Green Energy v. Unions, Part Deux

Just a quick follow-up to Michael Walsh's post the other day about the tension between Joe Biden's pro-union rhetoric and the reality of his administration's green energy agenda. The New York Times (of all places) has an article which backs up his point with some pretty shocking numbers:

Accelerating the shift to wind and solar power is likely to create tens of thousands of construction jobs.... But those jobs typically pay far less than those in the fossil fuel industry... [A] standard solar project [employs] about 250 workers for just under a year. About one-third of the workers make $30 an hour or more; the other two-thirds have fewer skills and make hourly wages of less than $20. By contrast, the construction of a gas-powered electricity plant typically lasts two to three years and employs hundreds of skilled, unionized tradesmen — electricians, pipe-fitters and boilermakers — who make $75,000 a year or more, including benefits....

“When you’re talking about the transition to the new green economy, the first question has got to be how are people going to make a horizontal economic move,” said Sean McGarvey, the president of North America’s Building Trades Unions... “I can tell you that in the onshore wind and solar industry, for my members we’re talking in some cases a 75 percent pay cut and they’re losing benefits.” Jim Harrison, the director of renewable energy for the Utility Workers Union of America, said that it typically takes hundreds of workers to operate and maintain a nuclear or coal plant, several dozen at a gas plant — and about a dozen at a wind farm. Solar fields can often operate without a single worker on-site.

Is it any wonder that the Democrats -- with their increasingly radical cultural, economic, and environmental priorities -- have been bleeding private sector union support for years?

In the Union Halls, Strange Bedfellows

Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. At what point to labor unions finally figure out that the Democrat Party is not their friend, that modern Democrats are anti-capitalist, anti-working class socialists of at least the limousine-liberal variety, and that members of the party of slavery, segregation, secularism, and sedition are simply not to be trusted with vital matters of public policy, especially at election time?

Such reflections arise after reading this Politico story, in which once again the blind and the gullible have fallen for Joe Biden & His Media Robinettes:

Biden's green energy plans clash with pledge to create union jobs

President Joe Biden touted his $2 trillion infrastructure plan as a "once-in-a-generation" effort to tackle climate change while creating millions of "good paying jobs." Some unions warn that it may ultimately cost a lot of jobs, too.

Labor groups, echoed by Republicans in Congress, are cautioning that Biden's plan to hitch the jobs recovery to massive green energy investment could backfire because of the quality of employment it will create and the economic devastation it could cause on rural communities.

The president's push to decarbonize the economy will mean eliminating the kind of steady, fixed-location jobs that come with coal mines or fossil fuel power plants. The Biden plan would require the construction of vast numbers of solar, wind and battery projects, along with potentially new pipelines for carbon dioxide and hydrogen. But construction jobs are temporary and require mobility, and once those projects are complete, they'll need few workers to maintain them and keep them operating.

"The jobs that he talked about yesterday were construction jobs," said Phil Smith, a spokesman for the United Mine Workers of America, a day after the Biden speech. "We're not seeing anything concrete that our members can look at and say, 'OK, that's where I'm gonna fit in.'"

Well, how about that! The chimera of "clean energy" should always be read as "bogus energy," not to mention "no jobs." One of the lies behind the claims of "renewable" energy is the implication that such energy will always be readily available and will take next to no effort to extract from Mother Gaia. The wind blows and the sun shines most every day, right? And once your solar panels and scenery-disfiguring windmills are up and running, presto!

It's witchcraft...

No more brutal rape of the virgin Earth. No more big sweaty men with dirty paws and grimy fingernails laboring in claustrophobic coal mines or broiling in the west Texas oilfield. Why, this is energy that even the most fastidious Ivy League poetaster can be proud of: just flip a light switch and you're good to go. Why, you can even plug in your electric car as you would a toaster and know that while your muffin is browning up the Earth has begun healing.

The complaints underscore the difficulty Biden will have in pursuing his two most ambitious goals: reviving the labor market by generating millions of jobs for unions — which traditionally thrive in old-line industries — and transforming the U.S. into a clean economy where electric vehicles and battery storage replace coal, natural gas and oil as energy sources.

Difficulty? Impossibility is more like it. There aren't "millions of jobs" lurking in "green" technology, except may in dumping the wind turbines at the bottom of the Marianas Trench when civilized people finally wake up to the environmental destruction they've created in the name of... preventing environmental destruction.

Environmentalists defend the plan as a necessary move away from old technologies to battle climate change. And others say Biden's plan does include tax incentives for manufacturing and a vision for developing a supply chain that could provide the kind of blue-collar, high-skill jobs that used to be in power plants.

Note the operative words in bold. Any story that includes the word "could" in a context of advocacy is lying to you: the word should be "won't."

While unions are strongly supportive of the administration's pro-labor stance, they worry that the end-goal — if not executed properly — could have devastating effects on their members. “From our perspective, if the jobs aren't there when the mine closes, this plan fails," Smith said. "There's a very large disconnect between what the aspirations are here and what's going to end up actually happening on the ground.”

Biden fought to bring white, blue-collar workers back into the Democratic fold after the party lost them to Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential race, and the administration is seeking to prove that this can be both the most pro-labor and anti-carbon presidency in history. But the reality may prove troublesome.

Ya think? Oh well, sin -- or vote -- in haste, repent at leisure. And learn to code, because unless traditional sources of energy production survive, union members will be looking for new jobs in the great green near-future.

A Greenie for Interior?

