Now, to be sure, it’s a problem for our political economy when people are completely unaware of what a marvel the market system is and how easily government intervention can reduce the abundance it produces. So it’s a good thing at least a few people study economics. And if you do want to know more about supply chains and why they seem to be faltering these days, you can read Ms. Mull at the Atlantic or Scott Lincicome on the Cato website.
Then came the shale gas revolution, pioneered in Texas. A flash in the pan, I was told by energy experts in this country: and ‘could never happen here anyway’. So Britain – whose North Sea gas was running out – watched on in snobbish disdain as America shot back up to become the world’s largest gas producer, with their gas prices one-quarter of ours, resulting in a gold-rush of industry and collapsing emissions as a result of a vast, home-grown supply of reliable, low-carbon energy.
We, meanwhile, decided to kowtow to organisations like Friends of the Earth, which despite being told by the Advertising Standards Authority to withdraw misleading claims about the extraction of shale gas, embarked on a campaign of misinformation, demanding ever more regulatory hurdles from an all-too-willing civil service. Nobody was more delighted than Vladimir Putin, who poured scorn on shale gas in interviews, and poured money into western environmentalists’ campaigns against it. The secretary general of Nato confirmed that Russia ‘engaged actively with so-called non-governmental organisations – environmental organisations working against shale gas – to maintain Europe’s dependence on imported Russian gas’.
This odd mix of childlike sentimentality and economic illiteracy makes no room for the obvious truth: that industrialisation and market economics transformed the nasty, brutal and short lives of most people into something that at least approached the comfort and security that were once the sole property of those who were the inheritors of privilege. This is the quite shamelessly blatant refrain of the most aggressive elements of the climate change lobby.
Last Thursday, Mr. Biden trundled out to give a speech for his mega-trillion Build Back Better plan. The press says the Biden plan is in trouble with moderate Democrats, which could make or break his presidency, with votes starting next week.
This spending plan may be the whole Biden presidency, but it’s bigger than that. His seemingly run-of-the-mill afternoon speech was a significant statement. It was a public repudiation by Mr. Biden of the U.S. economic system.
Partway through the speech, Mr. Biden felt obliged to assert: “I am a capitalist.” During the campaign he said: “I am not a socialist.” Both statements are false. Joe Biden is not a capitalist. He is a socialist. Democratic progressives don’t like the s-word, which is why they started calling themselves progressives. Bernie Sanders declared himself a socialist so long ago it’s too late to change. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez admits to being a democratic socialist. Fact-check scolds argue the s-word has no meaning in the American political context because no one is suggesting state control of the means of production. Be that as it may, listen to Mr. Biden talk about the system we do have.