Judging by its reaction to a recent academic study from Spain, either the Wall Street Journal’s Environmental Capital blog [EC] doesn’t appreciate being scooped by rival Bloomberg, or Newsweek was right, and we’re all socialists – or at least Enronistas – now.
EC’s response to the Spanish study of green-jobs schemes (noted previously on Planet Gore) was essentially two-fold — and both folds involved changing the subject. The substance (or lack thereof) of the EC post is enough to warrant comment here, at minimum to inquire if possibly it is as overly excited as it indicates we were here at PG. What principally commands our attention however is how quickly EC descends to tactics that are generally found in other quarters. Obviously, nerves were struck over at Dow Jones, and that merits scrutiny.
Let’s begin with the way the piece ended, its most childish and disappointing characteristic:
And just where did that study come from? Professor Gabriel Calzada is the founder and president of the Fundacion Juan de Mariana, a libertarian think tank founded in 2005. He’s also a fellow of the Center for New Europe, a Brussels-based libertarian think thank than in recent years apparently accepted funding from Exxon Mobil.
Oh, dear — speaking of overly excited . . . No place for sneer-quotes?
I wonder whether the HTML code here bears any trace of a paste job from our dumpster-diving (and trash-distorting) big-font friends over at “ExxonSecrets.” And while the Wall Street Journal actually bothered to put a SourceWatch link in its reportage here, it doesn’t manage to provide any evidence that ExxonMobil has anything to do with the study’s authors today, had anything to do with this particular study, or how those not-in-evidence facts might be relevant. It’s ad hom the way the alarmist gang likes it, straight up.
Anybody can play that game: The WSJ’s Environmental Das Kapital indicates that the take-away here is that ExxonMobil may have once provided some of the support for a group with which it finds affiliations with the author of a study that exposed as harmful the green jobs regime proposed by President Obama, who used to do drugs. Of course, I’m not saying he does now or even how that might be relevant. Like our friends, I merely note the two and leave any connection to the reader’s judgment.
Sad. But of course, that’s merely designed to distract from the rather compelling – and, in some quarters, apparently unwelcome — substance of the Spanish study in question. And distract the author does. He continues:
But the study doesn’t actually identify those jobs allegedly destroyed by renewable-energy spending. What the study actually says is that government spending on renewable energy is less than half as efficient at job creation as private-sector spending. Specifically, each green job required on average 571,000 euros, compared with 259,000 euros in “average capital per worker’ in the rest of the economy.
So how does that translate into outright job destruction? It’s simply a question of opportunity cost, the paper says: “The money spent by the government cannot, once committed to ‘green jobs’, be consumed or invested by private parties and therefore the jobs that would depend on such consumption and investment will disappear or not be created.
Of course, sniffing at mere opportunity costs — which remain real costs, of course: please examine California’s economy for a more localized case study – is intellectually lame when invoked in the name of a) hypothetical climate change derived from computer models which have been devastated by observations, and b) the creation of jobs that immediately become wards of the state, demanding ever more (harmful) redirection of resources just to keep them kicking (which, as this study makes clear, is unsustainable: this year alone Spain is expected to lose 80 percent of the green jobs it created, thanks to the economic slowdown).
You won’t find that fact in the Journal’s swipe or in its ad hominem. Iain Murray largely dispensed with this clutter in a comment to the item.
But most absurd about this distraction is not that it ignores the point, but how inanely it does so: “green jobs” are touted by Obama as the way to resurrect the economy. Dr. Calzada and colleagues pointed out that what they will do is actually quite the opposite. On net, they carry a much greater economic cost than if never attempted at all. And this prompts the ritual and it seems entirely irrelevant shrieking of “ExxonMobil!” to change the subject. Got it. Point clearly scored.
I can see why certain people would want to redirect attention from productive inquiry just as eagerly as they seek to redirect resources from productive use. It’s just too bad that these people aren’t limited to the rent-seekers, green groups, and politicians looking to use the agenda to their benefit.