New York Times: Green Job Creation Falls Short—Who Knew?

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Jobs making green helmets?

Today's New York Times devotes a whole section specifically to the future of energy production. The lead article on unconventional fossil fuels is well worth reading—new technologies are unlocking vast new supplies. The concluding paragraph sums it up thusly: 

"The fossil fuel age will be extended for decades," said Ivan Sandrea, president of the Energy Intelligence Group, a research publisher. "Unconventional oil and gas are at the beginning of a technological cycle that can last 60 years. They are really in their infancy."

The article on the green jobs shortfall in the solar power industry tries to sort through the complexities of determining just what is a "green job" and how does one know that the result as been net job creation instead merely shifting a job from one industry to another? Oddly the article does not muse on this arresting point: 

"Net jobs" is seldom mentioned. The object now is to put more man-hours into each megawatt-hour, after years of trying to slim down the system and minimize labor input.

Recipe for more jobs: Make labor less efficient. 

The article ends with this telling observation: 

In December 2010, Susan Combs, the comptroller of Texas, reported that school districts in her state were giving tax abatements to lure new jobs, but had to give $1.6 million for every wind energy job. Manufacturing jobs could be created for $166,000 each.

And who knew that green job creation was a bogus concept? Well, lots of us at Reason did. See a plethora of articles dealing with this issue here.

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  1. “Net jobs” is seldom mentioned. The object now is to put more man-hours into each megawatt-hour, after years of trying to slim down the system and minimize labor input.

    We’ll have details and details of shirtless men shoveling sun rays into the furnaces to make the engines of industry work.

    1. Who has determined the goal of increasing man hours per megawatt-hour?

      We could setup generator bikes and have the unemployed and welfare recipients peddle away. Once they get strong make the gear ratios less efficient…

    2. Laugh now, but few things more clearly illustrate the left’s exalted prime mover of job creation.

      I vaguely remember an episode in my grade school years where my Social Studies teacher waxed ecstatically on some New Deal anecdote. If I recall correctly, some prominent government bureaucrat was observing a new, massive earth mover breaking ground for some public works project. Someone said something to the effect of, “Amazing, isn’t it? It’s doing the work of a hundred men.” To this the bureaucrat triumphantly replied, “Then get rid of it and hire a hundred men!”

      My teacher expressed this as if it were some heroic deed. I was probably around ten or eleven years old at the time and even then I thought something about it was horribly suspect. From my perspective today it’s absurd beyond explanation, yet so many people somehow cling to this notion as being the natural course of “progress”.

      1. Yep, I was watching a news story a few months back about some of those anti-Walmart nuts trying to prevent Walmart from opening a store near them. This lady was on screen saying that yeah, Walmart brings jobs, but it brings fewer than their competitors. IOW, screw efficiency, we need more make-work jobs. After all, jobs are a right! Right?

    3. OM,

      Classic imagery. Thanks

  2. green job creation

    Of course it’s bogus greenwashed techno-triumphalism in a political attempt to keep industrial civilization going while placating those genuinely concerned with the ongoing ecological disaster.

    But Reason is trying to smear with guilt by association anybody who is “green,” (many who also think the government’s green-washed techno-triumphalism is a waste) and promote equally stupid Cornucopianism.

    So, if you want to play guilt by association, it’s my turn:

    I absolutely insist on protecting private property… we must encourage private initiative.” ~Adolph Hitler, March 24, 1942

    This stuff is so much fun.

    1. Chirp, chirp.

    2. I absolutely insist on protecting private property… we must encourage private initiative.” ~Adolph Hitler, March 24, 1942

      After all, what is meant by nationalization, by socialization? What has been changed by the fact that a factory is now owned by the State instead of by a Mr. Smith? But once directors and employees alike have been subjected to a universal discipline, there will be a new order for which all expressions used hitherto will be quite inadequate.

      …in the meantime they have entered a new relation; a powerful social force has caught them up. They themselves are changed. What are ownership and income to that? Why need we trouble to socialize banks and factories? We socialize human beings.

      Adolph Hitler, quoted by Rauschning

      Did you have a point?

    3. Connecting you to technological and industrial green policy is actually guilt by association in reverse, since they are at least marginally sane and you are not.

      If anyone should be complaining about guilt by association, it’s the Green Jobs movement. They should be complaining about being associated with you.

  3. school districts in her state were giving tax abatements to lure new jobs, but had to give $1.6 million for every wind energy job. Manufacturing jobs could be created for $166,000 each.

    Wrong.

    1. Wrong, give me $166,000 and I’ll shovel snow, mow the lawn, steal snacks from your fridge when your not around.

      1. Tim: Me too.

      2. Hell, I’ll dig holes and fill them back up for 100k.

        1. What is your dirt doing in my ditch, boy? You betta get it outta there.

  4. Re: White Imbecile,

    He was also quoted as saying: “I had only to develop logically what social democracy failed…. National Socialism is what Marxism might have been if it could have broken its absurd ties with a democratic order…. Why need we trouble to socialize banks and factories? We socialize human beings….”[43] In private, Hitler also said that “I absolutely insist on protecting private property… we must encourage private initiative”.[44] On yet another occasion he qualified that statement by saying that the government should have the power to regulate the use of private property for the good of the nation.[45] Hitler clearly believed that the lack of a precise economic programme was one of the Nazi Party’s strengths, saying: “The basic feature of our economic theory is that we have no theory at all.”[46]

    “Better yet, let’s say I am bullshitting all of you because that is who I am” – Adolf Hitler, what he was clearly thinking.

    1. The idea that there was anything like a free market in Nazi Germany is a hoot.

      1. Yeah, the fuhrerprinzip means that there is no such thing as property in the libertarian or classically liberal sense.

      2. Hitler put profits before people!

  5. The lead article on unconventional fossil fuels is well worth reading – new technologies are unlocking vast new supplies.

    So much for the “We’re running out! Quick, get me a solar panel!” argument.

    1. Once again the invisible hand of the market gives the statists the finger.

    2. But Matt Damon said it was running out in the movie Syriana.

  6. new technologies are unlocking vast new supplies.

    It’s almost as if price signals work more effectively than government mandates.

  7. The funny thing is that by forcing green energy producers and manufacturers to warp their operations to meet job-creation mandates, they are making green energy and green products more expensive and less efficient.

    Since the main obstacle to widespread deployment of green energy is cost, by demanding “more man hours per megawatt-hour” they are retarding the growth of green energy and not enhancing it.

    If they really and truly want rapid widespread green energy adoption every dollar of effort in this area should be focused on achieving cost reductions. They should be handing out subsidies for producing green energy while employing as few people as possible.

  8. Greenbedding or feathergreening?

    1. FWIW, I like Greenbedding better.

  9. I wonder if Reason writers use “thusly” just to piss people off. “Thus” is already an adverb. You do not need to add “-ly.” It’s like saying “I write wellly.”

  10. Recipe for more jobs: Make labor less efficient.

    How is this something new?

    1. Make labor less efficient.

      Also a recipe for a lower standard of living.

      At this rate, we’ll all be gamboling soon enough.

      1. But also a recipe for thousands of dues paying union members…

        Such a conundrum.

    2. I think one of the most egregious featherbedding instances I’ve ever heard of was that the union that represents musicians and singers in England got a clause in their contract that any show that used recorded music as an accompaniment to its performance (eg the Icecapades) had to hire the equivalent number of musicians and singers and pay them to sit around doing nothing during the performance.

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