what kind of mileage that Secret Service car in the background of the photo gets.

  • ||

    It is truly extraordinary that after 70 years of the publication of Hayek's Road to Serfdom and given unquestionable proof and practical experience that governments and their bureaucrats simply cannot plan economies we have an American Administration of all people trying to do precisely that. It beggars belief and it will most assuredly end in abysmal failure.

  • Paul||

    Surely you meant "buggars belief".

  • Paul||

    Typo... bugger!

  • Chad||

    Donlast|1.13.10 @ 3:28PM|#
    It is truly extraordinary that after 70 years of the publication of Hayek's Road to Serfdom and given unquestionable proof and practical experience that governments and their bureaucrats simply cannot plan economies

    As long as you only look at extreme communism, and ignore the many successful social democracies, you have a point. There is nothing like ignoring the data the refutes your thesis...

  • Tim2||

    Chad have you read Hayek? Hayek is arguing much more against things like price setting rather than redistributing wealth, as he did support some minimal social welfare programs and public education. Extreme communism and fascist/corporatist type planning schemes are exactly what Hayek was arguing against. Also, your evidence in favor of social democracy amounts to nothing more that it isn't falling apart compared to our also mixed economy; you know where government already controls half of all health spending with the rest heavily regulated and fragmented into state oligopolies where almost everyone buys an well agreed upon inferior insurance product of employer sponsored insurance which locks people into jobs and increases the chance of people getting pre existing conditions without insurance due to incentives in the tax code. In some ways as Matt Welch and others have pointed out some of the best socialist medical systems are more "libertarian" than our corporatist one. I would argue it's one thing to guarantee everyone a minimum amount of money they can spend on health care, its completely another to have a bunch of bureaucrats micromanaging the health system. Your evidence that it works is based upon a false comparison to our mixed system, and doesn't control for many extraneous factors that affect health.

    The intelligent criticism you could have made about the road to serfdom that you missed because you decided to bash free markets, is that the various social democracies despite massive government have yet to descend into totalitarian states like Nazi Germany and the USSR.

  • Chad||

    Yes, I have read Hayek. He refuted communism pretty thoughly. That is nice, but pretty irrelevant, since no one calls for that nowadays.

    If you think he refuted social democracies, well, then you will just have to accept that the facts have simply refuted his hand-wavy theorizing. Too bad for him. Suck it up.

    In some ways as Matt Welch and others have pointed out some of the best socialist medical systems are more "libertarian" than our corporatist one

    I agree, actually. Many countries with universal coverage actually have people pay higher out of pocket costs than we do (with limits). There is nothing incompatible with this and universal coverage. Now if you would just recognize how universal coverage solves a major market failure that exists in private insurance, so it is desirable from both an economic and more view, we would be set.

    And your final line just cuts the cake. I don't think any rational human being would argue that Norway is closer to decending into Naziism than America. Indeed, I think most non-Americans would argue just the opposite. You need to look in the mirror one day and realize how idiotic our nation has become.

  • ||

    Chad|1.14.10 @ 6:23AM|#
    "Now if you would just recognize how universal coverage solves a major market failure that exists in private insurance, so it is desirable from both an economic and more view, we would be set."
    I'd be happy to do that, if you'd be kind enough to point out where health insurance companies exist in a market not distorted by the government.

  • Tim2||

    Hayek's calculation problem is applicable to many forms of single payer with price controls. I don't buy into adverse selection being a significant market failure in health insurance as people who have pre existing conditions get turned down while underwriting restrictions, community rating, and coverage mandates make health insurance unattractive to many healthy people who just want coverage for being hit by a bus; not free/cheap at the point of consumption chiropractic treatments. Which is a government failure of mandates, because a stream of lobbyists will always line up to force people to buy their shit. More people and people with money are going to whine for such free crap than the rationally ignorant majority are going to whine against it; while effectiveness research will be politicized like in the mammogram debate. As I have pointed out numerous times, you can't simultaneously complain about adverse selection and sick people not being able to get insurance while ignoring laws that don't allow insurers to act upon the patient information they get. That's not a tangential government intervention, it is one that cuts precisely to the issue of information asymmetry by forcing insurers to charge individuals as if they didn't know the extent of individuals' risk.

