In Which We Endeavor to Widen Our Horizons
Today the Oldtimer commends to our attention one Lawrence "Liberal Larry" Chomstein, and his take on the President's comments yesterday regarding solar power. Mr. Bush suggested that, in the future, homes could have solar panels on the roof, capable of generating not only power for that family, but excess power that could be sold back to the operators of the general power grid. Sounds pretty crunchy, no?
But even the most well-intentioned and high-minded action may have adverse collateral consequences, no? The Democrats, in nominating Mr. Gore and then Mr. Kerry, did not intend to cause the election of Mr. Bush, but that was the direct consequence, n'est pas?
Perhaps not. Larry explains:
So let me get this straight. Bush wants me to spend $15,000 of my own money installing solar panels on my roof, and then sell whatever I don't use back to the city so his Big Sunshine Buddies can gouge my neighbors on a rainy day? No wonder the Shrub is suddenly so jolly about solar power. His plan would effectively create ten of thousands of miniature Mom & Pop Enrons, all screwing their neighbors for an extra buck and pouring their ill-begotten loot right back into the RNC.There's much, much more over at BlameBush! (subtitled "Because Bush is to Blame for Everything").
Just like water, air, real estate, and personal income, sunlight is a natural resource that belongs to everyone. It shouldn't be selfishly hoarded by private citizens, but held in trust by community leaders and distributed to each person according to his need. Obviously, Bush doesn't have any concern for the energy requirements of people who live under bridges or in sewer systems where the sun does not reach. Nor does he care how unfair solar power is to parts of the world that aren't blessed by constant sunshine. Will Bush do the right thing and cut back U.S. energy production so Germany, France and other sunless locales can compete with us in the global marketplace? What of states that are heavily dependent on aggressive gas taxes to create pointless union jobs? Will there be federal assistance available for the thousands of impoverished contractors who will be forced to sell one of their Harleys just to put food on the table?
There are bound to be severe environmental ramifications to solar power as well. One or two rooftop solar kits are just the beginning. Endless fields of solar panels soaking up the sun's rays like giant sponges will cast the world into a dark age unseen since Reagan was elected. Animal species and plant life that depend on their meager share of sunlight to survive will be threatened with extinction. Crops will fail. Millions will starve. Ted Kennedy's days of nude sunbathing will be over. Do you want to live in that world? I sure don't.
The sort of thing "Larry" is doing has always been difficult, but has latterly become well nigh impossible. In 1729 Jonathan Swift could count on it being unlikely any careful reader would take him seriously when he modestly proposed cannibalism as the solution to the problem of the great number of children born to the Irish poor. Such parody, when well done, takes some political or social notion and extends it, or transfers it to a different context, to illustrate the weaknesses of the parodied position.
But the success of such a venture depends upon general agreement on certain boundaries. That is, it requires that the audience agree that while a wide range of issues are debatable, there exist broadly shared beliefs, and therefore wide and deep understanding of what is serious debate, and what is absurd parody.
Today, much of what issues from the New York Times, or Senators Reid, Schumer and Kennedy, to say nothing of Dr. Dean and the most popular "progressive" blogs, could have been written by a parodist of profoundly modest talent.
Except that they're serious.
Compare and contrast, for example, today's knee-jerk and incoherent editorial in the Times, with the main editorial on the same subject in the Washington Post. The Times is all in favor of corporate racial profiling, entirely because Mr. Bush is on the other side (which seems to them not only an entirely sufficient reason, but a patently obvious one, requiring little exposition), while the Post wonders if various of the critics haven't taken leave of their senses.
Sigh . . . . .