It ain't easy bein' green

Or creating "green" jobs either...at least not if you're the gubmint..

Steve Maley at Red State notes that "In the first four years of the Obama Administration, the Department of Labor spent $595 million training workers for the New Green Economy that President Obama promised," and then goes on to quote from an article in—of all places—the WaPo:

Four years later, it’s still not clear what all the cash for green jobs achieved–and a Government Accountability Office report issued last week illustrates the difficulty of trying to foster an emerging industry by pumping money into it.

Ah. Read the rest, especially the part about the definition of "green" jobs. You will snort.

Closer to home, the Southern Tier Regional Economic Development Council (STREDC), that body of appointed experts from academia, government, and some token businesses, who is going to pump taxpayer dollars into who knows what in the name of revitalizing the economy of the Southern Tier, has as its first strategy:

STRATEGY 1. The Southern Tier…New York’s leader in energy efficiency and renewable energy technology
Action Item. Southern Tier Renewable Energy and Efficiency Initiative: Residential and Small Scale Commercial Retrofit
Action Item. Southern Tier Renewable Energy and Efficiency Initiative: Large Scale Institutional and Commercial Projects
Action Item. Energy Development Alliance for New York—EDANY Action Item. Energy Workforce Development Initiative
Perhaps the council members need to read the WaPo article as well as the latest unemployment figures for the Southern Tier:
...Schuyler County saw its unemployment rate drop to 7 percent, down from 7.2 percent reported in May. In June 2012, Schuyler County’s jobless rate was 8 percent. With all other job sectors remaining flat, Schuyler saw gains in its leisure/hospitality sector.
In Chemung County, the natural resources/mining/construction, retail trade and leisure/hospitality sectors all saw gains during the month. Job losses were reported in manufacturing (200 jobs) and education and health services (200 jobs). Overall, Chemung County’s jobless rate in June was 8.1 percent, versus 8.2 percent reported in May and 8.8 percent recorded for June 2012.
The Elmira region was the only upstate metropolitan area that lost private-sector jobs in June. Elmira had a net loss of 200 private sector jobs from June 2012 to last month...
...Steuben County’s unemployment rate was 8.7 percent, compared with May’s 8.8 percent figure and the 9.6 percent rate for June 2012...
Unemployment rates that high may be the new normal as far as the government is concerned, but no one else regards it as normal—or acceptable.
But wait! Isn't there really good employment news from another county that's included in the STREDC? In the Ithaca Journal:
Tompkins jobless rate below 6% 
Tied with Saratoga for state’s lowest, but work force also declines
Tompkins County’s un­employment rate in June was 5.7 percent, down from 7 percent a year ear­lier and tied with Sarato­ga County for the state’s lowest, the New York De­partment of Labor report­ed Tuesday...
...Tompkins County’s civilian labor force stood at 54,200 in June, down 700 people from a year earlier. The number of unemployed declined by 800, or 20 percent, while the number of people em­ployed grew by 100. By sector, gains were in natu­ral resources, mining and construction; manufac­turing, leisure and hospi­tality; and other services. Losses were in financial activities, education and health, and local government....
So Tompkins, home to Cornell University which employs roughly 9,500 people, is looking really good with an unemployment rate of under 6%.
The view from here at Redneck Mansion is that apparently everything is relative.
Now the kissin' cousin to the REDCs is Cleaner Greener NY, another Cuomoism that surfaced when our fearless leader (over there to your left) was running for governor the first time:
As Governor, Andrew Cuomo will expand the NY Green Jobs Corps to maximize green job training and the creation of green jobs. The program will:
(1) Look for additional federal and private funding sources to bolster the dollars available under the Green Jobs/Green New York Act;
(2) Strengthen the partnership with our public and private universities to provide green expanded jobs training; and,
(3) Organize and centralize the existing programs to better maximize green training and job opportunities.
According to a report from the Apollo Alliance; Green Jobs or Green-Collar Jobs are, “good paying, career track jobs that contribute significantly to preserving or enhancing environmental quality. Like blue-collar jobs, green collar jobs range from low skill, entry level positions to high skill, higher paid jobs. New York currently has a Green Energy Workforce Training infrastructure supported largely by initiatives funded through NYSERDA...
How interesting.  And just who is the Apollo Alliance?
...AA describes itself as “a coalition of labor, business, environmental, and community leaders working to catalyze a clean energy revolution that will put millions of Americans to work in a new generation of high-quality, green-collar jobs.” “Inspired by the Apollo space program,” adds AA, “we promote investments in energy efficiency, clean power, mass transit, next-generation vehicles, and emerging technology, as well as in education and training. Working together, we will reduce carbon emissions and oil imports, spur domestic job growth, and position America to thrive in the 21st century economy.”
Van Jones describes Apollo Alliance’s mission as “sort of a grand unified field theory for progressive left causes.”
What could possibly go wrong with anything the Apollo Alliance considers a good idea?
And the green jobs initiatives are funded through NYSERDA, which is evidently an exotic species of backyard money tree.  No, actually
New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) is a public benefit corporation created in 1975 under Article 8, Title 9 [PDF] and Title 9A [PDF] of the State Public Authorities Law through the reconstitution of the New York State Atomic and Space Development Authority. NYSERDA’s earliest efforts focused solely on research and development with the goal of reducing the State’s petroleum consumption. Today, NYSERDA’s aim is to help New York meet its energy goals: reducing energy consumption, promoting the use of renewable energy sources, and protecting the environment.
...Currently, NYSERDA is primarily funded by state rate payers...
In other words, all of us—or at least those of us who actually, you know, flip a light on from time to time.
So a charge—a tax—on our utility bills funds NYSERDA. Then money from NYSERDA as well as money appropriated by the legislature—taxpayer dollars—gets doled out by an appointed council to the "winners" of regional competitions (where there's a heavy emphasis on greenness) or given to green workforce training initiatives, a favorite of progressive left causes.
Then there's the governor's most recent nonsense, Tax-Free NY Start-Up NY (it was re-christened when it must have become apparent even to the governor that it was laughably misnamed):
START-UP NY will foster entrepreneurialism and job creation on a large scale by transforming public higher education through tax-free communities across the state, particularly upstate...
But Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin (R-Melrose) has a different take:
Apparently Cuomo's plan is to have tax-paying businesses that are expanding despite his policies and laws move out of state and have new businesses locate on college campuses and have them, along with their employees, pay zero taxes for 10 years. Progressive Nirvana.
Q: If "tax-free communities" are so great, why not make the entire state tax-free, for everybody? Businesses would be tripping over themselves to locate here.
A: Because then there would be a lot fewer goodies for "experts" and other morally and intellectually superior types to give to their favorites.
There's no difference between the supposedly evil Wall Streeters, insurance companies, etc., so reviled by progressives complaining of crony capitalism, and the beneficiaries of the largesse of unelected regional economic development councils or of Albany folk picking winners and losers. You'll never hear progressives complain about that brand of cronyism, however.
The way to attract private business and the concommitant jobs to NYS, thereby lifting everybody's boats, is to lower taxes, do away with unnecessary regulation, make it easier for employers to hire non-unionized employees, and not play favorites.
The proof is in the counties' unemployment stats: government never actually creates anything, much less jobs—green or otherwise.
Cross-posted at It's All Downhill From Here

