Awaiting the Future, Erasing the Past

He determined that the world would do better if he involved himself less. So wrote Amity Shlaes of President Coolidge in her history of the Great Depression. Here was a leader broadly content with the prevailing lot of his nation and I suggest, at the time, in sync with the feelings of most Americans. We now live in more disgruntled times. Still, sane nations and sane people are not systematically malcontent.

This brings me to those leaders and powerbrokers who almost entirely live for the future. They tend to despise the present and perforce the past. The future is all. Unlike the present and past it can be moulded; and, potentially, into a shape they desire. Malcontentedly, they lust after their own version of a better future. Take a couple of well-known dictators.

Hitler aspired to a Third Reich reaching across vast swathes of Eastern Europe. Xi Jinping aspires to ever-expanding Chinese hegemony. Dictators like these operate in plain sight. There is no mystery. But we have now in our midst another ilk of autocrats. Less obvious; just as real. Not dictators but, all the same, like dictators, they want power to mould the future. Their ambitions don’t go to territory or to national power. They want to change the way people think, work and live; they want to reset the agenda.

The coming Fourth Reich?

Pretexts presage power grabs. One or more are required. Climate change, the so-called third or fourth (depending on who’s counting) industrial revolution and, most recently, the response of governments to Covid have come together to provide a once-in-a-life-time confluence of pretexts.

The prime movers? Prominent is the World Economic Forum, whose executive chairman Klaus Schwab is a proponent of ‘The Great Reset’ and ‘stakeholder capitalism’. The Council for Inclusive Capitalism is a fellow traveller. Among many of the great and good, Bill Gates, George Soros with his misnamed Open Society Foundations, and Pope Francis are clearly engaged. Again, as with autocrats generally, they are deluded. But that doesn’t make them less dangerous to our prosperity and freedom.

It’s important to understand (though they might not) that they have not invented a third way. There is capitalism and individual freedom on the one hand and socialism and collectivism on the other. They are plumping for the latter whether they admit it, or see it, or not. They will likely, hopefully, fail in undoing our way of life; though, as I will suggest, the response of governments to Covid-19 is most worrying.

I will take each of the trio of pretexts in turn.

Tackling climate change offers the alluring prospect of undermining national governance in favour of global governance, run by elites, like them. This is very far from benign but, lucky for us, they have hitched their wagon to a crock. Renewable energy in the form of wind and solar is hopeless. You can only get away with it when you have dispatchable power at the ready.

Wind and solar now account for about 3 percent of the world’s energy generation. Already blackouts have occurred from Europe to South Australia to California. Exactly what will happen if that 3 percent becomes just 10 percent? Those hot or cold still nights will cause havoc. Quite simply it’s unworkable and will collide with real life. Its supporters would know that if they were not delusional.

Second to today’s industrial revolution. Schwab identified this revolution as the fourth in an article some years ago in the magazine Foreign Affairs. According to Schwab, it is characterised by “artificial intelligence, robotics, the internet of things, autonomous vehicles, 3-D printing, nanotechnology, biotechnology, materials science, energy storage, and quantum computing.” He, along with others, sees this revolution bringing profound and pacy breakthroughs; giving rise to production outstripping needs; to dislocation and unemployment. Dependency on government will soar. Just what is wanted to reset the agenda.

Good-bye to all that, right?

Troubling for them -- and fortunately for us -- it won’t unfold as they think. After three industrial revolutions have already played out, the labour force participation rate in the United States, in the U.K. and in Australia is higher now than in the buoyant 1950s. And there is no reason to believe things will be different this time. Those machine breakers of yore got it wrong as have current pundits. Market forces and human nature tell the story.

Businesses can’t produce products (including by using robots) and sell them at profit without customers who are inclined to own them and have sufficient wherewithal to buy them. A rising stream of production and falling employment do not gel.

