Being Mao-for-a-day

Being Mao-for-a-day by Peter Burrows 4/30/20 – 

Over the years, Thomas Friedman, the renowned New York Times columnist, has fantasized about America being “China for a day,” because then “— we could actually authorize the right solutions, on everything from the economy to the environment.” (Meet the Press, 5/23/10) 

By “authorize” he means “dictate,” and by “right solutions” he means what HE thinks are the right solutions. That’s a little redundant. Friedman’s solutions are obviously the “right” solutions because they’re Friedman’s solutions.  

What Friedman is really saying is that since China is a dictatorship, he, Tom Friedman, would like to be dictator for day, and who was China’s iconic dictator? Why, Mao Zedong, who modernized Chinese agriculture with his “right solutions.”  A few people had to die – 40 to 50 million – but they were just ordinary people, not gifted visionaries like Mao and Friedman.    

I believe Friedman first expressed his Mao-for-a-day dream in a highly acclaimed book he wrote in 2008, “Hot, Flat, and Crowded.” There was a chapter, “China For A Day,” in which the focus of his fantasies was dictating what we would today call the Green New Deal: “–imposing all the right taxes, regulations and standards needed to launch a clean power system in one day.” 

Here are some of the reviews Friedman’s book received, downloaded from Amazon:  

“A convincing case for the green revolution required to rescue us from an unsustainable course.”–USA Today; “He gets the big issues right.”–The Washington Post; “A compelling manifesto that deserves a wide reading, especially by members of Congress.”–The Boston Globe; “If Friedman’s profile and verve take his message where it needs to be heard, into the boardrooms of America and beyond, that can only be good–for all our sakes.”–The New York Times Book Review 

This was back in 2008, and since then Germany has pretty much done what Friedman recommended to achieve a clean power system. By 2025 Germany will have spent $580 billion on renewable energy and will have reduced fossil fuel use by maybe ten percent. Electricity bills have gone up over 50 percent and will go up a great deal more if the country achieves its goal of 100 percent renewable electric generation by 2050.  

California is having a similar experience with its push for renewables, and New Mexico is about to impoverish itself as it pursues the renewable goals in the recently passed Energy Transition Act.  None of the renewable goals, Germany’s, California’s, New Mexico, wherever, are achievable without self-destructive costs.  

This has been known for quite some time.  Bill Gates once said the cost of 100 percent renewable electricity would be “beyond astronomical.” He also said something to the effect that it would be nice if people would “bring a little math” to the problem.   

In time, I have no doubt the math will prevail, but that will take decades. In the meantime, math has no chance against the emotional appeal of a messianic mission to save humanity. The environmentalists and their useful-idiot lawmakers see themselves engaged a moral crusade to reduce CO2 in the atmosphere. So far, they have been oblivious to the disastrous consequences of their policies.  

That may change.  Michael Moore’s’ new documentary, “Planet of the Humans.,” available for free on You Tube, pulls the plug on renewable energy and exposes some of the villains involved.  Sadly, it doesn’t mention the number one villain: Government. Without mandates and subsidies, the renewable energy industry disappears.   

Still, Moore’s documentary could provide the emotional fervor that is needed to counter the emotional fervor pushing renewables.  Michael Shellenberger, and others, have long made the argument that renewables aren’t going to save the environment, and in fact we must save the environment FROM renewables.  Moore’s documentary dramatizes that fact.  

Unfortunately, Mao-Moore agrees with Mao-Friedman that the world needs drastic action to avoid an inevitable environmental apocalypse. Since green energy is proving to be a bust, the only thing that can save us is population control.  For over 50 years, environmentalists, most notably Paul Ehrlich, have been predicting mass starvations, but those pesky humans keep figuring out new ways to feed themselves.  

The unacceptable result is that they keep multiplying, using up the earth’s resources and in this greed-driven process, are KILLING THE PLANET!  

What would Mao Zedong do to solve this crisis? We know that if Friedman had been Mao-for-a-day, by now we would have needlessly sacrificed even more billions of dollars on the altar of Global Warming. (Always capitalize a religion.)  With Moore as Mao-for-a-day, would that mean that in ten years we will have sacrificed billions of PEOPLE?  Isn’t that what the real Mao would see as “the right solution” to the “problem” of overpopulation?  

The lesson here is twofold. One, people filled with invincible moral and intellectual certitude are almost always WRONG. Two, such people can do a lot of harm if they are in positions of power.  Examples abound, and not just dictatorships. Neville Chamberlain and Angela Merkle come to mind, as well as L. Ron Hubbard, Jim Jones, and any American president who listens to people with the “right” solutions. The list is long. 

That’s not to say that there shouldn’t occasionally be a Mao-for-a-day.  Some potential Maos are in fact morally and intellectually superior people who would do a lot of good, not just on the big stuff, like climate change, but in helping individuals with their personal problems.  

In this regard, Mao-Burro has noticed both Thomas Friedman and Michael Moore are, to put it charitably, a little chunky.  A couple of years helping Cuba harvest sugar cane would do both of them a lot of good, whether they know it or not.  

Well, fellas, Mao-Burro knows, and someday you’ll thank me.  




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