I apologize for the slow pace of posts around here. It’s not that I don’t have some great work on deck by Ronnie, John Marks, and others — rather, it’s the fact that I went on an eight-day trip without my personal laptop.
Part of that trip was to London, to visit my tailor and see the sights. I’m the Anglophile son of an Anglophile mother, and I majored in 18th-century Brit Lit, so I always experience mixed emotions when I visit the City. It’s no longer the same place it was twenty or even five years ago. In 2011, the census showed that only 44% of London’s population was ethnically British; it has to be much less than that now. This is something you can temporarily forget on Jermyn Street or Savile Row, but a couple of hours spent as the only white face on the “Tube” reminded me of the fact sharpish, as they say.
Which is not to say that the UK is required to avoid change; after all, the nation was essentially founded by an act of hostile immigration in 1066. There is, however, something profoundly sad about the collapse of European populations and cultures. Like the dodo, we are basically just going to stand there with a stupid expression while remorseless human predators hunt us to death. Maybe this is simple karma, or one long act of voluntary self-immolation in penance for the Triangle Trade or the atomic bomb or indoor plumbing or Garth Brooks.
Alternately, it’s something far more sinister, which brings me to the books on the table above.
I read something recently along the lines of “Every single aspect of American monetary, economy, or immigration policy can be perfectly understood if you look at what it does for the home and retirement-portfolio values of Baby Boomers.” For me, that was like that moment at the optometrist when they finally settle on the correct prescription and everything becomes razor-shop all at once. Which is not to say that the Boomers have had everything their own way; they missed out on everything from proper medical knowledge regarding the cost of smoking to the latest release of Fortnite. When we say “Boomers” we really mean “middle-and-upper-class Boomers”. But you cannot deny that all of them had a historically unprecedented chance to build wealth, and much of that came from allowing them to buy homes at an inflation-adjusted! tenth or less of what they fetch now, not to mention an investment market that skyrocketed during their prime earning years.
Those two neat tricks were accomplished very simply; by dramatically increasing the competition for homes, and investments, after the year 2000. I don’t think people understand just what online trading did for the market; it was like what eBay did for the value of the old books and coins in your basement, multiplied by ten. Meanwhile, the economy was manipulated in such a way as to destroy location-dependent jobs in manufacturing, replacing them with fungible jobs in service, and the FIRE (finance, insurance, real estate) segments. This caused a massive migration to cities in general and “first-tier” cities in particular, even as the country as a whole started relocating to warmer weather. And just to make dead sure that the housing prices went up in desirable locations, our legislators brought thirty million people in from Mexico and five million “high-skills” workers from other countries. Now you’re bidding for that house against the same fellow who took your job; at the same time, the Boomer selling you that house is using cheap labor to bolster his profit margins.
The system will likely collapse around 2030, because there will be more people selling homes (and investment instruments) than there are people willing to buy them. So if you have your eye on that luxury home in Phoenix, or that ’50s Stratocaster, you might want to wait a few years. As a Gen Xer, I won’t be able to take full advantage of it, but my son probably will. So there’s no sense getting too worked up about the Boomer Transformation of America. It will have a few permanent effects, like providing a permanent center for radical terrorism within American borders, and probably the eventual separation of California from the Union, but I’m willing to bet that a single-family home in most parts of the country will be about as affordable in 2040 as it was in 1980. And once the dollar collapses we’ll even get a true manufacturing economy back.
Unless, that is, we deliberately stifle economic and manufacturing growth in the Western World — and that’s where Greta Thunberg and her book come in. It’s all over London, and if they aren’t giving it away on the street like they do with the Koran it’s only because there’s still some money to be made on the retail side of this particular grift. Ms. Thunberg is no less a manufactured product than, say, the Spice Girls were — and she is no less impactful for being so.
The UK takes climate change extremely seriously, which is hilarious to any reasonable individual. The island isn’t in the top ten of CO2 producers, not by a long shot. It’s #16, producing an eighth of India’s carbon emissions and about half of the emissions produced by the world traffic in container ships. The Union of Concerned Scientists says that the UK accounts for about one percent of global CO2. Which means that the country’s various schemes to reduce carbon can never amount to anything beyond a rounding error. Yet you can’t travel ten feet in London without being confronted by some claptrap about climate change.
This irrationality has all the characteristics of a religion. It has saints (Saint Greta!) and tithes (the carbon taxes levied against automobiles) and churches (the various meetings and institutions devoted to climate change) and an apocalypse myth. And as with many religions, it has no shame about killing for the faith. A bizarre and unjustifiable change to UK company-car regulations a decade ago made it virtually impossible to own a gasoline-powered car in London; the resulting move to diesel was lauded as a necessary step to reduce CO2 emissions. We don’t yet know if the gods were appeased by this sacrifice, but we know what we sacrificed: 150,000 premature deaths since the taxes were implemented. To put this in perspective, the UK press and government is currently obsessed with “knife crime”, which kills 200-300 people per year. The distinguishing characteristics of the people holding the knives are, tactfully, omitted; we punish the knives but look the other way at why people use them. The company-car CO2 tax kills thirty or forty people for every “knife crime victim”. Well, if you want the gods to look on you with favor, you gotta stack bodies on the altars. Ask the Aztecs.
Some of the climate change religion’s popularity is due to simple hysteria, like Jonestown. Some of it is due to people wanting to make a positive change but being unable to personally effect any change that would make a true difference. Everybody knows how to drop CO2 to safe levels; you turn off the container ships while forcing China, the United States, and India to regulate their carbon consumption. Making a Marshall-Plan-style push to global nuclear power and electric transportation would pretty much accomplish the goal all by itself.
