In 2008, Tim Pawlenty participated in a radio ad (with Janet Napolitano!) calling for Congress to implement legislation to cap “greenhouse gas” emissions. He talked about how this would create New Jobs in Clean Energy Industries.
These jobs, along with the companies “creating” them, would of course, be highly subsidized–either directly, or through higher energy prices, or, most likely, both, and the subsidies would not come from the Magical Money Machine, but rather would be extracted from elsewhere in the economy–thereby reducing jobs creation in the “elsewhere” sectors. Ask the people of Spain how that has been working out for them.
One sector that is particularly sensitive to energy costs is manufacturing. The number of manufacturing jobs destroyed through policies raising energy costs is likely to be much higher than the number of manufacturing jobs added to make wind turbines and such.
The reality is that “creating jobs” is not very difficult if that’s all you want to do. You can pay people to dig holes and fill them up again, or implement something like the elevator safety and economic opportunity act, thereby creating hundreds of thousands of jobs for elevator operators. The trick rather lies in creating jobs which expand the economy rather than shrink it. One would hope a Republican candidate for President would understand these points. I have to wonder if Pawlenty is familiar with the Parable of the Broken Window, as explained by the French economist Frederic Bastiat way back in 1850.
Some people think that reduction in CO2 is so critical that it justifies a permanent reduction in the American standard of living. If they really believe that, they should make the argument honestly and produce the evidence. But to argue that we can force a shift to much-more-costly forms of energy production and, by doing so, make the economy thrive, is either ignorant or disingenous.
Pawlenty’s participation in this ad does make me wonder about his understanding of energy and economics; it also raises concerns about his susceptibility to trendy but questionable ideas.
Plus, should a nice Republican boy really be hanging around with someone like Janet Napolitano?