The great "green jobs" fiasco

The belief that green jobs would drive a new era of American prosperity was — like the large majority of green policy chat — intellectually incoherent. The goods that drive renewable energy industries, like so much else in this world, are far cheaper to construct in Asia. As the NYT piece describes, SolFocus, a widely-celebrated solar power company based, only has 90 employees at their San Jose headquarters. The solar panels are assembled in China. Whether a product is an ordinary t-shirt or an admirable piece of world saving green technology like a wind turbine has zilch, zero, nada influence on the mind of the manufacturer trying to decide where it should be made…

It’s understandable and even forgivable that a political candidate would talk about green jobs on the hustings, especially when the Democratic Party is divided between job hungry blue collar workers and fastidious greens who break out in hives in the presence of coal. What worries me isn’t that the President’s team advised him to make a few speeches on this subject; if a candidate can’t throw chum to the base now and then what’s the point of having elections? What worries me is that they didn’t understand that making something this bogus a central plank of his actual governing plan on an issue as vital as jobs would have serious costs down the road…

Green jobs are the Democratic equivalent of Tree of Life Medicare; they scratch every itch of every important segment of the base and if they actually existed they would be an excellent policy choice. But since they are no more available to solve our jobs problem than the Tree of Life stands ready to make health care affordable, a green jobs policy boils down to a promise to feed the masses on tasty unicorn ribs from the Great Invisible Unicorn Herd that only the greens can see.