    The only single payer like system I could get behind would be something like mandatory health savings account along with a catastrophic insurance plan, in other words actual insurance. Single payer doesn't solve market failures in insurance because single payer doesn't offer an insurance product, at least in the form it is often advocated. If the government is going to sell health plans, then it should offer competing health plans such that one plan isn't able to set prices and practices like Medicare already does while having the ability to lock in mistakes for much longer periods of time compared to a more decentralized system. Or if we went to single payer, we should adhere to federalism and have each state run it's own plan; because the various states are about the same size your favorite social democracies and could serve as laboratories of socialism benefiting from setting good and bad examples for each other and confining the bad ones to smaller areas. Decentralization has many advantages, and before you make some snarky comment about contradictions and selling insurance across state lines; national single payer < states single payer < free markets. Federalism in the abstract does not negate the application of the very arguments behind federalism to similar situations, nor does it mean that the national government doesn't have a role to prevent the states from exercising powers they should never have in the first place. Like when the Feds intervened to stop segregation and Jim Crow.

    Finally, our country can be pretty stupid; I doubt you would find many libertarians who would disagree, however some of the surveillance stuff going on the U.K. is pretty police statish. While France does ban wearing religious stuff to schools, and recently made it a crime to yell at ones wife. I don't know much about Norway. Other countries do stupid stuff too, and in many areas the Europeans handle things better than we do; but just like in economics I don't like to focus on misleading aggregates but rather on individual issues. Maybe on net France is more free, depending on how one values various freedoms, than the U.S.; but that doesn't justify some of the individual freedom infringing actions that France has taken. You act like the status quo vs France is our only option; because that conveniently makes a decent argument for France in certain areas, and maybe in the short term it somewhat is. However, 50 years ago no one could imagine an African American President and the civil rights leaders didn't hold back but went for the gold and eventually won it.

  • Lurker||

    Communism has left the building.

  • ||

    Hayek didn't prove shit.
    Economics is a social science pretending to be physics.

  • Paul||

    By the way, weren't we already supposed to be deep into the Hydrogen Economy by now?

  • ||

    -Surely you meant "buggErs belieVERS".-

    That's Obama's job.

    He's good at it.

  • Chad||

    I agree. "Green jobs", as they are typically conceived, are bunk. Why? Because it takes about the same number of people to build and operate a similarly-sized wind farm, solar plant, coal plant, and nuclear plant. The net number of jobs either way not terribly important.

    However, libertarians are still wrong on this (as usual). First, it is patently obvious that

    1: Green is happening and will accelerate

    2: The countries that go first will dominate the market...and we are bringing up the rear

    Go ahead and whine about free markets and all your typical bullshit. The FACT is that we are going to be buying all this stuff from China for decades, because you dimwits caused our government to drag its feet.

    Finally, going green WILL boost employment over the long haul, but by an entirely different mechanism than most people claim. What is that mechanism? Economic stability. High unemployment occurs when the economy changes rapidly, far faster than people can move and retrain for whatever the new reality is. That is the situation that we are in now. Anyone looking all of five seconds at some charts of economic growth and oil prices would realize that oil price (and other commodities) have a huge impact on economics. Four of our five previous recessions were preceded by oil spikes. Moving our society to one less dependant on a volatile commodity will reduce the unemployment spikes that follow oil spikes. Sounds great to me.

  • Tim2||

    As long as you pursue policies like a carbon tax you may be right, however if we subsidize a bunch of stupid shit like corn ethanol we aren't going to dominate the market in anything.

    There's no economic reasoning that supports much of the current climate change policy; which amounts to a watered down and heavily corrupted cap and trade program along with handouts to well connected allegedly green industries.

    If instituted perfectly cap and trade functions like a carbon tax, but it's main appeal is political to stupid people who don't understand markets and to corrupt people who see it for what it is; a rent seeking goldmine.

