With the massive job losses in 2020 related to COVID, followed by persistent inflation and supply chain disruptions, it is common for those in charge, both here at home and in Europe, to blame everyone but themselves.
This deflection does not bear scrutiny. It was not COVID, but mandatory vaccination policies, lockdowns, and discriminatory classification of certain jobs as non-essential that put stress on the travel, tourism, restaurant, and education fields. These were policy choices, and not everyone pursued them. Results varied based on policy, so it is a cop out to blame COVID when decisions about policy amplified the intrinsic pain of the uncertain, early days of the pandemic and created a host of additional problems in their wake.
Similarly, inflation has now become a major problem. Biden calls it Putin’s inflation. But Vladimir Putin did not print piles of money, expand government spending, discourage work, hinder domestic energy production, allow exports of our strategic petroleum reserve, or impose ruinous sanctions on the world’s largest exporter of oil and natural gas. The effect of all of this on global prices, particularly energy prices, is a self-imposed spike.
In addition to official responses to COVID and to the Russia-Ukraine War, the chief artificial crisis we face is global warming, or rather global warming hysteria. Without wading into a complicated scientific debate, even the scientists have to admit that the human contribution to atmospheric CO2 is minimal, and thus the expensive counter-measures will have a de minimis effect on total atmospheric CO2.
Luckily, global warming measures have been fairly limited in the United States, but in Europe, the willingness of the people and their political leaders to pursue expensive measures has been extreme. Germany has shut down its coal plants and also, in the name of environmentalism, moved away from nuclear energy. They thought unicorns and renewable energy would suffice, but in reality this made Germany highly dependent on Russian natural gas.
In spite of this, Europe imposed harsh sanctions against Russia, and Russia has responded by requiring payment in rubles, and its more recent decision to prevent stockpiling through “pipeline maintenance.” This all means that Europe, including its many manufacturing enterprises, may be completely starved of natural gas this winter.
Natural gas is necessary for electricity and heat. In anticipation of the coming shortages, German electricity prices have more than tripled. None of this is due to global warming, but rather the political decision to go “all in” on global warming catastrophizing, while simultaneously engaging in economic warfare against Russia.
Get Used to Less
Global warming hysteria also means that certain familiar parts of life—meat, single-family homes, children, and travel—are all now suspect and in the crosshairs of the globalists’ anti-global-warming measures. Draconian environmental rules are the chief reason Dutch farmers are currently protesting.
In a move to prevent nitrogen dioxide emissions—which are higher for livestock farming compared to grains—the government has imposed rules that will drive many farmers out of business. These measures are being imposed even though far greater emissions come from Germany next door, and God knows what comes from China, India, and other countries in the Third World.
These rules are choices with consequences. Dutch farmers are not being put out of business by global warming or drought. In fact, the Dutch have proven remarkably adaptable to climate over the centuries, famously expanding arable land through a network of dykes, dams, canals, and pumps since the Middle Ages.
While the Dutch people have shown they can deal with rising seas, so far they are having difficulty dealing with a treacherous managerial class, who are unfamiliar with and unsympathetic to the lives of Dutch farmers.
Is the Age of Energy Coming to a Close?
Modern civilization is built on energy. Hedge fund analyst Jeremy Grantham has said the last 200 years of explosive growth in population and productivity could be understood as an energy bubble. Bubble or not, the modern world and its population cannot be sustained without cheap energy.
We have heard warnings of systemic decline since the Club of Rome and its predictions of Malthusian disaster in the 1970s. I’ve always been skeptical. In what was supposed to be a new dark age, energy, population, and wealth have grown, particularly in the once-impoverished Third World.
But perhaps civilization, and the systems it depends on, are more fragile than they look. It certainly appears so from the rumblings of the ruling class. As I argued in an earlier piece, much of the recent propaganda, along with the concept of the “Great Reset,” seems to be designed to make us more comfortable with less: Live in the pod. Eat the bugs. Inflation is not so bad. Who needs a car? Who needs land? Who needs to own a home? You’ll own nothing and you’ll be happy.
Before the COVID mess, there seemed plenty to go around and we had none of the shortages that are now widespread. It’s hard to know if all this austerity talk is anticipating some unavoidable reality or whether it is a natural and predictable (and avoidable) consequence of fashionable anti-energy policies. If none of this is really necessary, and the powers-that-be do not even believe in it, then they are more evil than I thought, because it would simply amount to privation for its own sake.
People do want to live and do want to make a living. They do want to own something, whether for themselves or to pass something onto their children. This is not some extravagant demand, and it should not be reserved only for the rich. Facilitating this is what governments are supposed to do, i.e., to “promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.”
When the government artificially destroys one’s job, it becomes an enemy, whether you’re a Dutch farmer facing global-warming regulations, an American hairdresser, whose job was destroyed by COVID policies, or a bodega owner, who is not defended from the criminal class, but rather persecuted for defending himself.
Global warming policies pick winners and losers. In relative terms, they help countries like the United States and Russia, which each have more energy security than Europe. They help the wealthy, who can afford greater costs and whose relative position is enhanced as that of everyone else goes down. They help those already established—think California homeowners—who benefit from grandfathering and the like. For everyone else, they guarantee poverty and struggle.
This is all to say that we live in the age of man-made disasters. And the men making these disasters are the oligarchs and the governments they control are tyrannies.