Policy fantasies are dangerous because they cause direct harm, replacing plans that might actually work, and because they spread economic illiteracy that can negatively influence future policies. If we want to address global warming, and we should, we need to adopt a carbon tax or cap-and-trade program to penalize greenhouse-gas emissions. Just about anything else is a distraction.
Right now, one of the most dangerous policy fantasies is the distracting notion that government can create so-called green jobs and should strive to do so enthusiastically.
While the principal proponent of the green jobs hokum, Van Jones, is now out of government, the idea still influences policy design. Witness the Renew Through Green Jobs Act of 2009, which is making its way through Congress. President Barack Obama, of course, has been a veritable Typhoid Mary of the green job virus, promising to deliver 5 million of them.
The analysis to back that up, and spread by green job enthusiasts such as Jones and many of his colleagues at the Center for American Progress, is that transferring society’s resources to the green sector leads to a net creation of jobs. And it provides a tasty free lunch by cleaning the environment.
Eat for Free
Economics teaches, of course, that there are no free lunches