HR=Humans Represent: The “G²” Jobs

That’s what I like to call it… G² : Government=Green Jobs. I’ve been pondering this notion for over a month now after reading an article this past June. The author took the stance that the green industry is handcuffed to subsidy and regulation. His belief is that green jobs are determined by lobbyists, and not by innovative entrepreneurs.

He offers up the computer industry as example. Going back to 1982 when IBM released its first personal computer, and unemployment was higher than it is today. His friend, dropped out of college due to interests of only drugs, Dungeons & Dragons and girls. Over time he became bored and frustrated with the repetitive design of the game, so he began seeking ways to automate the process. Needless to say, he became good at writing code, became a D&D celebrity in the community, and one day he received a phone call from that startup company Microsoft.

Is he right that our intuition about greening the world is lacking from an entrepreneurial standpoint? Whereas people in the 1980’s had autonomy and independence, and more importantly, saw the importance of computers? I think most of us see the need to do our part to combat global warming and live greener lives, but there may be some truth to what he says! Green jobs are not emerging from the free marketplace on their own. They seem to be created by government subsidy and regulation. Think about it, government can generate employment by mandating that utilities begin utilizing wind power, create new solar energy requirements, and decides whether or not to invest money in high-speed rails. Green “visions” are directed by government.

I understand the writer’s point of view, and agree with it. The types of green jobs that are being created aren’t really innovations which a generation can create a lifelong career. After all, how many additional power grids will we need 20 years from now, and will it keep grid makers gainfully employed? As the writer mentions, government can provide only so much taxpayer money before citizens get fed up with it all.

However, when I really stop to analyze this all further, I have to argue that if Government didn’t step up and green the world, who would? I remember as a child, the high school I attended (which was built in the late 1970’s) was well-known as it was one of the first solar schools – which by the time I attended; they weren’t utilizing this power source. Truth is, solar technology has been around for years, although it seems to have increased greatly in popularity in the last few years. Why is this?? Maybe it truly is due to government incentives and their promotion of the industry! You don’t really hear about innovative entrepreneurs stepping up and greening things on their own as far as green businesses go. Many of the green businesses today seem to be started with government assistance more so than them being a stand-on-your-own start-up. Take for example, how many small business owners in your area who own a gas station offering alternative fuels so that you may fuel your car with ethanol, compressed natural gas, or hydrogen? Not many, and not too common! It’s probably hard enough to try to find a car lot selling cars that utilize these types of fuel – not to mention auto repair stores carrying auto parts for them, or garages to service such types of vehicles.

As far as that day the writer talks about when taxpayers get tired of footing the bill? We need to have faith that entrepreneurs and the independent mom-and-pop small businesses will continue with the government’s green vision. After all, the biggest employers in this country are small businesses (20 or less employees) who employ 65% of our workforce.

My conclusion? I say good job government — way to lead by example! If our government didn’t pick up the slack, our world would be a lot less green!

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Agreed. On the federal level, GSA has made some pretty bold goals around green buildings and sustainability pushing the movement along.

Rafael Perez

Great post! I think the military is slowly coming around to thinking green. I know for the Navy there are a few efforts and I try to push them as much as I can.

Jim Terwilliger

Yes, great post! Thank you. There is still very little innovation out there, but once the federal funds start flowing even more, I’m sure the private sector will find a way to jump on board.

Mike Lowell

Yes, good post. The govt. may need to get it started…but ultimately, the market must drive the adoption and innovation.