What’s wrong with a Green New Deal (Part 2)

20 04 2009

As you can see from the responses to my previous entry on this subject, the Green New Deal (GND) is a very controversial subject.  The amorphous character of the debate around it makes it very hard to pin down, yet governments and political parties are determined to sell it to us as a key component of the anti-recession packages.

As Ben Pile points out in his excellent article in the Register, there are countless reasons to question the investments being made in the creation of green jobs.  To take one example, the creation of 25,000 jobs in the Waste Management and Recovery & Recycling sectors will come at a cost of £1.2m per job since as is very often the case with the green sector it absorbs rather than creates wealth.  For this reason, I think it is highly doubtful that such investments will create meaningful jobs or use resources rationally.  So then is this really the best way of spending money if the main aim is to boost the economy?  I think not.

This is why a focus on economic growth as an objective of economic activity is far better than a focus on environmental outturns.  Again, as Ben Pile points out, even the limited success of recycling activity in the UK is due to demand from the dynamic Chinese economy for raw materials.

When demand is high and economies are growing, common sense tells us that the use of resources, whether raw materials or labour, will be more efficient and therefore more productive.  The market may not be the most imaginably efficient way of doing things necessarily, but it is more efficient than an economic agenda which is led by ideology; what the GND is becoming.