Are Green Jobs ‘Gone with the Wind’?

Posted on Tue 08/23/2011 by

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By Ernest Istook

President Obama plans a big jobs announcement—right after he finishes his vacation in Martha’s Vineyard.  Expect him to say that green jobs are the key to recovery—that they will generate millions of jobs and a new era of prosperity.

Oh, you’ve already heard that one?  So has everyone else.  Even The New York Times has begun to debunk Obama’s claim, headlining, “Number of Green Jobs Fails to Live Up to Promises.” Obama’s claim is getting quite old and quite expensive, but remains just as false as ever.

If Congress’ “super-committee” wants to cut wasteful spending, the green jobs agenda is a great place to start.

Obama’s 2011 Labor Day announcement is likely to echo his similar jobs announcement just after Labor Day in 2010, asking for another $50-billion in spending.

His stimulus plans always include green jobs and lots of greenbacks for them.  As the White House website quotes Obama, “the transition to clean energy has the potential to grow our economy and create millions of jobs – but only if we accelerate that transition.”

On his Midwest bus tour this month, Obama pledged an additional $2.4-billion for green jobs, especially to make batteries for electric cars.  It was another re-hash.  The 2009 “stimulus” bill already provided $2.4-billion for the same purpose.  A typical result was reported by CNS, “From that amount, $300 million in grants went to Johnson Controls to manufacture batteries.  According to the White House, thus far the firm has added 150 jobs because of the grant. That means the government spent about $2 million per job.”

Green jobs are about government subsidies, cronyism, and job cannibalism. They aren’t self-sustaining because they rely on giveaways of taxpayer money and they cannibalize existing jobs.

As Aaron Glantz wrote in his NYTimes article, “federal and state efforts to stimulate creation of green jobs have largely failed” and Obama’s goal of creating 5 million new green jobs within 10 years is a “pipe dream.”

Many others have known this for quite some time.

The Washington Times reported almost a year ago, “After months of hype about the potential for green energy to stimulate job growth and lead the economy out of a recession, the results turned out to be disappointing, if not dismal.”

ABC News found that 80% of the $2 billion set aside in the “stimulus” package for “green jobs” is going overseas — mostly to China.

Too many green jobs and renewable energy companies can’t make it without taxpayer subsidies.  Some can’t make it even with that help, such as Evergreen Solar in Massachusetts, which went bankrupt even with $40-million of help (and were offered even more).

Because of how they backfire, it’s proper to ask whether these are “Green Jobs? Or Gangrene?”  Academics have explained the backfire in articles such as “Seven Myths of Green Jobs.”

The green agenda soaks taxpayers.  But it also packs a double wallop because taxpayers are first hit to pay for the subsidies, then everyone is hit by higher energy prices caused by energy taxes and regulations.

The waste should be obvious even to die-hard liberals like Rep. Maxine Waters (D, CA), who last week told MSNBC, “green jobs have been about a lot of talk and not a lot has been happening on that.”

Actually, a lot of spending has been happening, just not much job creation.

Sadly, when it comes to green jobs, President Obama’s Labor Day jobs speech is likely to be just another summer rerun.

Ernest Istook contributes posts on public policy issues at The Foundry. He served for 14 years in the House Of Representatives before joining The Heritage Foundation . http://www.heritage.org/  where he is a Distinguished Fellow.

Read more informative articles at Heritage – The Foundry . http://blog.heritage.org/

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