March 20, 2009
By Peter Brookes and J.D. Foster, Ph.D.
"Green jobs" are all the rage. Supposedly, we can strengthen the
economy by government spending and regulating to advance the
development of environmentally friendly, or "green" technologies.
Green jobs, President Obama and others would have us believe, are
the elixir for both our environmental and economic problems.
If they're serious, I have just one word of advice:
Rickshaws are small, lightweight, two-wheeled taxis motored by
an enterprising entrepreneur either as a runner or in the more
modern version, pulled by a bicyclist. They are popular in many
countries around the world, but especially in Asia.
Rickshaws are the way to go for green jobs. There are no
rickshaw drivers in the United States today, so every rickshaw job
is a new job. Even more new jobs would be created as the auto
companies shift, with a little urging from Uncle Sam, to rickshaw
production in the United States -- no point importing them from
abroad, obviously, if job production is the point.
And what could be greener than a rickshaw? It produces no
pollution whatsoever. And the materials it is made from are
typically all very natural and simple -- wood, cloth, a few basic
metals, nothing fancy. Until, of course, Washington decides to
worry about safety and demands that every new rickshaw come with
airbags for runner and passenger alike.
The way to start would be to begin forcing taxi drivers in
America to drive rickshaws. Perhaps start out with a 1 percent
mandate, go to 10 percent after a few years, and then eventually to
50 percent. At the same time, the government could require that
every individual and family with more than one car or truck have at
least one rickshaw.
Good policy often has beneficial side effects, and widespread
rickshaw use certainly qualifies. For example, imagine how much
healthier America's taxi drivers would be if they had to drive a
rickshaw at least two days out of five. Obesity would drop and
cardiovascular health would soar. These and similar health benefits
would go a long ways toward bringing down the increase in health
care costs, though there may be a slight increase in demand for
Before long, rickshaws would be so popular that companies would
be exploring ways to move heavier objects using two, four, or even
eight-man rickshaw teams. Unkind observers might note that these
new contraptions look a lot like the machines in use before humans
learned to domesticate beasts of burden, but the media have a long
history of ignoring naysayers.
Sometimes the right solution is the simple solution overlooked.
Rather than fabricate science to support renewable energy, rather
than pretend that we gain jobs when we destroy two jobs in the
economy for every one green job created, we should focus on simple,
proven solutions. Mr. President, give rickshaws a chance.
Foster, Ph.D., is the Norman B. Ture Senior Fellow in the
Economics of Fiscal Policy at The Heritage Foundation.
First Appeared in FOX Forum
"Green jobs" are all the rage. Supposedly, we can strengthen the economy by government spending and regulating to advance the development of environmentally friendly, or “green” technologies. Green jobs, President Obama and others would have us believe, are the elixir for both our environmental and economic problems.
Senior Fellow, National Security Affairs
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J.D. Foster, Ph.D.
Norman B. Ture Senior Fellow in the Economics of Fiscal Policy
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