Progressives suffer two major neuroses: utopianism and envy. Today, two faddish progressive ideas include the Green New Deal — utopia — and the abolition of billionaires — envy.
Utopianism is the pursuit of an impossible goal. Progressives’ impossible goal under the Green New Deal is to eliminate hydrocarbon energy production in 12 years. Some are optimistic that this goal is, in fact, possible. More power to them — literally. Let them invent technologies that will replace fossil fuels. In fact, capitalists and government will pay them to do it and subsidize their green-energy projects. Any progressives who propose a realistic alternative to hydrocarbon energy will find investors. With them, they’ll build their green-energy infrastructure and become billionaires.
It’s already happening. Multiple billionaires are financing green-energy businesses. Many progressive entrepreneurs are working hard to become green-energy billionaires themselves. The sooner they achieve their goals, the better.
But not everybody is smart or hard-working enough to invent new technologies or build a billion-dollar business. For everyone else, there’s politics. Business allows a creative person to scale up his productivity through mutually-beneficial trade with consumers. Politics allow a bully to scale up his coercion through mandates and taxes. Those who can, do. Those who can’t, govern.
So while progressive billionaires change the world, progressive politicians scream at the world to change. They’re ready and eager to take credit away from risk-taking billionaires and hard-working engineers when the world finally catches up to their yelling.
In the meantime, they envy the billionaires who’ve actually made the world a better place and become rich in the process. In America, anyone with a good idea can become a billionaire. Most of us will never do it, of course, and we’re okay with that. We admire the few that do.
But some of us are bitter about not being billionaires. This bitterness is understandable. After all, people born in the 1980s and 1990s — also known as millennials — had every opportunity to become billionaires themselves. But few have done it.
Millennials grew up in a country where computing technology was widely accessible. They could have learned to code. And they grew up right before the Internet became omnipresent. They could have invented Facebook.
Instead, most millennials focused on good grades and extracurricular activities in their high schools. Their goal was to win admission to the nation’s most expensive colleges and universities. And that’s fine: today, with their smartphones and Airbnb accounts, these millennials are the primary beneficiaries of the few peers among them who focused on changing the world instead of conforming to it.
The entrepreneurs that spent their time brainstorming innovations have largely succeeded in doing so. They pioneered thousands of companies that have since turned them into millionaires and billionaires. And the rest of us consumers are better for it.
Discouraging people from becoming billionaires will discourage the entrepreneurial activity that made them billionaires in the first place. It’ll retard both green energy innovation and retail innovation. But there are better, more socially-beneficial ways to ease millennial envy: parenthood, marriage, healthy hobbies, religion, and meditation are all preferable to wealth-destroying public policies that will leave everyone worse off.
Lew Olowski is an attorney and formerly a clerk to Radovan Karadzic, president of the Bosnian Serb Republic, at the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. Lew served under Peter Robinson, who is among the world’s premiere international criminal trial lawyers litigating war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity. He is a graduate of Georgetown Law School.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.