The meme is old — Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton promises to supply work to otherwise underemployable Americans through green collar jobs that can’t be outsourced.
Obama and Clinton also agreed on the need to build a green economy. Said Obama, “We have to look at energy and the potential for creating green jobs that can not just save on our energy costs but, more importantly, can create jobs in building windmills that will produce manufacturing jobs here in Ohio, can put rural communities back on their feet by working on alternative fuels, making buildings more energy efficient. We can hire young people who are out of work and put them to work in the trade.” Clinton echoed those ideas and cited the example of Germany, which “made a big bet on solar power” and “created several hundred thousand new jobs … that can’t be outsourced.”
But what is a green-collar job, and why can’t it be outsourced? Because of new trade barriers? Or because it involves manual labor on the electrical and biofuel transmission system?
If “green-collar jobs” is just a new name for protectionism, then to bad. But if green-collar jobs involve replacing hydrocarbons through manual work on the electrical and biofuel transmission system, then good… for Ukraine!
Europe must integrate Ukraine into the EU and NATO system. This means making both Europe Ukraine richer, through increased ties and increased trade. However, such wealth comes with real damage. For instance, in Ukraine businessmen who are puppets of the Putin regime will be hurt by exposure to western legal, political, and behavioral standards (in the sense that we have a largely apolitical criminal justice system, and Russia doesn’t). In Europe, the losers will be uneducated people who find themselves competing with Ukrainians for work. So Europe must find useful work for either these unemployable Europeans to do, or else find something to keep Ukrainians productive at home.
Green Collar Jobs would help Europe absorb Ukranian. Green-collar agriculture jobs would turn Ukrainian corn into ethanol, helping to displace Russian hydrocarbons. Green-collar mechanical jobs would turn Ukrainian wind into electricity, helping to displace Russian hydrocarbons. Green-collar technological jobs would build new Ukranian power plants on the latest French lines, helping to displace Russian hydrocarbons.
Green Collar Jobs help knit Ukraine into Europe, and help protect Europe from future Russian tantrums.
Now, that’s a progressive idea.