Here’s what won’t make any difference: eating bugs instead of meat, giving up your car, or changing your consumption habits to a “low-carbon lifestyle”. So why is everyone so focused on these meaningless non-solutions? Well, that’s characteristic of organized religion, which has often smiled on war and slavery even as it chastised people for not eating fish on Friday. But it’s also a dead giveaway to the actual purpose of climate-change hysteria, which is to preserve the established economic order, at all costs.
Much is made of the hypocrisy displayed by Leonard DiCaprio and other climate-change “activists”, but to read their carbon-chomping behavior as hypocritical is to stupidly miss their point. DiCaprio never said that he was going to cut his carbon consumption; he said that you had to cut yours. Greta rides on a multi-million-dollar solar yacht — but her crew flies commercial to meet it. The point isn’t for Greta, who was recently photographed with her parents in a room that contained $25,000 worth of furniture and musical instruments, to cut her consumption. It’s for you to cut yours.
Similarly, much of the world’s pollution is caused by the Third World — but DiCaprio doesn’t want them to cut back on diesel minicabs and catalyst-free scooters. The point isn’t to regulate the behavior of the lower class; it’s to regulate the behavior of the middle class.
Why does the 0.1% want to dictate how the 10% consumes? This, too, is easy to understand: every time we have intramural regime change on the planet, the push comes from directly below them. Communism was the brainchild of a disaffected and highly-educated middle class. Every change in monarchy throughout European history relied on support from the fellows who had small castles and just a few serfs. The men who kicked King George out of the United States were upper-middle-class planters and merchants. If you want to maintain your control of a country, you don’t need to worry about the poors. You need to worry about the independently wealthy man with a mind of his own, because the poors might listen to him.
When Orwell wrote 1984, he created a blueprint for a Party that would never yield control to the next revolution — and the Party made that stick by rigorously controlling access to everything. In particular, the Party created artificial shortages and scarcities. Doing so allowed them to control the middle class, because the middle class would bow and scrape to get those artificially scarce goods. Well, that might have worked for Airstrip One and INGSOC, because it was a nation of factories and hand labor. In 2019, however, we are deluged with cheap crap from the Third World. Everybody has access to a cell phone and the Internet and basically free clothing sewn in Bangladesh and consumer products that cost nothing. This unearned wealth creates dissent.
It also creates social mobility and considerable opportunity. Anyone can develop an app or come up with a clothing reseller. A fair number of people can open restaurant chains and car dealerships. Others can build commercial real estate enterprises. These people are dangerous, because they are unpredictable. They might not believe the Party line. They might not be willing to wait their turn. That’s how you get situations like the Cliven Bundy thing, where wealthy ranchers have gunfights with the US Government.
Our ruling class has pulled up the ladders behind them in every way they know how — by turning public schools into indoctrination centers, by filling top universities with low achievers, by flooding young people with debt, and by ensuring that every potential new business is crippled by Byzantine regulations even as the already-successful private companies are browbeaten with endless demands to take on dead weight for the sake of secular virtues like “representation”. They have made it harder than ever to join their ranks. If you’re not a legacy admission or a 1000-SAT moron, you won’t see the inside of Harvard. If you don’t meet a bewildering array of identity-politics regulations, you aren’t going to get on anyone’s board of directors. The game is rigged like never before.
But it’s not enough. You still have these ranchers and drywall contractors and maverick attorneys and airline pilots and all these people who haven’t yet bent the knee. And you’ll never fully crush them because they have some money and they have some independence. You have to destroy them, flatten their standard of living, forcibly shove them back into the ranks of the proles where they belong. How do you do it?
Why, it’s simple. You create a new scheme of taxation and rationing that makes the $300,000-a-year lifestyle identical to the $30,000-a-year one. You do it with carbon credits or some other similar concept. You raise the price of these credits until only the super-rich can afford to set their own direction in life. And you make those carbon credits part of your religion, because people will argue against legislation but they won’t argue against religion, even an atheist religion like climate change. In doing so, you don’t just destroy the ability of the middle class to rise — you destroy their incentive for doing so. Why work harder when your home and car and clothes are determined not by your income but by your carbon allowance?
Having done that, you then begin to distribute the carbon allowance on a social credit basis, the way China is starting to ration public transportation. Now it’s not your income that puts you on a jet or behind the wheel of an SUV — it’s your political reliability. Maybe you get carbon credits for denouncing racists, or for destroying books, or for merely parroting the party line. It doesn’t matter. The power is now firmly in the hands of the Party, from whence it can never leave. Because people will risk death to change a political system, but they won’t risk having their families trapped in eternal carbon-credit poverty.
And here’s the best part. This system does nothing to address man-made climate change, assuming such a thing is real! In fact, it probably makes it worse. So the problem gets worse and worse as well. The sea level rises, and the best new homes are controlled by the Party. If you want to move from frying New Mexico to cool Michigan… you need to ask the Party. We’re all eating bugs, because the cows died — except for the cows in Alaska, which are on Party-controlled land. So DiCaprio gets his steak anyway. Fixing climate change would defeat the purpose. And the purpose, of course:
Now I will tell you the answer to my question. It is this. The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power, pure power. What pure power means you will understand presently. We are different from the oligarchies of the past in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were cowards and hypocrites. The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives. They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just around the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal. We are not like that. We know what no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now you begin to understand me.
I hope an optometrist’s lens clicked for you today. Thanks for reading.
For Hagerty, I wrote about my very low-carbon Milan.
Brother Bark wrote about used Mustangs.