Thoughts from Ron Bailey, from Kyopenhagen.
This is a good example of the difference between creating jobs, and creating wealth:
As we rode the metro to the conference, Ratledge and I had a pleasant conversation about the great successes of Aspen, Colorado, in producing green jobs. With the financial crisis, construction jobs in Aspen disappeared. But thanks to stimulus money and tax breaks earmarked for weatherization, unemployed construction workers are now insulating houses. Tax breaks have similarly encouraged a solar power installation boom. When I asked him if solar was price competitive with conventional power without government guaranteed low interest loans and tax breaks, Ratledge admitted that it wasn’t. But he predicted that the price of Chinese solar panels was falling so fast that it would soon outcompete conventional power. I chided him that it sounded like the federal stimulus was actually creating green jobs in China. Ratledge did note one rapidly growing green sector in the U.S.: energy auditing. Of course, people and businesses wouldn’t need to hire energy auditors if the price of energy remained low or if they didn’t have to comply with new energy efficiency regulations.
The tax code creates a vast industry of auditors and accountants. But they make the nation poorer, not wealthier.
“Green Jobs” are the last refuge of the economic ignoramus.
[Update a few minutes later]
The Long March — from California to Copenhagen.
If one is a teacher, a public nurse, or a state bureaucrat, and stays close to home, life is not too bad. Two tenured teachers at midlife can easily make together $160,000 with summers off — far more than the owner of a brake shop or a farmer of 40 acres of trees — and without worry over burdensome regulations or the daily need to drive down the 99 for a living, or to fly out of LAX for business, or to depend on the local CSU to provide literate, skilled employees. Life is therefore pretty good, at least so far.
But if you are a private company, dealing with high taxes, all sorts of regulations, a crumbling infrastructure (take a 300-mile drive from Gilroy south on 101; spend a day at LAX, or try finding a convenient east-west route out of California in the winter), and poorly educated employees, the experiment in egalitarianism has failed.
Answer? The best job in California is a state one; the worst a private-sector one. Result? 3,500 flee per week with capital, education, and know-how; 2,500 arrive with far less capital and training.
…This California model is important because Obama is adopting it as a blueprint on a national scale. If he wins (and don’t count him out), life really would be more patterned on an equality of result. New payroll, income, state, local, and health care surcharge taxes would hit those over $200K with about a 70% take of one’s income. The public sector employees double in number, unionize, and demand ever more from “them.” Cap-and-trade charges raise monthly utility bills 20%. Things like SUVs, Winnebagos, and private jet travel are taxed out of reach — except for a guardian class that uses public moneys for a rarefied lifestyle of governance and enforcement (sort of like the jets parked on the tarmac at Copenhagen or Barack’s night out on the Big Apple).
We would all want a job at the DMV but would never want to go there for any service — a model for health care to come. In short, the poor get a little better off, the better-off a lot worse, and America becomes a sort of collective lower middle class at about a 1950s lifestyle, praised and congratulated for ending “poverty.”
And ending wealth as well.