Faux Recovery

Faux Recovery

By David Harsanyi - January 13, 2010

One glorious day, all of us will awaken in our mixed-use neighborhoods, rustle up nutritious garden-grown breakfasts and pedal our bikes to "green-collar" jobs using paths generously provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

As of this moment, however, the "green energy economy" is incapable of spurring the taillights on a motor scooter (much less an economic recovery) without a backup gas-powered generator and government subsidy.

Why, then -- just as we learned that 85,000 Americans "unexpectedly," as news stories put it, had lost their jobs last month -- did the Obama administration pin recovery hopes on a colossally misguided social engineering project?

We're not talking about last year's colossally misguided stimulus plan, which "created" and/or "saved" an incalculable number of nonexistent jobs in various imaginary ZIP codes -- though we do continue to learn more about that slapdash experiment.

At the time of the stimulus debate, President Barack Obama asserted that the "urgent need to accelerate job growth" would be tied to spending on (ethically approved) transportation projects. Yet The Associated Press reported this week that unemployment rates rose and fell regardless of how much money Washington doled out; the report was reviewed by independent economists at five universities.

No, this time the administration will renew its focus on stimulus through a new "green jobs" boondoggle. President Obama announced this week that Washington will offer $2.3 billion in tax credits for "clean energy" jobs. Using his very own pie-in-the-sky calculations, it puts the cost of every job at a tax-financed $135,000.

The uncalculated part of the above equation is this: Bogus jobs kill real jobs. At Madrid's King Juan Carlos University, for instance, a study found that in Spain -- the very country Obama has held out as the exemplar of greening (and with only a 19-plus percent unemployment rate!) -- every green job created had destroyed 2.2 jobs in other sectors of the economy.

The administration plans on spreading an additional $100 million of wealth on green job training and another $500 million on energy efficiency and renewable energy companies -- on top of the billions already subsidizing these sectors on the state and federal levels. It is a deeply unserious way to pretend to assist American recovery.

For instance, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis -- announcing the green effort on The Huffington Post -- claims that green jobs will increase American competitiveness by preparing workers for "a range of careers," including "weatherization specialists, wind and energy auditors, and solar panel installers."

Yep, that should do it.

One can forgive Solis for her absurdity, I suppose, as she never, from what I can tell, has held a paying position that wasn't footed by taxpayers -- a trend in this administration.

Now, despite this effort to mold the economy to ideological tastes by predetermining which industries should succeed and fail, real jobs will return one day -- and it will have nothing to do with any high-minded legislation that layers on more centralized economic control.

In the meantime, utilizing unemployment fears, this administration continues to pursue social policy through faux stimulus plans, funneling money into acceptable sectors, no matter how inefficient, no matter how unviable, no matter how unsustainable.

What we've learned is that the Obama administration will do anything humanly possible to rescue the economy, as long as it doesn't relieve the pressure on the private sector. After all, this president explained last year that he believes "only government" can get us out of our troubles.

And that's our biggest problem now.


David Harsanyi is a senior editor at The Federalist. Follow him on Twitter @davidharsanyi.

Copyright 2010, Creators Syndicate Inc.

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