Dirty jobs are pretty hard to outsource

Carpenters, plumbers, electricians, auto mechanics, roustabouts, roughnecks...if you need one of these folks to work on your house or your car or your drill rig, they need to be here, not in India.

This is not a concept that Democrats seem to have, at least not as expressed in the Democrat Party 2012 platform:

...To help keep college within reach for every student, Democrats took on banks to reform our student loan program, saving more than $60 billion by removing the banks acting as middlemen so we can better and more directly invest in students. To make college affordable for students of all backgrounds and confront the loan burden our students shoulder, we doubled our investment in Pell Grant scholarships and created the American Opportunity Tax Credit worth up to $10,000 over four years of college, and we're creating avenues for students to manage their federal student loans so that their payments can be only 10 percent of what they make each month. President Obama has pledged to encourage colleges to keep their costs down by reducing federal aid for those that do not, investing in colleges that keep tuition affordable and provide good value, doubling the number of work-study jobs available to students, and continuing to ensure that students have access to federal loans with reasonable interest rates. We invested more than $2.5 billion in savings from reforming our student loan system to strengthen our nation's Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Hispanic-Serving Institutions, Tribal Colleges and Universities, Alaska, Hawaiian Native Institutions, Asian American and Pacific Islander Institutions, and other Minority Serving Institutions. These schools play an important role in creating a diverse workforce, educating new teachers, and producing the next generation of STEM workers...

STEM stands for science/technology/engineering/math, by the way.

So, dag nabbit, every kid's gonna go to college.  You vill do it and you vill like it—ve haff vays of making you like it.

And we'll just keep printing money and borrowing from China and turning the thumbscrews on uncooperative colleges for as long as it takes. 

Oh, and there is no higher education bubble, the one we rednecks have written about here, herehere, and here.

However, Pundette writes

...Obama's obsolete idea that college should be the default option for every young person is not only way behind the curve but harmful to the kids and the economy.

