During the first presidential debate, Chris Wallace asked Joe Biden about his $2 trillion climate change “spend-fest.” Mr. Wallace had studied Biden’s climate plan, which includes “upgrading four million buildings, weatherizing two million homes over four years.”
Responded Mr. Biden:
“The fact is, it’s going to create millions of good-paying jobs, and these tax incentives for people to weatherize” are “going to make the economy much safer.”
Perhaps Biden cribbed his answer from Al Gore in Wired magazine last year, suggests Andy Kessler in the WSJ.
“Now, think about the Green New Deal,” Mr. Gore wrote. “What it encompasses are two things we have to solve: the climate crisis and the opportunity to create tens of millions of new jobs.” That includes “retrofitting residential, commercial, and industrial buildings.”
Impressive Sounding But Dead Wrong
“This is what passes for progressive policy these days. It sounds impressive but it’s dead wrong,” continues Mr. Kessler. These jobs are “unproductive work that subtracts from societal wealth rather than adding to it. A waste of resources.”
We saw similar thinking this summer. Vicky Osterweil, who wrote the book “In Defense of Looting,” told NPR that looting is “basically nonviolent” as “most stores are insured; it’s just hurting insurance companies on some level. It’s just money. It’s just property.”
Most green jobs are not productive jobs. They’re public-works projects … that raise the price of energy. I know: In California, energy is 52% costlier than in the average for states. That’s negative productivity. How bad could it get? Gina McCarthy, CEO of the Natural Resources Defense Council, told Bloomberg, “Well if you asked me how much I would spend on clean energy in the future for our kids, I’d say all of it. That’s my price tag.” Yikes.
Jobs for jobs’ sake never works. If we put aside productivity we might as well have an economy of hand-washing each other’s laundry. Or digging canals with spoons. But washing machines and backhoes are more productive, with fewer people. Adding insulation is not productive. It only vaporizes resources created by those who are productive.
The huge opportunity in today’s economy is to lower the cost of more complex services by getting pesky humans out of the way. Wait—put humans out of work? The horror. But better jobs always, always emerge. Decades of technology-driven job destruction led to a 50-year-low 3.5% unemployment rate, before Covid.