Where Are The Workers For A Labour Intensive Green New Deal?

Coin Hines never has understood the most basic economic points. This failure to grasp here is a real doozy though. He’s banging on about insulating all the buildings in the country again. As if we’ve not tried various forms of that. Both here and in Oz it led to the most awful bodge jobs – the creation of mushroom farms out of terraced housing for example.

But much more than theory or haggling over technical details, we have excellent empirical evidence that a Green New Deal just does not work. It’s been tried, twice, on different sides of the world and it didn’t work either time. The first time it was Australia. The global recession hits, so as a nice bit of Keynesian pump-priming they figured: Why not insulate the houses of the nation and thereby protect, or even limit, climate change? This plan from the central government meant that every bodger, crook, and incompetent got grants and tax money to ruin houses. They even had a Royal Commission to tell us all what a disaster it was. It is not a usual belief that either Britain or the U.S. have fewer chancers than Australia.

Despite this report, the British government decided to do the same thing. A central plan, with targets, disbursing rivers of tax money, to insulate the houses of the nation. This was then done so badly that there are fears that as many as a million houses have been ruined, and certainly thousands have been turned into entirely useful mushroom farms and not useful dwellings.

But, you know, next year in Jerusalem. Try central planning often enough and one of the plans has just got to work, dunnit?

But now he ups his game here:

This ‘30 by 30’ target could cut carbon emissions by around 40%. It would also have the social advantages of dealing with fuel poverty and requiring a massive multi skilled, training programme resulting in a wide range of long term, well paid jobs, as well as business and investment opportunities in every community.

Yes, he’s failed Econ 101 again. Jobs are a cost of doing something, not a benefit. But yes, this is Hines, he ups his game once more:

However these trends could be significantly changed were a labour intensive ‘30 by 30’ Green New Deal programme be introduced for the region,

Labour intensive, eh?

Umm, what labour?

UK employment

We’ve no reservoir of peeps just sitting at home who can come do this work. That’s one of the highest population to employment ratios in the world.

UK unemployment

We’ve not got some mass who would like to work and can’t either. That’s around what economists call full employment, we’ve only got around the necessary minimum to allow for frictional unemployment today.

So, what unemployed labour is Hines talking about? Well, there isn’t any, is there? That then means that people will have to be taken off some other form of production to come turn perfectly reasonable houses into mushroom farms. What tasks should those be? What is it that we’re to do without from our current production so that Colin Hines can play Fat Controller with the nation’s labour supply?

No, don’t bother to send him a postcard with the answer. He’d not understand it so rockribbed is his ignorance of economics.

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Bloke in North Dorset
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Bloke in North Dorset

And at the end of it we end up with this huge workforce who are skilled at installing insulation and nothing else which gets used to tell us how evil Tories are cf people skilled at digging coal out of the ground, making steel nobody want, building cars in Birmingham nobody will buy.

Pat
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Pat

Maybe if the green jobs all went to Green party members, Guardian staff and maybe BBC staff, together with academics it would be worth it. Whilst they are destroying housing they can’t be destroying value elsewhere. As a bonus some of them might grow up.