Tuned in politicos have been delighting in the Hindenburg-esque descent of hyper partisan Clinton-loyalist Neera Tanden’s nomination as head of the Office of Management and Budget. But another tense confirmation battle has been less commented upon. Congresswoman Deb Haaland was nominated by President Biden to serve as Secretary for the Interior. Haaland is a staunch environmentalist Green New Dealer and putting her in charge of that department would be bad news for the resource sector.

In a piece entitled Deb Haaland Could Be a Disaster at Interior, Paul Gessing tells us why:

Haaland.... has taken radically anti-fossil-fuel positions throughout her political career. In 2016, prior to being elected to Congress, Haaland traveled to North Dakota to cook food for the protesters demonstrating against the Dakota Access Pipeline. She stayed in the camps for four days that September. In May 2019, [she] told The Guardian, “I am wholeheartedly against fracking and drilling on public land.”

As you can imagine, Republican senators haven't been enthusiastic about Haaland's nomination. During her confirmation hearing, she had a tense confrontation with senators John Barrasso and Bill Cassidy -- both of whom are doctors -- over a social media post in which she asserted that "Republicans don't believe in science." After hammering her about Biden's Keystone XL termination, Cassidy pointed to a State Department scientific survey which held that "building the pipeline lowers greenhouse gas emissions,” and voiced his concern that, under Haaland, the Interior department would “be guided by a prejudice against fossil fuel [and not] guided by science.”

But more important than Republican objections, Joe Manchin -- perhaps the most powerful senator due to his status as the most conservative Democrat in an evenly divided chamber --  remains undecided on Haaland. If he votes 'No' -- a big if, though Haaland's comrade Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez seems to trying to goad him into doing just that -- it would be nearly impossible for Team Biden to get her over the finish line.

In any event, if Haaland's nomination goes the way of Tanden's, maybe Biden will start thinking more strategically about how to get through appointments with the senate we actually have. No more partisan bomb throwers perhaps. Maybe he could even cut out the middle man and just ask Manchin to make the appointment for him. Worse things could happen.

Making an End-Run Around Democracy, Part Three

[Third in a series. Parts One and Two at the links.]

I paused my last posting on this topic—let’s call it “Democracy Circumvented”—after a quotation from Dr. Roslyn Fuller, head of a progressive pro-democracy Non-Governmental Organisation, to the effect that many progressive NGOs in networks funded by billionaires were not participating in traditional acts of charity or philanthropic research but rather using their investors’ resources to “flip an entire political culture on to a different track by amplifying some voices and drowning out others.”

That may strike you as sinister. But it’s fine as long as it’s open and above board and not financed by public or tax-exempt money. But what if the NGOs are in fact not engaged in a vigorous public debate between opposing parties but are instead players in a Potemkin play of debate in which the “debaters” on both sides, the expert witnesses they call, the judge who sums up the arguments, and the panel of jurors who determine the result are all on the same side, reciting lines written advance to reach pre-determined conclusions?

When that happens in public, political, commercial, or intellectual life—and it does—the term for it is “astroturfing.” Astroturf was coined by Texas senator Lloyd Bentsen, the Democrats’ vice-presidential candidate in 1988, and a wit, and it’s defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as organized activity that is intended to create a false impression of a widespread, spontaneously arising, grassroots movement in support of or in opposition to something (such as a political policy) but that is in reality initiated and controlled by a concealed group or organization (such as a corporation.)”

Sharyl Attkinson,  a brave and unbuyable investigative journalist, who has made a special study of astroturfing, explains its general importance and (alas) effectiveness in modern marketing and political campaigning in several appearances across the internet, impressing even skeptical audiences:

Its specific application to progressive networks of NGOs, as outlined in Dr. Fuller’s Spiked article, is that wealthy investors have created a chain of institutions in which each link receives assistance or information from one level which it endorses and then passes onto the next level, and so on and so on, it sometimes feels, ad infinitum.

There are primary research bodies that assemble information on, say, the Green New Deal; secondary research bodies that endorse the “correct” information or point of view (and the think tanks that produce them) and undermine rival ones; motivational research groups that advise on how to tailor their emotional appeal to key constituencies; information technology panels that advise on how to ensure your message is placed before others in internet searches;  media outreach groups that package its messages in easy-to-use op-ed or soundbite forms; political education institutes that recruit potential election candidates to carry the torch in elections; and “activist” organizations that organize public protests, sit-ins, occupations of congressional offices, riots, and other civil disobedience events to suggest that a powerful movement of public opinion is backing the Green New Deal or some other "progressive" cause de jour.

And, yes, even activism can be astroturf activism.

Put so baldly, this argument sounds a little like a conspiracy theory. Well, why not? Bear the following points in mind. First, conspiracies exist, sometimes succeed, and even have serious consequences. The First World War was triggered by a conspiracy of students to murder the heir to the Austrian throne. They succeeded, and one can’t deny that the Great War amounted to serious consequences.

This conspiracy went off like a Clockwork Orange.

Second, claiming that a hostile criticism is no more than a discredited conspiracy theory is Exercise One in the conspirator’s handbook. So please test any such denial against the evidence. Third, Dr. Fuller examines  the evidence about four organizations in the food chain in detail, checking what they do, how they cooperate, and how they’re financed. What she discovered please read for yourself. It’s partly comic and partly sinister, half stage army, half octopus. But it ain’t chopped liver. And, fourthly, the most damaging accusations against the networks of billionaire-financed NGOs is made by those activists and investors who are running them in the form of enthusiastic pep-talks (quoted below).

