Investor's Business Daily looks at President Obama's promise to create five million "green jobs" over the next decade. So far, quite a lot of stimulus money has been spent attempting to encourage enviro-work. But there hasn't been a lot of progress, and in a number of cases, the money appears to have been blown on projects that are clearly wasteful or doomed to failure. Some lowlights:
- "Last week Obama toured to much fanfare a Johnson Controls plant in Michigan where $300 million in conservation grants produced 150 jobs — at a cost of $2 million per position."
- Evergreen Solar Inc is a "Massachusetts company that the White House once said 'is hoping to hire 90 to 100 people' thanks to stimulus money has $485.6 million in debt. Evergreen closed a factory in March, reports the Boston Herald, and cut 800 jobs. A Michigan plant is to be shut down, as well, causing the loss of even more jobs."
- "Green Vehicles of Salinas, Calif., which has burned through more than $500,000 in money 'invested' by the city, folded last month without having produced anything of significance. The company promised it would employ about 70 and pay back Salinas taxpayers with $700,000 a year in city taxes."
- In Seattle, "a $20 million federal grant for home weatherization has, according to KOMO news, retrofitted only three houses and created 14 jobs in more than a year."
As the job-creation rhetorical wars reach threat level five in Washington, it's worth remembering that the problem with jobs initiatives, green and otherwise, is that creating sustainable, productive jobs—the kind of employment that lasts and adds to the nation's productivity—is a hard thing to do. And there's no reason to think government bureaucrats, torn by a mob of competing political interests, are going to be somehow better at it than private sector operators. If creating productive employment were straightforward, wouldn't the private sector already be doing it? After all, you don't see most companies turning down opportunities to profit. Which is one of the many reasons why these fantasy jobs initiatives dreamed up in Washington frequently don't hit near the jobs numbers they promise, and why, when it comes to stimulus spending, the administration ends up leaning on totally unverifiable job-creation estimates to justify its spending.