Bryan Caplan  

"Win-Win," as Filtered Through Make-Work Bias

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Another debate gem: Hillary on energy policy.

CLINTON: ...But this issue of energy and global warming has the promise of creating millions of new jobs in America... So it can be a win-win, if we do it right.
It's hard to interpret this charitably. Hillary really seems to believe that the diverting of millions of people to a new task is a free lunch. Has she never read Bastiat?

Sorry, stupid question.

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COMMENTS (8 to date)
mgroves writes:

Rioting and terrorism create new jobs by that same logic: someone has to rebuild!

Arnold Kling writes:

You've found your news hook!

The fact that she thought (probably correctly) that most people would buy this argument illustrates the irrationality of voters.

Matt writes:

Dick Cheney has about a million people involved in extracting oil from Iraq.

Allan Niemerg writes:

Hold on. Suppose that the world, including the US, China, and India, were to adopt a Kyoto-like agreement that required limiting emissions. Under such a system, China and other developing nations would have to adopt energy efficient technologies. Arguably, the U.S. has a comparative advantage in providing such technologies. So, if one is charitable, global warming agreements could benefit the U.S. by requiring countries to buy more pollution preventing technologies than they would have otherwise. But, I doubt it would result in millions of new jobs.

Dezakin writes:

This is when she's trying to court the AFL-CIO types? So what? Democrats that don't do this wont win the primary, so I think we can safely assume that whatever is said at this stage is absolutely meaningless with respect towards policy.

Oh wait, thats every damned politician at every stage in the election cycle...

With respect to rioting creating jobs: Yes, it occasionally does. Its Keynsian stimulation and in some cases is good for the economy if you only know when to stop. The problem with Keynsianism is theres no central bank of fiscal policy that gives lawmakers how much of a deficit they're allowed to run.

Tobbic writes:

If markets are efficient & global warming is an effective constraint, of course it's a bad thing. Under this GW constraint we must go to an equilibrium that was possible before but was not undertaken. So it's a win-lose. GW adjustment might result in economically more favourable equilibrium for some nations but not for the world as whole. Otherwise we would already be there.

Creating jobs is not an end in itself (say no to Marx). And creating jobs to do something people don't actually demand is waste.

Mr. Econotarian writes:

Maybe she is expressing her belief that the costs of unabated warming is higher than the cost of warming abatement.

In Bastiatical terms, the window is broken, but if we fix it we won't freeze to death.

Still the term "win-win" is a bit misleading, more like "win [environment] but lose less [economy]".

I actually think there may be economic benefits if the threat of global warming generates the political action to reduce regulation of and increase production of nuclear power, but that's another issue altogether.

On the other hand, I have no faith in a global political process to reduce CO2 or methane emissions.

Floccina writes:

Don't worry about Hillary being elected she is just lying. She is way too smart to believe what she said there. Run Hillary run Hillary.

Go Ron Paul!

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