Recently, a spate of bad news on the “green economy” front has led former advocates of the idea to some soul searching. The bankruptcy of Solyndra; the lack of sales of the GM Volt; the withering of wind and solar power installations as subsidies dry up … suddenly, former green job boosters are having an epiphany:
Over at the New York Times, David Brooks writes:
A few years ago, it seemed as though the Green Economy could be a big part of the answer.
New clean-energy sources could address environmental, economic and national security problems all at once. In his 2008 convention speech, Barack Obama promised to create five million green economy jobs. The U.S. Conference of Mayors estimated in April 2009 that green jobs could account for 10 percent of new job growth over the next 30 years.
Alas, it was not to be. The gigantic public investments in green energy may be stimulating innovation and helping the environment. But they are not evidence that the government knows how to create private-sector jobs.
This should have come as a surprise to absolutely nobody, since the fundamental fallacies of the whole “green economy” myth have been known for over 150 years. The entire idea is simply a form of magical thinking:
Governments don’t have money: They can only create jobs by taking job-creating money out of the another part of the economy. Government “job creation programs” destroy jobs on net, they don’t create them.
Governments can’t predict the future: They have zero knowledge about what technologies will work, will find a willing market, and will create jobs.
Governments suck at picking winning technologies: With no market restraints on reckless gambling, planners simply pick whatever technology that they happen to love, and bet taxpayer money on spreading it. Sure, every so often, the planner gets lucky, but more often, they make bad bets and simply hide the losses and the negative side-effects.
As much as I love my name, calling something “green” won’t magically turn a dog into a pony: The “technologies” repackaged as “green” are serial failures in the world’s free-enterprise economies. Wind power; solar power; battery cars; fluorescent lighting; super-efficient (and super-expensive) cars, homes, appliances; smart grids that let regulators control your water heater; mass transit; forced high density living; all these supposedly “green ideas” have failed dozens upon dozens of times. The only mystery left is why people are pretending to be surprised.
In the ideal world, this latest stupendous failure of the push for a planned-energy economy will be the end of the matter, and governments will embrace a free-enterprise energy economy. Of course, we don’t live in that world. Instead, watch for the re-branding, where “green” becomes “clean,” and the same failed ideas are offered up as the new panacea.