McClaughry: Good paying green energy jobs are unlikely

By John McClaughry

The climate change crowd, and David Zuckerman’s advertising, enthusiastically predict that their Green New Deal will produce thousands of well-paying jobs for Vermonters.

Businessman Andy Kessler, writing last week in the Wall Street Journal (10/26/20), throws a bucket of cold water on that belief. He writes:

Most green jobs are not productive jobs. They’re public-works projects — litter jobs — that raise the price of energy. …Jobs for jobs’ sake never works. If we put aside productivity we might as well have an economy of hand-washing each other’s laundry. Or digging canals with spoons. But washing machines and backhoes are more productive, with fewer people. Adding insulation is not productive. It only vaporizes resources created by those who are productive.

You can’t fabricate productive jobs by government edict. Sustainable jobs are created by solving problems, applying both financial and human capital to improve current ways of doing things. The tip-off that it’s working? The solution gets cheaper over time.

The huge opportunity in today’s economy is to lower the cost of more complex services by getting pesky humans out of the way. Wait — put humans out of work? Oh, the horror! But better jobs always, always emerge. Decades of technology-driven job destruction led to a 50-year-low 3.5% unemployment rate, before Covid.


That makes sense to me. Insulating homes and installing Chinese-made solar panels are jobs, all right, but really not the kind of higher-wage jobs we want a vigorous economy to produce.

John McClaughry is vice president of the Ethan Allen Institute. Reprinted with permission from the Ethan Allen Institute Blog.

Image courtesy of Public domain

7 thoughts on “McClaughry: Good paying green energy jobs are unlikely

  1. No need to pick and choose. We need all energy sources – most importantly carbon-based as it is the most versatile and least costly – for national security. And solar panels built here for same reason – minus the subsidies which create the gravytrains of complicit nonprofits and competing interests.

    We need competition which leads to lower prices and savings for all and corresponding market share for each.

  2. Shumlin was handed $10 Million to create jobs after VY shutdown how many if any were created, some of it was given to things like The Strolling of The Heifers, in one case a large award went to a company in BF/Rockingham that closed up shop in moved to NY State, taking the money with it. In that case not so much because they wanted to but the state had not created a process to allow them to give it back.

    I have worked for 2 different VT based companies since I left my job at VY after the shutdown, one of which employed 4 former VY employees. None of which received a dime of the development money VY left behind. The State can not and should not be relied on to create in the private sector, they should police, protect from fire, maintain and plow roads, and make things easier for business.

  3. Shumlin worked hard to eliminate good paying clean energy jobs with his efforts to close Vermont Yankee. If the state really wants clean energy they would push for the new generation small scale nuclear power plants.

    • Makes too much sense, even with the new nuke technology.
      The game would seem to be keeping the average Vermonter at the edge of poverty and dependent upon handouts. We would have otherwise seen the re-opening of Vermont.

  4. Going back to the Shumlin administration, there has been plenty of hype placed on Vermont’s effort to create “good paying clean energy jobs”. This effort is documented annually in the Vermont Clean Energy Industry Report. Take a look:

    In the 2020 Clean Energy Industry Report, you’ll find a category of so called clean jobs known as “woody biomass fuels”. These are jobs that provide dirty burning wood (trees) to the biomass power plants and other users. When burned, trees generate more CO2 emissions per unit of energy generated than fossil fuels…….These are jobs that the State of Vermont labels as clean jobs in its official State report.

    Maybe it’s time for the State of Vermont and the GWSA Council of 23 to re-examine exactly what a “good paying green energy job” is before turning the State upside down implementing the GWSA.

    • If only the media wasn’t complicit in making sure people weren’t aware of the facts behind the GWSA we would have been celebrating the retaking of the legislature now.

    • Cheap, or at the least reasonably priced, energy is needed to fuel a robust economy. As long as we continue to exaggerate the impact of Vermont’s emissions or find other reasons to not encourage it our own economy will remain crippled.

      Green Energy windmills and meadow mirrors are both of them net energy losers and will require large areas of landfill space at the ends of their useful lives. Remember the last time you needed to dispose of nonrecyclable fiberglass windmill blades 100+ feet long?

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