Denver Post’s Crack Economic Team Strikes Again

Let us say that, out of fifty people, Ethan has a cold. In a health evaluation, Ethan ranks well in cardiovascular health, blood pressure, body weight, muscle tone, and general attractiveness. Overall, he is ranked the fifth-healthiest person of the group. What would you think of a newspaper that praised colds as the cause of Ethan’s good health? Perhaps you’d think the newspaper is about as idiotic as The Denver Post.

Here’s what the Post claimed in an editorial today:

CNBC has just ranked Colorado as the fifth-best state for doing business — the first time our state has finished in the coveted top five.

The biggest reason for Colorado’s leap up the charts, according to CNBC analysts, is that it “has been actively courting what it calls the New Energy Economy — wind and solar. The effort has paid off in jobs, and a big jump in our business friendliness category, finishing fifth this year, from number 12 in 2007.”

First of all, who are these “CNBC analysts,” and why should we believe any of their opinions about the economy?

Second, the Post misquotes CNBC, which notably does not claim that the “New Energy Economy” is the “biggest” reason for Colorado’s leap. Instead, here’s what CNBC actually claims:

Colorado, among the first states to be hit by the housing crisis, has been actively courting what it calls the New Energy Economy — wind and solar. The effort has paid off in jobs, and a big jump in our Business Friendliness category, finishing fifth this year, from number 12 in 2007.

Note that CNBC does not make any claim whatsoever about the effect of the so-called “New Energy Economy” on Colorado’s success, other than to say that it has “paid off.” Really? How much has it paid off? Where’s the evidence that it has paid off? CNBC does not offer any evidence.

These energy schemes have been “successful” only because they have forcibly redirected money from elsewhere in the economy. As Environment Colorado reminds us, Colorado law requires an eventual 20 percent of energy to be produced in “alternative” ways. Obviously, this is more costly. If it weren’t, it wouldn’t have to be forced by legislation. This drives up people’s energy bills. This results in less money available for people to spend with other businesses.

Sure, there are more jobs in the “New Energy” sector. But this comes at the expense of jobs elsewhere. As I wrote last year:

If the environmentalists and their supporting politicians actually took their own claims seriously, they would not stop at forcing a mere 20 percent “renewable” energy. They would require a full 100 percent. After all, if generating “more jobs” to produce energy is good, if that makes Colorado “open for business,” then let’s really open up for business by requiring that all energy used in Colorado must be “renewable.” And why wait till 2020? Think of all the additional jobs that could be generated if we moved up the schedule, say to 2010. Just think of all the people who could be producing windmill blades!

Why, then, is Colorado’s economy relatively healthy? Despite Democratic rule, Colorado still benefits by the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, though the Democrats are currently trying to gut that. Colorado’s Democrats have been less rabidly left-wing than Democrats elsewhere, due to the demographics in which they rule. They haven’t been successful in pushing through their worst socialist schemes, such as government-controlled health care. Colorado attracts a lot of out-of-state talent because of our relatively business-friendly climate, the existence of established tech firms, good colleges (which are mostly privately funded, by the way), and beautiful climate and landscape. And, notably, despite Democratic efforts to hobble the oil and gas industry, Colorado and Wyoming have experienced booms in those industries. If you want to look at Colorado’s economic success, oil has a lot more to do with it than windmills.

I don’t know to what extent Colorado’s “alternative” energy companies get national subsidies. If these subsidies are large, then Colorado is benefiting at the expense of people elsewhere. But I don’t think letting politically-correct corporations steal from people in other states is necessarily something to crow about. Of course, these same corporate-welfare takers, along with leftist politicians, tax-funded bureaucrats, and environmentalist zealots provide the original sources for claims that robbing Peter to pay Paul somehow helps the economy.

Just another day at the mighty Denver Post.