A green jobs scheme has failed. Over the shock yet? I’ve always meant to ask one of the enthusiasts for these schemes why they do not also support a job-creating proposal to forbid the generation of electricity by any means other than men on treadmills, but I have not done so for fear of giving them ideas.
I was lying earlier. I am not surprised at all and do not expect you to be. The best that any government “job creation” scheme can ever do is “create” a few jobs in some specific place or profession while the spotlight is on that place or profession – at the cost of destroying the wealth that actually creates long term jobs, but in a conveniently spread out way so no one much notices. Greens strive to convince us that there are external costs paid by the community as a whole when jets fly or factories produce geegaws. “Look at the whole picture,” they urge. “Don’t be bedazzled by the transitory benefit accruing to a few and fail to see the larger but subtler harm being borne by the many.” They have a point. I wish they could apply it to ‘job creation’.
Apparently, however, this Seattle scheme was even a bust in its own terms. It withered even before the spotlight moved on.
The unglamorous work of insulating crawl spaces and attics had emerged as a silver bullet in a bleak economy – able to create jobs and shrink carbon footprint – and the announcement came with great fanfare.
McGinn had joined Vice President Joe Biden in the White House to make it. It came on the eve of Earth Day. It had heady goals: creating 2,000 living-wage jobs in Seattle and retrofitting 2,000 homes in poorer neighborhoods.
But more than a year later, Seattle’s numbers are lackluster. As of last week, only three homes had been retrofitted and just 14 new jobs have emerged from the program. Many of the jobs are administrative, and not the entry-level pathways once dreamed of for low-income workers. Some people wonder if the original goals are now achievable.
I enjoyed the implication that there are others who do not wonder at all, no sir, no sliver of doubt that the original goals might not be met has ever crossed their minds.
That was not the only part of this article rich in irony. Look at this:
“Who’s benefitting from this program right now – it doesn’t square with what the aspiration was,” said Howard Greenwich, the policy director of Puget Sound Sage, an economic-justice group. He urged the city to revisit its social-equity goals.
….Greenwich said the energy retrofit market has turned out to be extremely complicated, with required hammering out of job standards, hiring practices, wages and how best to measure energy benefits.
Market? Where was the market there? The things that have “turned out” (talking as if it all happened by chance) to be “extremely complicated” (that I can believe) are the workings of the interlocking tangle of government rules and protections that people like him and his “economic justice” group advocate. Job standards. Hiring practices. How best to measure energy benefits on some government form. It is sad for all those whose hopes are dashed by these schemes, like the mugs here in the UK who trained as assessors to issue Energy Performance Certificates, or like the unfortunates who got burnt metaphorically and literally in the great Australian insulation debacle. (Not surprisingly, Tim Blair, chronicler of that saga, also has a post about this Seattle fandango. Mine was started first, though.) But what a joke when the very thing that reduces the progressive silver bullet to a twist of mangled brass is… all the stuff that progressives wanted all along.
On second thoughts, I need not worry about giving them dangerous ideas. The great ‘men on treadmills’ job creation scheme would never get moving. It would have to be persons on treadmills regardless of gender, age, religious belief or sexual orientation for a start. And what about disabled access?