John Kerry took to “Morning Joe” Friday to tell an eager audience how we are just flailing, and China is way ahead of us, on that ‘energy of the future’ stuff. This being politics, that of course means the contraptions from the past, specifically windmills and solar panels. “The US isn’t even in the game” in so-called ‘green’ (politically dictated, because it is uneconomic) energy, despite, ahem, installing more ‘renewables’ than conventional electricity production for the past three years (now, that’s a problem…if only China were doing that!).
Yet Sen. Kerry does have a point. Here’s the real China: A new coal plant a week. A new nuclear plant a month. A new coal mine planned for every three months. Though, let’s face it, the Chinese have been lagging way behind us in putting up windmills — what, that doesn’t fit the new narrative? — though there seems to have been a recent surge last year as Europe stepped up its programs to pay the Chinese to install the things.
Not to hook them all up, of course, as that wasn’t what the letter of the deals inked to buy ’emission reduction’ credit under Kyoto’s Clean Development Mechanism said. And hooking them up just means expensive transmission projects, and expensive, intermittent electricity messing with your system’s reliability and stability.
But China has been HUGE on building the energy production sources that work: coal, gas, nuclear and, yes, oil. Way, way ahead of us. The numbers are clear. Yay, China. For what they’re really leading us in.
The better news is that Joe Scarborough no longer has a vote in Congress, as he swoons for the talking points with no apparent interest in the red flags that are Kerry’s curious and ever-changing metrics, and insistent premises like that some country building a larger percentage of the world’s solar panels must be a good thing in itself and a sign that solar panels are, too; that if China is doing it, it must be for some reason(s) that is rational in a vacuum, grounded in the economics of doing it, and that surely applies to us (is Europe willing to pay us to put them up, too? We still won’t build them here, of course, that’s too expensive thanks to all sorts of green mandates and other union wish-list items, another thought that failed to occur to any of the “Morning Joe” discussion’s cheerleaders).
But Sen. Kerry spouted way too many talking points to be saying anything that deserved scrutiny, as opposed to the quick action the exasperated panel all agreed as a result was necessary. Did you hear how many things in a row he said?
And why not? All of the great minds assembled seemed to conflate mandating that we use more of something here with an outcome that certainly we will thus make it here, and that that intrinsically means net-positive economic activity! There is no such thing as the ‘unseen.’ 15% of your electricity from running on giant hamster wheels? I say 50%! And pay children to smash windows while you’re at it; think of the jobs, and we’ll be the world leader in window and window-related technology as well as giant hamster wheels! Meanwhile, Bastiat weeps.
Get used to this. We have two full years of it ahead of us including, I am sadly confident, an uncomfortable period learning the economic illiteracy of some aspiring Republican presidents. Sure, programs to dig ditches and fill them in are less economically harmful than these schemes because at least that only adds to the debt, not higher energy costs as well. But you said ‘green,’ right?
Maybe at some point in this progression someone might ask why European climate Pooh-Bahs threaten a trade war against us (still/again) if we don’t do to ourselves what they’ve done to themselves? Does it really make sense that what upsets them is that their ‘green’ schemes we refuse to imitate are making them so darn super-competitive and wealthy and prosperous that it’s unfair we don’t do it, too? Even if one is too busy to read up all that much, especially that boring stuff that doesn’t fit a confirmation bias or fashionable arguments, doesn’t free-ice-cream economics, decades after the very specific claims were first rolled out, trigger any alarm bells?
You’d think, if things were as dire, nonsensical and assured as Sen. Kerry fulminates to be the case, that earnest talk show panelists might suggest looking at them with some level of substance. Maybe, to just challenge one or two things from the staccato-fired litany cribbed from a green-group tract, instead of racing to be the one agreeing most often that it’s embarrassing that China builds more of something our politicians have decided we should use than we do.
That might not be as fun as agreeing with each other about how stupid and uninformed our politics have become for rejecting Sen. Kerry’s demands. But it might be useful, for someone as concerned as Morning Joe says he is.
Christopher C. Horner Senior Fellow Competitive Enterprise Institute.