Let’s see: I was hired by the AJC a few months after the stimulus was signed into law, and I’m a journalist. According to the Obama administration, that means I have a “green job”!
Are you a financial adviser? You may not know it, but you’ve got a green job. Are you a wholesale buyer? You’ve got a green job, too. Or maybe you’re a newspaper reporter. You, too, have a green job — at least according to the Obama administration.
For months, Republican Sen. Charles Grassley has been pushing the administration to substantiate its claims of having created nearly 200,000 green jobs. More fundamentally, Grassley has asked Labor Secretary Hilda Solis to state clearly what a green job is. So far, he hasn’t gotten an answer.
Now, Grassley has learned that, in lieu of a settling on a straightforward definition of a green job, the administration has adopted an extraordinarily broad description of such jobs that could include not only financial advisers, wholesale buyers, and reporters, but also public relations specialists, marketing managers, and many more occupations that have nothing to do with protecting the environment.
If federal money has created any of those jobs, then the administration can claim to have created a green job.
The Labor Department directed Grassley to a project called the Occupational Information Network, or O*NET.
So Grassley’s staff checked out O*NET and found extensive listings of jobs that could be classified, for government purposes, as “green.” The list includes: “arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators,” “financial analysts,” “financial quantitative analysts,” “investment underwriters,” “marketing managers,” “personal financial advisers,” “public relations specialists,” “wholesale and retail buyers,” and “reporters and correspondents.”
Grassley was appalled. “These are, no doubt, respectable and needed professions,” he writes in a new letter to Solis, “but their tenuous connection to the stated goal of ‘green jobs’ only underscores the mismanaged efforts of the Department’s stimulus dollar spending.”
The senator points out that money for green jobs comes not only from the stimulus but also from the Green Jobs Act of 2007, which calls for the government to spend $125 million per year on “energy efficiency and renewable energy” worker training. The legislation specifically refers to things like retrofitting buildings, biofuels, and wind turbines. What do financial advisers, wholesale buyers and reporters have to do with that?
Grassley is waiting for an answer.
I’ll save him the time and trouble: The answer is that “green jobs” are one of the most blatantly lied-about things in all of politics. And that’s saying something.