Green jobs only create fiscal black hole

The faddish obsession with “green jobs” is being revealed as a massive waste of taxpayer money.

Pipe dreams eventually are revealed for what they are — unrealistic, wishful thinking. It didn’t take long for Spain’s touted green-job revolution to be revealed as a financial disaster, siphoning taxpayer subsidies and destroying 2.2 real jobs for every green job created.

Domestic green-job pipe dreams similarly drain U.S. taxpayers’ money into economic sink holes. The millions of so-called green jobs promised by President Barack Obama and other champions of taxpayer-subsidized energy schemes not only haven’t materialized, many that did, already are disappearing.

It’s truly a bad sign for the green-job revolution when failure becomes obvious even to acolytes.

“All this talk about the green jobs never materialized,” liberal Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters of Los Angeles recently complained.

The New York Times rubbed salt in the wound when it reported in July that the nonpartisan Brookings Institution found clean-technology jobs accounted for only 2 percent of jobs nationwide. “Federal and state efforts to stimulate creation of green jobs have largely failed, government records show,” according to a Times article from a San Francisco news outlet.

Considering the president’s pledge to create 5 million green jobs in 10 years and California Gov. Jerry Brown’s promised 500,000 clean-technology jobs by the end of the decade, it’s worth noting the New York Times’ conclusion: “(T)he results so far suggest such numbers are a pipe dream.”

Lowlights of the saga include the recent bankruptcy of Evergreen Solar Inc. of Massachusetts, recipient of $58 million in direct subsidies and tax breaks, including federal “stimulus” funding, but which cut 800 jobs and is now $485 million in debt, with more job losses to come with the closure of a Michigan plant. Green Vehicles of Salinas, Calif., received $500,000 in city subsidies, but closed last month without having produced anything of significance, Human Events magazine reported. The company had promised to create 70 jobs and pay back local taxpayers $700,000 a year in taxes.

Seattle got a $20 million federal grant to weatherize 2,000 homes and create 2,000 jobs. After a year, three homes had been retrofitted and 14 new jobs created, many of them administrative. That’s a return on investment of about one job per $1.4 million. In Michigan, Fisher Coachworks is out of business two years after being touted as part of the state’s green future, and despite millions in state subsidies to sell buses bought with federal tax money.

The U.S. Forest Service awarded $490,000 in stimulus funding to Urban Forestry Revitalization Project in Clark County, Nev., to plant trees and other greenery in urban neighborhoods. It created 1.7 jobs, one of them a full-time temporary job, and 11 short-term and temporary.

Overall, estimates the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Chris Horner, $30 billion in green handouts in the stimulus bill cost taxpayers about $475,000 per job.

Almost no amount of tax subsidy can make consumers purchase something they don’t want. When they don’t, the enterprise is doomed to fail. Rather than prop up such failures with tax money, governments at all levels should allow taxpayers to find productive uses for their money.