Thursday, August 7, 2008
- Get Ready For Enviro-Disappointment
We’re entering the next phase of the yin & yang lifecycle of environmental populism. First is the stage where the devoted true believers speak as a lonely yet noble voice in the wilderness. The devoted monks (and monk-ettes) of the new age, swearing a life of technological abstinence, forgo the trappings of industrialized society and preach to the people of a better world without the evil deeds of men and their polluting machines.
Then as the movement gains in popularity, it draws in those who use their political influence to position themselves as it’s leaders. The media hails the “far sighted” politician and the “green convert” businessman who take the lead in the new movement. They’re really just after power, or influence, or money… but it’s a movement on the rise and the media is nothing if not sensitive to fashion.
After that come their political base… the dilettantes and the guys looking to get laid by dilettantes. They can’t be bothered with the details, but they’re after popularity with the media, or liberal academics, or cute girls, so they’ll go along as well. They’ll attend fund raisers to "Save" a population of Polar Bears which is not only growing but is at it’s largest in decades. They’ll spout off for the media about how New York will be under water in three to five years or how billions will drown when the polar ice melts.
Then as their swollen numbers begin to bring them political success, the new regulation and taxation they supported will drive the economy south. The markets will see the problem and begin to spell out how economically suicidal all this nonsense is. Commodity prices will skyrocket, the dollar will go into free fall, and the equity markets, fearful of a newly empowered government will head south.
And that’s when we reach the current stage. This is the stage where everyone takes a look at the $6 a gallon heating oil and the falling value of their investments and they begin to connect the dots. They realize that if it means this much hardship then they aren’t really all that interested in saving the planet after all. They abandon the movement in deference to a higher standard of living and a future in a reliable job. And that will eventually lead back to the true believers, out there in the wilderness again; complaining that the rest of us “just don’t understand!”
Well I’m probably getting just a little ahead of myself. We’re really just entering that last phase. But by election time in November, I fully expect the Democrats to be on board with the whole “screw the environment” movement, and to be disingenuously assuring the voters that they were really FOR drilling on the continental shelf all along. It’s the nature of the animal… there’s no escaping it. They are only willing to save the planet, so long as it means more power for them. And by the first Wednesday in November, the people who put the environment ahead of the economy are going to be mighty lonely in Washington.
This is the fundamental reality that the environmental movement never appreciated. They have never understood that we live in an individualist society. The American people are only willing to put up with a limited amount of suffering and inconvenience for the sake of someone else. And they’ll put up with even less if the thing they’re being asked to suffer for is just an abstraction from an Al Gore PowerPoint slide. People will be for the movement on paper, but in practice, they’d rather drive the car they like and live where they want. There’s a limit to how cold they’re willing to be in their own homes on behalf of Polar Bears.
Most Americans seem to have identified that limit at the $4 per gallon level. It may still take a while for the dimmer bulbs in the Democrat party to get a handle on it, but it seems to me that at that price or higher, the environmental movement is no longer a viable political entity in the US. The longer gas stays around $4 per gallon, the more people in power will stop taking the calls of the environmental faithful. When many suburban New Jersey homeowners can only afford to keep their thermostats at 50 degrees, they will burn the headquarters of the Democrat party to the ground if they try to stand in the way of new drilling.
And that’s a real problem for the enviro-movement because they require a high gasoline and heating oil price to keep people from using it. The green lobby has operated from a basic understanding that a high gas price is equal to low consumption, and a low subsequent CO2 emission. They view that low CO2 as an absolute social good that we should be willing to pay any price or bear any hardship to get. But the American people don’t feel that way about it. They would rather be warm in the winter, or be able to afford to drive to their jobs… or for that matter have jobs to drive to, and none of that is compatible with a high energy price.
In fact we haven’t begun to feel the full impact of that last one yet because it takes a while for the high energy price to work its way through the supply chain. But you can bet that as we speak there are people in corporate America working through the numbers, and those numbers are all saying the same thing. At these price levels for energy and the reduced economic growth those prices bring, they just can’t afford to employ as many people as they used to. It may be a marginal product line that gets cut, or a non-essential project. They may be able to save the core company depending on the business they’re in and how well it’s run. But there will absolutely be fewer people working next year than this year, and the cause will be high energy costs.
The environmental movement is a neo-marxist entity. Everything about the movement is top down. Their central thesis is to put the government in control of the economy and have them make all the decisions. They can’t afford to allow individual Americans to make their own choices because they’re afraid that some of them may make “the wrong choice”. And the wrong choice according to them is anything an American may want to do that doesn’t include the words “wind and solar”. But since some people might not feel that way, (I know I certainly don’t) they figure they should use the government to force them to go along. It never occurs to them (or for that matter the mainstream media) that this kind of decision making has been tried before in the eastern block and failed on a massive scale. They never think about the fact that by restricting the choices of Americans they are condemning us all to a life of almost certain misery. A free society not only works better, but is also happier. But they don’t think about that.
But that doesn’t mean that the American people don’t think about it. Every poll I found has shown that Americans overwhelmingly favor the free market to solve economic problems over the government. And when you couple that to the fact that the Democrat speaker of the house is publicly calling the law of supply and demand “a hoax”, it’s hard to believe they won’t be losing at the polls for it. Saving the planet was last year’s issue. This year it’s all about saving American jobs and the American thermostat. And the Democrats are going to have to sign on to that idea if they expect to retain control of anything this autumn.
That’s why I think they’ll change their tune. Their presidential candidate has already changed his … a bunch of times. And Nancy Pelosi is going to get the point too. Her only issue is figuring out how she can reverse her position 180 degrees without sounding like…like she’s reversing her decision 180 degrees. She won’t be worried about annoying the Al Gore converts because at $4 for gas and $6 for heating oil, one cold breeze and there won’t be enough of them left to worry about. Instead she’ll try to focus on some nonsense about “carbon neutral” fossil fuels or something that sounds equally silly to the clear eyed.
The fact of the matter is, the environmental movement cannot survive any economic downturn whatsoever. The people running it and its political momentum all come from spoiled rich kids that have never known hardship. Let them get to know a little and they will change their view, like most people. We’re an individualist people we Americans. We’d rather decide for ourselves how to live our own lives then let anyone, even St Al Gore, tell us how to. And that will seem more true than ever once the American voter figures out what the far left means when they talk about the “sacrifice” they’ll expect from us. The movement is all but done in my mind, there’s nothing left but the funeral. And as for the true believers… well I guess they’ll have to go back to Canada and the UK, and complain about the Americans from there. They’ll go back to being a voice in the socialist wilderness.