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If you read editorials on energy development in the United States you will surely see that folks regularly celebrate the potential for the new “Green Economy” to deliver money and jobs in a way that would make Santa Claus envious. OK, fine. Let’s just believe that for the time being. Assume that the planners get that right. Consider that sentiment alongside the arguments that editorialists make against development of fossil fuel resources in the United States. Here is one such argument:

Also, fracking is basically a boom and bust-type industry, and there is a concern that once-prosperous towns will collapse economically after all of the natural gas has been extracted.

Without an economic exegesis here, think about the two big ironies (among others) here:

  1. Replace “fracking” with “developing wind and solar” and what is different? And don’t go telling me that gas runs out. One of the things proponents of wind and solar (misleadingly) argue is that once installed, you get free, low-maintenance energy forever. Their point is that once the investment is made you just sit back and reap the rewards – in exactly the same way that gas develops. Of course that is grossly untrue, and is one reason why the polyannish claims of the renewables advocates are just that.
  2. Let’s grant the editorialists their claim. Then how can this position be reconciled with the other position that folks with this sentiment typically make: that it is necessary and good for the government to be investing in infrastructure in the name of “economic stimulus?” Isn’t that just instigating a boom-and-bust? And if it is justification to ban fracking nationally because it is boom and busty, then I agree. Let’s ban fracking, and also then ban any government expenditure that may encourage a boom somewhere else. Actually, that’s a bad deal. The benefits of abundant natural gas are very likely to be orders of magnitude larger than the damage government does via stimulus. Or is it?

There are of course other ironies, not the least of which is that the environmental movement likes to take up the mantle of “social justice.” I guess that keeping poor people and poor towns permanently poor is just. By the reasoning above of course you might just conclude that NO economic activity is justified because the process of creative destruction inevitably leaves certain industries in the dust. Wouldn’t the world be better off if the personal computing industry never got started? Seriously. The PC is on its way to the history books with the emergence of advanced mobile computing, which one day may not even require a physical device. We should have nipped this in the bud 50 years ago and pushed for a national ban on the development of PCs.

3 Responses to “Busted?”

  1. Speedmaster says:

    Have you read that Matt Ridley book? Just finished it, HIGHLY recommended. And on-topic. He spends a great deal of time discussing energy.

  2. Harry says:

    Nothing like kicking off the day with some fresh thinking. Well said.

    WHAT Matt Ridley book, Speedmaster? If I were to buy it, would that qualify as credit in commissar Rizzo’s buy a book program?

  3. Speedmaster says:

    Oh, Sorry. The Rational Optimist.

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