New green jobs may cost other jobs

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - Tony Blank­ley

In 1845, the French econ­o­mist Fred­eric Bas­tiat pub­lished a satir­i­cal pe­ti­tion from the “Man­u­fac­tur­ers of Can­dles” to the French Cham­ber of Deputies that ridiculed the ar­gu­ments made on be­half of in­ef­fi­cient in­dus­tries to pro­tect them from more ef­fi­cient pro­duc­ers.

“We are suf­fer­ing from the ru­inous com­pe­ti­tion of a ri­val who ap­par­ently works un­der con­di­tions so far su­pe­rior to our own for the pro­duc­tion of light that he is flood­ing the do­mes­tic mar­ket with it at an in­cred­i­bly low price; for the mo­ment he ap­pears, our sales cease, all the con­sumers turn to him, and a branch of French in­dus­try whose ram­i­fi­ca­tions are in­nu­mer­able is all at once re­duced to com­plete stag­na­tion. This ri­val, which is none other than the sun, is wag­ing war on us [. . .]

“We ask you to be so good as to pass a law re­quir­ing the clos­ing of all win­dows, dorm­ers, sky­lights, in­side and out­side shut­ters, cur­tains, case­ments, bull’seyes, dead­lights, and blinds - in short, all open­ings, holes, chinks, and fis­sures through which the light of the sun is wont to en­ter houses, to the detri­ment of the fair in­dus­tries with which, we are proud to say, we have en­dowed the coun­try [. . .]”

This fa­mous put-down high­lights the prob­lem of claim­ing that pro­tect­ing in­ef­fi­cient pro- duc­ers cre­ates good jobs. Ob­vi­ously, the money the French would waste on un­needed can­dles could be spent on needed prod­ucts and ser­vices — to the in­creased pros­per­ity of the French econ­omy. I men­tion this in the con­text of the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s as­ser­tion that sub­si­diz­ing al­ter­na­tive en­ergy sources will cre­ate 5 mil­lion green jobs. To that end, Congress passed in the stim­u­lus bill $110 bil­lion to sub­si­dize and oth­er­wise sup­port such green ef­forts. In ad­di­tion, in con­cep­tual sup­port of that ar­gu­ment, the ad­min­is­tra­tion has re­ferred to “what’s hap­pen­ing in coun­tries like Spain, Ger­many and Ja­pan, where they’re mak­ing real in­vest­ments in re­new­able en­ergy.”

Well, last month, one of Spain’s lead­ing uni­ver­si­ties — Univer­si­dad Rey Juan Car­los — pub­lished an au­thor­i­ta­tive “Study of the Ef­fects on Em­ploy­ment of Pub­lic Aid to Re­new­able En­ergy Sources.” The re­port notes: “This study is im­por­tant for sev­eral rea­sons. First is that the Span­ish ex­pe­ri­ence is con­sid­ered a lead­ing ex- am­ple to be fol­lowed by many pol­icy ad­vo­cates and politi­cians. This study marks the very first time a crit­i­cal anal­y­sis of the ac­tual per­for­mance and im­pact has been made. Most im­por­tant, it demon­strates that the Span­ish/Euro­pean Union-style ‘green jobs’ agenda now pro­moted in the United States in fact de­stroys jobs, de­tail­ing this in terms of jobs de­stroyed per job cre­ated [. . .]” ad­di­tion, about two-thirds of those “green” jobs were just to set up the en­ergy source in construction, fabri­ca­tion, in­stal­la­tion, mar­ket­ing and ad­min­is­tra­tion. Only 1 in 10 of the green jobs cre­ated was a per­ma­nent job op­er­at­ing and main­tain­ing the re­new­able sources of en­ergy.

Each wind-in­dus­try job cre­ated in Spain re­quired a sub­sidy of about $1.4 mil­lion. Over­all, the av­er­age sub­sidy cost for each

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