Lies, Damn Lies, and Infographics


This is what happens when people get outside their area of competence.  FastCoDesign.com has its Infographic of the Day, and it can be a delight to behold.

But sometimes, like people who fell in love with the Obama “O,” they end up missing the flaws because they’ve fallen in love with the graphic design.  The infographic on “Do Green Jobs Really Exist?” is a case in point, as the comments make clear.  Here’s the graphic they like:

To his own surprise, Mr. Kuang concludes that Green Jobs not only exist, they’re pretty good jobs for middle-class workers, who don’t necessarily need advanced degrees.

But that was never in question.  Of course, green jobs exist.  But what the graphic doesn’t show is that while they’re well-paying, they’re also incredibly expensive and heavily subsidized, much moreso than oil and gas are, for instance.  On a per-unit-of-energy produced basis, they’re even more expensive, which means they’re a massive misdirection of resources, sapping the vitality of other industries which could employ far more people for the same price.

What’s a little disturbing is that Kuang thought that the argument was about the existence of the jobs, rather than their price-to-value ratio.  Admittedly, one data point is a thin reed on which to base a concern.  But it does suggest that we need to do a better job articulating the Bastiat-Hazlitt concerns about subsidies if we’re going to win this argument.

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