If it’s a conspiracy, it’s what used to be called “an open conspiracy” which almost anyone can join, read about, or listen in on via the internet. Dr. Fuller listened in on a webinar in which the leaders of two of the organizations discussed here, namely Sunrise and Momentum, which are respectively a movement of young activists and a political training operation, outlined their purposes and activities. She writes:

Speakers stressed the need to become ‘the dominant political alignment’ which ‘defines the common sense of society’ and ‘directs social and economic policy’. Having realized that this would require ‘tak[ing] over the entire United States and all the institutions in it’, they began ‘finding and developing our first leaders’. This involved moving activists into ‘dorm-style Sunrise Movement Houses for three to six months’ in order to create leaders who had a deep level of commitment ‘for everything that would come afterwards’.

Dr. Fuller concedes that some of this training offers advice that is “not bad” but adds that the “entire impression is of a very steered, technocratic process that attempts to achieve theoretical concepts (‘3.5 percent mobilisation’, ‘dominant political alignment’) through a kind of brute-force factory production.” It’s a very well-funded factory production at that. And noting that a disproportionately large number of the activists and of those recruiting the activists are young and inexperienced people, from teens to postgraduates, she offers the following balanced judgment:

On one level, it is great that young people are taking part in politics. But on another level it is incredibly fake. The youthful participants aren’t so much being empowered as instrumentalized. After all, they are part of the portfolio of an investment fund that is using them to ‘shift power’, with part of the strategy being to shame politicians for not being nice enough to hysterical children.

Dr. Fuller doesn’t mention Greta Thunberg here, but for some reason Ms. Thunberg leaps to mind.

Ride of the Valkyrie.

In instrumentalizing the young activists, these well-funded progressive networks are also instrumentalizing democracy. They are seeking to manipulate the usual democratic tools—information, debate, controversy—not to create a national conversation on political goals and methods but to construct a simulacrum of that conversation in which its conclusions are determined in advance. And when those tools break in their hands—as sometimes happens when others intrude into their staged debates—they use “activism” to de-platform the intruders and to close down a debate escaping their control. We are likely to see much more of such extra-democratic politics in the future.

Indeed, just recently,  Time magazine described how such an open conspiracy of corporate executives, labor union leaders, and progressive activists employed some of these methods and some of these troops to “prevent Donald Trump stealing the election” (i.e., to help the Democrats win the election.)

This is the inside story of the conspiracy to save the 2020 election, based on access to the group’s inner workings, never-before-seen documents and interviews with dozens of those involved from across the political spectrum. It is the story of an unprecedented, creative and determined campaign whose success also reveals how close the nation came to disaster. “Every attempt to interfere with the proper outcome of the election was defeated,” says Ian Bassin, co-founder of Protect Democracy, a nonpartisan rule-of-law advocacy group. “But it’s massively important for the country to understand that it didn’t happen accidentally. The system didn’t work magically. Democracy is not self-executing.”

That was very much a “macro” operation. And whatever the reason, it certainly didn’t fail.

But how do these tactics work at a “micro” level—at the level of getting a parliamentary bill passed into law, ensuring that a government report conforms to progressive orthodoxies, or manufacturing a “Green” public opinion when most voters are skeptical. Next time I’ll examine a case in which the U.K. parliament found itself playing the role of junior partner to a group of progressive NGOs in manufacturing a large astroturf carpet of public enthusiasm for Net-Zero policy.

Skeptical? It seems to have persuaded Boris Johnson. Don’t miss it!

The Texas Blame Game

The finger-pointing is well under way in Texas. And understandably so, as the situation on the ground is such a disaster. Millions of people are without power and heat, water pipes are bursting, and thus far thirty deaths have been blamed on the weather and the attendant outages. In a recent interview, Gov. Greg Abbott argued that Green energy is a big part of the problem:

This shows how the Green New Deal would be a deadly deal for the United States of America. Texas is blessed with multiple sources of energy such as natural gas and nuclear as well as solar and wind. Our wind and our solar got shut down and they were collectively more than 10 percent of our power grid. And that thrust Texas into a situation where it was lacking power on a statewide basis.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the face of the Green New Deal, took to Twitter to hit back, saying that the governor has it exactly backwards:

The infrastructure failures in Texas are quite literally what happens when you don’t pursue a Green New Deal. Weak on sweeping next-gen public infrastructure investments, little focus on equity so communities are left behind, climate deniers in leadership so they don’t long prep for disaster. We need to help people now. Long-term we must realize these are the consequences of inaction.

Which sounds vaguely inspiring, but it doesn't rebut Abbott's charge. He claims that the failure of so-called renewable energy, upon which Texas's power grid relies, led to the whole system being overwhelmed. Ocasio-Cortez replied that it'd be nice if Texas had updated its infrastructure. That's probably true, but that doesn't mean it is "quite literally what happens when you don’t pursue a Green New Deal." Why not update the existing infrastructure, reinforcing it against extreme weather, rather than replacing everything -- and with a less reliable power source -- as the GND mandates?

In response to the environmentalist fury at the suggestion that 'renewables' bear any responsibility for this disaster, the Wall Street Journal has a patient walk through of the part that they actually did play.

Last week wind generation plunged as demand surged. Fossil-fuel generation increased and covered the supply gap. Thus between the mornings of Feb. 7 and Feb. 11, wind as a share of the state’s electricity fell to 8 percent from 42 percent, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA). Gas-fired plants produced 43,800 MW of power Sunday night and coal plants chipped in 10,800 MW—about two to three times what they usually generate at their peak on any given winter day—after wind power had largely vanished. In other words, gas and coal plants held up in the frosty conditions far better than wind turbines did.