That observation sprang from a column by Mike Rowe:

...mikeroweWORKS grew out of a TV show called Dirty Jobs. If by some chance you are not glued to The Discovery Channel every Wednesday at 10pm, allow me to...introduce myself...

When Dirty Jobs premiered back in 2003, critics called the show “a calamity of exploding toilets and misadventures in animal husbandry.” They weren’t exactly wrong. But mostly, Dirty Jobs was an unscripted celebration of hard work and skilled labor. It still is. Every week, we highlight regular people who do the kind of jobs most people go out of their way to avoid. My role on the show is that of a “perpetual apprentice.” In that capacity I have completed over three hundred different jobs, visited all fifty states, and worked in every major industry.
Though schizophrenic and void of any actual qualifications, my resumé looks pretty impressive, and when our economy officially crapped the bed in 2008, I was perfectly positioned to weigh in on a variety of serious topics. A reporter from The Wall Street Journal called to ask what I thought about the “counter-intuitive correlation between rising unemployment and the growing shortage of skilled labor.” CNBC wanted my take on outsourcing. Fox News wanted my opinions on manufacturing and infrastructure. And CNN wanted to chat about currency valuations, free trade, and just about every other work-related problem under the sun.
In each case, I shared my theory that most of these “problems” were in fact symptoms of something more fundamental – a change in the way Americans viewed hard work and skilled labor. That’s the essence of what I’ve heard from the hundreds of men and women I’ve worked with on Dirty Jobs. Pig farmers, electricians, plumbers, bridge painters, jam makers, blacksmiths, brewers, coal miners, carpenters, crab fisherman, oil drillers…they all tell me the same thing over and over, again and again – our country has become emotionally disconnected from an essential part of our workforce.  We are no longer impressed with cheap electricity, paved roads, and indoor plumbing. We take our infrastructure for granted, and the people who build it.
Today, we can see the consequences of this disconnect in any number of areas, but none is more obvious than the growing skills gap. Even as unemployment remains sky high, a whole category of vital occupations has fallen out of favor, and companies struggle to find workers with the necessary skills. The causes seem clear. We have embraced a ridiculously narrow view of education. Any kind of training or study that does not come with a four-year degree is now deemed “alternative.” Many viable careers once aspired to are now seen as “vocational consolation prizes,” and many of the jobs this current administration has tried to “create” over the last four years are the same jobs that parents and teachers actively discourage kids from pursuing. (I always thought there something ill-fated about the promise of three million “shovel ready jobs” made to a society that no longer encourages people to pick up a shovel.)...
Absolutely, positively, read the whole thing. Then go back and re-read the higher education plank from the Dem platform, above.
And Dems say Republicans are out of touch?

Hey, Abbott!...

...'splain to us how unemployment figures "work."

COSTELLO: I want to talk about the unemployment rate in America.
ABBOTT: Good Subject. Terrible Times. It's 9%.
COSTELLO: That many people are out of work?
ABBOTT: No, that's 16%.
COSTELLO: You just said 9%.
ABBOTT: 9% Unemployed.
COSTELLO: Right 9% out of work.
ABBOTT: No, that's 16%.
COSTELLO: Okay, so it's 16% unemployed.
ABBOTT: No, that's 9%...
COSTELLO: WAIT A MINUTE. Is it 9% or 16%?
ABBOTT: 9% are unemployed. 16% are out of work.
COSTELLO: IF you are out of work you are unemployed.
ABBOTT: No, you can't count the "Out of Work" as the unemployed. 
You have to look for work to be unemployed.
ABBOTT: No, you miss my point.
COSTELLO: What point?
ABBOTT: Someone who doesn't look for work, can't be counted with those who look for work. 
It wouldn't be fair.
ABBOTT: The unemployed.
COSTELLO: But they are ALL out of work.
ABBOTT: No, the unemployed are actively looking for work.
Those who are out of work stopped looking.
They gave up.  And, if you give up, you are no longer 
in the ranks of the unemployed.
COSTELLO: So if you're off the unemployment rolls, that would count as 
less unemployment?
ABBOTT: Unemployment would go down. Absolutely!
COSTELLO: The unemployment just goes down because you don't look for work?
ABBOTT: Absolutely it goes down. That's how you get to 9%.  Otherwise it would be 16%. 
You don't want to read about 16% unemployment do ya?
COSTELLO: That would be frightening.
ABBOTT: Absolutely.
COSTELLO: Wait, I got a question for you.  
That means there are two ways to bring down the unemployment number?
ABBOTT: Two ways is correct.
COSTELLO: Unemployment can go down if someone gets a job?
ABBOTT: Correct.
COSTELLO: And unemployment can also go down if you stop looking for a job?
ABBOTT: Bingo.
COSTELLO: So there are two ways to bring unemployment down, 
and the easier of the two is to just stop looking for work.
ABBOTT: Now you're thinking like an economist.
COSTELLO: I don't even know what the hell I just said!
h/t Ralph

If you don't laugh, you'll cry:

Smoke and mirrors

From Heritage:

There’s no good way to spin the news that came out of today’s monthly U.S. jobs report. The economy generated only 18,000 total new jobs, the unemployment rate increased to 9.2 percent, and the number of unemployed Americans has gone up by 445,000. In other words, the recovery appears to have slowed markedly. President Barack Obama’s stimulus-infused “recovery” refuses to ignite, unsurprisingly to all but him.

