Canadian Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland went to the Davos WEF forum, arguably not a good look, especially the paranoia-fueling scheduling note about “meetings with business leaders and other participants… Closed to media”. But she did emerge to burble that “Canada is absolutely determined that decarbonization for us, will mean more jobs, more growth, more manufacturing and we recognize, government needs to play a role to make that happen.” It’s one of those propositions driven entirely by conviction rather than evidence. She probably even believes it, meaning, once again, it’s not a conspiracy, it’s a plan, hidden in plain sight, to impose green socialism on a sluggish but ultimately presumably grateful populace. Freeland is one of those people who really believe that wanting something makes it true, and this claim about decarbonization is one of those propositions that really does depend on faith not facts. Where, for instance, has it ever actually happened? And does it matter? Not to her.
Freeland used to be a public intellectual, whose trendy 2012 tome Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else somehow sits quite easily with her position inside that elite. Yet she apparently isn’t familiar with Henry Hazlitt’s 1946 point, not original with him but expressed with exceptional clarity in Economics In One Lesson, that it’s easy to create “jobs”. You just have to make manufacturing or transport less efficient:
“Why should freight be carried from Chicago to New York by railroad when we could employ enormously more men, for example, to carry it all on their backs?... It is no trick to employ everybody, even (or especially) in the most primitive economy. Full employment – very full employment; long, weary, back-breaking employment is characteristic of precisely the nations that are most retarded industrially.”
Oops. But what of the rest of it? More growth? More manufacturing? How does she know? What does she even think she is talking about?
It is not beside the point to observe that the administration in which she serves has presided over a dramatic deterioration in Canada’s already disappointing economic performance, with investment and growth weak. Freeland is not, empirically speaking, an expert on what produces growth; on the contrary, her management of a G7 economy is putting it at serious risk of departing from that club. And when the Canadian government decides, say, to take over a major pipeline project and bring it to completion the result is an explosion of costs and a profusion of delays a satirist would hesitate to depict.
How, then, can she say this kind of thing without blushing? Precisely because she is not someone grounded in grubby reality. She lives in a world of dreams. It is not unfair to call this approach “magical thinking” as Robert Lyman has done.
It’s bad enough when based on computer models programmed to tell you what you want to hear. But we’re not even in that world. Instead, we notice, in mid-December Natural Resources Canada put out a “New Federal Call for Proposals for National Energy Systems Modelling”. And the reason is that they had a dream and wanted someone to interpret it for them. That press release started “As Canada advances to a sustainable and prosperous net-zero future by 2050” so there’s the dream. But then um uh:
“Energy systems modelling is a valuable tool to inform and guide the development of national strategies to reduce emissions and fight climate change by analyzing the most cost-effective ways to achieve net zero. Today, the Government of Canada launched a call for proposals for national energy systems modelling projects.”
So they don’t already have even these fictitious digital maps of this future. They just know at some point you should have some because it looks good. And you don’t know whether to laugh or cry when told:
“Today, Environment and Climate Change Canada published a draft fourth protocol under Canada’s Greenhouse Gas Offset Credit System. This new draft protocol, Reducing Enteric Methane Emissions from Beef Cattle (REME protocol), will incentivize farmers to implement changes that would reduce enteric methane emissions from their beef cattle operations with an opportunity to generate offset credits that they can sell.”
Yup. They’re selling the right to have your cow burp or worse, exactly as if they knew how to monitor it rather than simply have a large number of highly-paid po-faced bureaucrats draft protocol after protocol on the subject, this one running to 43 pages full of guesswork dressed as mathematics. But at bottom this kind of thinking isn’t about existing facts, proven methods or empirical observations of what anyone has actually done.
Thus Freeland’s colleague, Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault, was caught making stuff up about the impact of their EV mandate on Canadians, especially lower-income Canadians. As Blacklock’s unearthed:
“Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault used misleading data and inaccurate generalizations in defending cabinet’s electric car mandate, records show. Guilbeault’s own department acknowledged banning the sale of inexpensive gas vehicles will result in net costs of billions for drivers and ‘disproportionately impact’ the working poor. ‘This will help Canadians with the cost of living,’ Guilbeault claimed Tuesday. ‘Once you drive a car off the lot the saving on fueling and maintenance costs are enormous.’ The claim is false, according to a Regulatory Impact Analysis Statement released yesterday by the Department of the Environment. Drivers who comply with the mandate to buy electrics face more than $17 billion in net costs, it said.”
But he and Freeland are not engaged in studying what actually happens, looking for practical difficulties and finding proven ways to get around them or mitigate them. Their thinking is on a very different level.
It involves deliberately experiencing trance-like visions of new kinds of technology working far better than they currently do, and moving on to the transformative effects they might have on an economy if both they and the government worked far better than they currently do. Note that Freeland said “we recognize, government needs to play a role to make that happen.” And the Canadian government is indeed playing “a role” as its all-around profligacy, which saw federal spending nearly triple from the time Justin Trudeau became Prime Minister to the height of the pandemic panic and then subside but only half-way, also includes throwing tens of billions of dollars at EV battery plants alone.
The problem is, very little in Canadian government is working properly or even tolerably nowadays. They can’t even keep track of whether huge numbers of people on student visas have made any effort to study. Law enforcement is overwhelmed from disorder in the streets and even the restaurants to massive money-laundering. And yet instead of reining in their ambitions, they insist that the economy will finally work right if only we get rid of that silly old oil, natural gas and incentive-driven markets.
P.S. A much shorter piece making the same basic point appeared this week in the Epoch Times.