Tom Friedman’s macabre wish for destructive storms to punish sinners aside, his Sunday New York Times column is a tutorial in green shibboleths. The tract is yet another confession of Rev. Tom’s green faith, but it contains two key beliefs echoed by other green disciples that, when put under the microscope, make no sense.
Belief #1: The “moon shot” myth. “In the cold war, we had the space race: who could be the first to put a man on the moon,” writes Friedman. “Today, we need the Earth Race: who can be the first to invent the most clean technologies. All (Obama) needed to do in (Copenhagen) was to look China’s prime minister in the eye and say: ‘I am going to get our Senate to pass an energy bill with a price on carbon so we can clean your clock in clean-tech. This is my moon shot. Game on.’”
Greens love the moon-shot analogy as an example of government spurring tech innovation to reach a goal. So we beat the Russkies. But what did the space race create that was sustainable? Nothing. It was a dead end because there was no other rational economic reason to be on the moon. So it is with federal green goals. Sure, we can beat China to electric cars, but if there is no market for them, they will be a waste of money.
Belief #2: Taxes and regulation create prosperity. “The goal of Earth Racers is to focus on getting . . . an energy bill, with a long-term price on carbon that will really stimulate America to become the world leader in clean-tech,” claims Friedman. “Population is projected to rise, and more and more of those people will want to live like Americans. In this world, demand for clean power and energy efficient cars and buildings will go through the roof.”
No it won’t. Americans live like Americans because, for the most part, consumer markets have been allowed to work. The result is a rich economy based on cheap electricity, cheap gas, cheap products. Friedman’s solution of a high-cost, heavily regulated American market is the very antithesis of what made America an economic magnet.
And for an author who once understood this in his free-market tutorial, The Earth is Flat, it is a stunning regression.