Oh dear God, make it stop, please, make it stop!

Could someone go and get that economic cluebat please and apply it firmly to Friends of the Earth?

Ambitious targets to increase the amount of rubbish recycled in the UK could help create more than 50,000 jobs, a report suggested today.

The study by Friends of the Earth said 51,400 jobs could be created if 70% of waste collected by local councils were recycled.

Jobs are a fucking cost, not a benefit!

The paper is here:

On a European level, if a target of 70% for
recycling of key materials was met,
conservative estimates suggest that across
the EU27 up to 322,000 direct jobs could
be created in recycling an additional 115
million tonnes of glass, paper, plastic,
ferrous and non ferrous metals, wood,
textiles and biowaste. These jobs would
have knock on effects in down and
upstream sectors and the wider
economy and could create 160,900 new
indirect jobs and 80,400 induced jobs.
The total potential is therefore for more
than 563,000 net new jobs.

Turning half a million Europeans into rag and bone men means half a million Europeans who are not tending babies, curing cancer of protesting against unsustainable consumption. We thus lose smiling babies, die earlier and miss out on that truly vital part of a green economy, mass demonstrations by the unwashed and unshaved, as a result of having half a million people devoting their labour to picking through shit to recycle the cotton from tampons.

Sadly, it actually gets worse. Their own sums show that it\’s a very bad idea indeed.

Friends of the Earth’s study ‘Gone to Waste’
(FOE, 2009) estimated that around half of
all the key recyclables available in the
municipal and commercial and industrial
(C&I) waste streams in 2004 were still being
sent for disposal. If this material had been
recycled it would have saved 148 million
tonnes CO2eq emissions and would have
had a minimum potential monetary value of
€5.25 billion. Across Europe, there is now a
growing recognition of the job opportunities
to be realised from this valuable resource. If
this waste was recycled, reused or
remanufactured it could provide the basis
for an expanded recycling and resource
management industry, creating many more
‘green jobs’ in reprocessing, sorting and
collecting of recyclables.

So, 148 million tonnes CO2 is, at $80 a tonne (the Stern number) $12 billion. The materials recovered at 5 billion euro.

Half a million people at 50,000 euro a year (sounds high for wages but there\’s overhead, social security payments etc to consider so 50 k is actually a low number) is 25 billion euros.

Bit of fancy exchange rate stuff and we\’re spending 25 billion euro in order to get 15 billion euro of materials and not CO2 damage to the environment.

This plan thus makes us all poorer by 10 billion euro a year.

They really are trying to make us all poorer you know.

Actually, forget the cluebat: anyone got a machine gun?

9 thoughts on “Oh dear God, make it stop, please, make it stop!”

  1. “Jobs are a fucking cost, not a benefit!”
    Almost always true but if we were to make pro single mums do this to get their benefits (but no more) then we would have less pro single mums.

    “Turning half a million Europeans into rag and bone men means half a million Europeans who are not tending babies, curing cancer of protesting against unsustainable consumption. ”
    Of course if they were people on community service they would not be burgling etc.

    Although I do agree with you on the whole.

  2. “They really are trying to make us all poorer you know.”

    why do you care? we’ve already established that you are not concerned about the welfare of the poorer people in rich societies, so you can hardly be concerned about the welfare of the richer. By your own lights, you should be unconcerned about policies that make us all poorer, so long as they only have a small effect.

    Tim adds: Been to the pub early today have we?

    My continually expressed concern is to maximise the total wealth which can then be shared….as opposed to worrying overmuch about how the wealth already extant is divided. Attacking policies which reduce the wealth extant, let alone reduce the amount that can be created in future therefore seems entirely reasonable from my declared standpoint.

  3. But look at it from the point of view of FOTE: half a million more people dependent on the great god Gaia for their living, so half a million people more likely to support the Eco-wibblers.

    It’s a great way to increase your powerbase.

  4. Tim

    (probably drunk on boredom)

    but still, why should you care about the whole if you are not bothered by the worst off of the parts?

    why do you want total wealth to be maximized, if you already think that the poorest have sufficient to be beyond your concern?

    I’d find it much easier to understand the desire to maximize total wealth if you thought the set of [people who are in need of more wealth] was not empty. Otherwise, what use is more total wealth?

    Let’s say there are two groups of people in rich countries. Those with incomes below 60% of median (the relatively poor) and everybody else. You have already told me that you’re not remotely interested in raising the incomes of relatively poor, so unless your particularly interested in raising the incomes of the relatively rich, how can you be particularly interested in raising the incomes of anybody?

