Let’s leave job creation to professionals

Freedom New Mexico

The latest news from President Barack Obama’s Labor Department is that a federal grant doled out from the administration’s stimulus program to train and employ people in “green jobs” so far has spent $162 million, but resulted in only 8,035 people getting jobs. That would be bad enough. But only 1,033 of them still were on the job after six months.

If that weren’t irritating enough, a report from the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform says many of those “created” jobs weren’t new. Worse yet, they weren’t even “green.” Some of the jobs simply were relabeled as “green” by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. They rather creatively were identified as “green” although they were seemingly as colorless as government regulators working at the Environmental Protection Agency, university professors teaching ecology and Washington lobbyists seeking government loan guarantees for clients.

This is only the most recent installment of the Obama administration’s boast to create 5 million “green” jobs over the next decade. The growth of green jobs from 2003-10, even using such loose criteria, has been 3.4 percent a year, less than the national economy’s 4.2 percent, according to the Brookings Institution.

Taxpayer outrage sometimes is limited to the most catastrophic failures of the green jobs movement, such as the recent bankruptcy of Fremont-based Solyndra, the solar panel manufacturer under federal investigation after burning through more than $500 million in loan guarantees and laying off 1,100 workers this summer. But the flaws in government-forced green-job creation are more fundamental, and we suspect, more widespread than high-profile bankruptcies that leave taxpayers on the hook.

“We should be reviewing every one of these loan guarantee” projects, says Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn.

Here’s a better idea: It’s past time to recognize that redistributing taxpayer money to favored green companies that cannot raise enough capital on their own to stay in business makes job creation much more expensive, thanks to government regulations and middlemen, and therefore makes job creation more unlikely. That’s the conclusion of Matt Welch, editor of Reason Magazine.

Despite the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act — the stimulus bill — and a spate of other similar government, top-down schemes to spur job creation, Welch notes that “fewer able-bodied Americans are employed as a percentage of the potential work force than at any time since 1983.” In short, the more government helps, the more America hurts.

The Tax Foundation, a nonpartisan research group, concludes that the president’s latest job-creation scheme, the American Jobs Act, would deliver few jobs and little economic growth, but its permanent tax increases to pay for the subsidized jobs “can do permanent harm to the economy.”

The government destroys more jobs than it creates and those it creates often are of questionable value and limited duration. President Obama predicted in 2009 that his stimulus package would hold unemployment below 8 percent, only to see it increase to 9 percent since.

A recent news story in the Washington Post observed that Solyndra’s failure “prompted concerns about whether the administration made good bets in the rest of its portfolio of clean-tech projects it had helped subsidize with taxpayer-guaranteed loans.” Whether the government is making good bets is the wrong question. Taxpayers should demand government stop gambling with their money altogether.