So now the green trade press is reporting that the ‘academic’ advocacy arm of the Center for American Progress (a relationship reaffirmed in some FOIA’d emails I received about the co-ordinated DoE, AWEA, CAP, UCS effort to smear the debunking of Obama’s ‘Spain’s a green success’ nonsense), has carried the one and concludes, no doubt contrary to all expectations going into their ‘study’ as to what they might find, that a barrage of EPA rules pummeling electricity producers create jobs! Per today’s Greenwire:
“Despite claims that U.S. EPA’s regulations are destroying jobs at a time of already high unemployment, two new sets of air pollution rules for power plants would create hundreds of thousands of jobs over the next five years, according to a report released today.”
Well, of course they will, dear (though the ‘hundreds of thousands’ bit really requires factoring in the impacts in China, India, Mexico, and the rest of the world made inescapably more rational host locations to do business). As PJ O’Rourke noted in his keynote address in Friday’s ‘Liberty Ball’ in Brussels, shooting convenience store clerks creates jobs, too. And in the inner city where they’re most needed. It’s simply a facile claim to make as the grounds for doing something because on its face it says nothing. Except about the person who tries the argument.
As Bastiat noted even before CAP was a glimmer in Soros’s eye or the ‘march through the institutions’ was in the cradle, “When a railroad or a bridge has real utility, it suffices to rely on this fact in arguing in its favor. But if one cannot do this, what does one do? One has recourse to this mumbo jumbo: ‘We must create jobs for the workers’.”
And, as I have seen written lately in a relevant paper applying basic principles to this by now ritual, and indeed increasingly hyperbolic, mumbo jumbo: “Few politicians and project promoters will devote much time to the jobs created by policies or projects that appear to have a good justification in their own right. No one points to the number of jobs created by improving the quality of education or health care [NB: or in actual environmental improvement]. It is only when we encounter proposals whose merits are somewhat more questionable that vigorous efforts are made to construct arguments about the associated economic benefits.”
Why not cut off everyone’s left arm, as Bastiat also posited, if jobs is the goal — though, upon reflection, that’s a pretty stupid goal for the energy sector: you want fewer man-hours per unit of energy created, to ensure many more jobs created in the broader economy. But of course that’s slightly too practical for the policy world.
I suppose when the merits aren’t all that, falling back even on this old saw beats arguing the merits. But saying it about anything and everything does nothing to make it true.
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