About Those Five Million "Green Collar" Jobs...

...is a made up number that is meant to "inspire," according to its promulgators. As the Wall Street Journal reports:

The Apollo Alliance, a San Francisco coalition of environmental and labor groups, ... released a study in September. It concluded that five million green jobs could be had with an investment of $500 billion -- more than three times Mr. Obama's number [ of $150 billion].

Kate Gordon, co-director of the Apollo Alliance, says the numbers are less important than the message. "Honestly," she says, "it's just to inspire people."

Earlier this week, my colleague Jacob Sullum pointed out in his superb column "Green Herring": 

...both the Apollo Alliance and Obama, who has liberally borrowed from its ideas, mistakenly treat the manpower required to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as a measure of success, when it should be viewed as a cost to be minimized.

Whole WSJ article here. Sullum's column can be found here

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  • ||

    LOL, rest assured that the idiots of Wall Street could care less about Main Street America, they only care about one thing, THEMSELVES. Greedy, money hungry bottom feeders.

    Jess
    http://www.Ultimate-Anonymity.com

  • SIV||

    Damn. I was planning on reducing our dependence on foreign oil by riding my new pony to my high-paying green-collar job.

  • ||

    Sure half of you are going to die, but we will have full employment as the live half buries the dead half.

  • ||

    There's a fine line between inspiration and fraud, it seems.

  • ||

    John, it goes well with Planned Parenthood's goal of "making every child a wanted child" by killing off the unwanted ones.

    It's like Stalin said, if there's a man who has a problem, if you get rid of the man, you get rid of the problem.

  • Nigel Watt||

    These people really don't realize that the government can't create jobs, do they?

  • sage||

    Maybe you guys should wait for Chairman Mao-bama to assemble his politburo before you pass judgement. Just a thought.

  • ||

    It concluded that five million green jobs could be had with an investment of $500 billion -- more than three times Mr. Obama's number [ of $150 billion].

    If those were productive jobs providing a needed product or service, wouldn't the investment and job creation take care of itself?

  • ||

    Is my math off or is that $500,000 per job?

  • Bingo||

    Jim: About $100,000 per job. Should be enough to buy a bag of apples once they get done printing the cash to pay for autoworker pensions.

  • ||

    Oops. Make that $100,000 per job. Still a lot.

    And The Onion has the definitive word on the subject:

    "Obama Promises To Stop America's Shitty Jobs From Going Overseas"
    http://www.theonion.com/content/video/obama_promises_to_stop_americas

  • Lefiti||

    George Bush must have called his Wall Street cronies to make things look bad for Obama. Smooth transition my ass! He's cheating!

  • ||

    If those were productive jobs providing a needed product or service, wouldn't the investment and job creation take care of itself?



    You're just one of those greedy capitalists that don't understand that corporations just want to rape our environment and poison our water supply. The only reason that they haven't is because the people like Obama care enough to protect us.

    After writing that I realized that it might sound like something you might hear these days. I was, of course, kidding..

  • adrian||

    Edward: that wasn't even on topic man.

  • ||

    Please tell me someone is sock puppeting lefiti

    Seriously, if the "green jobs" were productive, we would make money on them because they would produce more than they cost.

  • ||

    It's actually a good thing that Obama is going to create so many green collar jobs. What with all the government spending and requirements to force green industry and consumption, people will need more than one job just to put food on the table.

  • ||

    What is the sound of a sock-puppet being sock-puppeted?

  • Paul||

    The Apollo Alliance, a San Francisco coalition of environmental and labor groups, ... released a study in September. It concluded that five million green jobs could be had with an investment of $500 billion --



    Similar system to what Mayor "No talking, no drinking, no smoking" Nickels uses for 'job creation' here in Seattle. He sits down with a paper napkin, figures out how many square feet of office space could be built, then calculates how many cubicles could be placed into that total square footage, and that's how many jobs will be created with his South Lake Union plan.

    I'm told that's how politics works. You either get on board, or get out of the way.

  • DannyK||


    Seriously, if the "green jobs" were productive, we would make money on them because they would produce more than they cost.


    Exactly! Now you're getting it!

