Detroit — “I consider changing the way we produce and consume energy to be the single-greatest economic opportunity in North America since we mobilized in World War II. If we do things right, it will explode the economy,” Bill Clinton told a green audience on Thursday at the Enviro-Expo in Windsor, Canada — just across the river from Detroit.
Think about that industrial analogy for a moment. It is often heard these days in green circles — and it is telling.
Michigan free-market advocates would argue that the state’s defining success was the entrepreneur-driven birth of the auto industry at the turn of the 20th century, a creative revolution that introduced the assembly line, cheap individual transportation, and hundreds of thousands of middle-class jobs — all without any guidance or subsidy from government.
By contrast, Michigan greens — from activists to Democratic pols — echo Clinton’s conceit that Michigan’s proudest achievement was the conversion of its plants and workforce to produce wartime tanks and bombers for the federal government to fight the Axis powers.
“As the Arsenal of Democracy during World War II, Michigan was called upon in a time of crisis to transition our auto manufacturing base to tanks and B-1 [sic] bombers,” said Gov. Jennifer Granholm last year. “Today, Michigan will use our manufacturing know-how and infrastructure to make green energy products.”
Greens believe we are in a climate war for mankind’s survival. And not unlike WWII, that war requires that government compel — or at least underwrite — private industry to build the machines (not tanks this time, but hybrids and windmills, etc.) to win the conflict.
Unlike WWII, however, it is a war without end. And unlike WWII, it is a war that demands a permanent takeover of the means of production.