I like Jonah Goldberg. I'm a fan of his writing and I do not believe he is a liberal by any means. But he is a political creature. He lives in Washington, and has chosen politics as his business. That's no indictment in itself, but it does provide a framework in which to view him. Like a politician, he's proven perfectly ready to throw his team members out of the boat if political expediency demands it.
That isn't a criticism exactly either; we are all political animals in the end. And the imperative to take care of ourselves and our family before others with whom we're aligned is a strong one. So I've been more disappointed by his choices than outraged by them. But it has caused me to walk back my previously high opinion of him at least a little.
The reason I say all this is he has declared the "Green Revolution" over. And when you see someone like him - a creature of Washington steeped in political expediency - declaring that movement dead, it's really, REALLY dead.
You may recall I've been saying it's dead for some time now. But that's because my mindset is less about politics and more about profits. In my world there is a premium paid for being first, and the "subsidy, to flash office building, to campaign contribution" scam that was the green movement has been evident to me for ages. And that's because I've been trained (like the vast majority of you) to look at how money is spent as a question of what the real economic benefit is. Political creatures ask "qui bono" while we in the markets ask how they actually benefit and whether that benefit is a real one.
With the Green industry, there was never any real economic benefit. If there had been, the subsidies wouldn't have been necessary in the first place. If there were a net benefit to consumers then they would have been happy to pay up to get those solar panels and windmills. But there wasn't. And that meant that the entire "Green Revolution" was nothing more than a fashion. Liberals love fashion, particularly BIG fashion. Becuase fashion is all about the approval of others, and that drives a great deal of liberal thinking.
I'm not particularly fashionable. And I'm suspicious of fashion, particularly when it comes to investment, because it demands huge money from me and all it buys is the temporary admiration of a group of people whose opinions couldn't mean less to me in the first place. Fashions come and fashions go - no one really knows why. And while we may not be able to predict fashion trends or understand what brings them about, we do know for certain that it isn't any real economic benefit. A fashionable bit of clothing keeps you no warmer or drier. A fashionable car will not go any faster, or get you out of the speeding ticket if you try to make it do so.
This is why Liberals initiatives fail. They think making something fashionable is the same thing as making it generate an economic benefit. But they're wrong about that. Apple succeeds not because it's products are cool, but because those 'cool' products provided a unique economic value added. Facebook has failed (so far at the very least) because although it's cool, its value added is mostly imaginary. And the Green Industry has failed because it was never anything but another liberal fashion, destined for the trash heap of history when the recession demanded that it provide an actual return.
Bubbles explode when people who don't understand what they're buying, do so anyway because of the belief that whatever it is has become fashionable, and they will be ahead of the pack. Investment booms are a uniquely 'liberal' phenomenon, and couldn't occur without them. In the meantime something like "short selling" is a uniquely conservative means of investment. It's cynical about the future and although its only motive is to garner profits, it has the cumulative effect of calming the boom bust cycle itself. It's a much maligned practice which actually offers great benefit to the overall market - but will probably never be revered for it. It's just not a fashionable thing to do, and will probably never be.