On any given day, it is always a challenge to figure out which of the articles in the New York Times is the most preposterous. But today there is a candidate that is very hard to top. It might be the most preposterous article of the week, or even of the month. The headline is "In U.S. Jails, A Constitutional Clash Over Air Conditioning." The author is Alan Blinder.
Blinder travels to places like Texas, Louisiana, and Alabama to uncover the startling fact that even today many jails and prisons in these very hot areas do not have air conditioning. Of course, during the summer the prisoners swelter. Some have health problems that may be exacerbated by the heat. Blinder interviews several lawyers and inmates who have brought cases alleging that the lack of air conditioning is no less than a constitutional violation, for "cruel and unusual punishment" under the Eighth Amendment. (Is it any problem for that position that air conditioning didn't even exist for the first 140 or so years after the Bill of Rights was enacted? I'll leave the answer to that one to you.) Anyway, to listen to the lawyers and inmates who are Blinder's sources, the lack of air conditioning for inmates is completely unacceptable, and it is further obvious that this subject rises to the high level of a constitutional violation. Example:
“It’s almost impossible for courts to deny the constitutional violation because extreme heat undoubtedly exposes individuals to substantial risk of serious harm,” said Mercedes Montagnes, a lawyer for three inmates with health issues who challenged conditions on Louisiana’s death row. “Now what we’re grappling with is the remedy.”
So if it is so obvious that not providing air conditioning to prison inmates is a constitutional violation, why am I saying that this article is completely preposterous? Here is the reason: with the exception of this article, the New York Times devotes a good five percent of its news and editorial coverage to the campaign to take air conditioning away from poor and low-income people. I am referring of course to the climate crusade. Could it be possible that they are so dumb as not to realize that there is any inconsistency here? Yes, it is completely possible.
Now, the Times in its advocacy for the climate crusade does not explicitly say that the program here is to take air conditioning away from the poor. But that's only because either they can't add two plus two or they are hiding the ball from the reader. (It could be both. Don't assume that the left hand and the right hand know what each other are up to over there.) In some fifty or a hundred or more articles and editorials per month, the New York Times advocates in one way or another for public policies that will "reduce greenhouse gas emissions," supposedly to "save the planet." What are these policies? Inevitably, they are policies that are intentionally devised to drive the cost of energy up so that many people will be forced to consume less of it. Sometimes it's a "carbon tax." Sometimes it's "cap-and-trade." (Here's an example of NYT advocacy for "cap-and-trade.") Sometimes it's regulations designed and intended to put the cheapest types of energy out of business, as by making generation of electricity from coal illegal, or by denying permits for pipelines from the Canadian tar sands. (Here's some advocacy for the so-called "Clean Power Plan" to put the coal industry out of business.)
The carbon-restriction policies favored by the New York Times are not small-time policies that would reduce fossil fuel usage by some few percent. No, the Times wants fossil fuel usage reduced by half or more, and immediately if not sooner. The "cap-and-trade" program or carbon tax that would accomplish such a dramatic goal would have to raise energy and electricity prices by a multiple, probably three to five times, if not more. Now ask yourself, in such a squeeze which must raise prices sufficiently that people in the aggregate give up half or more of their energy usage, exactly who is going to be forced to give up what? You can be sure that the losers will not be the editors of the New York Times. Of course the people who will have to consume less energy will be poor and low income people. And what will they be forced to give up? It is obvious to anyone who thinks about it that air conditioning is at the top of the list.
And the Times is not completely oblivious to the fact that enforcing anti-greenhouse gas restriction mandates very likely means that the poor cannot have air conditioning. Instapundit today points to this article from the Times in 2012, making exactly that connection:
But as air-conditioners sprout from windows and storefronts across the world, scientists are becoming increasingly alarmed about the impact of the gases on which they run. All are potent agents of global warming.
Well, nobody ever accused the New York Times of actually having any understanding of how an economy works. It just all comes from the tooth fairy, to be allocated in accordance with perfect fairness and justice by all-knowing government bureaucrats. Still, New York Times, in the perfect world where fossil fuel usage goes down by 90% and the government decides who gets what, do people in the bottom half of the income distribution get air conditioning, or no? If yes, how does that possibly work?