On University Grades As A Qualification For President

In the last couple of days, multiple people have sent me an article that seems to be making the rounds.  It purports to be from a recent issue of Newsweek, written by a guy named Matt Patterson, and titled "Hit The Road Barack.  Why we need a new President."  The article characterizes Obama as "our first affirmative action President," and questions whether his seemingly top Ivy League education credentials can really be trusted.  

On reviewing the article, all I can think of is the famous quote attributed to William F. Buckley, Jr.: "I'd rather entrust the government of the United States to the first 400 people listed in the Boston telephone directory than to the faculty of Harvard University."  The reason I have that thought is that I wouldn't be particularly troubled if Obama's Ivy League credentials were phony, because plenty of people with real top Ivy League credentials are also airheads.  But what's scary is that I actually think that Obama's credentials are real.  Looking at such evidence as I can find, here are my conclusions:

  • The article I was sent is not what it purports to be.  It is not from Newsweek and not recent.  Also, the version I was sent has been significantly altered from the original.
  • Obama really does have top or near-top educational credentials, at least at the law school level.
  • The fact that Obama has top law school credentials tells you all you need to know about what those credentials are worth as a qualification for President.  The answer is: not much. 

It didn't take me more than a minute of Googling to identify the original source of the article in question as a post from the American Thinker of August 18, 2011 titled "Obama: The Affirmative Action President."   The original of the article does suggest, fairly gently, that Obama may owe his educational credentials substantially to affirmative action.  However, the version I was sent contains some additions not in the original, which turn out to be the most inflammatory parts of the altered article.  For example, this:

There is no evidence that he ever attended or worked for any university or that he ever sat for the Illinois bar.  We have no documentation for any of his claims.

Well, but there is rather strong evidence that Obama:  attended Harvard Law School, was accepted onto the Law Review, became the President of the Law Review, and graduated with magna cum laude honors.  OK, there may have been some affirmative action in his initial admission to Harvard Law (he did not graduate with honors from Columbia), but his performance at the law school would be rather hard to fake.  The linked article from the Blaze says that HLS grades at Obama's time (class 0f 1991) had been subject to dramatic inflation, such that the magna cum laude credential went to about one-sixth of the students.  (In my day -- class of 1975 -- the comparable figure was around 5%).  Still, top 16% of a very competitive class is nothing to sneeze at.  And the credential was awarded strictly on the basis of grades.  If you think that top grades from a top college or graduate school are an important qualification for President, then this is pretty damn good.  As to why Obama has never released a transcript, I can't say.  My best guess is that his college grades at Columbia were rather poor.

The much more important point is that the ranks of people who get the top grades at the top universities are filled with fools and airheads.  Meanwhile the ranks of our recent candidates for President and Vice President contain as many people with mediocre or even terrible grades as people from the tops of their classes.  And it's not a partisan issue.

Among top grade-getters, we have, for example, Hillary Clinton.  She doesn't seem to have ever released a transcript of her grades at Wellesley, but she graduated "with honors," and more importantly, got into Yale Law, which probably means she was in the top 5% or her college class or higher.  As I have repeatedly pointed out, she also has no idea whatsoever how the economy works, thinks that all wealth comes from government spending, and repeatedly uses the phrase "I believe in science" to mean that she trusts whatever the corrupt government-funded people calling themselves "scientists" tell her without ever checking the underlying evidence.

Also in the top grade category we have my law school classmate Mitt Romney.  This long New York Times article from 2011 says that Romney was a "Baker Scholar" at the Harvard Business School (where he got a joint degree) and also graduated "with honors" from the Law School.  (With honors is actually a notch lower than magna cum laude, but remember that our class only had about 5% mcl versus 16% in Obama's class.)  I think that Romney is fairly solid intellectually; however, in the one speech I ever heard him deliver live, he made it clear that he had completely fallen for the climate scam.

