Friday, October 19, 2012


David Brooks writes about green energy today. Specifically, he writes about why liberal supporters of green energy are on the wrong side of history, which (of course) is all their fault, even though greenness is kind of a good idea.

Once upon a time, says Brooks, greenness was bipartisan, and therefore good:
The period around 2003 was the golden spring of green technology. John McCain and Joe Lieberman introduced a bipartisan bill to curb global warming. I got my first ride in a Prius from a conservative foreign policy hawk who said that these new technologies were going to help us end our dependence on Middle Eastern despots. You'd go to Silicon Valley and all the venture capitalists, it seemed, were rushing into clean tech.
But then everything went astray:
Al Gore released his movie "An Inconvenient Truth" in 2006. The global warming issue became associated with the highly partisan former vice president. Gore mobilized liberals, but, once he became the global warming spokesman, no Republican could stand shoulder to shoulder with him and survive. Any slim chance of building a bipartisan national consensus was gone.
Why? Why couldn't Republicans continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with Democrats on environmentalism? If the shoe were on the other foot -- if Democrats were the ones rejecting a sensible policy because they didn't want to be associated with an unpalatable partisan on the other side, Brooks the Moralist would wag his finger at their destructive partisanship and wonder why they couldn't place party over country and do the right thing -- to use a favorite Brooks word, the moral thing.

(Never mind the fact that Gore's movie didn't come out of nowhere -- it was a response to a well-funded denialist movement that was libeling whoever advocate for genuine climate science. Those people don't even appear in Brooks's account.)

Brooks goes on to write about federal subsidies for green technology:
The federal agencies invested in many winners, but they also invested in some spectacular losers, from Solyndra to the battery maker A123 Systems, which just filed for bankruptcy protection. Private investors can shake off bad investments. But when a political entity like the federal government makes a bad investment, the nasty publicity tarnishes the whole program.
Again, why? Why is this inevitable? We don't shut down the Pentagon in response to cost overruns in military programs -- no matter what boondoggles or waste take place in that area, America maintains a commitment to high levels of defense spending. Why is it unimaginable that America could continue to favor support for at least some green energy R&D?

In his concluding paragraph, Brooks writes:
Global warming is still real. Green technology is still important. Personally, I'd support a carbon tax to give it a boost. But he who lives by the subsidy dies by the subsidy.
Well, David, your pet solution might be backed by some Democrats -- but they don't dare, because your pet solution is relentlessly demagogued by your party. How about a word of criticism for them?

Again, no. Brooks tells us in this column that green subsidies are evil because they often don't pay off and because they make Al Gore fat -- er, rich, because he's so heavily invested in green tech. Subsidies are immoral! The people who support them are immoral! But it's not immoral to demagogue the issue altogether, or to block any other approach. The Brooks finger gets wagged only one way.


Palli said...

and he gets money for this kind of thinking?

Victor said...

It ain't thinking if you can write this shit in your sleep, like Dour Mr. Brooks can.

The NY Times keeps this putz on, hires a schmuck like Douthat, lets Rich go, replaces him with Bruni, lets MoDo get off her meds, encourages Friedman to continue to pontificate - AND NOW WANTS TO CHARGE ME TO READ THEM! - and then wonders where loyal readers like me bought the paper EVERY FECKIN' DAY from the mid-70's, until the early 00's when I moved to NC, and then read it on the internet, went?

The last couple of years, I didn't buy it for economic reasons, but I DID keep buying every single Sunday. Until my father passed away in April.
I stopped because I no longer loved the paper that I grew up on.
Largely because the Op-ed staff, with the exception of Krugman, and occasionally Kristoff and Gail Collins.
And I can read them through links.

If I still loved the NY Times, I'd figure out some way to pay for an internet subscription.
But too often, the news reporters have left me disappointed, so why bother.

There are still some GREAT reporters, but there are too few of them.