American Elephants

The Barack Obama Theory of Job Creation: Don’t Listen, Just Preach. by The Elephant's Child

President Obama’s  Council on Jobs and Competitiveness met yesterday in Durham NC at Cree Inc., a company that manufactures energy-efficient LED lighting. The Council recommended streamlining the federal permit process for construction and infrastructure projects. They explained that the process can delay projects for months or years, or even cause projects to be abandoned. They suggested that he was probably briefed by his staff on such challenge when he implemented the Recovery Act.

Obama smiled and ad-libbed “Shovel-ready was not as…um…shovel-ready as we expected.” The Council, led by GE’s Jeffrey Immelt, erupted in laughter. Not really funny.

Obama filled the Jobs Council with Fortune 500 CEOs from General Electric, American Express, DuPont, Time Warner, Eastman Kodak and Xerox among others. But:

  • GE’s workforce has shrunk by 25,000, almost 16%, between 2001 and 2010. The number of overseas GE jobs climbed during those years.
  • AmEx employed fewer workers in 2010 than it did ten years ago.
  • Kodak’s workforce was just 18,800 last year. In 2001 it was 75,000.
  • Xerox’s workforce shrank by 30% between 2001-2009, before it acquired Affiliated Computer Services and its 74,000 workers in 2010.
  • Intel has trimmed its workforce over the past decade.

These are not what one would call growth companies. And the list of suggestions for immediate acts to increase employment in a jobless economy— a sad list after four months of work:  More money to retrain workers. More tax dollars to retrofit commercial buildings to boost energy efficiency. More government loans granted by the SBA. They did urge streamlining the permitting process.  No wonder these companies aren’t growing.

There are 13.9 million people out of work according to the federal government statistics. This does not include those who are classified as “discouraged” workers or “involuntary part-timers.” The federal statisticians claim there are 8.5 million involuntary part timers. At 54,000 new jobs (May’s record) it would take 22 years to get the 13.9 million jobless back to work.

Business has told Obama over and over that uncertainty is killing them.  They don’t know what Obama’s regulators are going to do next. They don’t know what to expect about government mandates, what the changing health care rules will be, what the EPA will decide to regulate next, how much energy will cost, how much inflation they have to face, where they can get a loan and under what rules.

Obama remains uninterested, and has even denied that there is any uncertainty. Apparently what is keeping business from growing and prospering is their lack of being “green” enough. Then he wanders off rhapsodizing about his “clean energy revolution” that is going to jumpstart the economy somewhere, some time in some alternate world. Obama calls the money for jumpstarting the green efforts — “investments”as if money spent now for his green ideas is somehow different from the money spent in 2009 and 2010 on his failed green efforts. The green companies that have received subsidies are struggling to stay afloat, and without government subsidy will soon go belly-up.

  • Solyndra— loan guarantee $535 million in 2009. Spring 2010 failed to complete initial public offering. Audit questioned ongoing viability. Laid off 180 workers.
  • Beacon Power — $43 million loan guarantee in 2009. Stock price dropped by half while DJIA increased 40%.
  • First Wind Holdings — $117 million loan guarantee 2010. Withdrew IPO  in October.
  • Nevada Geothermal Blue Mountain project — on track so far.

Cree Inc. who makes those $50 lightbulbs is a government approved technology to benefit from the ban on incandescent bulbs. More than $78 million in federal grants. $96 million in federal contracts. Manufacturers of incandescent bulbs have been put out of business by federal decree. Cree’s quarterly report states that the restoration of consumer choice would “result in reduced sales.”  Uh Huh!

The claims for wind energy have proved to be overblown. The claims for fuel-efficiency standards for cars have proved to be inefficient. The claims for energy-efficiency for alternative lighting dim hopes for the ability to read and see.

These  policies are being driven by rent-seeking special interests over concern that carbon dioxide — the colorless, odorless gas that is one of the building blocks of life — is causing the earth to warm alarmingly, if you call one degree over a century alarming. And anyway, it hasn’t warmed at all for over ten years. Carbon dioxide, that alarming substance, makes up almost 380 parts per million in the atmosphere. That is 38/1000 of 1%. Approximately 95% of the so-called “greenhouse gases” is water vapor.

Whether Obama can scare up some jobs with his green-energy revolution remains to be seen. It hasn’t worked for European countries. The more they have invested in wind and solar, the worse economic shape they’re in. No matter how many jobs our economy can turn up, the EPA will destroy more. But the EPA, they claim, is not allowed to consider things like cost-effectiveness nor jobs; their task is making the air ever more pure.

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