OK, now let's consider some of the mediocre to terrible students who nonetheless find themselves running for President or Vice President.  The magazine Mental Floss compiled a round-up:

  • Joe Biden was number 506 out of 688 in his class at the University of Delaware, followed by number 76 out of 85 at Syracuse Law.
  • John McCain was number 894 out of 899 in his class at Annapolis.  Hard to get much lower than that!
  • Al Gore was in the "bottom fifth" of his class at Harvard.  Among his grades were two C-plusses, two Cs, a C-minus and a D.  The D was in a course called "Natural Sciences 6 (Man's Place in Nature)."  Can't say I'm surprised by that.
  • In John Kerry's freshman year at Yale, he got four Ds -- in Geology, two History courses, and Political Science.  I didn't think it was even possible to get a D at Yale.
  • George H.W. Bush never released a transcript, but George W. Bush had a GPA of 77 at Yale, which would put him somewhere below the middle of his class.

As I said, the ranks of terrible students includes both Democrats and Republicans.  Trump?  I can't find anything about his grades at Wharton.  Does it matter?

But anyway, consider who some of the very "smartest" people are, as measured by top grades from top institutions of higher learning, and you will find it very frightening.  Paul Krugman?  Top Ph.D. from MIT, Princeton professor, Nobel Prize winner -- and a complete dupe for every economic fallacy that has ever been promulgated.  Olivier Blanchard?  Krugman's MIT Ph.D. buddy, who spent a career at the IMF peddling economic fallacies to low income countries to keep the poor poor.  Stephen Breyer?  Ruth Bader Ginsburg?  Wouldn't you think that Supreme Court justices with the academic credentials of this pair would be capable of having at least one independent thought in twenty years on the bench that was not fed to them by the editors of the New York Times?  Obviously, I could go on for days with this.  And don't get me started on the Harvard faculty.  Really, it's enough to give you the idea that rule of the people by highly-credentialed "experts" just might not work very well. 

Two Hypotheses On Why Basket Case Cities Are Failing

From time to time I have used the term "basket case cities" to refer to those urban areas in the United States that are falling apart on literally any measure you might select.  The cities in question are characterized by such things as high crime rates (including startlingly high murder rates in most instances), falling population, high rates of poverty, high unemployment, and lack of business investment.  In every case the problems of high crime, high poverty, and high unemployment are particularly acute in the African American communities in these cities.  Among the larger U.S. cities that clearly qualify as "basket cases" by these measures are Detroit, Cleveland, St. Louis, and Baltimore.  Chicago and Philadelphia are somewhat different in having large prosperous areas, but both also contain significant swaths that would fall in the "basket case" category if considered separately.  And with the recent rioting, we have good reason to add Milwaukee to the "basket case" list.

Now, what is it about these cities that gets them into the "basket case" category and keeps them there for decade after decade?  In accordance with my "two ways of looking at the world" meme, I'll put out the two leading hypotheses:

(1) Hypothesis 1:  The plight of the "basket case" cities is the result of decades of progressive Democratic governance and policies.  All of the "basket case" cities have been governed by progressive Democrats since beyond human memory.  (According to a recent list published by National Review, the most recent Republican mayors of basket case cities included -- Chicago, 1927; Baltimore, 1963; St. Louis, 1943; Detroit, 1957; Philadelphia, 1947.  In Milwaukee it was 1908.)  The progressives have put in place massive government anti-poverty and welfare programs supposedly designed to alleviate the problems of crime, poverty and unemployment, but none of those programs have worked, and in fact they have only made the problems worse.

(2) Or alternatively, there is hypothesis 2:  All of the existing programs are just a charade, and there is some other government program that has been put forward by good progressive Democrats, but has somehow been blocked by evil Republicans and Conservatives.  And if only that one additional program had been implemented, it would have turned everything around.

For a particularly ridiculous example of someone arguing for hypothesis 2, I give you Derrick Jackson, writing in the Boston Globe of August 17.  Jackson writes about his home town of Milwaukee in the aftermath of the recent riots.  He notes Milwaukee's population decline from 741,000 in 1960 to 597,000 in 2000; and its loss of manufacturing jobs, from 120,000 in 1960 to 27,000 in 2009.  And to what does Mr. Jackson attribute the problems of Milwaukee's African American community?