By Monday the 15th, temperatures had dropped so low that conventional power plants (aided, yes, by infrastructure failures) began struggling to cover the surging demand. On Tuesday, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas put out a statement saying it "appears that a lot of the generation that has gone offline today has been primarily due to issues on the natural gas system." The WSJ observes that wind's apologists "are citing this statement as exoneration. But note he used the word “today.” Most wind power had already dropped offline last week.... Gas power nearly made up for the shortfall in wind, though it wasn’t enough to cover surging demand."

So, to the Greenies working overtime to assign blame for the disaster in Texas, maybe take a look in the mirror.

Who Misses the Energy Crisis? Joe Biden Does

The regulatory and policy changes of the Trump Administration led to unparalleled job growth and national prosperity. We suffered through  the dark Carter years of interrupted energy supplies, higher fuel costs, and long lines at gas stations, at the mercy of oil rich Middle Eastern countries and emerged in daylight to the Trump created energy independence we had sought for decades.

Now the Biden administration has rapidly signaled that it intends to undo those policies, impoverish us, jeopardize our security, increase energy costs, end millions of jobs, strip poor states of needed tax revenue, and hand China yet more economic gains at our expense.

John Kerry, owner of private planes, a substantial auto fleet, and two yachts was ludicrously named our “Energy Czar” and even he admits these policies will not reduce emissions. How effective these policies and programs will be depends on how much pushback there will be against this turnabout, but there are signs that  judicial and congressional challenges are already underway, and much of these actions were undertaken just to pay off the ill-informed greenies and not for any environmental benefit.

The country's in the very best of hands.

In the short time he’s been Commander in Chief, Biden has taken some 42 executive actions, including signing at least 24 executive orders. Most are so ludicrously unrealistic, I assumed former bartender Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez drafted them, and indeed AOC is delighted, saying they are just like the Green New Deal she’s been promoting. A great many of these will limit energy production and our domestic industrial base.

They will also increase consumer costs on everything, at a time when the China virus-related income and employment losses are being felt, particularly among the least wealthy, working class Americans who had begun to prosper during the early Trump years.

The most significant of these acts are rejoining the Paris climate agreement, pausing new oil and natural gas leases on public lands or in offshore waters pending comprehensive review and reconsideration of such permitting and leasing practices, killing the Keystone XL project, and tossing out the cost-benefit analysis for regulatory actions. These actions and orders will face significant challenges. I predict a bonanza for energy lawyers is in the making.

Last year, President Trump offered these leases in Alaska and California. Winning bidders were challenged in Alaska and a federal court refused to halt them determining they were authorized by federal law. It’s hard to see how the government can rescind those leases without compensation to the winning leaseholders. (Of course, they can impose strictures or delay permitting but the companies involved have enough practice in such matters to navigate the lengthy and costly regulatory process for which consumers ultimately will bear the price).

It’s of no small matter that West Virginia senator Joe Manchin was just named by senator Chuck Schumer to head the Senate Energy and National Resource Council. As a senator from a coal-producing state, he is unlikely to share the same distaste for fossil fuels as the New Yorker Ocasio-Cortez. Schumer felt compelled to give Manchin this important committee assignment because of his own slim majority and concerns that Manchin might be considering crossing the aisle. I expect Manchin to provide some check on the Green New Deal nonsense.

Aside from the existing judicial constraints and the likely role of senator Manchin, there are a number of Congressional opponents on both sides of the aisles to contend with. Congressman Steve Scalise (R-La.) and Yvette Harrell (R-NM.) are demanding that Biden rescind the moratorium on drilling and leasing activities on federal land. Democrats Vincent Gonzales (D-Tex.), Henry Cuellar (D-Tex.), Lizzie Fletcher (D-Tex.), Marc Veasey (D-Tex.) demand the order be rescinded, noting it would devastate New Mexico, spike fuel costs, cost as many as one million jobs and decrease U.S. GDP by $700 billion, reduce critical energy supplies, weaken national security and embroil the Interior department in litigation for failure to meet statutory requirements to hold lease sales.

It’s not only energy producers and distributors involved, of course: aside from direct energy jobs, a moratorium on coastal extractions would cost the high paying jobs in water management and coastal restoration, as Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana pointed out. Six state attorneys general are threatening a lawsuit over the moratorium -- they represent West Virginia, Arkansas, Indiana, Mississippi, Montana, and Texas. 

President Trump withdrew us from the Paris agreement, which had been entered into by President Obama without Congressional approval. It’s a ludicrous globalist folly which if followed (which Europe has not actually been doing) only would impoverish the U.S. and the rest of the Western industrial countries while leaving China and India to spew carbon emissions unchecked, with the result that there will be no diminution of these, even assuming they have a deleterious impact on climate (a debated proposition).

Acting under that agreement, Obama imposed a number of regulations on power plants and oil and gas production and delivery. These rules never took effect because they were either tied up in court or repealed and replaced by the Trump administration or dismissed by the courts as unlawful. Under the Trump EPA, final rules cost-benefit analyses must be conducted for all future rules. The Biden administration appears intent to scrap this requirement under the rubric “Modernizing Regulatory Review," but I don’t foresee that regulatory requirements can be altered without a lengthy procedure.

Even if they succeed at that, they have another hurdle to overcome. The Trump EPA locked in for five years current ozone and particulate matter standards and to alter these standards under the existing EPA rule there must be independent peer review of the pivotal science and identify the research the agency relied on to make the rule. The incoming administration may, in sum, institute new rules, but it can expect significant challenges along the way to enforcement. And you can expect that companies which have long lead times and have expended great sums and effort to comply with the existing regulations are not likely to easily and without challenge accept more stringent ones.

Retour a Paris?