As for human nature, ascetics and billionaires aside, men and women always want more goods and services than they are able to afford. Classical economists such as John Stuart Mill understood this. If Keynes had understood it, he would not have based his economics around scarcity of demand. If Schwab and company understood it, they would not pin their hopes on the fourth industrial revolution creating a superabundance of products and a needy mass of the unemployed.

Third to Covid, and arguably, the most threatening of the pretexts underpinning the Great Reset agenda. The response to Covid has been unparalleled in the history of plagues. A mild disease in terms of its lethality has led nearly all governments into upturning economic and social life. Even with vaccines normal life seems a distance away. As sapping as it has already been, it would be disastrous if it were a preview of the future.

New strains, ‘double mutants’ and novel viruses will regularly arise. In recent times we’ve had Asian Flu, Hong Kong Flu, Ebola, HIV, SARS, MERS, Swine Flu. And governments and their media cheerleaders are now practised in their hypersensitive response to germs. They seem to believe they’ve absolutely done the right thing by humankind. Even Donald Trump claimed he’d saved millions of American lives. Capitalism is adaptable and fleet of foot but continual lockdowns to fight viruses are not sustainable. The uncertainty created would cripple businesses, small businesses particularly, and inexorably increase dependency on government.

Leave aside the fluff about the industrial revolution, which will unravel of its own accord. Combatting climate alarmism and the attendant ineffective and costly counter measures remains core business. However, what needs to be combatted most right now is the overwrought response to Covid setting a debilitating template for the future.

The Attack on Energy is an Attack on You

Two goals exist in the attack on energy by the Left. By focusing on their secondary goal (the environment), Democrats accelerate toward their primary goal: destroying the global middle class. This is the demand of the Great Reset and the politicians they own in the western democracies.

A year ago we thought we were free. Today we find our energy industry under attack, ourselves unconstitutionally locked-down in urban complexes, growing increasingly distrustful of others due to useless masks and media lies, with food and housing so expensive that families are not formed, and children becoming a thing of the past.

Oh – and travelling not at all – no planes, and electric cars with an overnight stay at a hotel while “fueling” a car rather than the current ten minutes for the next 400 miles of seeing what once was a free country.

They hate your children too.

Killing energy kills the middle class, the foundation of global democracies that arose through and via the Industrial Revolution, the cornerstone of which was using energy resources (coal, oil, water) more productively than ever before.

Without a middle class, the only possible society remaining is a post-modern serfdom, living and working where, how, at what and for a labor price our betters command. The advance of Big Tech is being encouraged no longer to better our lives, but to better surveil us and to increase the homogenizing of work, speech, thought and culture as demanded by a literal handful of unelected, unaccountable billionaires who think because they’re rich they must be smart (they’re not), and that what they think is “right."

This is the story of tyrants throughout history. And, like all tyrants, these, too, are enemies of people, families, nations, cultures and progress.

As we move farther into the Information Age, what happens to those not able or willing to move into a career that entails staring at a screen all day? What happens when the work of anyone (other than a parasitical politician or indolent bureaucrat) can be offshored to anyone, anywhere on the planet?

Labor needs traditionally have been a community or a national question. The Resetters reject these needs and desires, so intent are they upon forcing us to do their bidding.

This is not a jeremiad against technical progress or a rejection of living standards that unquestionably have advanced due to the digital revolution. It is a demand that those who have most profited from these advances are not allowed, undemocratically, to use their profits to destroy the middle class.

As a culture progresses in resource productivity (food, water, energy, labor) this increased productivity allows that society to create a cohort that pursues specialization, education, travel, art, literature and leisure – the things that make life more than a short, brutal, hungry trudge from cradle to grave. The more productively a society can use resources, the more the living standards of that society increase across all socioeconomic classes.

No petite bourgeoisie wanted here, buddy.

The entire world benefits from the Western middle classes: the wealthy who invest in and benefit from their education, inventions and work, the leisure industries in which they participate, and the benefits a now-wealthier society can distribute to the less-well-off.

