More in anger than in sorrow, former Secretary of State John Kerry last week donned his old Vietnam combat greens, climbed into a CBS News studio, sat down, and started machine gunning out fallacies and non sequiturs about the US withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accords. Secretary Kerry, (actually clad in his customary blue suit) called it perhaps the most self defeating move in American history.
Given time and space, I’d like to discuss a certain nuclear giveaway that an official of the previous administration negotiated with some friendly, reliable Iranians. But, back to the hot topic du jour (I’ll throw in some French to impress him) Kerry rattled off a string of fluffy talking points that went mostly unchallenged by his interviewer.
195 countries have been working “for decades,” with America in a leadership role, and Trump just unilaterally walked away from it! He is abdicating American leadership in the world and we will not have a seat at the table.
That takes a little unwinding. In 2001, George Bush withdrew America from Kyoto Protocols signed by Bill Clinton, but never submitted to the US Senate. There were howls of European outrage then too. Just 15 years later, the global jet setters put the ink on the Paris accords, with America supposedly leading the band. Apparently withdrawing from Kyoto didn’t end the discussion, or America’s important role in it. Contrary to characterizations, though, America was less in a leading role than in a sugar daddy role. The agenda was driven by green extremist and socialist globalist elites eager to sink a redistributive IV tube deep in Uncle Sam’s Arm.
Kerry disputes this was a bad deal for America. No country he insists “is required by this agreement to do anything except what that country already agreed to do for itself.”
More unwinding: The Accord assigns steep carbon reductions to America and wealthy Western powers, offers weaker, longer term targets from the major emitters like China and India, and sets up massive subsidies and transfers from the prosperous nations to the developing ones. It is a bad deal. If Kerry is saying no one tortured him or forced him to accept terrible terms, well, sure. He just got pantsed at the poker table. Because that’s what he and his boss wanted to happen.
Further, it is an inconvenient Constitutional truth for Kerry and Obama that “this country” did not agree to anything; they did. And, ce n’est pas l’état. (More French!) It turns out the Constitution assigns a certain role to the United States Senate in binding America to international obligations. In point of fact, the Obama administration “unilaterally” walked into signing the Accords just as unilaterally as they wail Trump elected to unsign them. Funny how that works.
Asked if higher energy costs would hurt jobs and the economy, Kerry launched fully out of reality’s gravitational pull. No! This is an opportunity to grow jobs and the economy. The fastest growing job category right now, Kerry asserts, is wind turbine technician, with millions of that and other green energy jobs created in recent years.
More unwinding. Kerry’s claim, even if accurate, is irrelevant and economically illiterate. He is stumbling in the fallacy of “the seen and the unseen” first described by French political philosopher Frederic Bastiat. (I probably should register as a French foreign agent). We can see where government stirs up economic activity by distorting the market and steering tax subsidies and ratepayer burdens into an industry that might otherwise not be viable. Companies start up. They hire people. They build products. Solyndra goes broke. Oops. Wrong narrative.
But we can’t see if those are really created jobs or inefficient jobs of crony plunder, because we can’t see where the costs and opportunities flow from to pour the money to create the illusion of jobs. We don’t know where else those dollars would have been spent. What other goods and services they would have supported.
This dynamic is also described in the Broken Windows fallacy. If doing an action, like breaking a window, puts a window maker and installer to work, then we should break every window in town and put more window makers to work. We’ll all get rich together.It should be obvious that’s a mistaken idea.
Bottom line: Kerry was fiery, full of certitude, and wrong and illogical on every point.