Monday, March 01, 2010

The wrong end of the stick

 Tim Worstall has a go at Geoffrey Lean for this piece of obvious wisdom:

Green technologies also seem to provide plenty of jobs. Exploiting renewables now employs 2.3 million people worldwide, more than the entire oil and gas industries, even though they contribute a small fraction of the amount of energy. They provide several times as much work per dollar invested than fossil fuels, with other green measures like recycling and saving energy proving even more job-intensive. 
Come on Tim:

"Imagine an economy of 100 people. 80 of them must labour to provide the food for all 100. This leaves only 20 to do the arts, the crafts, the medical care, lawyering, defence, banking and manufacturing. Over time we get better at that farming thing. We now need only 20 to produce the food for 100, we have perhaps 50 doing manufacturing and 30 doing the services. Times and technologies move on again and we need only 2 to feed us all, 12 to make things we can drop on our feet and 84 can run creches, tend the sick in the NHS, write Grand Theft Auto and appear on the X-Factor.

"Roughly speaking that is what has happened in the UK economy over the past couple of hundred years. We have become wealthier by reducing the amount of labour required to produce food and things and services meaning that we can produce more of all of them to share among us out of the labour we have available. We've even, over the same time span, gone from the majority of everyone's time being spent in labour to the minority of it.

"A useful shorthand for this process is "we've got richer".

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