Wednesday, May 4, 2016
Just Transition Blues
With the Break Free protesters confronting the fossil fuel industry, the workers with those relatively good production jobs are being asked a familiar old labor question: which side are you on? We are told by the rosy Blue/Green Alliance optimists that "jobs versus the environment" is not a real question, that with a little managerial planning, we can painlessly move workers from dirty energy jobs into clean energy ones. Some even present this as the promise of economic stimulus and growth. But the average refinery worker has a right to be skeptical. They know all too well how capitalism works and how it treats workers. But the question here is: why exactly is it up to to the climate change movement to find jobs for these folks? We aren't threatening their jobs, the science is. We are just the messengers,those forced to deliver the bad news because their politician friends and union bosses are too cowardly. And personally, I would have more sympathy if these same workers hadn't been sticking their heads in the sand for the last decade, pretending the problem away. Or worse, actively distorting the issue so that we lost valuable time when a easy "transition" might have been more possible. Now we are out of time. Oops. The US government will relocate people living on a Louisiana island that is being inundated by salt water to the tune of 1 billion dollars of tax money. The fossil fuel industry profits from destroying their home, the Ted Cruz taxpayers buy them new ones. So this subsidizing scam is why that fossil fuel worker keeps his good job but this only happens in rich countries. Millions of less fortunate people (and workers) around the globe will suffer so the American worker can have his "just transition". But this relocation is just the tip of the melting iceberg. Coastal cities are all planning trillions of dollars worth of dikes and canals and pumps because that's how capitalism works. Pumps will be a growth industry and economists will say GDP is rising with the inexorable tide.