PITTSBURGH — Industrialism once turned the Pittsburgh’s three rivers into a cesspool–polluted, diseased, and rancid. Now Hillary Clinton is promising that Pittsburgh will not only see a revival of manufacturing, but will be an example of “green technology” for the rest of the nation.
Clinton just addressed a crowd of union leaders, local business owners and public sector workers at the training facility of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. The appeal of these “green collar jobs,” is obvious; they make manufacturing (and capitalism itself) acceptable to other wings of Democratic coalition. The Democratic party no longer wants to live in the days when enviromentalists and union members were arguing over whether jobs or spotted-owls deserved protection.
When Clinton speaks about these jobs she promises growth, sustainability, and opportunity. She doesn’t have too many examples of what they might be. She frequently mentions solar panels. But as we’ve pointed out before at TAC, the installation of these panels is a service job. If there is a mass market for solar panels, many people could be gainfully employed installing and repairing them. But the manufacture of them is done in Japan. It’s the manufacture that employs engineers and machinists. It’s the manufacture of solar panels that generates the most wealth and employs the most people.
Clinton’s approach in Pennsylvania provides a nice contrast with Obama’s. He stands on a platform surrounded by screaming supporters. Clinton sits at a table with local business leaders, local academics, and the mayor of Pittsburgh discussing ways “we can collaborate to find solutions.” When audience members share their worries with her, she thanks them for their “courage,” blames Dick Cheney, and nods at them like a supermom: maternal, efficient, and in control.
I find both approaches a little creepy. And this should be highlighted today in Pittsburgh. In a few minutes, I’ll be at an event at Carnegie Mellon with Michelle Obama and Teresa Heinz-Kerry.
Poor photograph by me.