But that need for a middle class remains until the need for labor itself is vanquished, as long as we require food, water, shelter, clothing and energy, i.e., as long as people exist. The need for those with skills lacked by the rest of us, indeed, increases: fewer of us every generation can run a water main, repair an electrical problem in our home, or harvest our own food. If advancing technology means one worker can do what ten once did, the need for that one is more, not less, critical. If one of ten no longer can work, the other nine can supply the labor. If one of one no longer can work, who is going to repair your oven?

Trade encouraged by a world shrinking due to industrialized transportation productivity has encouraged lower-skill occupations to migrate to toward what we call the “First World.” This has provided their populations with jobs through which they could advance their standards of education and living, bettering humanity as a whole. As these populations advanced, lower-skill work travelled to less-advanced nations. Wholesale removal of work from Western middle classes for reasons of labor costs alone, however, causes nothing but destruction.

Paying workers in other countries less money to do jobs that have been relocated from the First World specifically to reduce labor costs, cannot help but reduce living standards of the First World. This decelerates all progress globally, including environmental progress and the support of benefits for the poor.

It is a simple fact that a First World country must pay First World wages… or it can’t be a First World country.

Marching for "migrants' rights" in Paris.

The plain fact is this: Western “leaders” no longer value the living standards of their populations. This is past-evident in the intentional failure of education and the offshoring of jobs over the past two generations. Reduced living standards are their goal.

At some point – the point we've likely already reached – either we retain manufacturing and energy production jobs rather than shipping them to less-advanced countries at a lower price, or those who can’t “learn to code” become a detriment to society in the eyes of the “leaders” of that society. Then what?

By killing the Keystone XL pipeline and attacking similar pipelines, as well as protesting against LNG port facilities, the useful idiots of the left are placated in the name of the non-existent global-warming hypothesized by many but supported by nothing.

But the leadership wielding the knives slitting the throats of the middle class couldn’t care less about warming or the environment. They know warming isn’t real; they aren’t stupid. They can read charts and data. Their lack of care for the environment is proven by imposing strict environmental regulations on energy production, while ignoring countries with zero environmental regulations, such as Russia or Nigeria. They also know pretending to care about the environment is a  useful tool to use in the destruction of dissent from their rule.

The entire drive to reduce energy consumption (not theirs, of course), to embrace socialism and Progressivism and the tyrannical Great Reset, is fostered by those who know the terrible harm it will cause to the people of the world… and simply do not care.

When the Great 'Reset' is Really Overload

It was a humiliating debut for Hillary Clinton. The then-new Secretary of State met with Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov and presented him with a button activated switch with a Russian caption which she thought meant “reset” but was actually “overload.”

The Western world was beset with the turmoil and economic loss due to globalization that had sent jobs to lower-cost-labor countries; meanwhile, in China, a weaponized new strain of the flu was brewing in a Wuhan laboratory. Released near the end of 2018, it has caused a global panic, its death toll overhyped by international experts and a scaremongering media.

Now we're being offered yet more of the same global nonsense in the form of something called The Great Reset. It’s overload, and I don’t think we will or should buy it.

How do you say "Oops" in Russian?

The World Economic Forum advances a witless new idea. What, you might ask, is this outfit? It describes itself as “the International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation”. It annually hosts the global elite annual meeting in Davod, Switzerland to discuss global issues and put their soi-disant collective genius to the task of improving the world while residing and eating in the most luxurious way.

In my younger years I might have found this a good idea. with advanced age it reminds me of Benito Mussolini’s corporatism. "Fascism should more appropriately be called corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power." However egalitarian you phrase it, it ends up as a means of making your friends rich with public revenue and advantages and using the power of the state to smash their competitors while increasing your own powers..

This year’s meeting of 3,000 ran the gamut from heads of state to movie stars and  the Swedish adolescent Cassandra Greta Thunberg, the founder of the Chinese technology firm Huawei, and George Soros. Great numbers of those participating arrived there on private planes while yammering about sustainability and getting us to reduce our carbon emissions. The comparison to medieval sumptuary laws comes to my mind.