And to make matters worse, May’s paltry job growth numbers were revised even farther downward, from the initial estimate of 54,000 to 25,000...

Hmmmm.  So how much confidence do we have in the 18K figure? How big is the fudge factor in gubmint stats anyway?

Today's story reminded me of a a video from Chris Martenson I came across some time ago, and while I certainly don't agree with all his opinions on other matters, he makes a compelling case that for GDP and inflation anyway, we would do well to at least wonder about those official-sounding and decptively-precise statistics:

"It's the recession, stupid" to "Erin go bragh!": a chain of unacknowledged problems

While we didn't have James Carville at town meetings in Tompkins County recently, we did have Barbara Lifton. She insisted that the sorry state of the NYS economy was not as bad as it appeared and in any case was certainly not due to anything systemic like, you know, a rotten business climate, but was the fault of "the recession."

Hmmm...a story in the Ithaca Journal stated

The recession has been a kinder and gentler one for upstate New York compared to the rest of the country, said Richard Deitz, a senior economist for the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

"As job growth began to decline in the U.S., it actually began to pick up in upstate New York," he said. "Job loss began much later in upstate than it did in the U.S. and the rate of job loss throughout the recession was not as severe."....

Allen Lambert's response to this article:

Besides having a lot of colleges to depend on, CNY went thru its decline much earlier -- gradually and over past 40 years as manufacturing jobs left. So economy and housing (except Ithaca) have been depressed and near bottom for a long time. Not much [lower] left to go...

Education and health care may provide jobs, but they do not produce basics like food, clothes, housing, buildings, and the construction materials for roads, vehicles, bldgs, etc. Without basic production an economy (regional or national) is at greater risk.

So Tompkins County, as we all know, exists in a fragile bubble—on a lot of different levels—a bubble that doesn't exist for much of the rest of the state. The state unemployment rate hovers around 8% while the county rate is about 5.5%.  How many people in the state are in the long-term unemployed category (unemployed for more than 6 months)? Well, with the federal "tiers" layered on top of the basic state unemployment benefits, it starts to look like the public-employee pension tiers:

Suffice it to say, there's a non-zero—considerably more than zero—number of long-term unemployed people in NYS.  Which brings us to the "Erin go bragh" part.

Must be that March put him in mind of St. Patrick, shamrocks, and all things Irish...Alan Farnham at ABC News reports (via Hot Air):

In the bad old days of the 1800s, when it was legal for employers to discriminate against anyone they pleased, job postings used to say things like: "No Irish Need Apply." Now the unemployed, it seems, have become the new Irish: In advertisement after advertisement, employers come right out and tell them they're not wanted.....

You heard right: If you've been laid off or are out of work, pal, scram -- this employer, like many others, doesn't want you. You're damaged goods.....

Oh, please.  The long-term unemployed are the "new Irish"?  Ed Morrissey recounts his experience:

The analogy is far from perfect, mainly because Farnham confuses discrimination based on ethnicity and the normal discernment of employers based on experience and job history.  As a hiring manager for 15 years, I can attest that under normal conditions, the long-term unemployed are higher risks for problems in employment and for long-term performance...When exceptions were made, we usually had trouble with performance as a result....

...employers now have a much wider applicant base and can afford to be more selective.  With so many new workers entering into the economy and not enough jobs to go around, it has become a buyer’s market, which means that employers don’t need to take risks in staffing decisions.  While employment track records may be less indicative over the last three years of high unemployment, it’s still an issue that raises red flags about commitment and performance...

Heaven forbid that HR people should behave rationally.

And lastly, on a related note, we should be very skeptical of unemployment statistics in general (via Legal Insurrection):

Indeed, there is really nothing in the record books that correlates with the current situation. If you look at the percentage of the total adult population employed, you might wish to conclude that we are actually in the second phase of a double-dip jobs recession....

This often overlooked trend is something that the unemployment rate is not going to pick up when large numbers of workers become discouraged and drop out of the labor force. ...though the country added jobs last year, those have basically just kept up with population growth, meaning that we're still at the bottom of a huge crater....

Do read the rest.  

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