I [have taken] particular note as the city’s white suburbs built an invisible but impregnable cage around a majority African-American and Latino city.  The bars of that cage: the lack of public transportation.

Aha!  So it was not the century plus of progressive governance in the city itself that drove Milwaukee into the ground, but instead the evil Republicans in the suburban counties surrounding it:

Efforts in the 1990s to connect Milwaukee to the new economy in the suburbs by light rail were derailed by [suburban county] politicians and business opponents, often using racially coded language. One warned that rail would have a “dramatic effect on our neighborhoods and area residents.” Another spoke ominously of “strangers who are not only a threat to your property but to your children.” Conservative talk radio kept up a drumbeat of opposition. Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson said he wouldn’t spend a nickel of state money on light rail. In the face of all that, there was no chance that public transit could be viewed as an economic bridge-builder. To the contrary, the bridge was burned before it could be built.

Does anybody actually believe that this is the cause of Milwaukee's woes?  Funny thing is, among the basket case cities, Cleveland, St. Louis and Baltimore all built light rail systems in recent decades, not to mention that Chicago and Philadelphia have all along had extensive mass transit infrastructure.  So, Derrick, why aren't those places any better off than Milwaukee?

It doesn't take much looking to figure out that a couple of streetcar lines going out to the suburbs, for very large cost, would have at most an extremely marginal effect on Milwaukee's situation.  For example, the St. Louis system averaged about 47,000 daily riders in 2015.  As rules of thumb, about two-thirds of those riders are likely to be commuting to jobs, but there will be about a 4:1 ratio between people commuting from outlying areas to jobs downtown against those commuting from the inner city to jobs in the outlying areas.  And each commuter to a job is counted twice in the daily ridership figures.  That would put a number of about 3000 people per day commuting from the city to suburban jobs.  That's less than 1% of the population of the City of St. Louis, and less than 0.3% of the population of St. Louis County (which is the service area of the rail system.)  Baltimore has somewhat higher ridership, at about 66,000 per day when you combine its light and heavy rail components.  That would mean perhaps as many as 4500 people per day commuting to jobs in the suburban areas.  But Baltimore is almost twice as big a city as St. Louis, so it's again well less than 1% of the population.

Really, Derrick, if you're going to come up with the mythical program that could have turned everything around, you'll have to do better than this.  Meanwhile, could you kindly address why the hundreds of billions of dollars of annual government programs currently in place have not improved the situation of the basket case cities, nor reduced poverty in the slightest in 50 years?    

How Much Do The Climate Crusaders Plan To Increase Your Costs Of Electricity? -- Part II

In the last post, we discovered that, in attempting to get all or most of their electric power from "renewables," the residents of Gapa Island, South Korea had constructed a system that was able to supply only 42% of their power from renewables, yet had costs which, if allocated to them through their electricity bills, would lead to monthly bills of $1100 or more per household.  That $1100 is approximately ten times the average monthly electricity bills paid by Americans.  There are lessons here to be applied to much of the nonsense that you read about the economics of various forms of energy.  A good deal of that nonsense comes from official government sources.

The problem, of course, is the intermittency of the wind and solar power.  Because of intermittency, the usual metrics used to compare costs of different forms of energy just don't make sense when applied to wind and solar, at least if wind and solar are to become principal sources of energy.  The usual metrics for comparing costs of various forms of energy are either dollars per megawatt (of generating capacity) or of cents per kilowatt hour (of energy supplied).  Those metrics make sense for comparing against each other the various forms of energy generation that work all the time as needed; but the same metrics do not make sense at all for making a comparison between, on the one hand, forms of energy that work when needed, as against, on the other hand, sources that only work intermittently and cannot be called upon when needed.  The reason is that when intermittent sources like wind and solar are involved on a large scale, you can't build a working system using just these sources.  Instead, building a working system relying principally on wind and solar requires constructing large amounts of additional generation capacity (to cover conditions of light wind for wind systems, or cloudiness for solar systems), plus constructing additional backup capacity from conventional fossil fuel sources (to cover times when the wind is calm or the sun not shining at all), plus having yet additional storage capacity in the form of batteries or something else.  These additional requirements hugely increase the overall costs of a working system, but are almost always omitted by renewable energy advocates from discussions of comparative costs.  

