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Published: Tuesday 10 September, 2013

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A good policy fantasy is like the H1N1 virus. It spreads on contact and threatens to infect everyone in its path.

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 capandtrade program to penalize greenhousegas 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 socalled green job balenciaga fashion s and should strive to do so enthusiastically.

The analysis to back that up, spread by enthusiasts, is that transferring societys resources to the green sector leads to a net creation of jobs. And it provides a tasty free lunch by cleaning the environment.

Economics teaches balenciaga fashion , of course, that there are no free lunches.

A key force driving greenjobs calculations is that alternativeenergy production or energy conservation are laborintensive compared with, say, the oil industry. But if the alternativeenergy sector were really economically more efficient than other forms of energy, it would create jobs all by itself, without the assistance of Uncle Sam.

The notion is that we make ourselves better off by transferring resources from one sector, which is fairly efficient, to another, which isnt. Such an assertion might be correct if we account for the damage done by greenhouse gases. But with regard to job creation, the argument is nonsense. Foster recently wrote that the same logic would recommend an even better and greener plan: The federal government could require that we all move about in rickshaws.

The logic is sound, is it not? It will take many environmentally friendly rickshaws to replace the passenger miles currently devoted to travel in cars and buses. With unemployment so high, a rickshaw program could reap huge economic benefits.

Or would it?

In the long run, when real wages and workers have the opportunity to adjust, the economy tends toward full employment. One simply cant redistribute resources and change the number of jobs. So we get to choose, in the long run, between an economy with lots of rickshaws and an economy with more efficient transportation and lots of jobs in other sectors.

President Obama has consistently used Spain as an example of greenjob paradise.

Spain has, indeed, invested heavily in green jobs. And the results? A recent study by Spanish economist Gabriel Calzada Alvarez and colleagues at the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos found that the Spanish program spent 571,138 euros for every job it created. Thats about $833,000 per job.

The Spanish program also sucked resources out of more productive sectors into less productive ones, costing 2.2 jobs for every green job created.

While Alvarezs calculations rely on assumptions that might overstate the case a bit, consider the impact of the Obama green jobs program if his numbers are correct. The president has promised to create 5 million green jobs. If he succeeds, then it will cost 11 million jobs in other sectors, and the mediumterm increase in unemployment will be 6 million jobs.

To put that in per balenciaga fashion spective, the number of unemployed Americans has increased in the past two years by 7.6 million. Creating 5 million green jobs would do almost the same amount of net harm.

Environmental programs should be weighed on their environmental merits. The most efficient way to move toward a cleaner future is to provide incentives to rely on alternative energy with a penalty on carbon. If a carbon tax causes some unemployment, we can address that with tax reductions elsewhere.

The greenjobs fantasy makes the adoption of such a plan harder, and, to the extent that it affects real policy, hurts real people. balenciaga fashion