Today’s Wall Street Journal reports some thoughts of Walter Russell Mead, Professor at Bard College and Yale University, on the “green job” movement. Although he professes to be a Democrat, Mead is one of the minority of academics who will from time to time land his spaceship in the real world. Now, I am all in favor of a cleaner environment, and believe free market technology will develop the means. But that is somewhat beside the point here, as Mead points out:
“It’s understandable and even forgivable that a political candidate would talk about green jobs on the hustings, especially when the Democratic Party is divided between job hungry blue collar workers and fastidious greens who break out in hives in the presence of coal. What worries me isn’t that the President’s team advised him to make a few speeches on this subject. . . . What worries me is that they didn’t understand that making something this bogus a central plank of his actual governing plan on an issue as vital as jobs would have serious costs down the road.
“Many liberals want green jobs to exist so badly that they don’t fully grasp how otherworldly and ineffectual this advocacy makes the President look to unemployed meat packers and truck drivers.
“Let me put it this way. A GOP candidate might feel a need to please creationist voters and say a few nice things about intelligent design. That is politics as usual; it gins up the base and drives the opposition insane with fury and rage. No harm, really, and no foul.
“But if that same politician then proposed to base federal health policy on a hunt for the historical Garden of Eden so that we could replace Medicare by feeding old people on fruit from the Tree of Life, he would have gone from quackery-as-usual to raving incompetence.”
Some time ago, a long-time friend expressed the opinion that the so-called religious right was really dangerous to the country. I believed then, and now, that is nonsense. There is little danger that we will become a theocracy; First Amendment jurisprudence is clear in that regard. No biologist or pharmaceutical manufacturer will use creation science or “intelligent design” as the underlying principle for developing products or methods in the face of the proven Darwinian theory of evolution. As far as the hypotheses of climate change, if the most strident of the doom sayers are right, there is not much we can do about it anyway, so let technology develop the means of coping with it.