For a base for comparison, consider the current situation of New York State, and compare it to what the Gapa Islanders in South Korea have created.  According to our Independent System Operator here, in 2015 we New Yorkers had 39,015 MW of generating capacity, against a peak usage of 33,567 MW.  That left a cushion of about 5,500 MW, or about 17% of peak demand.  Wind capacity was 1,746 MW -- so, the total wind capacity was just a minority part of the 5,500 MW of excess capacity.  We never actually needed any of the wind power, so if a given day was calm, no big deal.  With wind power at about 4.5% of total capacity, basically a rounding error, the system works acceptably with a 17% capacity cushion.

Now compare that to Gapa Island.  In their desperate effort to get most of their power from wind and solar, they built a system of wind turbines and solar panels with a capacity not 117% of peak usage, but 300%.  That massive additional capacity would cover them for days of light wind and/or heavy clouds.  But of course, there also could be times of no wind at all (aka, calm) and no sun at all (aka, night), so they also had to acquire backup diesel generators to supply the entire peak demand of the community yet again, presumably also with a cushion of around 15 - 20%.  So they ended up acquiring generating capacity not of 117% of peak usage like we have in New York, but 417% of peak usage.  And of course, in that price, batteries are not included!  They also had to buy about a third of a Tesla's worth of batteries per family, to have some eight hours of backup capacity -- which still was not nearly enough battery capacity to obviate the need for the diesel generators.  All of this to get up to 42% of electricity generation from wind and solar.  Building four times the capacity you need (instead of 1.17 times), plus buying the massive batteries is what gets you to an electricity bill of $1100 per month instead of $110. 

After considering this comparison, you can now look with a critical eye at some of the baloney about energy costs that you will see out there from promoters of renewable energy.  The game is always to compare only cost per MW capacity, or per KWh generated, without ever mentioning that if you want a system where wind and solar are more than a few percent, you can't just build a system of comparable capacity to your functioning fossil fuel system; instead, you will need to build triple the capacity for starters, plus you will also need full fossil fuel backup capacity, plus you must acquire enormous batteries.  

So let us consider how renewable energy advocates and government sources treat these issues.  To begin, here is a February 2015 piece from energyinnovation.org titled "Comparing The Costs Of Renewable And Conventional Energy Sources."   They use a late-2014 study by Lazard on what they call the "levelized cost of energy," a concept that includes capital cost, operations and maintenance, and fuel.  (Notice anything missing?)  And the results?

Onshore wind has the lowest average levelized cost in this analysis at $59 per megawatt-hour, and utility-scale photovoltaic plants weren’t far behind at $79. By comparison, the lowest cost conventional technologies were gas combined cycle technologies, averaging $74 per megawatt-hour, and coal plants, averaging $109.

Wind is the cheapest!  As you had undoubtedly suspected, there is not a word in the piece about the problems of trying to make a system that works all the time out of nothing but wind and solar; nor is there any mention of the cost of things like additional spare capacity, or backup generators, or massive batteries, that you will need if you want to have a predominantly wind/solar system that actually works. 

Next, try this one from windustry.org on the cost of wind generating capacity:

The costs for a utility scale wind turbine range from about $1.3 million to $2.2 million per MW of nameplate capacity installed. Most of the commercial-scale turbines installed today are 2 MW in size and cost roughly $3-$4 million installed.

Coal and gas plants cost in the range of $1 - 3 million per MW of generating capacity.  So wind sounds rather competitive, doesn't it?  It does until you understand what they are leaving out.

At its website, the American Wind Energy Association has a chart comparing the cost of generation from various sources.  They choose a metric they call "Levelized Cost of Energy ($/MWh)."  In their chart, onshore wind looks competitive on this metric with combined-cycle natural gas, and considerably cheaper than coal or nuclear.  (Solar looks ridiculously expensive in this chart, but remember, the chart comes from the AWEA.)

