Words That Confound the Lies of the Left
There are words that both convey intelligence and likely will increase the actual intelligence of your statements because they require the nuance that is a hallmark of a thoughtful person.
Such words include, for example, probabilistic, opportunity cost, and wise. I describe them here in a contemporary context: the expanded definition of “infrastructure,” which is being used by the Biden Administration to include increased climate-change expenditures and restrictions on the public.
A probabilistic analysis of the wisdom of Paris-accord-level efforts to control planetary climate requires assessing the joint probability of all of the following occurring:
- Climate change is significantly man-made.
- The net impact if climate change is a significant net negative, for example, that severe flooding and species degradation outweigh the benefits of colder areas becoming more arable and livable for humans, animals, and plants.
- Sufficient global compliance with carbon restrictions, for example, that China, India, and other developing nations will stop such activities as building coal-fired power plants.
- That naturally occurring events such as volcano eruptions don’t reduce the effect of human efforts to cut carbon emissions.
- That the aforementioned efforts will in fact, significantly control the earth's climate.
- That the benefits to be derived will outweigh the costs to humankind: direct dollar cost plus the indirect costs of higher prices for energy and other products, and the restrictions on human freedom. For example, government policies to not build more freeways despite population increase is turning already stressful commutes that eat time from people’s overpacked days into gridlock that restricts people from getting to work, seeing family, and discretionary travel. For example, my best friend is in his last months of life and although he lives just 15 miles from me, before COVID lightened the traffic, it was so bad that it would take me over an hour each way to see him, so we spoke only by phone.
- That technological solutions such as safer, more portable nuclear energy won’t have ameliorated the problem before climate disaster and with less fiscal and human cost.
This refers to how the fiscal and human costs could otherwise be spent. Here are ways that the attempts to control the earth’s climate could otherwise be used.
- Medical research on such scourges as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, depression, AIDS, and yes, COVID.
- Reinvention of education. The U.S. spends 50 percent more per student than the average among the 35 most developed nations, yet in international comparisons is middle-of-the-pack, below, for example, my parents' home of Poland. And regarding education’s emotionally appealing claim that education is a staircase up from poverty, despite $22 trillion in 50 years of spending on compensatory education and social programs, the achievement gap remains as wide as ever. That reallocation, for example, dismantling ability grouping and programs for the gifted, has decimated efforts to serve our best and brightest, thereby reducing our society to a lower common denominator.
- Innovation in job-creation. Heretofore, efforts have consisted mainly of job retraining programs, which have been ineffective and certainly cost-ineffective. The Biden Administration plans to create more job retraining, government jobs and other taxpayer-subsidized jobs, robbing Peter to pay Paul---The taxpayers, disproportionately people and companies with the ability to hire, will be less so. The centrality of work to a person’s ability to live decently as well as to provide meaning, demands fresh, bold attempts to increase jobs without eating our seed corn. Areas to investigate:
Create an Entrepreneurship Army: K-20 programs in ethical entrepreneurship. Jobs are sustainably created only with entrepreneurs with good ideas and the ability to execute them well. Could creating an Entrepreneurship Army be a game-changer?
Create an Assistance Army. Wealthy people know the value of hiring to free them up for activities that are more lucrative or otherwise beneficial or pleasurable. A campaign to educate the middle class about this could spur demand for, for example, personal assistants: errand doers, homework helpers for their kids, tech tutors, and elder caretakers. Those likely part-time jobs won’t pay a lot, but having two or three could yield a sustainable new living for people who otherwise are on the dole and provide meaning to their lives, while providing a valuable, ethical service to millions.
Supporters of the Biden Administration’s plan to raise taxes could argue that the increased revenue could pay for all of the following as well as to fund climate-control expenditures. A counter is that raising taxes imposes other significant costs: reduced ability of companies to invest in research and development, and of individuals’ ability to buy things. The latter would further reduce companies’ ability to hire and develop new products, from life-saving drugs to a better/cheaper smartphone. Increasing taxes also replaces people’s ability to voluntarily donate to non-profit causes they deem more beneficial than the forced donation (taxation) to attempts to control the climate.
Wisdom goes beyond clever, smart, or effective. It refers to decisions that consider the full-range of outcomes to decide what will yield the greatest good for the greatest number without trampling on fundamental human rights.
Regarding our climate-change example, considering all the preceding factors and impacts on all stakeholders would lead to a wise decision. That could be a liberal position or a conservative one. Alas, the latter is given short shrift in today’s censorious media and by the Cancel Culture. It’s the new and more virulent McCarthyism—the opposite of intelligence.
David Sage is a pen name.
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