explain to me something.

Am listening to Obama’s weekly address, the one in which he “lays out key parts of Economic Recovery Plan.” Don’t get me wrong, I’ve totally drunk the Obama Kool-Aid. But I don’t understand this: “We need to upgrade our federal buildings by replacing old heating systems and installing efficient light bulbs. That won’t just save you, the American taxpayer, billions of dollars each year. It will put people back to work.”

Fair enough on saving tax dollars, but how will this create or restore jobs? Does every bit of savings in taxes put people to work?

6 Responses to “explain to me something.”

  1. Andrew Ross Says:

    Somebody has to manufacture all those heating systems and light bulbs….

  2. vika Says:

    Fair enough, but that’s for the most part a one-off. The heating systems will get built and sold, and they’re in place for some decades (one hopes). EE light bulbs last for ten bazillion hours. Servicing all of these doesn’t create new jobs or fill vacant ones – someone’s already servicing the same buildings now.

  3. Goat Says:

    Jobs will also be created for those doing the installation & upgrades. Perhaps it’s one off, but with the number of federal buildings, it could be a rather prolonged one off.

  4. Eric Says:

    I’m not sure the one-off-ness of the plan matters. Ever heard of the WPA?

  5. laurenhat Says:

    I was wondering about that too!

  6. carl Says:

    He’s also made statements in the past week that indicate that replacing old heating systems and light bulbs are merely examples – perhaps the most easily implemented, or the most obvious. He wants to improve efficiency of Federal buildings overall, which will affect how renovations are budgeted.

    And he also called to make a major investment in infrastructure, suggesting that inefficient buildings might be replaced with more efficient ones, if renovations aren’t practical.

    I would not underestimate the number of jobs this would create in the building trades. Joe the Plumber will be needed to install those new heating systems.

    You’re right that it’s largely a one-off, but it will take some years of one-offs to get it all in place.

    There’s also the procurement thing, which will eventually benefit everyone – when a customer as large as the federal government specifies more efficient products, industry listens – and the economy of scale trickles down to smaller goverments and institutions which buy the same kind of equipment (efficient boilers for very large buildings, for example).