    We would be better off doing nothing than funding more corn ethanol and pursuing the current cap and trade ideas, however that doesn't negate arguments for things like an intelligent carbon tax.

  • ||

    2: The countries that go first will dominate the market...and we are bringing up the rear

    Risible fantasy.

    China.
    India.

    On the other hand.

    Spain.

    Green is economic doom. Green requires economic parasitism. There's no economic rationale for Green.

  • ||

    Chad|1.13.10 @ 6:44PM|#
    "1: Green is happening and will accelerate"
    Define "green".

    "2: The countries that go first will dominate the market"
    Maybe. Remember "Word Perfect"?

  • ||

    Thanks, Chad, I had a hard day. I needed a good laugh.

    Oh, and please go and fuck yourself.

  • Chad||

    Chad|1.13.10 @ 6:44PM|#
    "1: Green is happening and will accelerate"
    Define "green".

    It encompasses many things than I feel like listing...which is why it is utterly stupid for us to cede these markets.

    "2: The countries that go first will dominate the market"
    Maybe. Remember "Word Perfect"?

    I didn't know that Utah had successfully left the union. When did I miss it?

  • ||

    Chad|1.13.10 @ 6:44PM|#
    "1: Green is happening and will accelerate"
    Define "green".
    It encompasses many things than I feel like listing...which is why it is utterly stupid for us to cede these markets."
    IOWs, you're an ignoramus who believes magic words lead to magic results? Either tell us what "green" is or shut up about 'investing' in it.

    "2: The countries that go first will dominate the market"
    Maybe. Remember "Word Perfect"?
    I didn't know that Utah had successfully left the union. When did I miss it?"
    No, what you missed is that 'first' /= 'most successful'.
    Are you trying to be dense?

  • Tim2||

    The problem with green is that many products alleged to help the environment are really expensive and of marginal benefit or actually net harms if one includes their entire environmental costs.

    So defining green is important, because if we get it wrong we end up paying a bunch of corn farmers to clear away carbon sinks to produce fuel that doesn't compensate enough to then make it a net carbon reduction that also could never replace oil anyways while diverting food resources to food driving up food prices for everyone including poor people.

    So yes Chad, defining green is fairly fucking important unless you want to leave it up to pop science and self interested green businesses which would like nothing better than handouts and mandates to buy their products. Why is it somehow better for the Chinese to produce useless "green" products to assuage the guilt of stupid progressives than it is for them to make your "big dick mobiles" for rich people? I don't care if they do it, but I don't want to subsidize it. Just because people are going to buy cheap Chinese toys doesn't mean we should erect all sorts of trade barriers and pass out all kinds of handouts to dominate that market.

  • Chad||

    The problem with green is that many products alleged to help the environment are really expensive

    And some aren't. Hell, a lot save money even before you factor in the externalities. And solar prices are falling like a rock, so your expensive argument is evaporating quickly. In any case, the competition - coal - is utterly dependant on its subsidies. Eliminate them and it is toast.

    and of marginal benefit or actually net harms if one includes their entire environmental costs.

    What are you talking about? Corn ethanol? That is a right-wing boondoggle, not a left-wing one. Environmentalists have been leary of this crap since long before it escaped a few test plots...then the farm lobby found a way to suck up even more money.

    don't care if they do it, but I don't want to subsidize it

    But why the hell are you and your ilk so keen on defending the subsidies for fossil fuels? Because the gub'ment would have to measure them to get rid of them?, and that would require them to tax you a couple pennies?

  • ||

    Chad|1.14.10 @ 6:15AM|#
    "And some aren't. Hell, a lot save money even before you factor in the externalities. And solar prices are falling like a rock, so your expensive argument is evaporating quickly."
    Given the low specific output, they'll need to be nearly free before it matters.

    "In any case, the competition - coal - is utterly dependant on its subsidies. Eliminate them and it is toast."
    Cite please.