It certainly will not help sell the Agreement when Green Czar Kerry dismisses the job losses that will follow by saying “those folks[can have] better choices,” adding, “they can make solar panels.” It’s condescending and, of course, it ignores that these panels are almost all manufactured in China (about 60 percent of the supply chain and three-quarters of the material used to make solar cells). It also grossly exaggerates the number of jobs available in installation of solar panels or maintenance of windmills. In 2019 there were 7,000 wind turbine technicians and 12,000 solar installers, a far cry from the thousands involved in conventional fuel production and distribution.

Facts are for little people -- bean counters -- not big thinkers like Kerry and Ocasio-Cortez. As if the "czar" hadn’t said enough to scotch the deal, he added the U.S. had to “pay through the nose and lose jobs to ensure other countries reduce their emissions.” Congresswoman Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) has introduced a bill to block reentry into the Paris agreement until it receives Senate confirmation. She already has eleven GOP cosponsors.

I expect more will join her and I wouldn’t be surprised if a constitutional challenge in court will follow any further effort to rejoin the Agreement. It’s a treaty by any fair reading and the Constitution compels treaties be affirmed by two-thirds of the Senate (Article II, section 2). The question is, will the Democrats care?

Making an End-Run Around Democracy, Part Two

[Read Part One here.]

To achieve their grand goal of social engineering, the billionaires and their activist agents create a chain of institutions in which each link receives assistance or information from one level which it endorses and then passes onto the next level, and so on and so on, it sometimes feels, ad infinitum.

There are primary research bodies that assemble information on, say, the Green New Deal; secondary research bodies that endorse the “correct” information or point of view (and the think tanks that produce them) and undermine rival ones; motivational research groups that advise on how to tailor their emotional appeal to key constituencies; information technology panels that advise on how to ensure your message is placed before others in internet searches;  media outreach groups that package its messages in easy-to-use op-ed or soundbite forms; political education institutes that recruit potential election candidates to carry the torch in elections; and “activist” organizations that organize public protests, sit-ins, occupations of congressional offices, riots, and other civil disobedience events to suggest that a powerful movement of public opinion is backing the Green New Deal or some other cause de jour.

If this is activism, it’s astroturf activism.

They might be giants.

Put so baldly, this argument sounds a little like a conspiracy theory. Be aware of three points, however.

If it’s a conspiracy, it’s what used to be called “an open conspiracy” which almost anyone can join, read about, or listen in on via the internet.

Dr. Fuller listened in on a webinar in which the leaders of two of the organizations discussed here, namely Sunrise and Momentum, which are respectively a movement of young activists and a political training operation, discussed their purposes and activities. She writes:

 Speakers stressed the need to become ‘the dominant political alignment’ which ‘defines the common sense of society’ and ‘directs social and economic policy’. Having realized that this would require ‘tak[ing] over the entire United States and all the institutions in it’, they began ‘finding and developing our first leaders’. This involved moving activists into ‘dorm-style Sunrise Movement Houses for three to six months’ in order to create leaders who had a deep level of commitment ‘for everything that would come afterwards.’

Dr. Fuller concedes that some of this training offers advice that is “not bad” but adds that the “entire impression is of a very steered, technocratic process that attempts to achieve theoretical concepts (‘3.5 percent mobilisation’, ‘dominant political alignment’) through a kind of brute-force factory production.” It’s a very well-funded factory production at that. And noting that a disproportionately large number of the activists and of those recruiting the activists are young and inexperienced people, from teens to postgraduates, she offers the following balanced judgment:

On one level, it is great that young people are taking part in politics. But on another level it is incredibly fake. The youthful participants aren’t so much being empowered as instrumentalized. After all, they are part of the portfolio of an investment fund that is using them to ‘shift power’, with part of the strategy being to shame politicians for not being nice enough to hysterical children.

Dr. Fuller doesn’t mention Greta Thunberg here, but for some reason Ms. Thunberg leaps to mind.

Patron St. Greta

In instrumentalizing the young activists, these well-funded progressive networks are also instrumentalizing democracy. They are seeking to manipulate the usual democratic tools—information, debate, controversy—not to create a national conversation on political goals and methods but to construct a simulacrum of that conversation in which its conclusions are determined in advance. And when those tools break in their hands—as happens when others intrude into their staged debates—they use “activism” to de-platform the intruders and to close down a debate escaping their control. We are likely to see much more of such covertly manipulative anti-democratic politics in the future.

Indeed, Time magazine has described how such an open conspiracy of corporate executives, labor union leaders, and progressive activists employed some of these methods and some of these troops to “prevent Donald Trump stealing the election” (i.e., to help the Democrats win the election.) That was very much a “macro” operation. And without being conspiratorial myself, I can assert that it certainly didn’t fail.

But how do these tactics work at a “micro” level—at the level of getting a parliamentary bill passed into law, ensuring that a government report conforms to progressive orthodoxies, or manufacturing a “Green” public opinion when most voters are skeptical. To examine how progressive activism can turn democracy into a ventriloquist’s dummy, I’ll be looking at Ben Pile’s monograph on the U.K.’s Climate Assembly, funded by Parliament to tell MPs what the people thought about Net Zero. It’s a fascinating story. Join me then.

 

Delusions More Toxic than Covid

It's now just a few days before Joe Biden, the aged, doddering former U.S. Senator and two term vice president, is inaugurated as the 46th President of the United States. Donald J. Trump was impeached Tuesday, if that is the word for the truncated, evidence-free series of rants by Democratic congressmen on the floor of the House. No facts in were evidence. But a fountain of emotion far more toxic than Covid-19, spewed forth.

