Krugman’s blog, 1/12/16

There was one post yesterday, “Bully for Neurotoxins:”

The Wall Street Journal has a remarkable editorial titled The Carnage in Coal Country, accusing President Obama of destroying jobs through his terrible, horrible, no good regulations on coal: “According to the National Mining Association, 40,000 coal jobs have been lost in the U.S. since 2008.”

That’s a bigger number than the BLS figure, but never mind; you might want to put that in perspective by remembering that the US economy has added 14 million private sector jobs since 2010. You might also want to note that coal has been declining for a long time, of which more in a second.

But what really struck me were two things. First, the editorial sneers that we’re “still waiting for all those new green jobs Mr. Obama has been promising since he arrived in Washington.” Um:


BLS Solar Foundation

Yes, that number is from the Solar Foundation, a private group; so is the Journal’s number on mining jobs. And while you might want to quibble with specific numbers, the boom in renewable energy is very real, as are the surging number of jobs in things like solar panel installation. I can’t imagine any calculation under which the number of green jobs added doesn’t exceed the loss in coal mining, which was already a shadow of its former self before Obama took office.

The other striking thing is that the editorial simply takes it as a given that any regulation is bad, including regulations on mercury and coal ash (which is also loaded with mercury and other heavy metals like lead). Let’s see: mercury is a neurotoxin, which can impair intelligence; other heavy metals can cause cancer and poison people in a variety of ways. In what moral or even economic universe is it obviously wrong to limit emissions of neurotoxins?

I know, I know: this article wasn’t intended as any kind of rational argument, it was just an anti-Obama Two Minutes Hate. But still kind of amazing to see in a paper that sometimes pretends to be a cut above Erick Erickson.

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