Capitalizing on the latest crisis
By Bishop Harry Jackson, Jr., Niger Innis and Reverend Samuel Rodriquez
Business and capitalism are dirty words in many White House and progressive circles, except in two ways.
Business is good when it can be co-opted and manipulated by government to advance "progressive" energy, social or economic agendas. And capitalism is a virtue in the sense of capitalizing on every crisis to promote those agendas – through the guiding principle enshrined by leftists like Saul Alinsky and Rahm Emanuel: "Never let a crisis go to waste."
Thus the tragic Gulf of Mexico oil spill has been incompetently handled by a White House, EPA and Corps of Engineers unable even to make timely decisions about constructing sand berms to keep oil out of fragile estuaries. But the crisis is being exploited brilliantly to justify policy initiatives like cap-tax-and-trade, EPA's "endangerment" decree, more bans on drilling, and mandatory fuel switching to higher priced options, most notably wind and solar power.
The economic facts of life simply don't support this agenda.
Senator John Kerry asserts that China and India are spending billions to take our "clean energy" discoveries and technologies, make the wind turbines and solar panels in Asia, and sell them back to us. He is right about what's happening, but completely wrong about why. The fault, dear Senator, is not in our stars (or in Asia), but in ourselves.
China and India pay their workers less than we do, especially in union shops so beloved by progressives. They use coal to generate cheap electricity to power their factories, while the White House, EPA and Congress strive to tax and regulate American coal-fired power plants into oblivion. China mines its abundant rare earth minerals (essential for wind turbine magnets and Prius batteries), whereas we have made hundreds of millions of acres of superb mineral prospects off limits.
China and India are creating tens of thousands of jobs, financed by American taxpayers and consumers, while we tax and over-regulate productive industries to pay for subsidies, tax breaks and payrolls for wind and solar companies that then must buy turbines and panels from China and India, because we cannot afford to make them here in the United States.
That's why 240 gigantic wind turbines being installed in Texas created 2,800 jobs – but 2,400 of them were in China. The measly 400 we got were temp jobs: truckers to haul components from the West Coast to West Texas, plus installers, landscapers, lawyers and bureaucrats. This is indeed a great Green Jobs Program – for the Chinese!
Is this the economic transformation that Senator Kerry wants to bring about? So now we are going to be dependent on the Middle East for oil – and on China and India for "alternative," "renewable" energy?
Equally puzzling, the wind energy industry is exempted from Migratory Bird and Endangered Species laws. Oil companies pay millions in fines, if a few hundred birds die in uncovered treatment ponds or are caught in the Gulf oil spill. And they should. But wind turbine operators get a free pass, even when their "Cuisinarts of the air" slice and dice thousands of eagles, hawks, falcons, geese, ducks and bats annually.
Installing hundreds of thousands of turbines, and millions of acres of solar panels – to replace oil, gas and coal facilities – would be an unprecedented disaster for habitats, wildlife and the environment.
Equally absurd, the 83% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions required by the House-passed climate bill and its Kerry-Lieberman Senate counterpart would send America's CO2 emissions back to levels last seen in 1870, when population, energy use and technology changes are taken into account. The price impacts on energy use, jobs, working families, living standards, schools and hospitals would be disastrous.
Meanwhile, emissions from China, India and other emerging economic powerhouses would rapidly offset our nation's painful reductions, and global atmospheric CO2 levels would continue to rise. America is not an island.
This is not sustainable development. It is the unsustainable devolution of our country. It is economically and environmentally ruinous. It is the Greecification of America.
The shift to the new Green Jobs Economy may sound good in the abstract. But a closer look at the current transformative plan reveals substantial complications.
It will not generate wealth and is not the product of wealth creation. It is a manifest wealth transfer, from productive and innovative segments of business and society to regulators, activists, companies and energy systems that could not survive without constant subsidies, tax breaks and environmental "get out of jail free" cards.
The Green Jobs Economy would have expensive, intermittent wind and solar replace reliable, affordable hydrocarbon-based electricity. On a large scale, that would severely impact working class families and small businesses. It would impose a punitive, regressive tax on our nation's most economically vulnerable citizens. It would slow, if not obliterate, our nation's chance for economic recovery and growth.
President Obama says he's trying to figure out "whose ass to kick" over the Gulf oil spill and cleanup. He might want to start with his own regulators, advisors and congressional allies, who are leading him and our country over an energy and economic cliff.
Bishop Harry R. Jackson, Jr. is founder and chairman of the High Impact Leadership Coalition; Niger Innis is national spokesman for the Congress of Racial Equality; Reverend Samuel Rodriquez is president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference. They are the co-chairs of the Affordable Power Alliance: http://affordablepoweralliance.org/
Get weekly updates about new issues of ESR!