Jobs, joblessness and Obamanomics

While watching one of the news shows I had recorded over the weekend, a particular panelist’s comment stood out for its rare feat of actually saying something. In explaining a critical aspect of the economic problem facing the U.S., she said:

“Where the jobs are is not where the high joblessness is.”

Huh. Imagine that. Employers seeking to grow or relocate are not seeking to do so in areas that happen to also have the biggest unemployment problems. Even though, all other things being equal — which is where you slip the rails of reality — that is where costs should be lowest, particularly labor costs. But in fact joblessness is highest in these places precisely because the cost of living and of doing business has been made the highest (by…any guesses?).

So instead, jobs are being created in different regulatory climates. How strange.

There are so many lessons in this, even though the speaker apparently did not fully grasp what she was saying, seemingly invoking the point as an indication of the need for further government intervention. “Problem with unemployment? More government, stat!” Hair of the dog, and all that.

But the truth uttered is something the president might consider as he rushes down the path blazed by his regulatory models, the failed or failing states where joblessness is worst. Think, say, California. Michigan. Places where the Left’s coalition has been allowed to have its way with “organizing society.”

And, specifically informing the president and his coalition’s fetish for statism in the name of “global warming,” he might pay heed to the truth about China, with this being Big Green’s supposed success story on how the U.S. could, ahem, “go green,” generating economic recovery by creating jobs and not losing the mythical great windmill race.

After all, we don’t want to end up buying all of our windmills from China, the talking point goes. Except that you can mandate whatever stupid idea you can politically get away with mandating; but by doing so you ensure that the stuff you mandate will be made in places where they don’t do similarly stupid things. The truth is that we are going to buy our windmills from China, if we mandate or coerce windmills into our system.

Still, this is clearly the arrived-upon talking point, with Sen. John Kerry having recently labored to work it into conversations on shows from Morning Joe to Meet the Press, whose hosts either do not know or do not care enough about reality to challenge him. And of which I was reminded of by not one but two particularly deep thinkers I had the pleasure of joining on a couple of television shows last night. “China’s doing it” is the rhetorical wallpaper back-dropping any green’s pitch these days.

OK. I’ll bite. You mean, non-cap-n-trading, non-renewable-mandating China? That one, right? The one building coal-fired power plants like mad, about one a week? The one simply getting rich off of stimulus dollars, only to be pointed to as green because, unlike here, it is the cost-effective place to make the inefficient, expensive doohickeys our politicians mandate and coerce into use here? Got it.

Now, that purple line, which has skyrocketed and is projected to continue on its trajectory to “infinity and beyond!” (as a couple of space rangers in my house have been intoning since Christmas morning)? That’s anti-global warming, green crusader China. The U.S. is the flat, blue line underneath it.

Where in this data or projection, precisely, do you see China “skinning the cat” by mandating reductions in carbon dioxide emissions, which, we are told, we must do if we (for some reason) want to be like China?

Seems to me that we need to shrug off the malaise our emissions have experienced over the past decade and allow them to increase. After all, emissions do generally correlate with economic activity. And it would make us “green.” Besides, “China’s doing it.” Though, as we have been trained in Washington to note, it depends on what the meaning of the word “it” is.

Christopher Horner is a senior fellow at The Competitive Enterprise Institute.