By Robert F. Sanchez, JMI Policy Director
Good news: “Green jobs,” which President Obama keeps citing as a partial remedy for America’s economic woes, are being created after all. Unfortunately for jobless Americans, however, most of those new jobs are in China.That’s the gist of a New York Times story reporting that during the month of August — which saw record heat and drought as the sun beat down relentlessly in much of this country — three of America’s largest solar energy firms went broke while a fourth halted production. One of those bankrupt firms, Solyndra, had received more than half a billion dollars in federal loans.The result: The former Red China has essentially become Green China. As The Times explains, “Bankruptcy filings by three U.S. solar power companies in August…have left China’s industry in a dominant sales position – almost three-fifths of the worlds’ production capacity – and with rapidly declining costs.”Meanwhile, in the other major component of the green jobs push, China is also vying to become the world’s leading manufacturer of wind turbines. In fact, the turbines at the much vaunted “wind farm” in West Texas were manufactured in China.There’s no mystery as to why manufacturers based in China have “rapidly declining costs.” The workers in this “workers’ paradise” – despite the Communist central government’s embrace of capitalism – have few rights and endure a much lower standard of living.The Chinese government also has provided export subsidies for start-up manufacturers of turbines, a violation of World Trade Organization rules. The Times reports that in June, Beijing essentially said it would quit doing so, but “By then it had already built the world’s largest wind turbine manufacturing industry…”There’s not much the United States can do to raise labor costs in China, and no reasonable person would suggest engaging China in a “race to the bottom” by treating American workers the way Chinese workers are treated.In addition, it may be that America’s economic future will depend more on knowledge-based, high-value-added jobs than on blue-collar, assembly-line jobs in which workers with few skills perform tediously repetitious tasks.Unfortunately, such an economic transformation may have to wait while the U.S. tries to overcome teacher unions’ resistance to school reforms intended to make America’s students more globally competitive — especially in the “STEM” fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.In the meantime, however, the least the Obama Administration could do if it really wants to create jobs is to refrain from piling additional costs on America’s job-creating employers, whether through health insurance mandates, Draconian environmental regulations, runaway litigation, or NLRB rules designed to tilt the labor-management playing field in favor of the less-than-reasonable labor unions that have caused jobs to become one of America’s leading exports.