The liberal darling and self-described socialist, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, proposes too many hair-brained big government schemes for most of us to keep up with.
However, her latest hobby horse, a “Civilian Climate Corps,” could soon become reality. For that reason, we need to understand just how absurd it really is.
Alongside liberal Sen. Ed Markey, the congresswoman is proposing that the federal government hire 1.5 million people to “reduce carbon emissions, enable a transition to renewable energy, build healthier and more resilient communities, implement conservation projects with proven climate benefits, and help communities recover from climate disasters.” It would spend $10 billion in taxpayer money on these jobs, which would last up to 5 years, pay $15 an hour, and come with healthcare benefits. So, too, the initiative would reserve large portions of the funding for “environmental justice.”
And it’s not just a pipe dream. President Joe Biden explicitly included this idea in his multitrillion-dollar “infrastructure” proposal. The craziness has White House support. This makes its implementation much more feasible than if it was just wish-casting from a few liberal legislators. That should alarm taxpayers.
The goals of a “Civilian Climate Corps” are three-fold: Use government spending to create well-paid jobs, grow the economy, and improve the condition of the environment. In reality, the Corps would most result in a wasteful reallocation of resources to unproductive government make-work schemes.
The entire premise of the plan is based on shoddy economic thinking. The idea that government spending can “create” jobs is itself misleading.
“Jobs created by government spending are what is seen,” Brian Summers explained for the Foundation for Economic Education. (Where I work). “However, they are only one side of the coin. The other side is the jobs that would have been created by private spending and investment if taxes weren’t so high. These jobs that government spending destroyed are what is not seen.”
Because the government cannot create resources out of thin air, the 1.5 million jobs “created” will ultimately mean jobs never come into existence elsewhere. What differentiates the two kinds of jobs?
Well, the private jobs created would have been created through market investment. Those prospective jobs would have ended up in whatever industries and sectors were most in-demand because those sectors would offer the highest potential profit. In that way, these jobs would efficiently meet society’s collective needs.
However, with Ocasio-Cortez’s make-work scheme, workers are assigned based on politics and whim, not concrete demand or economic incentives. Thus, there’s no reason to think that they’ll end up doing anything useful — or doing it in an efficient manner. The Soviet Union should have taught us this lesson.
Moreover, there’s no value in just creating jobs for creating jobs sake. If that were true, we could simply build roads with shovels instead of construction equipment.
But even if the program wouldn’t actually benefit the economy, it would at least help the environment, right? Not necessarily.
Sometimes, the results of government “green” investment are so bad that they don’t even accomplish their environmental ends. For a poignant example, consider the $515 million loan guarantee that the Obama administration gave to Solyndra, a solar energy start-up that quickly went bankrupt.
Moreover, economic growth is ultimately what leads to better environmental outcomes. It’s repeatedly been shown that past a certain point, societies value the environment more as they get richer. Why?
Well, environmentalism is a luxury that starving citizens of third-world countries, frankly, don’t have time to care about. To a lesser extent, the same holds true for poorer citizens in first-world countries who live paycheck-to-paycheck. But in wealthy nations, the better off the citizens become, the more they prioritize environmental concerns and conservation efforts, and the more willing they become to make personal sacrifices to improve the environment.
So, by distorting and slowing economic growth, Ocasio-Cortez’s hair-brained scheme for a “Civilian Climate Corps” would likely do more harm than good on all counts. And surely we can find a better use for $10 billion in taxpayer money than indulging liberal “Green New Deal” fantasies.
Brad Polumbo (@Brad_Polumbo) is a Washington Examiner contributor and host of the Breaking Boundaries podcast.
Author: Brad Polumbo
Source: Washington Examiner : Why AOC’s crazy plan for a ‘Civilian Climate Corps’ could soon become reality