As layoffs reach record levels, California remains hopeful that a green energy and transportation spending plan can deliver economic salvation. It\u2019s hardly the promised economic renaissance. With job losses running in excess of 500,000 a month, the 5 million jobs promised by a $150 billion federal investment in green projects over ten years will be helpful. However, an increasing number of economists expect layoffs to climb even higher, with one firm in London projecting 1 million a month in the U.S. by spring. A carbon tax, rather than government subsidies alone, ultimately is what\u2019s needed to deliver on the green energy and jobs promise. Next a warning to parents paying college bills: Green jobs are likely to require the hard physical labor of construction and assembly line work--not MBA financial analyst work. Even then, making solar panels and wind turbines can employ people, but only in limited number. Installing wind and solar equipment can create some construction jobs, but they\u2019re temporary. It\u2019s ditto for hybrid cars. They require no more employees to make than needed to build conventional gasoline-powered vehicles. The biggest and quickest job creation potential appears to lie in retrofitting buildings for energy efficiency and solar power. But even this strategy is limited. That\u2019s because it takes money--mostly borrowed money--to buy solar panels, insulation, new windows, and energy efficient heaters even after utility rebates and tax credits. Outside of direct government-funded purchases, expect the market for California\u2019s dream of distributed renewable energy generation coupled with energy efficiency retrofits to sag, if not evaporate amid the pink slips blowing in the wind and the withdrawal of consumer and home equity credit lines. Rebates and tax incentive are great when people are confident about their jobs, finances and have access to credit. Our circle of Circuit friends tends to own their own homes. In the last few months, though, many homeowners have received notices that their banks are cutting off lines of equity credit. Will pensions be next? In the absence of home equity credit and job security, rebates can\u2019t do much to build demand for solar power, energy efficiency, and green products. No demand means a limit to the number of green jobs. It also means California is likely to fall short on its goals for energy efficiency and solar panels under the policy that invokes A Million Solar Roofs. There is hope that a green economic strategy--unlike any tried in the past--can save the day by helping create a more steady-state, sustainable economy. History points the way if only we can learn from its failures. Rewind to 1973, one of the great false starts of a green economic dream. The first Arab oil embargo--in which Middle East nations cut off exports to the U.S. after Israel, using U.S. supplied weapons, invaded its neighbors--threw our economy into chaos, causing the record layoffs economists now are comparing to today\u2019s job loss figures. Politicians rushed forth--including then California Governor Jerry Brown--with subsidy and tax incentive programs to promote alternative fuels, solar energy, and other green techs. Brown backed limiting urban sprawl in favor of denser development to facilitate public transit use. The goals were good: break dependence on foreign oil, stoke up the economy, and cut noxious air pollution in smoggy cities like Los Angeles, which had unhealthful air more days of the year than not at the time. However, the green technologies never gained much traction with government subsidies alone, including Brown\u2019s tax credit for homeowners who chose to install rooftop solar power and water heating systems. Gradually, oil companies developed new petroleum fields in response to higher prices brought about by the oil embargo. Fossil fuel again became relatively cheap. Public support for fledgling green technology waned. Soon, Ronald Reagan was elected president in 1980. In a symbolic move spelling the demise of the hoped-for green revolution, Reagan took the solar panels off the White House roof. Even the sweaters favored by President Carter were stuffed into the nation\u2019s storage trunks. Next, environmental scientists began issuing new warnings about the dire health effects of smog and how unrestricted burning of fossil fuels was causing global warming. It was 1987. In response, the Legislature in California--a well-established laboratory for environmental policy and technology--gave the regional South Coast Air Quality Management District a stern mandate to clean up the air and more power to do so. Under new leadership, the agency put forth a revolutionary plan outlining what was needed to restore the atmosphere, not only in Los Angeles, but around the world. It was a bold de facto call for the end of oil and fossil fuel. The plan envisioned an electricity grid powered by the sun and other renewable energy sources, electric cars charged up by that green energy grid, telecommuting, and more public transit. In a show of support, the state of California in 1990 adopted an electric vehicle mandate. In response, General Motors rolled out its EV-1. Utilities tested solar-powered electric vehicle \u201ccharge ports.\u201d But in a land of cheap oil and long commutes, automakers lured the public to buy highly profitable sport utility vehicles instead of comparably priced electric vehicles. Now, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, President-elect Barack Obama, and other politicians are back promoting green technology. First it was to stave off global warming. Now they offer it as a way to shore up the collapsing economy. To make it work this time they should put the cardigan sweater back on and expect to use more muscle, not MBAs. They also should make a carbon tax a priority--not just public handouts to the politically connected, which creates motion but no long-term trend. Politicians should use this tax to help finance state and federal government general funds, which are shrinking with each word you read. A carbon tax can help support the vital public services needed to bolster the economy: health care, child care, public housing, education, and municipal services like police, fire fighting, and public transit. Doing so will maintain income, which can provide needed demand for new green technologies. The carbon tax then should be ratcheted up in the years ahead to further drive both investment and demand for energy efficiency, renewable energy, and clean transportation. By using the new money to finance essential government services, this will send a reliable price signal to guide investment and consumer behavior when it comes to clean energy and transportation. It will play a major role too in putting the state and federal governments on a firmer fiscal footing. Finally, leaders must level with people. A green technology revolution cannot revive or support the consumer economy that is imploding before our eyes. Political leaders must make this clear and lead the public into an accompanying values revolution in which we place more importance on the health and welfare of community than on the latest electronic gizmo imported from China. This means that driving an electric car also will mean driving less and living in the smaller, denser, more energy efficient dwellings that inherently lower power renewable energy systems can support. It likely will mean consuming less, rather than strictly shifting consumption from brown to green products. It is likely to mean paying more for locally made goods and services, rather than consuming imported goods made by cheap labor. That\u2019s because solving global warming and transitioning to a green energy economy is about more than technology. Most of all, it\u2019s about a new attitude as to what it really means to live well.