    I think the most easily justified part of the green jobs package is improving basic infrastructure -- this is something that's a governmental function anyway, it'll act as an economic stimulus, and it's essential for improving energy efficiency. Three birds with one stone.

  • Seward||

    Might I suggest that this is an example of "government failure?" How could such a program as this be remotely defined as "efficient?"

  • DannyK||

    @Paul:
    The good news for you: Gregoire didn't steal the governor's race this time.
    The bad news: um...

  • Lefiti||

    No puppet, man. George Bush is the bottom line for every problem we are facing today.

  • Paul||

    George Bush is the bottom line for every problem we are facing today.

    Agreed. We need more and varied bottom lines.

  • economist||

    To the Guy Sock-Puppeting Lefiti,
    Please don't beat a dead horse. We all know that Lefiti is a giant douche. He says enough to embarrass himself without other people attributing stuff to him.

  • ||

    I dunno, that doesn't sound like too much money for 5 million schmucks running on treadmills to generate clean power for the country. I figure they'll work in shifts to keep the initial capital investment costs down.

    Oh, that's not what they'll be doing?

  • ||

    I think the most easily justified part of the green jobs package is improving basic infrastructure

    We could just do that anyway. They don't have to be "green". Further most of the infrastructure that needs repaired are roads which are not very green. If there is a "green project" out there that is needed and profitable the private sector will do it without the government help.


    it'll act as an economic stimulus, and it's essential for improving energy efficiency.

    Since energy costs money, we already have plenty incentive to be efficient. As far as it being an economic stimulus, the money has to come from somewhere. You either borrow it or you tax it. Either way it id money being taken from another purpose. You are robbing Peter to pay Paul. The only "economic stimulous" is for people to be more productive. Everything else is just moving money around.


    God it is going to be a long four years.

  • sage||

    The good news for you: Gregoire didn't steal the governor's race this time.

    She didn't have to. Don't forget that she only needs to carry King County. And in King County, dead people, felons, and infants can vote. And they can vote as many times as they like. For some odd reason they mostly vote for the Democrat.

  • economist||

    If we're really so worried about unemployment, I have an idea to start an Antarctic colony. This way we can send our surplus population to settle there and extract natural resources for the mother country.

    The only downside is that the penguins are getting smarter, and now have firearms. We should therefore expect heavy native resistance.

  • ||

    It concluded that five million green jobs could be had with an investment of $500 billion -- more than three times Mr. Obama's number [ of $150 billion].



    Apollo Alliance says, "Give 'em $100k per year!"
    Obama says, "Give 'em $30k per year!"

    I guess it really depends on what types of jobs are being discussed. I can easily see generating 5M jobs for $30k a pop in almost any area except San Francisco, Los Angeles, D.C. or New York City.

  • ||

    Reminds me of one my favorite lines from "Yes, Minister" in which the chief bureaucrat explains that, in government, one doesn't measures success in terms of results but in terms of activity. Having lots of people pursuing this green nirvana is far more important than achieving it.

  • ||

    economist knows what he's talking about. lol

  • ||

    "If we're really so worried about unemployment, I have an idea to start an Antarctic colony. This way we can send our surplus population to settle there and extract natural resources for the mother country."

    How about buying Siberia from the Russians? They are going to need cash with the price of oil the way it is. Their population is emploding. They could retrench into a smaller area and give us the empty parts left over. They can even keep the oil. The rest of it can be set up as a free government colony, kind of like Alaska used to be.

  • Seward||

    economist,

    Beyond a few pilot projects I suspect that none of this will ever come to pass.

  • ||

    Several studies estimate that $1 invested in renewable energy or energy efficiency commemorative plates would yield up to four times as many jobs as $1 invested in oil and gas conventional dinnerware, whose basic infrastructure of forks, spoons and knives has been around for years.

    FTFY

  • economist||

    John,
    Good idea. Though I was planning on making that the resettlement area people who fail to love, serve, and praise the almighty Obama (PBUH).

  • economist||

    Several studies also indicate that if we had five million people pedaling stationary bicycles connected to generators, we could replace 10%* of the electricity currently produced by coal-fired generators.

    *This number was removed from my ass during my annual colonoscopy, as the doctors feared it might be cancerous.