  • Tim2||

    I don't think government should subsidize fossil fuels either, and would have no problem using solar power that is cost effective. Its much more efficient to just fund R&D rather than subsidize the production of existing solar panels in hopes that producing enough of them will make the price go down. While with a carbon tax even that is less necessary as then there is tons of profit to be had in finding an alternative.

    Carbon is the problem, but we have no idea what the solution to it is. We should use a carbon tax to harness the power of the market to figure out what combination of technology is the best to reduce carbon emissions rather than fund a scattershott of technologies we have no idea will work and that politicians have every incentive to use to fund another corn ethanol.

    I don't care if corn ethanol was "on the right"; you'd be hard pressed to find any libertarian who likes ag subsidies. Corn ethanol is part of a green political movement, and just like with the current cap and trade bill often the real environmentalists clash with the politicians. My entire argument is precisely that things like cap and trade and product subsidies are entirely too vulnerable to corruption due to the combination of rational ignorance, concentrated benefits, and diffuse costs in a way that a simple carbon tax and maybe some money for universities isn't. Or say government prize money for the next leap in battery tech.

    In the short term I don't believe any of these technologies shows much promise, only energy efficiency; and there are so many ways to become allegedly more energy efficient that we can't possibly pick out the best set of them as well as the market could given an accurate price for carbon, and you will be hard pressed to find an economist that disagrees with me on this point.

  • Chad||

    Tim2|1.14.10 @ 3:00PM|#
    I don't think government should subsidize fossil fuels either, and would have no problem using solar power that is cost effective.

    Really? Then why aren't you and your fellow libertarians out there calling for a cap-and-trade and/or carbon tax? Or what about the $100 billion plus annual health costs due to coal pollution? Why aren't you screaming bloody murder? You can't be claiming you are against fossil fuel subsidies when in fact you do not follow through any way politically.

    Carbon is the problem, but we have no idea what the solution to it is.

    Actually we do. I can think of three that would work just fine.

    1: Implement cap-and-trade, then let the market sort it out.

    2: Implement a carbon tax, then let the market sort it out.

    3: Ban all new coal and implement a 25-year phase out of existing plants. Then let the market sort it out.

    Was any of those difficult? If you have "no idea" how to solve it, well that is a personal issue. Plenty of people do.

    Corn ethanol is part of a green political movement

    It hasn't been for a decade or more. As soon as it began to scale it was clear that it was as many steps backwards as forwards.
    http://oregon.sierraclub.org/tracker/SB2210.html

    My entire argument is precisely that things like cap and trade and product subsidies are entirely too vulnerable to corruption due to the combination of rational ignorance

    As opposed to our current system, which is entirely too vulnerable to corruption? Or compared to your mythical free market which will NEVER NEVER EVER EVER exist?

    that we can't possibly pick out the best set of them as well as the market could given an accurate price for carbon

    So we should just set the price at zero, even when we know that this is completely wrong? Why not take the best guess we can?

  • ||

    1: Implement cap-and-trade, then let the market sort it out.

    At least you didn't say 'free market' sort it out. I take this as 'progress':)

    The rest of your proposals are based on the false premise of a highly carbon sensitive climate.

    But in the unlikely event we discover climate IS highly carbon sensitive your solutions are poor.

    Or compared to your mythical free market which will NEVER NEVER EVER EVER exist?

    It's existed everywhere government hasn't taken hold yet. It's existed everywhere on the planet. It still exists in isolated tribes. It exists piecemeal in small areas or to limited extent even in socialist America.

    That's why you still have cheap and abundant 'stuff' in areas the market hasn't taken over.

    Freedom is going to be a hard sell. But we've had plenty of examples of the ultimate end results of collectivism haven't we?

    The free market is the natural seminal state of man. In fact agriculture was probably a key to the development of the modern state. In hunting societies everyone was armed, necessarily. In agrarian societies there's opportunity for the state to occur. Consolidation of arms.

    Freedom is on the rise. Don't count it out yet.

    If more libertarians would hold their nose and stop disdaining liberals and conservatives and talk to them it would help.

