Spain's Green Jobs Program A Disaster

Has Tom Friedman heard?

There's always been a fundamental error in the notion of "growing" a "green economy" -- you don't create efficiencies by purposely introducing inefficiencies, you destroy them, reducing productivity and by extension GDP. Contra Friedman's longstanding premise that "green technology" is some sort of burgeoning new growth sector, these programs are virtually guaranteed to harm economic growth, not spur it.

The payoff for environmental inefficiencies is of course only in externalities -- things that are explicitly non-economic benefits. That's why properly understanding AGW is so important: unless there are truly massive external benefits to carbon mitigation (and there are not; even proponents admit the bulk of the unreliably predicted effects would happen no matter what we do in the future) there's no point to these massively destructive subsidies.

posted by Dave on 05.21.10 at 07:46 AM


Externalities aren't non-economic, they're costs or benefits to people not involved in a trade. They are still economic costs and benefits though. If the increase in the activity subsidized has a external value greater than the cost of the subsidy then it IS an efficiency being promoted.

That said the rest of your 2nd paragraph holds, assumptions have to be pretty wonky to make carbon based subsidies worthwhile. Just because I agree with your conclusions doesn't mean I can't criticize your logic.

mostly anon   ·  May 21, 2010 10:32 AM

True, that was imprecise on my part. I really meant they're "non-economic" in the sense of not being measured in GDP. My point is just you generally can't grow GDP on environmental externalities, desirable or mythical. To the extent you're creating programs to increase them, you're not growing GDP.

TallDave   ·  May 21, 2010 11:39 AM

Environmentalists love it when their proposals don't work, because then they get to impose new measures to correct them that also will not work!

Eric Scheie   ·  May 21, 2010 3:00 PM

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