Some Things You Can Safely Bet Against

Does it sometimes seem to you that whatever the progressive left wants it will eventually get? It’s just the inevitable march of history! Well, there may be something to that on the social side; but over on the economic side there is a lot of tilting against reality. The unifying theme is that accomplishing many of these things is not so simple as just spending some little bits that no one will ever notice out of the infinite pile of taxpayer cash. As progressive ambitions to control the world economy have grown without bounds, we’re now talking trillions upon trillions of potential spending and/or wealth destruction. It ain’t gonna happen.

First up, we have California Governor Jerry Brown yesterday signing “landmark legislation” committing California to get 100% of its electricity from “clean” sources by 2045. The actual term in the statute is “eligible renewables,” which is not defined, but presumably excludes any and all fossil fuels. Here is the ever-sanctimonious Governor Brown:

"This bill and the executive order put California on a path to meet the goals of Paris and beyond," Brown said at a signing ceremony in state capital Sacramento. "It will not be easy. It will not be immediate. But it must be done."

Apparently, Brown still has not figured out that wind and solar energy don’t work about 80% of the time. Does he think that batteries can be purchased in sufficient quantities to cover the gaps? HA! You just have to wonder when the Californians will start pushing back. When their electricity prices have doubled? How about quintupled (plus a few good blackouts)?

At a similar level of delusion we have a piece in today’s Wall Street Journal, by one Sarah Kent, headline “Could Oil Demand Peak in Just Five Years?” Apparently, some highly paid consultants are predicting just that. Example:

Demand for fossil fuels will peak around 2023, as increasingly cost-competitive solar and wind are buoyed by supportive government policies to displace growth in oil, coal and natural gas, according to an analysis by London-based think tank the Carbon Tracker Initiative. “It’s not a scenario; it’s just obvious,” said Kingsmill Bond, new energy strategist and author of the Carbon Tracker report.

Sure, Kingsmill. Looks like the guy has been fooled by the calculations of the “levelized” cost of energy, which don’t take any account of the extra costs for things like transmission and storage needed to make a largely wind and solar-based system work smoothly 24/7/365. Really, it’s embarrassing that the WSJ could find itself publishing this stuff without asking a single skeptical question. But anyway, with places like China, India and Africa just now barely entering the automobile and jet travel age, you can make a very safe bet that demand for oil has decades to run before it reaches any peak.

And let’s not stick to just the energy and climate field when coming up with predictions that progressive nostrums are doomed to failure. How about the idea that government “anti-poverty” programs are about to solve human poverty. More than fifty years into the War on Poverty, the official “poverty rate” remains just about where it was when the War started, while the number of people deemed to be in poverty has nearly doubled with overall population increase. In a piece today at PJ Media, Roger Kimball has a good pithy quote to sum up the results from decades of what he calls the “modern Welfare State”:

The modern Welfare State[‘s] . . . chief effects are to institutionalize dependence on the state while also assuring the steady growth of the bureaucracy charged with managing government largess. 

Will more of the same programs finally start working in the near future? Place your bet! Here’s mine: It ain’t gonna happen.