Solar jobs, Part 2: A rising tide…makes a lot of folks seasick

I love metaphors. The first one I can remember from my childhood is on the corny side, but it still makes me chuckle: “He was as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room fulla rocking chairs.” Ha ha ha ha. (Yeah, I hear you English majors, “Wait, isn’t that a simile?” The correct answer is: It is my blog.)

The only problem with a metaphor is that it isn’t, strictly speaking, accurate. Take the saying “a rising tide lifts all boats.” True enough. But of the gazillion times I’ve heard it said, not once was the subject actually about boats. Or tides.

No, the subject is always economics. Here’s a pictorial demonstration of  how that metaphor is supposed to work:
metaphor-copy

Swee-e-e-e-t!

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The problem is, economic prosperity is not actually a tide and people are not literally boats (in case you hadn’t noticed). In the non-metaphorical world (aka, life), this is a bit closer to how things play out:

real-world-copy1

Sort of a mixed bag …

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The numbers tell the story (metaphorically speaking):

A rising tide lifts, um, some boats

A rising tide lifts, um, some boats

For a variety of reasons, the “wealth gap” separating most of us from the lucky few has been growing for three decades — even during periods of prosperity.

Is there any reason to believe that things will change as the economy climbs out of the hole it was shoved into this time? I’m glad you asked. Here’s what Van Jones had to say on this subject at a Congressional hearing last month:

I really like the metaphor he uses. No, not the green wave lifting boats; that’s done to death. Jones talks about making sure there’s a “green pathway out of poverty.” Here’s what I like about it: pathways are fundamentally different from tides. Tides rise and fall independent of human action. Pathways don’t just happen. They have to be made by people. For me, that’s his takeaway message: green jobs can lift the boats that need it most, boats that have been taking on water and are in danger of going under.

OK, so the guy’s all fired up and has some great ideas. But what’s he gonna do about it? What can he do? He’s already written a heck of a book about eco-jobs, The Green Collar Economy: How One Solution Can Fix Our Two Biggest Problems. Jones was asked to testify before the committee because of his position as president and founder of Green For All, a service organization devoted to putting his ideas into practice.

Three days ago, Jones started a new job — President Obama appointed him special adviser for green jobs, serving on the WH Council on Environmental Quality.

You’ve got the ball, Mr. Jones. Now, let’s see you take it down the field.

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