Alex Massie

Green Jobs? Really?

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Could there be anything nicer and popular than "green jobs"? Gordon Brown and Baack Obama has determined that a "green" job - all fresh and wholesome and wrapped in the (endlessly recyclable!) promise of a "sustainable" future - is better than any other kind of job. Including, probably, the one you have right now. Also: Green is the Future. Apparently. To which you might say, "aye right" and your suspicions might not be misplaced. Here's Michael Levi in Slate:

Green jobs seem to be an ideal solution. But just because "green" and "jobs" are both in demand doesn't mean that policies focused on creating "green jobs" make sense. In fact, a close look at the economics of "green jobs" suggests that if we try to find a lasting solution to these challenges with a single set of policies, we might fail to deliver on both fronts...

Indeed, the most successful green jobs program to date is one that no environmentalist wants to brag about: the conversion to corn-based ethanol. A recent United Nations report estimated that the heavily subsidized U.S. ethanol industry provides employment for 154,000 Americans, about five times as many as the wind power industry and nearly 10 times as many as the solar industry. That goes a long way to explaining why, despite mounting evidence showing that corn ethanol is a failure (some would say a disaster) on the environmental front, U.S. policy appears to be on cruise control. At its base, corn ethanol is not a green policy so much as a jobs policy—and its success in that respect has made it almost impossible for the government to change course. Now not every green "revolution" need follow the absurd ethanol programme. But we should treat government claims about creating "green" jobs with some scepticism and remember that even Green Goodness comes at a price. Did I say "even"? I meant especially.

[Via the always-super Will Wilkinson who makes a sound case for the state funding of scientific research and an even sounder one that the government should stay out of the "Pick a Winning Technology" game.]

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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