Rule of law has disintegrated into some mockery of group therapy in the American capital. One knows better than to ask if this is a function of female leadership. Perhaps it is. But many male Democrats appear to suffer from the uncontrollable rage common to PMS sufferers.  And Trump Derangement Syndrome has gripped them all. 

There's a silver lining to this appalling political theater.  Now, two months after our Third World style election marked by serious claims of massive ballot fraud, including voting by the ineligible and the dead, the inescapable reality has finally arrived. The millions of Trump voter who have entertained the charming but childish notion that an election victory stolen in broad daylight will be restored by some process, before the inauguration -- finally see that it is not going to happen.

Millions of Trump voters have been living with a mental process something like this: ‘You did this horrible thing to us. Everyone saw. The neighbors! The whole world. Surely you are going to admit it and give me back what is rightly mine?’

What -- no Krakens?

But when the entire establishment colludes to remove a president who threatens the profitable operations of the American political and corporate classes, the possibility of a fix in real time is a fantasy.  For most of us, as with any deception and loss, the longer one maintains a dream of justice and happily ever after, the greater the pain and suffering. 

Of course it is very hard to walk away from what we all grew up believing about "the will of the people," and the virtues of democratic representation itself, on which we base our understanding the social compact.  A "Great Reset" to Biden and socialism is bleak, so fantasies persist.

A stolen election leading to the destruction of half the country’s faith in our entire system of governance remains hard to process and accept.  For many it leads to talk of secession, and civil war -- which are not unreasonable if you believe you and your communities have been permanently disenfranchised, and the Constitution shredded.

Consider, however, the possibility that we have already lost that war.  That every institution with power or influence in our nation, is in the hands of the left.  That is the case, even apart from the question of ballot fraud, committed by software or local party hacks. 

Nor is it easier when our tech overlords decree that anyone who dares discuss the deliberately unresolved, barely investigated mounds of evidence that suggest a fraudulent election, is, per the Great (Social) Reset, going to have his social media accounts stripped, insurance policies cancelled, job offers nullified, academic posts and legal partnerships taken away, and a host of other acts of corporate and government destruction of life, liberty, and property.

The ‘social credit’ system, newly imported from Communist China, is coming down hard on anyone who questions the actions of our political overseers -- as has been amply demonstrated, to their shame, by the tech industry's "cancel culture," which has now spread to much of corporate America. Indeed, this has been the case for years for thought crimes in social matters, such as using pronouns associated with biological sex, not chosen "identity," or insufficient enthusiasm for the expansion of "marriage" to any two, or three, or more people. 

O Brave New World!

It sure was neat how last week’s conveniently timed violence at the Capitol, the origins and perpetrators of which are only now being investigated, and perhaps arrested, after a rush to pin it on the President's followers, pushed remaining serious questions about the election's integrity off the table? How the well-timed violence caused Republican senators and congressmen to decide on the spot not to question clearly illegitimate votes in their own states?  Another small reality reset: planned violence helped the narrative crowd out of having to explain away any contradictory facts.

This owes much to our nation’s current lack of a free and honest media, without which a free society can not trust information.  Instead, we are stuffed to the gills with propaganda factories working with partisan politicians. Which is why narratives – big lies -- of the sort that undergird totalitarian societies, have crowded out reality. Especially in a year when everyone was forced to stay at home, watching screens.

For conservatives, the worst narrative of all was Q-Anon, that great psyops that sucked the fight out of millions of patriots, who came to believe that Trump was playing and winning "three dimensional chess" against a gang  of pedophiles, and deep state holders of power. It will take a serious investigative reporter to unearth where the Q cult came from. Considering how the Q fantasy lulls patriots into complacence about "winning," I presume it was perpetrated by Trump's enemies.

So patriotic Americans can be forgiven for believing in the triumph of honesty and justice; that Trump would seize upon a weapon like the Insurrection Act, or martial law; that he would finally get an honest hearing for the suspicious vote tallies, and would serve the second term that he may well have earned -- as Rudy Giuliani, Sydney Powell, and other spokesmen encouraged supporters to believe.  (A question remains as to whether use of the Insurrection Act, to smash  BLM/Antifa during their looting and rioting last summer, would have led to a different outcome now.)

The beast that never came.

But the magic fix fantasy went on way too long. Late last week I watched a rational Trump supporter explain what actions need to happen to preclude the worst of coming Biden Administration policies. An ardent Trumper accused him of weakness for not believing that Trump would pull it all out and take a second oath of office. Just last weekend, I got an email from a Nevada GOP club insisting that Trump would triumph.

In life you should always fight to preclude a bad outcome. Hire lawyers. Spend what it takes. Preach. Trump did some of that. Not enough. Arguably he was blocked. You saw what happened to first-rate lawyers who worked with the Trump campaign. Some careers ended, others were merely threatened.

But when all avenues of victory are closed – accept reality. Retreat. Devise a new strategy. Change plans, tactics, strategy. (Not principles!) Be flexible. But always acknowledge reality. Being an adult means knowing when to fold ‘em, and find a different path.

Actually, it is a relief to dump the dual track planning, and the "hope against hope" that we will not be forced to again tolerate the odious, racialist, radical identity-driven politics of the Obama era. Get rid of the stupid foreign policy of losing purposeless wars of choice, genuflecting to Islamist dictators of impoverished nations, and kowtowing to the Chinese, who are our economic and political enemies. The Green New Deal, tool of economic control, hovers. The Biden/Harris/Obamaites are ready to bring it all back, this time full strength. They are radicals who aspire to soft totalitarianism, with no regard for liberty or the rule of law. Their “Great Reset” will make you poorer, colder and less able to support your family.

