Victor Davis Hanson // Private Papers
Item: For the millions of Americans who lived through inflation and stagflation from 1974-1983, why would we ever wish to return to all that? We more or less avoided both the last forty years by being semi-profligate rather than whole-hog profligate. Now and then we saw a rare balanced budget, a Tea-Party revolt leading to a budget freeze, or a rare Clinton-Gingrich-like deal, or a Reagan/Trump economic boom whose productivity created more stuff and services than even increased consumer demand and funny money could match.
But now? We owe nearly $30 trillion. We are running a trillion-dollar-plus budget deficit. And we are squabbling over another $2 trillion-plus ‘infrastructure’ borrowing bill. Worse, Biden all but denies inflation exists. Some unhinged postmodern economists think inflation is a phantom and so printing money is the best way to energize an economy by destroying some who have it and empowering those who don’t. Biden cannot form a coherent sentence when asked to explain the current inflation, other than to mumble that borrowing and spending more, and running up debt is an “investment” that will somehow lead to less debt?
Again, what is the logic? To return to the good ol’ days of Jerry Ford’s WIN buttons and Jimmy Carter’s malaise speeches? To recapture the glory days of the late 1921-23 Weimar hyperinflation? Or is the model the social justice monetary policy of Argentina and Venezuela?
Is the goal to make every small handy-man pay $75 for a sheet of plywood? To pay workers not to show up, so that the warehouse cannot ship out its supplies to the middle class? What is so wonderful about $5-a-gallon California gas? Is the price surge designed to keep those carbon emissions down for tractor driver Carlos Lopez on his 60-mile daily commute? Does Al Gore or John Kerry worry about the price of aviation fuel for his private jet?
Item: The US is now all but energy independent. Its massive production of natural gas and oil has enriched the country. It has ensured America virtual independence from any need to “secure” oil supplies in the Middle East, and thus had precluded preemptive interventions.
Natural gas has meant that the US exceeded most of the Paris Climate Accord targets, in a manner more woke countries still in the deal did not. Oil and gas enriched middle-class workers, kept energy and commute costs reasonable, and allowed a gradual parallel trajectory to solar panels and wind turbines—in the sense of discovering whether these trendy alternate sources of energy were even viable without destroying the country (e.g., we always had gas and oil to fall back on when green sources failed).
And now we are to give up on pipelines? There will be no Anwar or indeed any federal leasing of fossil fuels? We are to cut back on existing gas and oil production, as if to say, “Screw the middle class. It can go without affordable energy and gas, and easily borrow $50,000 to buy a Tesla and pay 25 cents a kilowatt to charge it.” AOC is our resident energy guru, worldly and wise at 31.
(NB on AOC: The most dangerous in a sophisticated society have traditionally been the ignorant of the upper-middle-class, half-educated and superficially degreed, who did not find status and income commensurate with their own perceptions of their singular genius and intrinsic worth. They are the stuff of 1793 and 1917. They flirt about as radical revolutionaries, whose furor can be traced back to their own pique, unhappiness and, yes, furor that the existing society previously had not appreciated, at least in terms of compensation, status, and honor, their rare talents.)
So is Biden’s energy policy societal cannibalism, French Revolutionary madness, a new Stalin 5-Year Plan, or Mao’s cultural revolution—self-destructive craziness on a massive scale?
Would a space traveler look at the plan to stop fossil fuel production, pay workers to stay put, print trillions of dollars of money, destroy the border, demonize the police, and conclude, “Hmm, how strange this dangerous species; it really is trying its best to destroy its own civilization?”