Saturday, April 24, 2021

1889 Institute: The Economic Fantasizing of the Green Advocates


The Economic Fantasizing of the Green Advocates
By Byron Schlomach

In a confirmation hearing for President Biden’s Secretary of Transportation, Pete Buttigieg, Senator Ted Cruz complained about Biden killing the Keystone XL pipeline, eliminating 11,000 jobs. Buttigieg responded that “Biden’s climate agenda will create a net increase in jobs.” Buttigieg’s response, commonly given by climate activists when challenged on jobs, is pure, unmitigated, economic balderdash.

New technology, from steam engines to robotics, has generally freed resources to expand opportunities and increase standards of living. Green advocates presume, therefore, that any new technology will do the same. But there is a key feature of innovations that expand opportunity and jobs. They make production cheaper.

True growth-inducing innovations, like steam, the Bessemer process for producing steel, and refining and burning fossil fuels for energy are always a chance to lower costs. Consequently, they are adopted voluntarily. There is never any need for governments to force, bribe (through grants and subsidies), or tax advantage companies into adopting innovations that are truly beneficial – that is, that lower costs and produce a higher standard of living on top of more jobs for us all.

So, if green policies are to produce, on net, more jobs, as green advocates claim, why do they have to be forced on everyone? Obviously, it’s because they are more expensive. Companies that have foolishly taken on higher costs by going green are anxious to foist the same costs on everyone else. Claims that wind and solar power are cheaper are only true if subsidies and tax breaks, the cost of building wind turbines and solar panels, the expanses of land they must occupy, the costs of adding to the grid, and less electrical reliability are ignored. Some German manufacturers are concerned that Germany’s green grid is unreliable and are looking to relocate facilities to the United States. Some California-based manufacturers are considering leaving that state in search of reliable power.

Green advocates argue, “You’re not accounting for the costs of destroying the environment and the ultimate destruction of prosperity!” But this matters only if apocalyptic predictions of man’s impact on the environment from burning fossil fuels are correct. Green advocates’ predictions regarding climate, weather, ice melt, and sea levels have proven incorrect, and the claim that all scientists agree has been debunked. It seems justified to ignore the hysterics of the doomsayers.

On the other hand, it must be admitted that it’s possible to create more jobs where government is artificially inflating costs with green policies. If everyone is paid significantly less and the average standard of living falls considerably, there can be more jobs, on net, as a result of environmental policy run amok. We have to become poorer for the greens to stay rich.

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