Tuesday, August 19

If a government agency said adding water to your gas tank would increase your mileage, what % of Americans would buy it?

When the government--or any other source, for that matter--formulates a program or action based on something that's utter bullshit, what difference does it make whether they were merely stupid and incompetent, or brazenly lying to you?

Oh, certainly if you found out the whole thing was an outright lie you'd probably be a LOT madder than if it was just a mistake.  But for all practical purposes, the effect on you of a disastrous policy is the same either way.

Politicians and the permanent empire of government employees know that only a fraction of the public has both the education, the time and the motivation to forecast the likely result of any given policy.  That gives the government a big advantage.  But the really huge edge for the government is that the government can get its fable and claims in front of virtually everyone, while the number of people who will ever hear a critical voice by a competent expert is minuscule.

And of course when it comes to technical issues, in many cases only around five percent of the population has enough education to even grasp the arguments.  So basically if a politician or government agency makes some sort of declaration, most citizens are likely to accept it.

Example:  Candidate Obama was caught on tape saying that he intended to make it economically unfeasible to open new coal-fired generating plants, and to force existing plants to close.  At a fundraiser with rich San Franciscans he proudly said his policies would "cause your electricity bills to skyrocket."

The alphabet networks and other major media outlets didn't report it, so if you weren't a political junkie you never heard about it.  The public never batted an eye.

After Obama was elected he quietly directed the EPA to issue regulations on emissions of carbon dioxide by powerplants.  These were extremely punitive, and operators were forced to either make incredibly costly retrofits or shut the plants down.

That's all background.  The story here is the current statement from an EPA staffer.  Pressed about the loss of jobs in mining and power production, here's how they responded:
The EPA...has cited an array of benefits from the power plant proposal.  The agency says the plan will lead to “climate and health benefits” worth between $55 billion and $93 billion by 2030, including avoiding thousands of premature deaths and asthma attacks in children. Plus the EPA argues that the proposal could ultimately shrink electric bills and address the “costly effects” of global warming.

As for the impact on jobs, the agency claims that while fossil-fuel jobs will be lost, other jobs will be created. The EPA specifically estimates there may be [thousands of] fewer jobs associated with fossil fuels by 2020, but [more thousands of] new jobs associated with improving efficiency of existing plants and building natural gas-fired and renewable energy plants.

"We believe the United States has to lead on climate change," an EPA spokeswoman said.  "And this plan will spur innovation and investment to help us get there. It means more jobs not less in construction, transmission, clean energy and more. This plan is not about shutting things down -- it's about building things up. Coal will remain a third of our nations' energy makeup in 2030."
Here's what very few people outside the electrical industry know:  Except for hydroelectric (and there aren't any more sites for large dams in the U.S.), coal is the least-expensive way to make electricity.  So if you're a president intent on shutting down coal-fired power plants, anything you propose to replace that lost generating capacity will be more expensive, not less.

But in the story above, the writer has the EPA claiming "the proposal could ultimately shrink electric bills..."

Notice the qualifier "could."  If their analysis shows the cost of electricity will drop, why didn't they say "will"?

Because that's not going to happen.  And they know it.  But by feeding the AP propagandist that weasel-worded line, 99 percent of the public will think "Closing coal-fired plants will lower my electric bill."

The utter ridiculousness of that line doesn't occur to people unless they know something about commercial electricity generation.  And as you might imagine, that's a microscopic percentage of the population.

The EPA also says their plan "is NOT about shutting things down."  In an increasingly shaky economy that is SUCH a reassuring claim!  But is it true?  Why, it must be--they printed the number of jobs they claimed would be added by "construction, transmission, clean energy and more," and the number "associated with fossil fuels" and thus lost as a result of the policies, and the first one is bigger than the second, so doesn't that prove it?

What are the chances that the EPAs munchkins are wrong about those estimates?  Why, whatever would make you think that?  After all, it's not like the EPA bureaucrats are as incompetent as the ones in the Commerce Department, who officially estimated the economy's performance for the first quarter of this year--made during that same quarter--as one or two percent growth when the actual result was a 3% contraction. 

That would never happen with the EPA, because those folks are a lot smarter. And of course they'd never lie or torture an economic model to support the policies of a president from a party they rabidly support, eh?  Because that would be unethical, perhaps even illegal.  And we know that government employees are scrupulous about obeying our nation's laws. Just ask Lois Lerner and her comrades at the IRS.

So our lawless president has his agency issue rules that will force coal plants to close, but by the time that action causes shortages of electricity and skyrocketing electric bills he'll be out of office.  Virtually none of the public will connect those dismal, costly results to his policies and those of his party.  Instead it will be just one more thing that "just happened" all by itself.

A reporter with a technical background could explain it to the public, but such explanations will be confined to the pages of technical journals, and the story will be ignored by the mainstream media.  Editors will claim it's too technical, too complicated, to interest the public.

And when stories start appearing about poor people unable to afford air-conditioning, the Democrats will happily introduce a law to spend another $200 billion of taxpayer funds--really borrowed money--to give to low-income folks.

Win-win.  At least for Democrats.

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