Candidate Barack Hussein Obama said during the 2008 campaign that he would create 5 million well-paying green jobs within 10 years. So let’s see how, after three full years, he has done. If the next seven years are anything like the last three, Obama had better hurry.
Obama’s jobs plan was based on a greening of the economy, but the green jobs aren’t materializing as fast as he promised. That and/or each job created or saved (whatever that means) costs quite a bit of money. For example, in 2011, Obama toured a Johnson Controls plant in Michigan, where $300 million in conservation grants produced 150 jobs, $2 million per job. Wow! I can only hope that I get one of those jobs. But I’ll bet that the job doesn’t pay what it cost to create.
Stimulus money intended to boost the green economy hasn’t been well spent. Green Vehicles of Salinas, CA, which has burned through more than $500,000 in money “invested” by the city, declared bankruptcy 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. A $20 million federal grant for home weatherization in Seattle, WA, has retrofitted only three houses and created 14 jobs in more than a year. California was awarded $186 million in federal stimulus money in 2011 to weatherize homes. So far, the program has created the equivalent of only 538 full-time jobs. A $59 million effort to train people for green jobs in California produced only 719 job placements.
SolFocus, produces large, free-standing solar panels, designs solar panels in the US, but the bulk of its employment is in China where the panels are actually made. Said a company spokesman, “Taxes and labor rates” are cheaper there.
Gürcan Gülen, a senior energy economist at the Bureau for Economic Geology at the University of Texas at Austin, said job creation, “Cannot be defended as another benefit” of well-meaning green policies. In fact, the number of jobs that these policies create is likely to be offset (or worse) by the number of jobs that they destroy. Gülen also found that proponents of green jobs have not distinguished between construction jobs which are temporary, and longer-term operational jobs which are more permanent. Some claims of job creation have rested on assumptions of green energy production that go far beyond realistic estimates.
Some researchers claim that all sorts of other economic benefits will accrue from investment in green energy, including increased productivity, higher disposable incomes, and lower operating costs for businesses. Gülen concludes that the assertions are, “…Not backed up by any evidence and are inconsistent with the realities of green technologies and energy markets.” The primary problem is that green energy technologies are still very inefficient and expensive compared to fossil fuels. Deploying less efficient, more expensive alternative energy sources will hurt businesses and consumers, not help them.
On April 5, 2012, Jared Bernstein, former White House economic adviser, said in Las Vegas, NV, ”When I worked for the administration I was very active in the implementation of the Recovery Act. And one thing we found about clean energy was that if you build a solar plant you are going to hire a lot of people. If you run a solar plant, it doesn’t take a ton of people to run some of these plants. The labor-saving technology around the actual production of clean energy is quite intense. So some of these firms don’t employ as many people as you might hope.” One of the main points of the stimulus was to create jobs. So the fact that it doesn’t is quite troubling, especially in light of all the money (that we didn’t have) spent.
Green energy may produce jobs for highly skilled engineers, but it will not produce many jobs for US manufacturing workers.
OK, all you Kool-Aid drinkers, invent some way to blame “Wascally Wepublicans.”
But that’s just my opinion.