The human brain is torn between simple intuition and the more complex hard work of figuring out the unintended consequences of any policy. Who doesn’t like thinking about trees and greenery and happy animals? Who doesn’t want to see steps taken to protect those things, all else being equal? But all else is not equal. Civilization doesn’t work when central planners treat each tree as if its value is infinite.

Politicians specialize in convincing you that, with their help, you can have your cake and eat it, too. The idea of a new “green economy” that is both clean and rich with jobs became popular under Bill Clinton’s administration, thanks in large part to a compliant media and Vice President Al Gore. But anyone who understands economics knows that President Obama’s green jobs initiative is snake oil.