    Tim adds: Because there’s about five billion people who really do need economic growth in order to be not poor. And our detrction of resources though doing idiot things does harm their prospects.

  5. OK, so your sole objection to things that generate marginal reductions the total quantity of wealth within rich countries (i.e. some job creation scheme involving recycling) is based on the extent to which that has adverse consequences on the 5bn people in poor countries. How strong are those linkages?

    I’m under the impression that you object to policies that are detrimental to rich country efficiency even if the linkages to poor countries are small.

    How large are the import elasticities? What other linkages are there, that might mean poor countries suffer because of an inefficient job creation scheme to do with green power in a rich country? If we get a bit less efficient, are we going to be importing fewer flowers and green beans from Kenya? It’s quite possible that we could get less efficient (poorer) and import more from poor countries, depending on details. Or are you worried about poor oil exporters?

    Tim adds: So, let us go back to the beginning. Economics is the study of the allocation of scarce resources to satisfy, so far as is possible, human wants and needs.

    There is a pernicious and persistent fallacy that “creating jobs” is a benefit of various schemes when in fact they are a cost.

    In the particular case I looked at FoE is recommending a course of action, as a result of committing this fallacy, which would reduce the scarce resources available to satisfy human wants and desires.

    We are both agreed so far are we?

    Now, the bit I’m not all that sure about is why you’re shouting at an amateur interested in economics for making that observation. FoE are, through error, trying to make us all poorer.

    Should the error not be pointed out or something?

  6. You would do well to explore Keynesian economics. You may not like it, of course you don’t (are you a fan of the gold standard?) but “helicopter” ben bernanke does. My point is not that FoE or Bernanke for that matter are necessarily right about addressing demand problems. It is that FoE aren’t necessarily idiots – they are in perfectly respectable company. Your point about jobs being a “cost” not a benefit is just nonsense. I don’t know why you repeat it. Anyone got a cluebat?

  7. Tim

    I’m sorry, didn’t mean to shout. I do apologise. (can’t see why you thought I was, mind).

    Wasn’t really commenting on what you write about FoE either, and their endless, witless, use of job creation = a good thing, so much as pointing to a potential inconsistency in what I perceive to be your world view, to whit 1. lack of interest in the poor in rich countries 2. interest in economic efficiency in rich countries. Should the inconsistency not be pointed out or something? Don’t you do that same to other bloggers (especially those lefties).

    I think it’s interesting and a fair point – if we’ve got to the point where rich countries are rich enough so that even their poorest members aren’t worth worrying about, doesn’t that imply that economic efficiency within rich countries needn’t be much a priority? (that is, until inefficiencies sink us to the level where the poorest member get poor enough to worry about – if we were ever talking about introducing inefficiencies on that scale, we’d have a different story).

    Tim adds: ” if we’ve got to the point where rich countries are rich enough so that even their poorest members aren’t worth worrying about,”

    I’m not sure I’ve ever said that. I certainly didn’t mean it if I did.

    I do say that I’m not worried about inequality in rich countries, to a certain extent (I have, even if not explicitly, at least indicated that I might find a Gini of say, as an extreme example, .90 or above problematic although that’s not going to happen, there would be people hanging from lamp posts before it did).

    I do say that I’m much less worried about the distribution of wealth, income, consumption, than I am about the total production of such. I even at times say I’m worried about absolute poverty if not relative poverty.

    But if, as I say, I’m worried, interested in, the total production of wealth, income, consumption, it seems entirely sensible to me to be castigating those who are advocating the reduction of such.


  8. OK; I based my idea that you aren’t bothered about the welfare of the relatively poor in rich countries on this comment;


    But I may have misunderstood your meaning.

    I still think there’s something of an inconsistency with being particuarly worried about total production in rich countries if you are not particualrly worried about the consumption of their poorest members.

    [this is a seperate point to whether inequality per se is a worry within rich countries, I’m talking about the current absolute wealth of the set of individuals defined by below 60% of median in rich countries]

  9. anyone got a machine gun?

    I’e told you before: you can’t play with the machine gun. It’s noise emmissions are to high and likely to cause long term adverse hearing effects in poeple around you. The gaseous emmissions have been proven to increase the risk of cancer by 0.0005% and the lead in the bullets means any burst longer than 3.4 rounds per sq metre contarvenes the eu regulations for heavy metal loading in soil.

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