Saturday, February 27, 2010

One 'Green' Job Kills Two Others (Or More)

Greens like Obama often assert that using government to encourage 'green' technology will decrease unemployment.

Veronique du Rugy says otherwise, and I'm much more inclined to believe her than nearly anyone else.
This study, from the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos in Spain shows that the reality is quite different. After examining Spain’s experience with an aggressive wind-power program, the researchers concluded, among other things, the cost of creating a green job in Spain was 571,000 Euros each (so roughly $800,000) and for each green job created 2 private jobs were lost.

In fact, as Sunil Sharan demonstrates, some 'green' technology — like the 'Smart Grid' — is actually designed to reduce the number of jobs...
Now let's consider job losses. It takes one worker today roughly 15 minutes to read a single meter. So in a day, a meter reader can scan about 30 meters, or about 700 meters a month. Meters are typically read once a month, making it the base period to calculate meter-reading jobs. Reading a million meters every month engages about 1,400 personnel. In five years, 20 million manually read meters are expected to disappear, taking with them some 28,000 meter-reading jobs.

In other words, instead of creating jobs, smart metering will probably result in net job destruction. This should not be surprising because the main method of making the electrical grid "smart" is by automating its functions. Automation by definition obviates the need for people.
...and that's as it should be. As free market economists have noted again and again, it's easy to create full employment by simply having half the unemployed, for example, dig ditches and the other half fill them in again. Only the free market can create long-term productive employment.

Of course, they also point out what should be obvious to any casual reader of history. There have been many jobs eliminated by technology, but such advances invariably free up resources to create even more — and more productive — jobs in the future.

So much for the typical fantasy-based — and counter-productive — Progressive optimism over state-coerced social engineering in employment.

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