A fashion designer once proclaimed that: "gray is the new black." He meant that gray was replacing black as the most popular color for women's dresses.
Of course, black is not really a color; it's the absence of color. But why quibble.
Green is a color, but it has also become the symbol of the environmental movement. If you want to show how much you love the earth, and how passionately you want to save the planet, you should: Go Green.
Green used to mean unripe, immature, and unseasoned. Now it refers to a bizarre mix of intellectual sophistication and agonizing guilt about the damage we are doing to nature.
Across America people are discarding their plastic shopping bags in favor of reusable hemp alternatives because they want to be green. They have reached a state of advanced awareness where they tremble in horror each time they imagine a plastic bag whiling away the eons in a landfill, refusing to decompose, seeping into the water table, polluting the planet and poisoning their grandchildren's grandchildren.
Strangely enough, green has been going out of fashion these days. With the exception of diehards like Tom Friedman, proud owner of a Green franchise, the upcoming election is not going to be referendum on how much you are willing to sacrifice to save the planet, or how much of America's industrial infrastructure you are willing to shut down to save Mother Earth.
When I say that Friedman owns a Green franchise, I am referring first to his most recent book: Hot, Flat, and Crowded 2.0: Why We Need a Green Revolution--and How It Can Renew America. His call to environmentalist arms has, naturally, led to his being hired to give lectures about how green our valleys used to be and about how they become so again if only we build more electric cars.
Today, tenacious Tom is at it again. Link here. He wants us all to turn green with envy at the investments the Chinese are making in electric cars. They are investing, get this: $15,000,000,000. Which would, come to think of it, be a mere drop in the stimulus bucket.
But, then again, if the Chinese build a better battery, nothing would really prevent us from buying it from them.
Anyway, the new Chinese-American electric cars will be on sale soon enough, priced at a mere $37,000.
Do you really think that there is a market for a $37,000 supercharged golf cart? Are you salivating at the prospect of trading in your BMW for an electric buggy?
Isn't Spain going bankrupt because it squandered so much of its fiscal resources building an environmentally friendly power grid that is not really viable?
And what about the cost of building all of those new filling stations that are going to replace their gas pumps with juice dispensers?
Anyway, Friedman does not let himself be discouraged by practicalities. Nor is he worried about the verdict of the marketplace. If people don't want to buy these new buggies, then Friedman will nudge them, or better, force them to do so.
Keep in mind that Friedman counts among our nation's philosopher kings. He belongs to what Plato calls the guardian class, an intellectual elite that knows better than you what is good for you.
He is going to wean you off of gasoline by imposing a new gas tax.
Every economist worth his Ph.D. is screaming about how we should not raise taxes in the midst of a recession. Yet, Tom Friedman, making yet another effort to save his Green franchise, proposes that we cripple the American consumer with a new gas tax.
While we are bowing down to the ingenuity of the Chinese, let's recall that their investment in a new generation of car batteries pales in comparison to what they are spending on new airports and high speed train lines.
And let's not forget that they are putting new coal-powered electric power plants on line every week of the year. And that they are also building dozens of nuclear power plants.
Theirs is a comprehensive approach to energy. In a way Friedman is right to envy the Chinese their policies, but he fails to notice that one of the main reasons why we cannot do many of these things is that any time anyone proposes to build a new nuclear facility, armies of green attorneys will kill it with lawsuits while legions of green bureaucrats will tie it up in red tape.
Of course, there is much to be said for a cleaner environment. Just as the Chinese, who are leading the world in pollution.
Unfortunately, the Green movement has become a religion, even a cult, to a mythic pristine nature that can only restored if we accept that carbon dioxide is the ultimate pollutant.
From its original charge to clean up the environment, the Green movement has redefined itself as the enemy of human industry and manufacturing.
And, lest we forget, China can build new infrastructure because it has a lot of money, and not a lot of debt. We do not have a lot of money, but we do have lots and lots of debt, that we owe to people like the Chinese.
I do recall that the Obama administration touted its stimulus plan as a way to rebuild America's aging infrastructure. After all, Japan has been trying to solve its own economic crisis by doing so, and, if it hasn't worked for Japan, then that surely must mean that it will work here.
In truth, the stimulus was a payoff to the public employee unions; precious little of it was spent on infrastructure.
In fact, the Obama administration, cheered on by the likes of Tom Friedman, has aggravated our economic calamity by trying to solve a problem caused by excessive debt by taking on trillions more in debt. So says, Nassim Nicholas Taleb. Link here.
Now we have so much debt that the Federal Reserve has been hard at work inflating the once proud American greenback. When countries cannot pay off their debt, they have a tendency to inflate the currency-- to pay it all back in cheaper money.
So, while the stock market seems to be on a bullish tear, the dollar has been falling.
We now have a lighter Greenback, which is fast moving toward colorlessness... that is, valuelessness.
As everyone knows, if our Chinese creditors decide that they no longer trust our fading green currency, and that they no longer want to hold debt denominated in dollars, we are going to be in very deep trouble.