I’ve noticed that this election that the Greens have billboards and slogans along the lines of “Vote Green to grow the economy”. This is radically different slogan from their rhetoric of a few years ago when the Greens would denounce economic growth as evil and actually argue against growing the economy.
I’m not convinced that their policies have changed, just that they have a better advertising agency. The so called policy to create 100,000 jobs in fact has less substance than an anorexic Leptotyphlops carlae. Take their claim of 47,000 to 65,000 new jobs from renewable energy. They said:
The global market for renewable energy technology is forecast to reach an annual value of $590–$800 billion by 2015.6 If we can secure just 1% of this market, we can build a new $6–8 billion export industry here at home, creating 47,000–65,000 new cleantech, high-value jobs
Translation provided by a financial analyst:
So if the global market for green tech gets to an incredibly high number and if we could secure 1% of this incredibly high number and if those were highly-paid jobs and if they didn’t replace any other jobs in the economy then hurrah – we would have 65,000 jobs!
If the Greens were promoting a prospectus, you could get them jailed for securities fraud. But it doesn’t stop there. ACT candidate Stephen Whittington points out their massive mistake, which would have them fail NCEA Level 1 Maths. He explains:
I honestly cannot believe that the Greens have made such a simple mistake, in a document which is intended to set out how they will finance their plans to significantly increase Government expenditure.
The Greens predict that increasing minimum wages will increase tax revenue by $519 million. Even assuming that people don’t lose their jobs, which they will, increasing the minimum wage will reduce tax revenue.
Increased wages will increase the amount of PAYE collected by the Government. But wages are also a deductible expense to businesses. Given that the marginal personal income tax rate is lower than the corporate tax rate, increased minimum wages will decrease revenue from corporate income tax more than will be increased from PAYE, even assuming no increase in unemployment.
In the Green fantasy world, increasing the cost of Labour doesn’t decrease profits and hence taxes on profits. I am amazed they are not lobbying for the minimum wage to be immediately raised to $50/hour as this will cause employers to become more productive to be able to afford to pay the wages. No I am not kidding – this is what they actually argue.
Now in case you think it is only nasty right wingers using evil weapons such as mathematics and logic to attack the Greens policy, let’s look at the comments by Idiot/Savant at No Right Turn. He supports their policies but slams their advertising:
I’ve spent the morning reading through the Greens’ “Green jobs initiative” [PDF]. The short version is that the Greens are promising to “create 100,000 new green jobs through business incentives and government leadership”, specifically through increased investment, building a clean energy sector, and increased support for a green economy. But when you look at it, its not really about jobs at all; rather its about greening our economy, with jobs as a byproduct. Political marketing means that that byproduct is being highlighted, in a way which is at times outright deceitful.
The “big idea” in the policy is government support, through our energy SOEs, for a major new renewable energy industry:
“The clean energy sector is booming internationally. Currently, renewables supply only 15% of the world’s primary energy demands but its share is growing rapidly. The global renewable energy market grew by 6.8% in 2010 alone to reach a value of $389 billion. It is forecast to reach an annual value of $590–$800 billion by 2015. By securing just 1% of this market, we’d create a $6–8 billion new export industry here at home, creating 59,000–81,000 new jobs.”Which is a nice dream, and something we should aim for. Our economy is not very diverse (basically, we export butter and bungee jumping), and if it is to grow we need to start doing other things. Exporting wind turbines, geothermal technology, and smartmeters, and the technology, services and IP related to these is a good idea, and something that potentially fits well with what we already do. But a $6 – 8 billion export sector is enormous – bigger than meat; it would be our third-largest export industry after tourism and dairy. And that’s not something that’s going to happen overnight. Its a good idea, its something we need to do, and its something government needs to help with (after all, pretty obviously the market isn’t going to do it if left to itself), it will benefit New Zealand in the long run. But pitching it as an immediate job-creation plan, and implicitly suggesting we’ll have those jobs by 2015 (rather than in 20 years time) is deceitful and misleading.
This isn’t just wrong, it is a mistake. Quite apart from raising questions of the Greens’ honesty and integrity, one of their chief selling points, it undermines the policy itself. This is a perfectly good policy, and it can stand on its merits (hell, even MED agrees that we need active government intervention to build new export industries, up to and including direct investment in growth areas). Fudging things like this hands a gift to detractors, allowing them to dismiss it out of hand: “100,000 new jobs? Yeah, right”.
So, a good policy, but very disappointing marketing around it. Deceit is not the green way, and if you use it to sell your policies, then people will start treating you as liars, just like all the rest.
At the end of the day, the Greens are politicians seeking power. They’re just like all the other politicians – neither saints nor sinners. Just politicians.But politicians who can’t even do simple maths.