In the year just ended, its agenda was more grandiose, perhaps fueled by all that lobster and champagne: "The Great Reset" project, a five-point plan concerned with enhancing sustainable economic growth following the global recession caused by the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns. The Great Reset will be the theme of WEF's Annual Meeting in January 2021.

You have only to read the plans for the Great Reset set forth by Klaus Schwab, its executive Chairman, to see its flaws and dangers. (Of course, some knowledge of world history wouldn’t hurt either.) He begins with the economic and human cost of Covid-19, a loss to my mind occasioned more by government mismanagement and lockdowns than the virus itself.

And he leaps from that to a claim that “All of this will exacerbate the climate and social crises that were already underway.” That seems debatable. If the lockdowns reduced travel as they certainly did, CO2 emissions which to these same people are changing the climate should be way down. And every study I’ve seen says that is the case.

The Great Resetter.

So how does Schwab  find it otherwise? “Some countries have used the Covid-19 crisis as an excuse to weaken environmental protections and enforcement, and frustrations over social ills like rising inequality -- US billionaires’ combined wealth has increased during the crisis--are intensifying”

But he neglects to note that in the U.S. the billionaires got richer, not by predation but by government fiats which forced the shutdown of small businesses and forced consumers to use big marketers like Amazon, Walmart and Costco. Left to their own best judgment consumers might well have preferred shopping at smaller stores with less possibility for transmission. Left to their own devices, restaurants, bars and smaller shops would have remained open and the owners not bankrupted or their workers unemployed. See the brain twist here? The various governments created the inequality and these are the same powers that Schwab thinks will better address inequality than we can.

But Herr Schwab is a Big Thinker with a plan:

First, steer the market toward fairer outcomes by improving “coordination, upgrade trade arrangements, and create the conditions for a ‘stakeholder economy.’  There’s a lot of flowery language in this but there are some specifics "changes to wealth taxes the withdrawal of fossil-fuel subsidies and new rules governing intellectual property trade and competition.”

In English this means the Western world -- particularly the U.S. -- would be subject to higher taxes, more expensive energy and labor costs for the western world. In refutation, I note it is the U.S. which has to date had enough surplus capital to beat Europe and China in environmental protection through technological improvements. The United States is a world leader in protecting the environment and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. From 2005 to 2018, total U.S. energy-related CO2 emissions fell by 12 percent. In contrast, global energy-related emissions increased nearly 24 percent from 2005 to 2018. It's capital that makes the difference, not high-blown chatter.

Second, baffle them with word salad, e.g. “ensure that investments advance shared goals, such as equality and sustainability." He explains for the befuddled, "building green urban infrastructure and creating incentives for industries to improve their track record on environmental, social and governance (ESG) metrics.” He has it backwards, I think.

Well run corporations producing goods and services consumers want  create jobs and capital surpluses available to clean the environment and lift all boats. Using such idiocies as requiring diverse management instead of the best, most competent management does not. I note, for example, the worst environmental depredations have been in socialist countries.  The least protection for the health of workers also occurs there.

But Schwab has more: he would “harness the innovations of the Fourth Industrial Revolution to support the public good, especially by addressing health and social challenges.”

I would remind Schwab that the vaccines to prevent Covid-19 were produced in the U.S. -- not in Europe or Russia or China -- and by private corporations which achieved this in record time by substantial infusions of tax revenues made possible by our free market system.

Some people think the Great Reset is but a cover for a conspiracy to bring about a New World Order.  I don’t know that it’s a conspiracy, just more of the same globalists’ dream, actually not far removed from a standard European mindset that experts should call the shots and that a complex society can be ruled top down by these geniuses instead of by millions of people making their own independent choices. With the experiences of  the Imperial College’s  phony, inaccurate projections on Covid-19, Dr. Fauci’s unscientific and conflicting proscriptions, the clear political agenda of the CDC , the economic devastation caused by governors like Whitmer and Newsom, I don’t think we’re in the mood to buy this Schwab brand of baloney.