Green Jobs: Charging Windmills


by Susan Stamper Brown

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) finally completed part of an $8 million project in September that included coming up with a definition for “Green Jobs.” The BLS defined green jobs as: Jobs in businesses that produce goods or provide services that benefit the environment or conserve natural resources – or jobs in which workers’ duties involve making their establishment’s production processes more environmentally friendly or use fewer natural resources.

It is wise that the Obama administration would finally come up with a definition for green jobs considering approximately $92 billion of the original 2009 stimulus bill was designated for renewable energy projects that would in turn create green jobs for America. But when you dig a little deeper you find that’s not exactly the case. We’ve all heard that building windmills, solar panels and aluminum cars that run on cow pee will save the planet, or at least the economy, one green job at a time. But according to a September 2009 Washington Times article, the University of Maryland’s Dr. Peter Morici found that, “Subsidies for windmills and solar panels created lots of jobs” – in China.

Chasing windmills to slay the big, bad monster is not a new idea. Don Quixote, or the man from “La Mancha” tried it. If you remember the story, the “giants” Quixote thought he saw were ironically – windmills. Another Spaniard, (and far from fictional) the University of Juan Carlos’ Dr. Gabriel Calzada Alvarez studied the effects green jobs had on Spain’s failed economy. In his research paper, “Study on the effects on employment of public aid to renewable energy sources,” Alvarez specifically warns America that a Spanish/EU-style renewable energy program will destroy jobs and our economy.

Alvarez found the actual cost to create one green job is 571,138 euro or around $774,597.13 USD. Multiply that number by the five million jobs we were promised would be created and you come up with a lamentable number of taxpayer dollars wasted, but that unbelievably is not the most costly expense.

Alvarez’ research found that for every single green job created, 2.2 existing jobs are effectively destroyed. For example, if the administration effectively creates 5 million green jobs, it could potentially cost Americans up to 11 million existing jobs – resulting in a net loss of approximately 6 million jobs. Alvarez’s research revealed a threatening 31 percent electricity rate increase leading to rising unemployment when businesses are forced to relocate to countries that embrace a less “green” and more affordable free trade environment.

Certain aspects of renewable energy are wise, and even worthy of investment, but overall, renewable energy is too expensive and impractical. Spain’s economy continues to teeter. In March 2010, 50 percent of those under the age of 25 were unemployed and a report released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics  shows Spain’s overall unemployment rate at 20.8 percent for September 2010.

Despite Don Quixote’s pal, Panza’s warning, Quixote stormed forward crashing headlong into the figments of his imagination. Running to Quixote’s aid, Panza said, “…didn’t I tell you they were only windmills? And only someone with windmills on the brain could fail to see that.”

America must heed Dr. Alvarez’ warning and realize that perceptions can be deceptive. Jobs by way of renewable energy might very well be figments in the imagination of those who would utilize green energy windmills to put green in their pockets. America must focus on commonsense job creation and forget about windmills for a while, in order to prevent following Spain’s sorrowful suit.

Copyright 2010 Susan Stamper Brown

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