Thom Hartmann: Disasters Are the 'Ultimate' Job Creators

Silly you, all this time thinking that disasters are a bad thing. Thom Hartmann knows so much better.

Hartmann, who touts himself as "The King of Progressive Talk" and is listed 10th on Talker Magazine's ranking of the top 100 radio hosts in America, made a claim on his show this week that neatly encapsulates what passes for economic wisdom among liberals. (Audio after the jump)

Here's a clip of Hartmann talking with a caller Wednesday and initially gushing about the alleged glories of renewable energy in Germany (audio) --

It's amazing, it's just amazing. I mean, Germany set out to build the equivalent of two nuclear power plants with a very small subsidy, cost the government virtually nothing, basically just back-stopping the mortgages for people who are homeowners who wanted to put solar up, you know, things on the roofs. And it not only created 50-60,000 jobs almost immediately, but they generated the equivalent of 10 nuclear reactors with the power. They had to stop the subsidy program last year 'cause there's so much electricity now flowing into the German grid, they gotta rebuild the grid before they can go any farther, they gotta turn it into a smart grid. When I was on that train (referring to his recent trip to Germany), you could click on a little box and pay an extra two Euros, an extra three bucks, and, and have 100 percent of your trip paid for with green electricity. Well, that's 'cause they've got so much flowing around, you know, it's just amazing.

Heck, there's "so much" green electricity in Germany, you pay more for it. Not usually how it works when it comes to supply and demand, but that's "green" energy for you. The fact that Germany has the second highest electricity prices in Europe, second only the even more renewable-besotted Danes, probably had something to do with their subsidy program getting scaled back.

From there Hartmann segues to his thoughts on the amazingly stimulative effects of disasters --

And the other irony, Don, is the ultimate job creation. You know, one of the things that does jack up GDP is disasters. You know, when Hurricane Sandy hit New Jersey, it radically increased GDP of New Jersey. I mean, it wiped out people's lives and all that kinda stuff, but rebuilding from disasters, the Gulf Coast rebuilding from the blowout in the Macondo well, all these things actually stimulate GDP. And as Bobby Kennedy pointed out, it's a terrible way to stimulate GDP. Instead, what we should be doing is we should be putting solar panels on the roof of every house and every community that's got enough wind should have their own, you know, wind farm going and, you know, we need to electrify our automobile fleet.

Yes, wind farms are wonderful, aren't they? Unless they risk sullying the view from the Kennedy compound, whereupon enviro-action figure and noted economist Bobby Kennedy Jr. springs into vehement opposition.

Hartmann's remarks are the latest variation of the broken window fallacy, the delusional leftist belief that property damage, the more the better, isn't all that bad because that proverbial broken window generates business for the company that sells windows. Which it does -- but proponents of this belief always leave out the part about the cost to the property owner with the broken window, who must now pay to replace it instead of buying something else, which would generate business elsewhere if not for that broken window.

It's not much different than hearing about someone stricken with cancer and saying -- look on the bright side, this sort of thing keeps nurses and doctors employed. You wouldn't want hospitals to close for lack of patients, would you?

Jack Coleman
Liberated ex-liberal from the People's Republic of Massachusetts