If there’s one thing that has been proven time and again in the U.S., it’s that government mandates are not the creator of jobs and incubator of industries they always claim to be.
Take a look at California’s Clean Energy Jobs Act, for example. Passed in 2012, the legislation – which was the brainchild of billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer – promised to create 11,000 jobs annually in the clean energy sector by raising taxes on corporations and funding energy-efficiency projects on schools.
Fast-forward three years, and those jobs have not materialized. In fact, barely 1,700 jobs have been created.
Furthermore, the funds for the project have not been flowing as freely as anticipated: only $297 million has been raised so far, more than half of which has gone to energy auditors and consultants. Finally, the board created to oversee the work has apparently never met.
All in all, a pitiful return for the government mandate. Steyer’s proposed green jobs stimulus turned out to be flawed, as the extent of which was to impose higher taxes on one section of the economy in order to spend it somewhere else.
However, when these mandates are not in place – put simply, when the government is out of the way – jobs and economic growth flow tends more freely, as they can cater to what the market wants, instead of what bureaucrats seem to think is good idea at the time.
The shale revolution in North Dakota is a prime example of this. Thanks to American creativity and innovation, cheap oil and gas is being extracted from the lonely fields of the Peace Garden State, turning an economic backwater into a magnet for investment and employment.
The figures speak for themselves: North Dakota had the fastest GDP growth of any state in 2014. Since 2004, GDP per capita has grown 114 percent, income per capita has grown by more than $25,000 and has created 122,800 new jobs.
Perhaps Californian bureaucrats – and Tom Steyer – should take a leaf out of North Dakota’s book.