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'Green' costs too much green

January 18, 2010 - Lee Smith
I don't mind the concept of "green jobs" as much as the methods by which arrogant know-it-alls would like to cram the concept down America's throat. Their intense (frantic?) cheerleading will not change basic economic facts, nor solve inherent political problems bound to stymie any green jobs initiatives.

This week, the StarTribune of Minneapolis reported that President Obama's green energy/green jobs initiative is being bungled by federal bureaucrats enamored with red tape. In Minnesota alone, the effect has been not only to prevent green jobs from developing, but failure to incentivize and subsidize the emerging green industries has resulted in net job losses. How? Without consumer rebates to invest in more costly green products — say solar power for homes — there is no demand. Banks are smart enough to know it and hold back credit to business. Venture capital dries up.

All of this is only one side of the story, though. The question must be asked: Why subsidize the "green" industry in the first place. If its products and services have value that outweighs other energy products, won't those products and services emerge on top? The answer is yes, but only over time and after product development. What the "greens" fail to recognize is that COST matters. Other sources of energy — natural gas, coal, petroleum — remain better buys. (Hence the need by some for a politically driven "crisis" like "climate change.")

A practical approach to future energy needs would focus on using CHEAP and ABUNDANT resources first, allowing more sophisticated technologies to be developed and become marketable over time. When the first computers came out, only a few universities and industries had them. They were super-expensive and laughably slow by the standards of today. To have forced everyone to have computers at the time would have bankrupted everyone. This analogy applies to any product under development, coming in any color of the rainbow you care to imagine.


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