3.02.2009

Green Jobs: Hot Stuff or Hot Air


I don't agree with everything in this article - "The Green-Jobs Engine That Can’t" - but it's worth a look because it reminds us that we need to be very careful about what we're expecting out of the "green" revolution. If it is part of retooling our physical plant and our human capital away from dying ways and toward approaches that treat natural resources as the scarce and precious things they are, good. If subsidies can ease the otherwise painful transition away from inputs we're addicted to and industries that no longer can produce living wage jobs, good. If we government can give private industry a boost in innovating its way to a leadership position in technologies and processes that are demanded the world over on account of new environmental realities, good.

But if we carelessly ask for dough to prop up pet projects in the hopes people will take our inspiring rhetoric at face value and not ask for a more reasonable cost-benefit assessment, not so good. If we use taxpayer dollars to pay people to do things that the market isn't demanding instead of leaving those taxpayer dollars alone so they can be allocated to their highest and best use, not so good. And if our reliance on balky federal funding and programmatic mechanisms lead to convoluted actions that keep the money flowing but work against financial profitability and energy efficiency, not so good. So let's keep our eyes open on this.
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