Renewable Energy | It's Excellent That Renewable Energy Doesn't Create Many Green Jobs For Jobs Are A Cost Not A Benefit
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Renewable Energy | It's Excellent That Renewable Energy Doesn't Create Many Green Jobs For Jobs Are A Cost Not A Benefit

The Wall Street Journal has an interesting walk through some of the myths about renewable energy . It’s not quite (quite!) as expensive as many think, variability isn’t entirely a killer and so on. But the one that interests me most is the assertion that renewables just don’t seem to be creating that many green jobs :

During the 2008 campaign, Barack Obama touted the prospect that investing in clean energy could produce five million “green jobs.” The idea of creating jobs helped underpin the $90 billion clean-energy stimulus in 2009 and later efforts, and remains a staple of administration rhetoric.

But renewable energy has not been the job creator that its boosters envisioned. While the amount of wind and

solar power has more than doubled since President Obama took office, renewable-energy jobs have not.

This is excellent of course for jobs (whether green or not) are not a benefit of whatever plan we have they are a cost of that plan. So, that we are able to produce more renewable energy without creating many more jobs is an excellent outcome.

Yes, I know, I know, this isn’t the way that the political rhetoric usually goes. But think this through for a moment before you start shouting at me. Jobs really are a cost.

Start with it from the point of view of the individual: neither I nor you particularly want a job. We most certainly aren’t all that fond of having to do the work that a job entails. We absolutely love being able to consume things, of course. And we all view having an income as most useful in being able to purchase the things we want to consume. But we all also view the job, the work we have to do, as a cost of getting that income so that we can consume stuff. The job is the cost, the consumption the benefit here.

Now look at it from the point of view of whoever is doing the employing of that labour. They certainly look upon a job as being a cost: they’ve got to pay out the wages to get people to do it after all. The benefit is that they get that work done so that they can go sell the goods or services produced. But the job itself, that’s still a cost to them. We even record the wages they pay on the cost ledger side of their accounting books, not on the benefits or income side.

Finally, think of it from the point of view of the whole society. No, don’t start thinking about “full employment” and the like just yet. Think instead about

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