Saturday, October 18, 2008

Even a broken neo-con is right sometimes

This is NYT columnist Tom Friedman on Real Time the other night:

Now, Friedman is an asshole. He was a huge cheerleader of the Iraq war, and became infamous for his Friedman Units (FUs) of roughly three to six months, after which the situation in that country would either get better or the war would be lost. This image illustrates the concept. Or more succinctly:

So anyway, he's a total douchebag.

But even douchebags are capable of being right from time to time, whatever their motivations or pretensions toward greater understanding.

This "Drill baby, drill!" nonsense is the saddest excuse for an energy policy that I've ever seen. Even Stephen Harper sees the logic in carbon markets (though he tries to avoid admitting it in public), but the American Right is intent on sticking their heads in the sand and desperately hanging on to an obsolete economy and an unsustainable lifestyle.

Offshore drilling is not going to save them from $4/gallon gas. Nor will it save the middle class. Ironically, the opposite course of action can.

Red Tory, also responding to Friedman, wonders why liberals have such a difficult time selling this simple message:

It drove me completely mental that during the last election, and leading up to it, St├ęphane Dion was hopelessly incapable of creating a broader framework and context for his “Green Shift” and it therefore simply became, as described by the Conservatives, a “tax on everything.” Once again, liberals demonstrate how, in recent years at least, they consistently get outfoxed by conservatives when it comes to “framing” issues. When will they ever learn these simple lessons? Oy.

In some of the Liberal commercials they mentioned “green jobs” or something like that, but there was no substance to it other than being a pleasing expression. For the life of me, I couldn’t understand why he didn’t discuss some of the exciting new technology that’s emerging that the government could have helped to facilitate with various incentives. Most people would probably agree that Stephen Harper isn’t exactly a man of vision — except to the extent of imaging Canada as being an “energy superpower” with oil extraction programs of “Brobignagian “ proportions (yes, he actually said that). And yet, we see our manufacturing sector and industrial infrastructure gradually falling apart — whether because demand for the products being made is diminishing (much of the automotive sector… wrong vehicles at the wrong time) or because it’s simply no longer “competitive” in a low-wage global race to the bottom. What’s needed is investment to revitalize that sector of the economy focusing on technologies of the future, not trying to prop up the remains of soon-to-be legacy industries.

This is going to be a tough perception to crack. The public, by and large, associates environmentalist policies with more government spending and thus higher taxes, and also stricter regulation that may hamper economic growth. The great challenge for environmentalists over the next few years is to demonstrate that this shift toward a greener economy is not only necessary, but possibly very beneficial for our economic prospects.

"New industries and new jobs" is the message that people should take away from this. Higher taxes on gasoline are beside the point, because the ultimate goal is to make gasoline itself obsolete.

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