  • Tim2||

    I don't speak for my fellow libertarians Chad, and as I certainly don't know the extent to which we cause global warming and how bad it will be so I tend not to spend my time ranting on how to solve it. I'm not a climatologist, and as such I don't feel that even if I hold to some degree the views of the majority of the scientific community that qualifies me to pontificate on end about something I know little about unlike many progressive humanities majors that couldn't even read a science book.

    I can only argue about so much, and I don't see progressives spending all their time on things like gay marriage or legalizing pot or a host of other issues besides their current narrow focus largely on health care. Government subsidizes all sorts of things, but apparently I have to argue against every single subsidy all the time extra loud so Chad can hear me otherwise I'm not against them because I devote my time to what I feel are the worst abuses of government power. Especially when fossil fuel subsidies aren't even the topic of this article, but rather stupid stimulus style spending on "green jobs" is.

    *Que crappy country music* LET FREEDOM RINNNNNNNNNG!

    Next up on Hannity, Chad argues Muslims support terrorism because they don't protest en mass after every terrorist attack vocally enough that the average conservative Midwestern housewife can hear them.

    Now here's a great lesson in how dishonest and/or stupid Chad is.

    First he quotes me

    "Carbon is the problem, but we have no idea what the solution to it is."

    The he says "Actually we do... I can think of three that would work just fine... Implement a carbon tax, then let the market sort it out..Was any of those difficult? If you have "no idea" how to solve it, well that is a personal issue."

    But what his dishonest fucking ass neglects is "Carbon is the problem, but we have no idea what the solution to it is. We should use a carbon tax to harness the power of the market..."

    Hey Chad, what exactly does that second sentence immediately following the one you quoted say? But wait, if you quoted it you couldn't just pretend any disagreements I had with you were meaningless because I'm some stupid greedy person sitting on my pile of gold with a shotgun as the world burns down around me, right? Chad is the master of caricatures, straw men, and ad hominems.

    Lets take another look at something you quoted, "that we can't possibly pick out the best set of them as well as the market could given an accurate price for carbon"

    Given an accurate price for carbon, as in given by the government in the same way we put taxes on fake externalities entirely due to government programs like smoking and drinking; you illiterate fuck. Without government programs I can certainly smoke and drink in ways that don't hurt other people unlike conventional pollution, while even with government programs people who smoke and drink die earlier and save money on SS payments and more expensive end of life care. If it isn't 100% clear from the sentence itself, the above context where I advocated a carbon tax should be a hint.

    You didn't bother to read anything, you just assumed and projected to build up your stupid little straw man of ignorant selfish libertarians so you can knock it down and leave only your massive government ideology standing. Hence your stupid little point about "mythical free markets", which of course when you get to define that as no government what so ever will never exist; although the anarchists will hate me saying that. Taxing pollution also isn't inconsistent with free markets, there is no freedom to harm others; and sometimes it is better to tax something when property rights can't be defined nor outright prohibition ideal or even possible. The problem with many libertarian critics is that because they disagree on the science of some environmental issues they apply that "it's bullshit" belief to the very idea of government taxing real negative externalities; just like progressives will often jump upon any marginal excuse to expand government power. Like usual, though, you define everything such that you automatically win based upon uninformed caricatures; after projecting your subjective preferences and alleged motives onto everyone else. Markets where entities have large amounts of market power and produce negative externalities aren't free in the first place, provided the market power and externalities actually exist. Trotting out that we will always need some kind of minimalist state is a meaningless critique, while saying such a state will never happen is like saying during the 50s that full equality will never happen so just shut up and tolerate some segregation.

    However in this case you fail to realize that we likely have quite similar views unless you want to start subsidizing the production of shit like solar panels or weatherizing homes which if they were a good idea don't need any subsidies after a carbon tax. That was the entire point of my posts. I have mentioned the carbon tax so many times in these posts here that it is impossible that you could have missed it for any reason other than being flat out retarded or flat out dishonest. Few things piss me off more than people who deliberately misrepresent what I write. You can always scroll past it, but if you want to argue against it at least get what I say right; and since you are like the world's smartest person my simplistic arguments should be easy for your immense intellect to grasp.

