Green jobs: It’s not quite going as planned

Half the government’s $38.6 billion is spent. Result? A whopping 3,545 new, “permanent” green jobs created, at a cost of a mere $5.6 million per job — leaving just 61,455 promised jobs to go. Yet the Energy Department says the Obama administration’s green-jobs loan guarantee program is still on track to meet its employment goal of 65,000 jobs.

The program came under scrutiny Wednesday at a House oversight committee hearing about the collapse of Solyndra, a solar-panel maker whose closure could leave taxpayers on the hook for as much as $527 million.

Mr. Obama’s efforts to create green jobs “is lagging behind expectations,” The Washington Post reports. Many economists say that because alternative-energy projects are so expensive and slow to ramp up, they are not the most efficient way to stimulate the economy.

The Energy Department insists the green-jobs program is working fine. As evidence, it claims credit for saving 33,000 jobs at Ford Motor Co., about half of the Detroit automaker’s entire hourly and salaried U.S. work force. The department says the biggest of its loan guarantees, for $5.9 billion, protected the jobs at Ford by enabling the automaker to upgrade plants in five states to build more energy-efficient vehicles.

But several economists told The Post they doubt the loan program saved 33,000 jobs at Ford. Indeed. For politicians and bureaucrats who have never brought so much as a root beer stand to fruition in the real world to lavish billions of other people’s dollars on politically favored ventures, and then claim they’ve “saved” every worker who still manages to cling to a job, is like a child leaning against a tree and claiming credit for holding it up.

BrightSource Energy, a developer of utility-scale solar-power projects, is the recipient of a $1.6 billion federal loan guarantee, the second-biggest loan awarded so far. The outfit currently employs 700 construction workers, but will employ only 86 people on a permanent basis — at a net cost of $18 million in taxpayer “investment” for each permanent job created. Obama administration officials respond that those jobs “are high-quality and will improve the economy’s productivity,” The Post reports.

And you could get the same economic result by paying each of the same 86 people $90,000 per year, for the next 20 years, to do nothing, because they’d have to spend it somewhere. If that’s efficient job creation, let’s ask for another couple of billion dollars and put 1,000 people to work digging a tunnel to bring Mississippi floodwaters west of the Rockies — with teaspoons.

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