American Elephants

Learning From Experience, or Ignoring the Evidence. by The Elephant's Child
January 3, 2010, 10:48 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Energy, Environment | Tags: , ,

The Green Jobs Experience in Germany:

“German renewable energy policy has failed to harness the market incentives needed to ensure a viable and cost-effective introduction of renewable energies into the country’s energy portfolio.”
Key findings:

  • Financial aid to Germany’s solar industry has reached a level that is far higher than average wages, with per-worker subsidies as high as $240,000 U.S.
  • In 2008, the price increase attributable to the government’s support for “green” electricity was about 2.2¢ per kWh.  A 2.2¢ increase per kWh here would amount to about a 19.4 % increase in consumers’ electricity bills.
  • German government support for solar energy between 2000 and 2010 is estimated to have a total net cost of $73.2 billion US, and $28.1 billion US for wind.  A similar expenditure in the US would amount to about half a trillion dollars in US money.
  • Green jobs created by government actions disappear as soon as government support is terminated, a lesson the German government is beginning to learn.
  • Government aid for wind power is now three times the cost of conventional electricity.

Wind Power Generation in Denmark:

“President Obama has frequently cited Denmark as an example to be followed in…wind power generation, stating on several occasions that the Danes satisfy”20 percent of their electricity through wind power.” The findings of this study cast serious doubt on the accuracy of that statement.  The report finds that in 2006 scarcely five percent of the nation’s electricity demand was met by wind.”

  • Government subsidy of wind producers over the past decade amounts to roughly $376 million per year. The rate of new building in Denmark has declined sharply — and to maintain sales , just as in spain, manufacturers have been forced to concentrate on exporting their technology to markets (USA) where the potential subsidy is higher.
  • The public subsidy in Denmark per wind-related job created per year is about $90,000 – $140,000 US.  This subsidy equals about 175 – 250 percent of the average of worker pay in Danish manufacturing.
  • A combination of expensive base power, taxes and additional charges makes Danes pay more for their electricity than anyone in the EU.

The Green Jobs Experience in Spain:

Spain’s efforts to create “green jobs” through subsidies for renewable energy have harmed Spain’s economy, destroying 2.2 jobs for every 1 job created.  The “green jobs” policy clearly hinders Spain’s way out of the current economic crisis, even while U.S. politicians insist that rushing into such a scheme will help the U.S. way our of the crisis.

  • For every 1 green job financed by Spanish taxpayers, 2.2 jobs were lost as an opportunity cost.
  • Only 1 out of 10 green job contracts were in maintenance and operation of already installed plants.  The rest of the working positions were only sustainable by high subsidies.
  • Since 2000, Spain has committed $753,778 US per each “green job.”
  • Those programs resulted in the destruction of nearly 110,500 jobs.
  • Each “green” megawatt installed destroyed 5.39 jobs elsewhere in the economy.
  • Spain’s annual emissions of carbon dioxide have increased by nearly 50 percent since the nation began the push to subsidize and support “green jobs.”

Over the last century, the number of workers in the United States devoted to agriculture has steadily declined.  This is a healthy sign of progress in the U.S. economy.  Government efforts to reverse the trend and force more workers back into agriculture, would not “create jobs” in the long-run, but would simply raise food prices and shrink other sectors.

It might be worthwhile to keep this analogy in mind.

Another note:

Enthusiasts who are true believers in “green energy,” “renewable resources” and especially the noted “sustainability”, usually dismiss anyone discussing the evidence as funded by Exxon-Mobil, the energy industry, big oil or the like.

They neglect the fact that all of these people are in the energy business, supplying America with energy in an effort to make a profit.  If wind energy is the way of the future, they would be investing heavily in wind or solar.

Let’s Hear it For Capitalism and Free Markets! by The Elephant's Child
January 3, 2010, 8:11 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Freedom, Statism | Tags: , ,

From the Wall Street Journal”s “Notable and Quotable” column.

Heather MacDonald writing at, Dec. 26:

The anti-business mindset . . . is worthy of a pampered adolescent who is searching for a cause with which to display his unique moral sensibility. It is not worthy of an adult who should be able to use his imagination, if not actual experience, to appreciate the extraordinary human effort that has gone into creating the delightful tools that we daily take for granted. On my desk sit various humble objects—a tiny clock, a stapler, a paper clip box, a Lucite cook book stand for holding up drafts and other papers while I type. Each object represents a fractal geometry of complexity, composed as it is of parts that themselves require enterprise to manufacture, assemble, and deliver, all born along on waves of energy and infrastructure to which yet another set of entrepreneurs contributed. The fact that all of those distributors and manufacturers tried to make a profit does not detract from the fact that they offered goods which enhance our lives. . . .

It is the ingratitude that kills me the most among anti-business types. The materials that furnish a single room in an American home required daring, perseverance, and organizational skill from millions of individuals over generations. I hope they all got filthy rich.

Green Jobs? What Green Jobs? by The Elephant's Child
January 3, 2010, 4:47 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Energy, Progressivism | Tags: , ,

At his recent “jobs summit” President Obama once again pushed his plan for 3 million “green jobs”— weatherizing homes across the country.  I keep trying to figure out where all these green jobs are.  Here in the metropolitan Seattle area, we have around 40 companies that advertise their services in insulating homes. They have employees skilled at installing insulation.  A government subsidy will help out those who planned to insulate anyway, and perhaps some who were close to doing it.  Those who can’t afford to insulate, can’t afford it.

There are well over a hundred companies here selling windows, most of them offer insulated glass.  Caulk is available in applicator tubes at your friendly Home Depot or the equivalent, and easily applied by the homeowner or his wife or kids — it’s not rocket science.

Much hype has attached to wind farms and solar arrays.  Wind is simply not cost-effective, and produces energy only when the wind blows at the right speed.  Solar energy is produced when the sun shines — only in the daytime.  It is also not cost-effective.  Both wind and solar energy are active only with vast government subsidies.  If there are no subsidies, there is no wind or solar energy.  Both must have full-time backup from conventional power sources for the times when the wind does not blow or the sun does not shine.  Energy cannot be stored.

Spain has been extolled as a model for President Obama’s green job creation plan.  If he succeeded in his promise to create 3 million jobs, he should plan on killing about 6.6 million jobs elsewhere in the economy.  The green jobs schemes in Spain killed 2.2 jobs per job created, because of the vast increase in the cost of energy.

There was some mention of many jobs to be available in replacing light bulbs with more efficient CFL (twisty) bulbs, but good grief, do you need someone to screw in light bulbs for you?  As I recall, screwing in light bulbs is the source for hundreds of bad ethnic jokes.  How does it go?  How many out-of-work Americans does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

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