  • ||

    We can call the infrastructure improvement program, oh, something like, oh, Works Progress Administration or something. I know it's not catchy but maybe it could be used. We'll build stuff and things. It worked when I was a kid.

    Oh wait....

  • ||

    "Damn. I was planning on reducing our dependence on foreign oil by riding my new pony to my high-paying green-collar job."

    I will ride my unicorn, as soon as Obama delivers it. It shoots rainbows from it's eyeballs.

  • ||

    " Though I was planning on making that the resettlement area people who fail to love, serve, and praise the almighty Obama (PBUH)."

    That was my plan to and I am hoping to be one of the ones re-settled.

    Seriously though, I don't think any of this stuff can happen. The facts are

    1. George Bush broke the bank and we are going to have an enormous deficit this year thanks to the bailouts.

    2. We are at the begining of what appears to be a massive recession.

    3. There is a limit to how high the deficit cna go before the bond markets rebel and it seems we are getting close to it right now.

    4. Only a lunatic bent on ensuring that his side never gets in power for a decade or more would engage in a massive tax increase during a deep recession.

    5. Since the economy is contracting and we are not sure where we are on the Laffer curve it is unclear how much if at all raising taxes will actually increase revenue.

    6. Obama's bag of goodies that he has promised liberal interests groups is going to very very expensive.

    7. There is no peace dividend like there was in the 1990s. Even if we pulled out of Iraq tommorow that would only be $120 billion a year which is chump change these days.

    Am I missing something or is there no where to get the money to do all of this stuff? I don't see how you do it. In the end, the Republicans' spending bender may be what saves us from the Democrats' going on another one.

  • sage||

    Am I missing something or is there no where to get the money to do all of this stuff?

    Duh. You just print more of it!

  • ||

    The entire 'green job' panacea reeks of Ghandi's Indian solution; we'll deny use of efficient technology and return to the day of sheer manual labor to assure full employment. Time for sackcloth garments? But then BHO will tax our labor induced CO2 exhalations and demand we buy bogus carbon offsets at the company store...

  • Not That Michael||

    I dunno, that doesn't sound like too much money for 5 million schmucks running on treadmills to generate clean power for the country.

    We could save the environment and eliminate childhood obesity in one fell swoop. Betcha wish you thought of that one, eh Rahm? Eh?

  • DannyK||

    Am I missing something or is there no where to get the money to do all of this stuff? I don't see how you do it. In the end, the Republicans' spending bender may be what saves us from the Democrats' going on another one.

    Ah yes, the "Bush's profligacy will force Obama to be responsible" theory. As I recall, Bill Clinton abandoned most of the promises he'd made to his base in 1992 to fix the deficit and pass NAFTA. This made him very very popular with the Republicans, who then treated him with great respect, especially after the 1994 election.

    That's clearly the model Obama should emulate.

    Seriously, I'm looking for a silver lining here. I'd much rather have bridges that don't fall down and a Smart Grid than billions more being given on silver platters to big companies. Hell, AIG has already spent $8-9 billion on handjobs alone!

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  • ||

    I always cringe a little when I see or hear the term "green-collar jobs." What a bunch of bullshit. They're really no different than regular laboratory, engineering and other high-skill jobs building regular energy, except this is rarer.

    Overall, I think people foretelling some kind of "green revolution" are just full of it. Unless we elect a bunch of new leaders who actually give a shit, it's not gonna happen. It will only happen incrementally, at best. Obama's not gonna pass a whole bunch of alternative energy investments overnight. We've been trying to get to alternative energy for over 30 years! It still hasn't happened, just like we've failed to pass immigration reform, but it becomes a big issue at least once every 5-10 years.

    The creating jobs nonsense forgets that gov't is not the best determinant of what kind of workers are unemployed. Hell, the labor stats on the unemployment rate don't even break it down into kinds of workers! It just says a percentage. How do you know that a lot of those are high-skilled workers? High-skilled workers are much more likely to find new jobs relatively easily even if they do get fired, so it's hard to imagine they'd be out of a job for long.

