Congratulations, American taxpayer. The individual installed to run Government Motors just admitted, “I don’t know anything about cars.” It was, in reality a surprisingly rare acknowledgment of personal limitations from a government seemingly un-afflicted by doubt of its own omnipotent capabilities.
Case in point: the “public option” health care pushed by President Obama, which is receiving significant public opposition from doctors. Physicians work tirelessly to care for our nation’s sick and elderly. That means they’re the ones who would be stuck with a red-tape laden system long after Democratic apparatchiks have moved on to “improve” the next sector of the economy.
Another example of Washington’s “can do (no wrong)” attitude is executive compensation in the private sector, which the White House wants to “rein in.” What kind of God complex does it take for a single politician to believe he has sufficient wisdom to better plan the economy than millions of hard-working entrepreneurs?
But nowhere, perhaps, is this Administration’s hubris more apparent than his mission to make America green.
Of course, there are the “green jobs” the administration promotes. They simply redistribute -- at a less efficient rate -- capital from jobs naturally demanded by the market to jobs preferred by the president (or, more accurately, his biggest benefactors). Harmful but simply, and sadly, par for the course.
Still, it’s the command and control of our energy sources that may be the most troubling. In total, plans to have the Environmental Protection Agency classify carbon dioxide as a dangerous emission and for the government to impose a faux-market “cap and trade” system to ration those emissions could cost American households thousands of dollars each year in the forms of higher energy prices and lower overall economic activity.
In return for their significant fiscal investment, commanded by the president and a willing Congress, American families will get precisely nothing. Even if emissions in the U.S. are slightly reduced, our decrease would be more than overcome by developing nations like China.
This is indeed a problem if one believes that human emissions are driving global warming, a mortal threat to our planet. And, after all, scientists all agree on that, right?
Actually, the only hubris more startling than believing a small cabal of government officials ought to control our economy is presuming that we have the ability to understand our climate -- let alone to effectively control it.
Most people have little idea just how little idea we have about our world, but it's worth taking stock.
We don’t truly understand the big stuff: how the universe was made or when a life-extinguishing meteorite will hit us. We don’t know the little stuff: how electrons seem to appear and then disappear and whether string theory will show that energy has to cross dimensions we can’t yet comprehend.
For those who are confident that science understands our climate, consider carefully the warning of a researcher recently hired by Washington to figure out the risks of flooding from climate change. The glaring omissions in overall knowledge of the subject led him to determine: “There may not be solid projections. We’re not even coming up with squishy assumptions.” His ultimate conclusion? “This whole thing is not what a sensible person should do.” Amen.
In truth, most of our climate change models are simply that--computer models filled with assumptions and best guesses likely to prove errant one way or another. Yet our politicians are still using these “squishy assumptions” as a foundation on which to build their interventions.
The lesson ought to be clear: for our leaders these may be heady days, but they don’t seem to be using their heads. A little less pride, a little more philosophy, and a lot more logic would improve our environment -- politically and otherwise.
Bret Jacobson writes about energy and environment at thechillingeffect.org