Newsweek: 'What Green Jobs? Washington Is Spending $60 Billion...But Not a Single Green Job Yet Exists'

July 29th, 2009 9:26 PM

Newsweek magazine had yesterday a web exclusive entitled "What Green Jobs?

Subtitled:  "Washington is spending $60 billion to create the careers of the future, but not a single green job yet exists. Obama's 'green czar' explains."

The Leftist publication deserves some plaudits for exploring this $60 billion gaping hole in the $787 billion "stimulus" package President Barack Obama signed into law in February.  But there are many points in the article where they could have done better. 

It would have been nice, for instance, if Newsweek had exhibited some of the scrutiny they show here in advance of the massive plan's passage. They begin with an interesting realization:

President Obama devoted nearly $60 billion of his stimulus package to building a new green-based economy rich in renewable energy and strategies to cut carbon. But despite the price tag, not one green job yet exists. It comes down to a problem of etymology. No one can yet agree on what a green job actually is.

Good thing we allocated $60 billion to allegedly create a numbers of something no one can define.  Newsweek would have done well to ask for said clarification in, say, January. 

The working definition paints a broad stroke: a job that's good for the economy while simultaneously healing the earth. But that leaves lots open to interpretation-natural gas is technically a cleaner fuel than crude oil, but it's still unsustainable-making it difficult, if not impossible, to measure whether eco-based jobs are being created and whether, as the administration has claimed, they're the saviors of a sagging economy. 

Since no one can define a green job, it is impossible to know whether we've created any.  There's also probably no way of telling how many have been saved, either. 

Again, why hadn't Newsweek sought this clarification while the plan was being considered, rather than after it has become law?

In large part, the very idea behind a green job ensures there will never be a full definition, but the Bureau of Labor Statistics agreed in April to start measuring data on them. (Critics, in response, quickly suspected that the BLS, an agency supposed to measure objective data, could soon help carry water for an administration eager to show the stimulus is working.)  Several environmental advocates polled by Newsweek defined green jobs the way Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart famously defined obscenity: I'll know it when I see it.

Newsweek gets credit for pointing out the obvious, that the Bureau of Labor Statistics being charged with measuring an immeasurable is ripe for abuse.  They could have additionally pointed out that it would not be the first time this Administration has abused an agency to score political points.  (Their having the director of next year's Census report directly to the White House and uber-political Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel rather than to the Commerce secretary being but one example).

The man beginning to field questions on whether Obama's green-jobs strategy is working is Van Jones, who started an environmental nonprofit called Green for All before joining the administration in March. Now, a senior adviser for the White House Council on Environmental Quality, Jones is tasked with leading the administration's crusade for a green-based economy. On the road in Indiana, Jones spoke to Newsweek's Daniel Stone. 

This is an inordinately gentle Newsweek biography of the very radical Van Jones.  Jones is also, according to the D.C. Examiner:

...(T)he founder of California's Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, "a non-profit agency for justice, opportunities and peace."  

The Ella Baker Center was connected to STORM (Standing Together to Organize a Revolutionary Movement), a "multi-racial activist collective with Marxist influences" with which Jones was involved....

Jones told the East Bay Express in 2005:

I was a rowdy nationalist on April 28th [1992], and then the verdicts came down on April 29th. By August, I was a communist. (...)
I met all these young radical people of color – I mean really radical: communists and anarchists. And it was, like, 'This is what I need to be a part of.' I spent the next ten years of my life working with a lot of those people I met in jail, trying to be a revolutionary.

Why wouldn't Newsweek mention Mr. Jones' self-proclaimed "really radical...communist...revolutionary" past?  After all, they expressed concern for how the $60 billion he is overseeing is being spent, so wouldn't his bizarre, anti-societal background be pertinent? 

Given the widespread concern expressed about much smaller stimulus earmarks going to radical community groups like ACORN, it would seem like someone with such a personal history overseeing fifteen times the money would warrant a proper, full description. 

And some questions.  While Newsweek asks some decent ones about undefinable green jobs, the $60 billion and how or if the two will ever actually meet, there is zero exploration of Jones' hardcore, revolutionary background, whether he has renounced these radical views and how if he still holds them will they affect how he chooses to disburse this massive amount of money at his disposal. 

Newsweek's headline held so much promise.  But much like the green jobs, it failed to materialize.