    Ultimately, most of the unemployed are probably low-skilled workers who cannot benefit and take these green jobs b/c they're just not trained for it. So this "green-collar" job bullshit is just that. The only way they'll fill those jobs is enough scientists, engineers, etc. decide to quit their jobs and work for the gov't, and then those employers now have lots of rapid job openings and are screwed. So there's no real net gain in jobs, just a switch.

    I never believed that 5 million jobs number for a second. How gov't can create 5 million permanent high-skill jobs effectively doesn't add up.

  • Guy Montag||

    Thank goodness nobody at Reason endorsed anybody with in this election with these crazy ideas . . .

  • ||

    Correct Brandon
    We learned in 9th grade science - energy = energy. It takes x number of kilowatt hours to heat my house and keep the lights on. It doesn't matter if you generate it with coal or a windmill.
    The only way to create 5 million new jobs is to create 10 million new jobs minus the 5 million jobs lost in coal mining, railroads, etc.

  • ||

    I think Obama is going for starry eyed liberal college grads who will work for 30k/year. Now the Alliance are thinking the same, maybe, but 30k to the worker 70k to Alliances overhead. Already the wheels of industry are on it spinning.

  • Kate Gordon||

    Dear Reason,

    I was misquoted in the WSJ article. what follows is my response to the editors.

    Thank you,
    Kate Gordon


    Re: article entitled - "Does Green Energy Add 5 Million Jobs? Potent Pitch, but Numbers Are Squishy'

    Dear Editors:

    The Wall Street Journal, in an article about clean energy investments and green-collar jobs printed on November 7, 2008 incorrectly asserted that varying job creation estimates are "squishy." I was surprised by a quote attributed to me that implied that Apollo's five million job number is "just to inspire people."

    Well, the projection of five million green-collar jobs is accurate and inspiring. It is inspiring to think of a federal investment strategy that can catalyze the American economy by creating new demand for clean energy and energy efficiency systems. It is inspiring to think about the investments in job training to help scale up America's workforce to prepare to make, install, and maintain these products. It is truly awe-inspiring to think of the millions of Americans that can be put to work all over this country, in a huge range of occupations, moving America toward a clean energy future.

    But it is not just inspiring - it is accurate. In The New Apollo Program, we argue for a $50 billion annual investment program over ten years. It is an investment in all sectors of the American economy: from green construction to energy efficiency retrofits; from our transportation system to our power grid; from our existing factories to cutting-edge research, development and deployment opportunities. Based on a comprehensive study on a very similar set of proposals that was done for Apollo in 2004 by economist and Nobel laureate M. Ray Perryman, this level of federal investment will create or retain at least five million jobs in America. Most of these are on-site construction, manufacturing, and transportation jobs - jobs in industries that tend to pay a family-supporting wage and benefits, and that have anchored America's middle class for generations.

    Dr. Perryman's data show also that the economic benefits of the Apollo investment strategy don't stop at on-site jobs. These investments will create millions more jobs in associated industries, like the trucking companies moving the wind turbines, the lawyers and accountants helping broker deals between new clean energy businesses, or even the small restaurants and stores catering to the linemen and women upgrading the transmission grid in countless towns across the country.

    Other studies, such as the "Green Recovery" paper recently released by the Center for American Progress, also include the positive economic impact created by, for instance, lower energy bills as a result of more clean energy options. Lower bills equal more money in consumers' pockets, equal more spending in the local economy, equal more jobs. These "indirect" jobs are included in President-elect Obama's green jobs calculations, explaining why he comes to the five million job number with a lower initial investment. The different numbers are by no means "squishy." They are the result of different initial assumptions, leading to different results.

    What is not in doubt is that clean energy policies and investments create jobs. Just look at Newton, Iowa, where laid-off Whirlpool employees are now making wind turbine blades for General Electric. Or Sacramento, California, where a disused nuclear plant is now home to a solar array capable of generating as much power as the plant ever did.

    At Apollo, we are awestruck every day by stories like these, and by the sheer potential scale of the new green economy - an economy that can and should create millions of high-quality, decent jobs for hardworking Americans who want to make a decent wage while also fighting back global warming.

    Darn right we're inspired. Aren't you?

    Kate Gordon
    Co-Director
    Apollo Alliance

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