The virtue of accepting reality – even a bad reality in which illegal aliens flood our borders and get stimulus checks, and teachers unions destroy school choice, while social credit schemes limit individual liberty --- is that you can mobilize to fight it only when you acknowledge what is really happening. Blinders off, comrades. Clarity or death.

If At First You Don't Secede... Wexit

The idea of secession seems almost inevitably to surface in times of national turmoil, political disarray, ideological and ethnic pillarization and economic resentment. In the wake of the Great Fraud, aka the 2020 American election, there is a whiff of secession in the air.

Rush Limbaugh worries that America is “trending toward secession.” Texas GOP chairman Alan West suggested that law-abiding states should “bond together and form a union of states that will abide by the constitution.” Though he asserted “I never say anything about secession,” the implication was certainly present. Texit is in the wind. Rep. Kyle Biedermann (R-Fredericksburg) said “I am committing to file legislation this session that will allow a referendum to give Texans a vote for the State of Texas to reassert its status as an independent nation.”

Canada has undergone two secession movements originating in the province of Quebec, based on a founding schism between two distinct peoples—which novelist Hugh MacLennan called the “two solitudes” in his book of  that title—culminating in a clash between two legal traditions, Quebec’s Napoleonic civil code and the ROC’s (rest of Canada) common law, and two languages, French and English.

Two referenda were held, in 1980 and 1995, the second defeated by the narrowest of margins, 50.58 percent to 49.42 percent. It is hard to say if separation would have been a “good thing,” whether Quebec would have prospered and Canada grown more coherent. I would hazard that the first prospect would have been enormously improbable, the second at least remotely possible.

Sunrise in Calgary? Or sundown?

The independence movement is alive today, but in another province. Alberta, which is Canada’s energy breadbasket, has suffered egregiously under the rule of Eastern Canada’s Laurentian Elite, beginning in modern times with Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau’s low-pricing, high taxing National Energy Program (NEP) in 1980, which devastated Alberta’s oil industry.

According to the BOE report, “Economic disaster quickly followed. Alberta’s unemployment rate shot from 4% to more than 10%. Bankruptcies soared 150%.” Home values collapsed by 40 percent and the province plunged into debt. The debacle has climaxed with son Justin’s Green-inspired economic destruction and effective shutdown of the province’s energy sector. Unemployment has risen to more than 11 percent, thousands of residents are leaving the province, debt is soaring and cutbacks have severely impacted daily life.

As a result, a potent secession movement, known as "Wexit," has gathered momentum and solidified into a new political party. In addition, the Wildrose Independence Party of Alberta registered as a political party on June 29. Its platform includes asserting the independence of the province, redefining the relationship with Canada, developing natural resources, and creating a Constitution of Alberta.

After having increased the job-killing carbon tax during—of all times!—the COVID pandemic and lockdown that had already pulverized the nation’s economy, prime minister Justin Trudeau has announced he will raise the tax almost sixfold to $170 per tonne by 2030, thus breaking the Liberal government’s promise “not to increase the (carbon) price post-2022.” According to the Toronto Sun, “That will increase the cost of gasoline by about 38 cents per litre, plus the cost of home heating fuels such as natural gas and oil.”

And according to Kris Sims at the Sun, “Based on the average annual use of natural gas in new Canadian homes, it would cost homeowners more than $885 extra in the carbon tax.” Filling up a light duty pickup truck will cost a surplus $45 per tank, and an extra $204 for the big rigs that deliver dry goods and comestibles. But that “won’t be the end of the increased cost the Canadians will face, starting with a $15 billion government investment in other climate change initiatives.” 

All Canadians will be hard hit, but Albertans, who once fueled the engine of Canadian prosperity and who have the resources to do so again, will feel the provocation and injury even more profoundly. As Rex Murphy writes in the National Post, it is “the province that carries most of the weight, bears the most pain and has the least say in this mad enterprise.” The tax, he continues, will “injure the very farmers who have been stocking the supermarket shelves during COVID, put oil workers (at least those who still have jobs) out of work, increase the cost of living for everyone, place additional strain on the most needy and antagonize a large swath of the Canadian public.”  

Kyle Biedermann is on the money when he says that “The federal government is out of control.” This is as true of Canada as it is of the United States, at least with respect to the major agencies of government. For this reason, I support the secession movement in Alberta. The province has no alternative if it is to survive a faltering and repressive Confederation saddled with an out-and-out Marxist prime minister, a de facto alliance with Communist China, an infatuation with an unworkable and unaffordable tax-subsidized Green technological program, a $400 billion deficit, a national debt exploding past the $1 trillion mark, and, in short, nameplate disasters like Trudeau’s A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy cabaret. 

Alberta’s survival depends on restoring its energy sector to full capacity and shucking off the federal burden of over-regulation, crushing taxation, Green fantasy-thinking and unpayable debt. Murphy again:

This new carbon tax will throw a spike in the heart of the oil and gas industry. Keep in mind that it is but the most recent in a long string of policies designed to hamstring the industry, block its exports and drive investment out of the province.

For Alberta, it’s leave or die. Other provinces may eventually have to follow the same route as Canada disintegrates under the brazen incompetence and global-socialist doctrines of the current administration, with no relief in sight.

As oil executive Joan Sammon writes, Inexpensive energy is imperative for a thriving economy, manufacturing excellence, economic mobility, job creation and a future of prosperity.” Clearly, there must be citizen pushback against the economy-killing decrees of a myopic and virtue-signaling government. People must put pressure on their elected representatives to resist the deliberate dismantling of the free market that will cost them the life of material abundance and comfort they take for granted. They must rid themselves of their infatuation with leftist memes, policies and hypocrisies.

