Editorial | December 10, 2008
To clarify once and for all, the green tech revolution will not help the American economy. Yes, it will create jobs if the government subsidizes research and development. It would also create jobs if the government paid people to dig holes and then fill them up. The difference is that when individuals spend their money, a good or service is created which increases the spender’s welfare as the money is transferred. Both the spender and the individual providing the good or service benefit. If people are paid to dig and fill holes, the money is transferred, but there is no increased welfare for those losing the money; those digging benefit, but the taxpayer loses out. Using tax dollars to fund green technology will be more productive than digging and filling holes, but less productive than letting individuals spend their own money.
After having to pay extra taxes to subsidize green energy, people will have less to spend on goods and services, so providers of goods and services will have to downsize, increasing unemployment. The green energy companies will not be able to spend all of the taxpayer funds to hire all those fired because much of the revenue will have to go towards equipment. Some say this technology will prove a good investment, but if it had potential for profitability, individuals would make the same investments in alternative energies.
This is not to discount the environmental benefits of switching to clean energy. With the switch, Americans will enjoy cleaner air and decreased risk of global warming. Unfortunately, economic loss and increased unemployment will accompany the benefits. Though America eventually needs a replacement for oil, and renewable sources may prove more efficient in the long run, it will be at least five or ten years before the possibility of them competing on a large scale without heavy subsidizing is an even somewhat realistic possibility, especially with the recent drop in oil prices. Meanwhile, America’s economy is in peril and cannot afford further impediment. Drilling offshore and in Alaska will provide much needed short-term relief, and will profit rather than cost the nation over the next decade. Environmental protection is important to this country, but it must be accepted that it will work against economic growth, rather than with it, in the foreseeable future.
This issue marks my last as editor-in-chief of The Primary Source. I have greatly enjoyed my tenure, and will remember warmly the hours spent debating issues, brainstorming jokes, and fighting against the homogeneous liberal philosophy prevalent at Tufts. Taking my place is Joel VanDixhorn. A talented writer and a capable leader, I have no doubts he will continue the fight for conservative ideas in a time when they seem most out of fashion. As long as self-gratifying utopian ideals dominate the discourse at Tufts, the Source will continue to be that annoying dose of truth present to contradict them.