Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Strickland's "Green" strategy to save Ohio's economy is frightingly off-base.

Yesterday, the Columbus Dispatch had two interesting articles. One, an editorial highlighting how much of the stimulus is feeding dollars to foreign companies in the guise of green jobs. The other was about how Ted Strickland was working to make Ohio "a national leader in advanced- and renewable-energy technology."

But they never connect the two. I submit that the two specific issues discussed aren't completely germane to eachother, but with green jobs becoming such a focus of the Strickland Administration, more attention must be paid to its feasibility and if it's worth the massive investment of taxpayer dollars. The Dispatch failed to connect pessimism about green jobs to our Governor's obsession with making them the focal point of Ohio's recovery. In fact, on the Governor's own website reviewing the highlights of the SOTS, "advanced energy" (read: "green jobs") is front and center at the very top of the page.

But can "green jobs" really save Ohio from the jobs crisis it currently faces?

If you ask the Washington Post, the answer is a very loud, "no." valid is the assumption that a "clean-energy" economy will generate enough jobs to mitigate today's high level of unemployment -- new jobless claims were up 22,000 this week -- and to meet the needs of future generations? A green economy would have to spout jobs in the millions to do both. The facts challenge the prevailing thinking among some policymakers and officials that green jobs are a principal reason for transforming the economy.


In other "clean-energy" sectors such as solar and wind energy, jobs are predicted to emerge in the same broad categories of installation, manufacturing, R&D and IT services, but the near-term expected levels of investment in and adoption of these renewable sources of energy mean that net job creation should top out in the tens of thousands, as opposed to the desired hundreds of thousands or more.


For the purpose of creating jobs, then, a "clean-energy economy" will not offer a panacea. This does not necessarily mean that America should not become green to alleviate climate change, to kick its addiction to foreign oil or to use energy sources more efficiently. But those who take great pains to tout the "job-creation potential" of the green space might just end up inducing labor pains all around.
I must admit, I've been particularly frustrated at the mainstream Ohio press who have been more than happy to give Governor Strickland a total and complete pass on his efforts to build Ohio's recovery around green jobs. Sure, it sounds all well and good, but the reality states otherwise.

Going green will not save Ohio's economy. Nor will microtargeting where we should focus our efforts.

Ohio needs restructuring at the macro-level. Ohio is a state in trouble that can't afford to do anything less than become a beacon for all businesses and entrepreneurs. We don't have the time to pick and choose.

Learn more about Green Jobs and the free market here.

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