I have a neighbor, a staunch adherent of our high-taxing, socialist administrations, who drives across the border to the U.S. to fill up her car at around one third the domestic price of fuel. She remains oblivious of the cognitive dissonance that governs her practice. Such thinking and behavior are what qualify as ultimately “unsustainable.” 

It's now or never.

The industry, too, Sammon writes, “needs to take back control from the preaching class and remind them that their lifestyles have been brought to them by the men and woman of the oil and gas industry.” The “green zealotry” that drives their anti-market efforts will destroy Alberta and lead eventually to the economic collapse of the entire country. Alberta, however, is at present the only province with a robust secession movement and, given its resource-rich milieu and the independent character of a large segment of its inhabitants, the only province in a position to save itself.

In any event, the message to Alberta is simple and straightforward. If at first you don’t secede, try and try again. The Overton Window is closing fast.

Modern Monetary Theory Meets the Great Reset

Between 1930 when his two-volume magnus opus A Treatise on Money was published and his preparation of what became The General Theory of Employment Interest and Money, published in 1936, John Maynard Keynes had a very bad idea. His very bad idea formed the core of this latter, and much more famous book. Simply put, Keynes’s bad idea was that spending drove an economy. This idea had been eruditely pilloried by John Stuart Mill in the nineteenth century and -- kaput! It was gone.

But, hold your horses, bad ideas are not so easy to be rid of when they appeal to specious reasoning.

After all, who doesn’t like spending money? Of course, we know that if we spend too much ourselves, we will get into terrible trouble and end up in Queer Street. But suppose it’s the government spending money and, to boot, giving some to us. And, at same time, so-called economic experts are explaining that this spending will cure unemployment. Now that’s a bad idea whose currency persists. I expect it to be around in perpetuity.

So dumb only an egghead could love it.

Human history is replete with bad ideas. Slavery, bloodletting, Operation Barbarossa to name just three of very many. If we are lucky only one or two bad ideas hold sway at any one time. We are not so lucky. I will canvass four contemporary bad ideas plaguing our lives; or, at least, the lives of those susceptible to reason. And show how they have coalesced to form one grandiose idea hatched in a remote part of Switzerland.

You may have noticed that I haven’t mentioned the promotion of abortion on demand, gender dysphoria and men in frocks playing sport against women, or iconoclasm, or national self-loathing, or trigger warnings and ‘hate-speech’ on university campuses. All of these, and more, are redolent of contemporary bad ideas too. But one runs out of puff covering them all. In any event, it is the four I’ve canvassed which lead to Switzerland.

Follow the logic below. It is a stretch. But since when has that been an unjumpable hurdle for the leftist mindset.

Green New Deals whether of the AOC variety or of the slightly watered-down Biden/Sanders variety or even of the Boris Johnson variety are, shall we say, on the expensive side. Lots of things to be done and so little time with the planet we know and love on the brink of extinction:

  1. Undermining reliable sources of energy (to wit, coal, oil and gas) while subsidising unreliable sources of energy (to wit, wind and solar).
  2. Chasing internal combustion engines off the road while building a whole new infrastructure to power electric cars.
  3. Refitting many thousands of buildings to increase their energy efficiency.
  4. And, lest we forget, somehow reducing the belching proclivity of farm animals; or, alternatively, mandating mass switching to veganism.

None of this will come cheap. This is where MMT comes to the rescue; whether it is called that or not. Required, à la MMT, is a carefree approach to government spending and borrowing; all underwritten by central banks keeping their money-printing presses (figuratively speaking) at the ready.

MMT -- it's fun and better yet, it's free!

And, in case you don’t see the next connection, lockdowns have already provided a trial run. Governments have borrowed and spent big to keep the ship of state afloat after crippling their economies and throwing millions out of work. Financial restraint has been defenestrated. It will be a much more sellable proposition than it ever would have been to spend and borrow still more to underpin economies (MMT / Keynesian-style) and, at the same time, save the planet. And that isn’t all.

The emergence from lockdowns to a greener future provides yet another opportunity. And this is to lift those whose underprivilege has cruelly held them back. To be fair, innately overprivileged though they are, poor white guys and gals are not specifically excluded.

If you haven’t already guessed, the coalescence of four bad ideas have ineluctably led me to The Great Reset – and to its goal of producing a greener, more inclusive, more equitable world. This latest manifestation of the utopian-pipedream genre was unveiled in May 2020 by the World Economic Forum, which is made up of rich people and notables, passionate about saving the planet from fossil fuels, who fly into Davos Switzerland from their mansions or yachts each year in their private jets. You sense they know that they could run things much better than the hoi polloi ever could.

Prince Charles together with Klaus Schwab, the chair of WEF, presided over the great unveiling of The Great Reset:

There are reasons to believe that a better economic system is possible—and that it could be just around the corner. As the initial shock of the COVID crisis receded, we saw a glimpse of what is possible, when stakeholders act for the public good and the well-being of all, instead of just a few... Rather than chasing short-term profits or narrow self-interest, companies could pursue the well-being of all people and the entire planet. This does not require a 180-degree turn: corporations don’t have to stop pursuing profits for their shareholders. They only need to shift to a longer-term perspective on their organization and its mission, looking beyond the next quarter or fiscal year to the next decade and generation.

Building such a virtuous economic system is not a utopian ideal.

Can a cacophony of four bad ideas produce a harmonious good idea? Maybe for those living in the Davos bubble. Not for those living in struggle street; white, black or brown.