Home Capitalism Don’t Think “Green Energy;” Think Green Jobs.

Don’t Think “Green Energy;” Think Green Jobs.


We have a couple of pieces of legislation in that great frozen melting pot called a Senate that deserve your attention and, frankly, the passage of which deserve a march on Washington. The Great Bush-Cheney Energy Deregulation Oil Spill and the lack of meaningful jobs in a sputtering and failing economy dictate that we look to the next big thing…now. That big thing is employment in alternative energy companies.

We have a potential 140 million American workforce right now. Of those potential workers we have about 10% plus or minus a few, out of work. That is 14 or 15 million people out of work. We have an additional 5%, apparently, who work part-time but are seeking full time employment. So, right away, you can see that we have at least 20 million out of work.

But the numbers need examination. Of the 15 million out of work, 7 million have been out of work for more than 6 months. Five million have been out for a year. One million have been out for two years. There are currently more than 5 job seekers for every job. These statistics are the worst since the statistics have been kept. (1948)

The 99ers, those who have exhausted all their benefits, are now drawing down on whatever meager savings they have left. For this segment of the workforce, this is a calamity of the greatest magnitude. We may statistically not be in a Depression, but that is only because we have social networks and economic policies, like the Wall Street bailout and like the Stimulus that the government uses to forestall such conditions in advance. Otherwise we would be in the Second Great Depression right now. In fact, the 99ers are in it right now.

But we also know that we have lost something like 2.5 million manufacturing jobs and about three-quarters of a million service jobs, many of them high-tech, IT, jobs since 2001. It is pretty well documented that over half of those jobs were lost because of the negative effects on employment of manufacturing trade policies. In other words, lower cost manufacturers were given reduced or no tariffs to sell here and U.S. manufacturers were allowed to manufacture abroad for the lower labor costs. Someone neglected to think through those policies before enacting them. To be sure, the Republicans voted for them because they help big corporations and hurt the average citizen.

This is not simply sour grapes. The government keeps track of how many jobs are lost when manufacturing jobs go off shore. Of course it is underestimated because they do not catch everything. Even state governments outsource jobs to companies who outsource to foreign countries and do not report it. But…having said that…over 1.5 million jobs were lost between 1995 and 2004 to outsourcing to a foreign country. And those jobs haven’t come back, while the American workforce has continued to grow.

In an astonishing and jaw-dropping level of insensitivity, the Senate Republicans have taken up the cause of the Super Rich. Of all Americans, only approximately one-tenth of one percent receive any inheritance large enough to be taxed. Several studies show that these people almost never…even under the old tax laws…paid any more than 15% on the amounts over the basic deductions, which are now…unlimited!

Yes, for 2010, deductions on inheritance taxes are unlimited. In other words, no taxes. Yet while 1 million people have been out of work for over 2 years, have no visible means of support, are losing their homes and shopping at food banks, the Republicans have the nerve to ask that all inheritance taxes be repealed permanently. Yet they will not authorize any future unemployment benefits and they will not create any jobs.

In 2009, the constant drumbeat by the Republicans on behalf of their constituents, the very, very rich, resulted in a deduction of the first $3.5 million ($7.0 million for a couple) from the tax on an estate. But in 2010, there is no estate tax at all, thanks to the repeal of the tax for the year 2010 under the Bush tax-relief-for-the-rich schemes.

Now that the rich pay no federal inheritance taxes at all in 2010, they have a lot more money to buy the votes and the legislation of Republican Senators. (We’ve got Republican Congressmen apologizing to BP Oil and Republican Senators trying to have inheritance taxes…which are now zero…continued at zero. Why would anyone except for–maybe–3,000 people vote Republican?)

So here’s where green jobs enter the picture.

With unemployment at about one-quarter of normal job levels in the construction industry, the Green Star bill that passed the House and is in the Senate could create a new 185,000 jobs a year merely from tax incentives. Naturally, it is being held up by a Republican Senate that is willing to keep the zero tax on inheritance, but will not give tax incentives to small businesses to create new energy jobs.

Why not? Well…why do Joe Barton and Steve King of the House of Representatives feel it is necessary to apologize to BP Oil for asking them to contribute to fixing the disaster they created? Could it be that they get huge campaign contributions from the oil industry which does not want to see green energy flourish? You decide.

As of the beginning of June 2010, more than one environmental study shows that the massive needs for energy around the world can easily create 8.5 million jobs. The United States is an energy glutton. We use about 25 % of the world’s energy. This means, just using these numbers, that we should need and could create over 2 million jobs by making the switch to renewable energy sources.

Although Senator Lamar Alexander has taken up the cause of the nuclear energy lobby, the idea of the government supporting another potential Chernobyl or Three-Mile-Island disaster after the problems of the BP oil spill are pretty remote. The idea of 100 new full-scale nuclear plants is ridiculous. We have safe energy alternatives that are economically viable if we simply scale them up to produce at reasonable levels of consumption.

There is a place for nuclear energy in an over-all clean energy program. But the big push for nuclear power to lead us into the energy future is simply one more of the plutocratic programs of the Republican Party. Big oil=pollution. Big coal=pollution. Big nuclear=extreme danger of irreparable damage to the environment.

These aren’t solutions to energy. These are the big campaign contribution solutions of the Republicans. These are the artificial schemes of the Republican Party to persuade the American people that these polluting energy solutions are something that they are not. The goal is not clean energy. The goal is more campaign contributions for the Republican Party.

Clean coal is also not a viable answer. The cost of clean coal thus far is beyond any cost that could remotely be priced for consumer energy. The polluting effects of coal right now are very serious and coal must eventually be replaced as a source of energy if we are to make any dent in the global warming problem. Either that, or the cost of true “clean coal” technology must be brought down to some meaningful number.

The auto industry employs millions. Electric cars were so popular…ten years ago…in California that there were lawsuits to try to keep GM from taking them back. But GM was not, apparently, willing to buck the oil companies at that time. Or they were actively in league with the oil companies. Let the government invest in companies making electric cars and flex-fuel cars.

The batteries for automobiles in a new technology is certainly a half-million-job industry. Wind is a million job industry. Solar and the connectivity aspects of solar are another million job industry. Public transportation can be run on battery-powered electricity, natural gas or hydrogen. We can use flex fuels. These are areas that will create vast new enterprises even before we get to the number one current job-creating business, which is energy conservation. These jobs are all local and comprise the number one way for Americans to improve energy consumption. But the Republican Senate is against them. They won’t vote for alternative energy solutions. They won’t vote for government sponsored jobs. And they won’t support legislation to make the big banks…the dozen who have the funds to start the country moving…invest in private industry. These are the banks that we bailed out, loaned money, saw them get back on their feet enough to pay back those government loans…and yet they refuse to help jump-start the economy.

There is currently no energy legislation in the works in either house of Congress. No bills have any reasonable chance of being passed because of Republican opposition. The Republicans in the Senate have finally brought the country to a standstill on jobs and economic growth.

The American Power Act of 2010 alone, which may be introduced soon, will create an additional 200,000 jobs per year in the energy field, if adopted. The alternative power generation programs range from nuclear energy construction guarantees, especially for small, safe modular nuclear plants to regulated oil drilling to solar and wind and other new technologies. And there are ten times that many jobs in other related green technologies that, frankly, will only bring us in line with other advanced industrial nations. Most of them have long since introduced energy policies like the ones that currently languish in the U.S. Senate.

There are jobs in new areas of manufacturing, particularly in areas, like alternative energy, where the need is enormous and the jobs would be plentiful. We simply need to elect the right Senators. With all green energy jobs programs blocked by the Republicans, it is time to put some Democrats into office.

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