  • ||

    Carbon is the problem

    The only (likely) true part of AGW religion, GHE, would only increase global mean T by 1 degree if we doubled current CO2.

    This isn't likely to happen, and if it did it wouldn't go very far towards mitigating the looming ice age. Look at ice core data. We're near the end of the current interglacial. Warming is not what we need to be worried about.

    The rest of AGW religion other than the GHE is claptrap and there's no evidence to support it. Quite the contrary. They make up fantastical mechanisms that they predict will cause warming, but don't.

    IF CO2 was a danger there might be a case for enclosing the externality. But not much of one. How can you even put a dollar value on a degree warmer? And whom should be paid? Even if we do not all use as much energy as, say, a factory, we all use the products of a factory. Out market demand causes the factory to consume that energy. It's not clear at all to me that a coercive mechanism could put the cost more proximal to the cause than already exists. Factories are a symptom. Energy use is more associated with affluence, not workers or shareholders at a factory. I'm certainly against a progressive income tax but that makes more sense. A better option would be to do away with a production (income) tax and implement a consumption (fair) tax. THAT would would address the externality best.

    But then there's nothing to address.

    I will stipulate that lay warmists don't understand climate science and so will assume I don't and claim (falsely) that no scientists are skeptics and claim (falsely) that I am disagreeing with ALL of the 'scientific' community, and who am I to do so.

    Save the rhetorical fallacy for someone who will fall for it.

  • Chad||

    I am not going to waste my time defining common sense for you. If you are that dumb, you wouldn't understand the definition anyway.

    "Markets" are not individual little companies.

  • ||

    Chad|1.13.10 @ 9:10PM|#
    "I am not going to waste my time defining common sense for you."
    You are incapable of defining a word *you* use to denote a certain market, and you call me "dumb"?

    ""Markets" are not individual little companies."
    Nooooooo. Really?
    Look, if you can't define the terms you use in an argument, you're pretty much lost. You're lost.

  • Colon Bowell||

    If there is a silver lining, can't it be that this initiative is being kick started with tax CREDITS? Isn't a "credit" a dollar-for-dollar reduction in tax liability? If I want to buy artichoke fuel and my federal taxes will be reduced by the cost of that artichoke fuel, is that not a good thing?

  • Bill Ross||

    "And that's our biggest problem now."

    Nope, bloated government is a symptom. The biggest problem is the eternal war between the productive (those who produce more than they consume)and the greedy (those who consume more than they produce). Civilizations rise (honesty in control) and fall (predators in control), for all of history. This is easily proven:

    http://www.cli.gs/MathematicsOfRule

    I leave it as an exercise to the reader to determine which is in control.

    We need the "rule of law" back, now rationalized away:

    http://www.cli.gs/RuleOfLaw

  • Bill Ross||

    Link Problem, try these...

    Mathematics Of Rule:
    http://www.nazisociopaths.org/......php/c1/32

    Rule of Law:
    http://www.nazisociopaths.org/......php/c1/34

  • abercrombie milano||

    My only point is that if you take the Bible straight, as I'm sure many of Reasons readers do, you will see a lot of the Old Testament stuff as absolutely insane. Even some cursory knowledge of Hebrew and doing some mathematics and logic will tell you that you really won't get the full deal by just doing regular skill english reading for those books. In other words, there's more to the books of the Bible than most will ever grasp. I'm not concerned that Mr. Crumb will go to hell or anything crazy like that! It's just that he, like many types of religionists, seems to take it literally, take it straight...the Bible's books were not written by straight laced divinity students in 3 piece suits who white wash religious beliefs as if God made them with clothes on

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  • Finnish Lapphund||

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  • vivid||

    "Now if you would just recognize how universal coverage solves a major market failure that exists in private insurance, so it is desirable from both an economic and more view, we would be set."
    I'd be happy to do that, if you'd be kind enough to point out where health insurance companies exist in a market not distorted by the government.
    Yours,
    Leflunomide

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