Supporters of the just-passed stimulus bill have called it a lot of things, but one thing they can’t yet call it is a success. Only time will tell if the measures actually jump- start the economy as promised or instead prove to be a costly drag on it. History and economic common sense strongly suggest the latter, as the Heritage Foundation has repeatedly warned.
Among the promises made is that the energy and environmental measures in the stimulus- 43 billion in direct outlays and 20 billion in tax measures – will create many so-called green jobs, for example those who build and install the wind turbines and solar panels that are now being encouraged through generous tax credits. There is reason for doubt that this is a workable jobs program. For one thing, those billions in tax dollars needed to support energy alternatives cost jobs elsewhere. Add to that the fact that the energy from these sources is more expensive to produce and transmit, and high energy costs are also job killers.
Overall, the green jobs agenda could cost more jobs than are created. The real world evidence seems to prove this out. Those places that have done the most to push green jobs – California and western Europe – have higher unemployment and weaker economies than the U.S as a whole.
In any event, before we know how the new stimulus bill will turn out (and quite possibly because we don’t) proponents of the green jobs argument are already treating it like a success and are trying to repeat it in other measures that will impose more of the same. For example, expect an energy bill in the next two months that will pile on additional favors for wind and solar power, including a national requirement that more of it be used. Even hyper-expensive cap and trade bills designed to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels have been touted by some for the jobs created as businesses take steps in order to comply.
The green jobs logic is dubious, to put it mildly. At the very least, we should wait to see how the stimulus unfolds before we expand this agenda.