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The Green-Jobs Scam

Rich Lowry looks at the “green” part of the green-jobs czar’s demise. He remarks on how unremarkable the Marxist Van Jones was within the environmental movement. He explains:

How did a radical agitator like Jones arrive in the Obama administration? He’s just part of the fraternity. “We were so delighted to be able to recruit him into the White House,” Valerie Jarrett said a few weeks ago. “We were watching him.” In its story about his ouster, the Washington Post called him a “towering figure” in the environmental movement.

Jones had been the Great Black Hope of environmentalism. The movement is only slightly less white than the Daughters of the American Revolution. So it naturally took to Jones with his racially charged rhetoric about “greening the ghetto.” He offered street cred the average vanilla-latte environmentalist lacked.

For Jones, the environmental movement is a perfect vehicle. In today’s America, it is the most natural place for someone with Marxist sensibilities and aspirations outside a college English department. A frontal assault on capitalism on behalf of the working people of the world is passé and doomed. A stealth assault on capitalism in the name of saving the planet is chic and entirely plausible. In this sense, green is the new red.

It is also a racket, of course. Left unsaid in all this is the number of “green jobs” created or creatable by government. Sure, you can “create” jobs, at least temporarily, by enough government expenditure, but only by taking money from individuals and businesses that could be, among other things, creating jobs (many more as it turns out) on their own. As David Kreutzer of Heritage put it:

Government expenditures are not free. Economists know this and most others recognize it when they take the time to think about it. Unfortunately, it seems not everybody takes that time.

In a story fit for satire in The Onion, a renewable energy research group, bankrolled by a $1.1 billion subsidy from the Department of Energy, concludes that huge government subsidies for renewable energy don’t reduce employment after all. However, their reasoning works only so long as the subsidies don’t come out of anybody’s pocket—a practical and theoretical impossibility.

In fact, by subsidizing green jobs while regulating other disfavored industries and taxing energy, the net result is a loss of jobs. And those lost jobs are private-sector jobs that don’t require the constant support and meddling of an ever expanding government, one with plenty of room for Van Jones.

Moreover, as Gov. Mitch Daniels pointed out earlier this year in explaining the job-killing aspect of cap-and-trade legislation, the whole scheme looks an awful lot like something the Left constantly rails against — imperialism:

Quite simply, it looks like imperialism. This bill would impose enormous taxes and restrictions on free commerce by wealthy but faltering powers — California, Massachusetts and New York — seeking to exploit politically weaker colonies in order to prop up their own decaying economies. Because proceeds from their new taxes, levied mostly on us, will be spent on their social programs while negatively impacting our economy, we Hoosiers decline to submit meekly.

The Waxman-Markey legislation would more than double electricity bills in Indiana. Years of reform in taxation, regulation and infrastructure-building would be largely erased at a stroke. In recent years, Indiana has led the nation in capturing international investment, repatriating dollars spent on foreign goods or oil and employing Americans with them. Waxman-Markey seems designed to reverse that flow. “Closed: Gone to China” signs would cover Indiana’s stores and factories.

So among the many disconcerting things about the Jones debacle is the realization that just about everyone in the administration thought Jones was doing something useful. It was “useful” only if the end game is to accelerate the growth of government and the crippling of the private sector.



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