A Joe Biden presidency would guarantee one thing. We might be finished with Donald Trump, but we’ll still have the problem that gave us Mr. Trump. I’ll borrow a term from an analyst of the European Union: sophisticated state failure.
Take Mr. Biden’s climate speech this week. Its most quoted line: “When Donald Trump thinks about climate change, the only word he can muster is ‘hoax,’ When I think about climate change, the word I think of is ‘jobs.’ ”
Who knows what Mr. Trump really thinks, but the full quote from a 2016 ad lib was indisputably accurate when he said of the climate lobby, “It’s a money-making industry, OK? It’s a hoax, a lot of it.” A human impact on climate seems certain to exist in some measure, but even ardent greens now realize they harm the cause with exaggeration. Meanwhile, confirmed liberal Michael Moore has decided the moment is right for a documentary film about the climate movement’s takeover by corporate handout artists (with Al Gore at the top of the list).
Mr. Biden offered no real thoughts on climate science or policy. His speech was a triangulation of hot buttons, an invitation to spend money, lots of it.
That’s why greens climbed aboard despite its defense of nuclear, its call for carbon capture (which would keep oil, gas and coal in business), its refusal to denounce fracking. Mr. Biden promises to spend $2 trillion over four years. That’s all they needed to hear. And forget the part about the U.S. electricity sector being carbon neutral by 2035, when Joe will be safely out of office. President Obama proposed 54.5 miles per gallon as the target for the U.S. auto fleet in 2025. A congressional investigation later found this “headline number” was invented to gussy up a White House press release.
Tellingly, Mr. Biden’s speech was most generously detailed when it comes to that love object of suburban elites, the electric vehicle, though EVs would not be your focus if you thought global warming an urgent problem. Real Bidenism is already at work in Europe: In the name of stimulus, governments just rolled out a new plank of handouts that, for instance, let “buyers” drive a Renault Zoe off the lot for a monthly lease of $0.
The insanity of trying to reduce CO2 by giving people free electric cars is self-explanatory. You’re paying people to consume electricity, half of which is produced in the EU by burning fossil fuels and wood chips. But the goal manifestly is not saving the planet. The latest handouts were schemed up in an emergency session by Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron to save the auto industry from a piling up of mandated but unsalable electric vehicles.
Mr. Biden’s plan “connects tackling climate change with the economic recovery from the coronavirus crisis, while also addressing racism,” writes the New York Times.
Uh huh. Serious problems deserve to be treated seriously. If your surgeon told you he was going to address racism and the economy along with your coronary blockage, you would get off the table and run away.
We’re lucky the climate challenge is overblown because politics obviously can’t solve it. Carnegie Europe’s Jan Techau coined one of my favorite phrases, sophisticated state failure, which he lays to the “sheer difficulty of governing complex, highly diverse societies.”
A year ago, when the primaries were in view, Mr. Biden at least offered a plan that contained an argument: The U.S. represents a minor and shrinking share of global emissions and therefore can’t fix an alleged climate problem with measures designed to grease domestic constituencies. Notice that there’s no mention of this reality in his latest plan, just a promise to throw green money at “union jobs.”
When a country elects Donald Trump president, it gets a Donald Trump presidency. That’s why I have not panted to recount his every demerit as if it were my unique discovery. His one virtue has been a freedom to say that so much of our political discourse today is consumed by nonsense. By now, traditional politicians have piled the crock so high that it threatens to topple over on the body politic.
Take climate change. If Mr. Biden really cared, he would propose a carbon tax. Washington could keep its corrupting mitts off investment decisions. The incentive to release less CO2 would permeate every choice made by consumers and businesses in the economy.
But corruption is the goal. In 2008, after the Obama Democrats won full control in Washington, Al Gore had an epiphany: Unpopular, tax-like measures were no longer necessary. The climate problem could be solved with subsidies. Who doesn’t like a handout? A proposed oil tax disappeared from the Obama campaign website.
Overnight, the Democratic focus went from climate policy to climate pork. And so it has remained. If there was an argument for the Trump presidency, it was a political realignment that would allow fresh air into the stale policy and interest coalitions of today’s two party setup. But Mr. Biden might as well be named Clinton or Bush or Obama.
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