Give Biden the Darwin Award
Ronald Reagan said the world is divided into the smart and the dumb, the lazy and the energetic, providing four possible combinations, of which, by far, the most dangerous is the dumb/energetic.
When I first came to Washington (yes, a half-century ago), we were led by serious smart/energetic politicians. Major social justice legislation was working its way through Congress in the 1960s and ’70s, driven by political leaders such as Wilbur Mills, Russell Long, Pat Moynihan and Lyndon Johnson. They enacted some of the most progressive and effective social justice legislation in the last century. They worked tirelessly, read all the studies, understood the economics, the financial issues, and the most likely outcomes, debated real policy and not sound bites and thin ideology, and enacted monumental programs.
The same was true with environmental protection, worker safety, infrastructure, and most other areas. Newspapers such as the Washington Post were led by real journalists, like Meg Greenfield and Jodie Allen, who understood public policy and engaged in fierce and useful debate on the issues. The current crop would not even be considered for their research assistants.
All of this brings us to the current messes in the economy, energy, education, defense and foreign policy. People keep asking, “Why is all this happening? “Where are they leading us?” My conclusion is that our leaders are incompetent, highly effective manipulators who resist any serious discussion and have no idea what they are doing other than staying in power and enriching themselves. My mother taught me that arguing “You’re stupid” is weak sauce — but today, except for tough outliers like Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), they do appear stupid, or cynical to an Olympian level.
Take the incredible nonsense that is the Biden administration’s environmental and energy policy. The one question to ask the president, any member of the administration or Congress or State government, or any member of the working media who has uttered the phrases “climate crisis” or “existential threat” is this: “Have you read AR6 and, if so, what is your opinion and are you willing to debate the details?”
The first reaction almost certainly would be, “What is AR6?” First, explain that AR6 is the United Nations’ 3,949-page report, “Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis,” often called the “settled science,” they so often reference. Then, for example, mention that it has great charts on things such as dramatic increases in sea water temperature since 1850, and ask a few softball questions like: “How, exactly, did they measure sea water temperature in 1850?” Spoiler alert: The intrepid sailors crossing the oceans, lacking GPS, used sextants for fixing a location and dipped wooden buckets into the water to measure temperature at that point and roughly estimate what ocean current they were in. It was a crude type of navigation tool and highly inaccurate.
And yet, the dramatic graphs and shrill rhetoric about changes in ocean temperature and projections of catastrophe are based in part upon that very type of “data.” And the clincher is that this database is held by an academic center in the United Kingdom and not fully available for public review. The HadSST4.0 database also has gone through periodic “cleaning,” “scrubbing,” and “bias adjustment,” only a portion of which is reliably recorded. But, don’t worry — policies that are destroying your entire economy and way of life are based upon that “data.” The U.N. report and its dramatic conclusions are replete with just this kind of “science.”
Oh, BTW/AOC, nowhere in AR6 does it say the world will end in 10 years, 100 years, or even 1,000 years. It raises serious issues that need to be addressed soon, but it is not the “existential crisis” that Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and other climate activists insist demands a radical, precipitous shift from fossil fuels to inadequate and unreliable solar and wind.
And yet, the energetic/ignorant officials in the administration and Congress are enthusiastically destroying the strongest energy and industrial system on earth, hurting the poor and everyone else by driving up the prices of food and energy, and creating food shortages that are starving hundreds of millions in Africa and the third world. Now that is a real “existential crisis,” right now. And it will have no positive impact on the environment since China, India, Russia and much of the developing world cannot and will not follow the (energetic/dumb) U.S. and EU into cultural and national security suicide and lurch from fossil fuels, until more practical solutions are developed.
Another example is taxing and spending. Ask any current political leader this trick question: “Would you prefer that all of the country, rich and poor, got much poorer, or would you prefer a country where all of the country, rich and poor, got richer?” Nearly all serious economic research lays out those as the only two choices; there is actually no middle ground. You either raise taxes, increase government spending, have explosive inflation, crush investment and make everyone poorer, or you lower taxes, increase investment, raise government revenue, lower unemployment and inflation and make everyone, even the rich, much richer. Our current energetic/dumb and perhaps cynical leadership today chooses option one — they call it “equity.” Most people would prefer option two, called “prosperity.”
So, this year the political question comes down to option one (the energetic/dumb path we’re on) or option two (shift to energetic/a little smarter). It is a Darwinian choice. For America, it is truly existential.
Grady Means is a writer (GradyMeans.com) and former corporate strategy consultant. He served in the White House as a policy assistant to Vice President Nelson Rockefeller. Follow him on Twitter @gradymeans1.