Sunday, August 21, 2011

Obama's Grand Green Jobs Strategy a Total Disappointment

Besides healing the planet and returning the rising seas to their natural beds, then-Senator Obama promised that his administration would create beautiful green jobs: well paid, stable, abundant jobs, unionized, with full benefits and making the earth healthier and the American people richer. As President, he stayed on message: even after the truther-enabling “green jobs czar” Van Jones left the administration, green jobs have been one of the President’s signature policies for putting the American people back to work. _GWPF_WalterRussellMead

Cranach: Garden of Eden (Wikipedia)

Something unexpected happened on the way to the Garden of Eden. Despite massive spending and stimulus, the green jobs revolution fizzled. Wind energy failed to meet expectations, as did solar. Electric vehicles were not ready for prime time, because electrical storage batteries are still 3 breakthroughs away from being up to the task. And the "smart power grid" is proving to be one more way that government and malicious hackers can monitor private activity, and shut it down.
Obama promised to create 5 million green jobs within ten years. Investors’ Business Daily has a list of that plan’s successes so far.

- On his recent jobs tour Obama stopped at a Johnson Controls plant in southern Michigan, which received $300 million in green grants and plans to create a whopping total of 150 jobs, at a cost of $2 million per position.

- Evergreen Solar Inc., which received unknown amounts of green stimulus funds on the hope that it would create “between 90 and 100 jobs” two years ago, filed for bankruptcy this week, $485.6 million in debt. Their Massachusetts plant once employed 800 people; in March it was replaced with a factory in Wuhan, China.

- Green Vehicles, an electric car “maker” in Salinas, California, took $500,000 from the city and almost $200,000 from the state but has failed to produce even one car.

- And as reported earlier on this site, Seattle was one of a handful of cities that received $20 million in federal grants as part of Retrofit Ramp-Up, a program designed to refit houses with more energy efficient materials. Unfortunately, as KOMO4 of Seattle reports, after more than a year “only three homes had been retrofitted and just 14 new jobs have emerged from the program.” _WalterRussellMead

As noted above, many of Obama's expensive green stimulus programs cost $1 million to $2 million per job. Unfortunately, these were largely make-work, administrative jobs, rather than the entry-level practical jobs as promised.
Federal and state efforts to stimulate creation of green jobs have largely failed, government records show. Two years after it was awarded $186 million in federal stimulus money to weatherize drafty homes, California has spent only a little over half that sum and has so far created the equivalent of just 538 full-time jobs in the last quarter…

The Economic Development Department in California reports that $59 million in state, federal and private money dedicated to green jobs training and apprenticeship has led to only 719 job placements — the equivalent of an $82,000 subsidy for each one. _NYT_via_WalterRussellMead
A very sad commentary on what was once considered a grand crusade. Read the entire article at the link above.

The ongoing Obama recession has not helped the green revolution take off, of course. But if you look at the green revolution as just one more way for Obama to divert government spending from the private sector, into the pockets of friends and supporters, the entire effort makes a lot more sense. trends suffer when a listless economy sends old-energy prices into a rollercoaster spiral.

This possibility is reflected in the less-than-impressive growth in the “green jobs” sector, which was supposed to lift America out of the recent recession. The New York Times’ Bay Citizen project surveyed the field and found some rather disappointing numbers in job growth, job training programs and even something as simple as weatherization projects. _PopSci
Perhaps the green revolution was always just about appearances, and not about results, like so many other aspects of the current US administration. Just enough hoopla! to satisfy the rubes, without the need to accomplish anything productive.

In the eyes of such political machinations, it is enough just to get re-elected. If the news on the street is not as good as the public wishes, a great communicator can always make enough excuses, cast enough blame in other directions, and toss out enough goodies, to keep the plantation operating.

Adapted from an earlier article at Al Fin

No comments: