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October 18, 2004


James Cooper

I'm a fan of renewable energy. But I think studies like these do us a disservice because they're misleading. Generally, a report claiming that a government program will 'create jobs' fails to account for opportunity cost. That is, absent the program, how would this money have been spent, and how will this program impact their employment?

Answering such questions is virtually impossible, so no one does it. But the money we spend on renewables has to come from somewhere, and will negatively impact anyone paying taxes to finance the program.

That doesn't mean we shouldn't do it, but I don't think the job creation argument is an honest one -- at least not in such simplistic terms.

I prefer to look at the economic benefits as long term infrastructural investments. The less oil-intensive our economy becomes, the less vulnerable it will be to long term increases in oil prices. When oil production peaks (if it hasn't already) and then begins to fall, the price of oil will continue to trend upwards indefinately. Our best hope to stave off the economic ramifications of that trend will be to switch to renewables.

So not trying to bag on the article! I just want us to be honest about our motives. Yes we want to tax people and spend it on something the market wouldn't. Yes that will cause people not employed in the industry to lose out in the short term. But yes, the program is still economically worthwhile, as it reduces our dependence on a resource that will run out in our lifetime.


Agree on generally skeptical approach to any report, but especially on ones hailing from groups that are promoting a cause ... any cause ... whether one feels affection for the cuase or not. But equally unhelpful is skepticism for skepticisms sake. That's just inertia and serves to squelch good news and good ideas. I suggest science. That is, checking out the claims in the report via a real world pilot test on a small scale. How many jobs would a new wind turbine project, on land or offshore produce? Even without a new pilot, what have been the economic/employment impacts the current installations in Europe and US? I posit the answers are already out there. AEman

Ton Zijlstra

Years ago our government (here in the Netherlands) stimulated research into wind energy, making it possible for small and innovative engineering firms to create better turbines. Then when the knowledge was there, there were no customers (which would have been the government, as the energy market was still government controlled then). The engineering firms lost their investments for want of application. Danish and German firms than picked up the remnants and the knowledge as their markets were ready. Danmark is making pretty big inroads to wind-produced energy supply, as is Germany. I'm happy for them as we're all in the same boat, but I think it is rather shortsighted that my tax money was well-spend at first but then denied at a crucial stage which would have made the investment worthwile in the first place.

Confusing goals and results, ah politics.

mahmud matin

I 'd to be exclusive rappresentant of wind turbine manufacturing in center of Italy

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