Green is a delightful color, so much so that Democrats are positively blinded by it. Mantras have shifted slightly with the winds, but not the hues of beloved modifiers. Green energy was the thing when gas prices gushed past $4 a gallon. Now that job losses persist amid talk of recovery, the words “green jobs” jump from Democrats’ lips with reflexive regularity. Tap a Democrat’s knee and he or she involuntarily shouts, “Green jobs!”
Here comes Erik Curren, the Democratic contender in the state House 20th District, turning green on the subject of jobs and then pleading nuance. He called for a clean energy revolution in a debate Tuesday, declaring, “Green jobs can pay a decent wage and provide health insurance.” Well, perhaps, but pursuit of the blasted things also can turn a place into Spain or California.
A study Curren disputes, conducted by the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos in Spain, says that for every green job government created there under the kind of breathless initiatives touted by Democrats here, 2.2 jobs were lost in other sectors. From 2000 to 2008, Spain spent an average of more than $750,000 on every green job it created. Government can create green jobs, so long as it spends itself into the brink.
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger discovered this to disastrous results. He and his green pals shepherded through a wave of green regulations in 2006 wagering on a wave of green mandates to provide those exquisite green jobs. Trouble was, the governator crippled businesses and households with billions of dollars in new taxes and fees and made California No. 1 in job losses nationwide. Hooray.
Curren says that when he refers to green jobs he means something broader, like, say, workers weatherizing homes. “Anything can be green,” he says. OK, but at some point the color begins to fade. That leads to Republican Dickie Bell’s sensible assertion that jobs of any hue are what people want.
It also leads to matters of critical philosophical import in the 20th District. Bell, the special education teacherwho entered the race after incumbent Del. Chris Saxman withdrew, views the job of government to open avenues for business to get about the business of creating jobs. Curren, like other local Democrats competing in House races, says that he understands this, but we say only to an extent. His vision is typical of his kind, viewing government – and spending, specifically – as a cure for what ails.
This explains why Curren sees more money for education as a salve even though statistics contradict the correlation between money and performance.
Bell recognizes what Curren does not, that restraint on spending and taxes is what’s most desperately needed to help Virginia rise from the economic ashes. This lacks the splash of more government programs, but history has smiled on the approach. Bell’s more credible pledge to govern by the rationale that less is more – demonstrated over four terms as a Staunton city councilman – makes him our choice in the 20th.