Why would any dope build coal or nuclear?  You'll never find out from these guys!

Are the official government sources any better?  The answer is, not really.  A couple of weeks ago the government's Energy Information Administration came out with its big annual report on comparative costs of generating electricity by various means.  The title is "Levelized Cost and Levelized Avoided Cost of New Generation Resources in the Annual Energy Outlook 2016."  As indicated, the report compares the alternative means of generating electricity by two measures, "levelized cost" and "levelized avoided cost," which are slightly different, but not for these purposes.  Basically, both measures compare the various generation methods on a basis of cost per MW capacity, or cost per KWh production, without ever getting into the subject of how to make a full-blown system work when the generation comes predominantly from intermittent sources like solar and wind.  The bottom line is that, in all the charts, onshore wind power appears about equal in cost if not cheaper than the cheapest fossil fuel alternative, which is combined cycle natural gas.  Coal and nuclear get barely any mention at all in the whole report.  To the government's very slight credit, they do include this brief caveat in the introduction:

Since load must be balanced on a continuous basis, units whose output can be varied to follow demand (dispatchable technologies) generally have more value to a system than less flexible units (non-dispatchable technologies), or those whose operation is tied to the availability of an intermittent resource. The LCOE values for dispatchable and nondispatchable technologies are listed separately in the tables, because caution should be used when comparing them to one another. 

While we appreciate the caveat, it would be nice if you would tell us how much difference this dispatchable/non-dispatchable thing makes quantitatively.  So, guys, if we want to have a system made up predominantly of the "non-dispatchable" sort of sources like wind and solar, how much additional will it cost for the extra capacity and the backup and the batteries to get ourselves to a fully-functioning 24/7 system?  Sorry, but the government is just not going to be troubled to make that kind of inconvenient calculation.  They have elaborate and complicated and sophisticated models and calculations to inform you that the Levelized Cost of Energy for a conventional combined-cycle natural gas-fired power plant expected to come online in 2022 is $56.40 per MWh, while the LCOE for an "advanced" combined-cycle natural gas-fired power plant coming online in the same year is $55.80 per MWh, and the LCOE for a wind-turbine system coming online in the same year is $50.90 per MWh.  Wow, the wind system is the cheapest!  And by a very-precise $4.70 per MWh!  But this business of "dispatchable" versus "non-dispatchable" -- how much difference does that make?  Is it 2%, or 5%?  Or, if we try to make a system predominantly out of wind and solar that actually works for everybody 24/7, will we be increasing costs by an entire order of magnitude, a factor of 10 or more?  Sorry, they can't be bothered to give you any quantitative information about that.  If you want to find out, you'll just have to read some obscure Korean news source, or maybe the Manhattan Contrarian.

How Much Do The Climate Crusaders Plan To Increase Your Cost Of Electricity?

In yesterday's post, I gave a rough estimate that it would take an increase in the price of fossil-fuel-derived energy of at least a multiple of three to five to achieve the kind of usage reductions that climate crusaders are seeking.  (And of course in the process the poor would get priced out of air conditioning, not to mention air travel and lots of other things.)  Today I find a report of some real world experience indicating that actual price increases could be far higher than that.  

Paul Homewood is a British guy with a blog called Not a Lot of People Know That (notalotofpeopleknowthat.wordpress.com) that chronicles various sorts of climate craziness.  I recommend the blog to you.  A few days ago Homewood had a post titled "One small island's dream of energy self-sufficiency."    The post comments on an enthusiastic story from the Korean news site Hankyoreh, reporting on the efforts of the people on the very small (0.85 sq.km.) Korean island of Gapa to make their energy sources 100% renewable.  The Hankyoreh article quotes glowing reviews of the project from some of the island's residents.  Homewood then drily  comments that he thinks he has spotted "one tiny little problem that our Korean friends seem to have overlooked."  In other words, looked at with a touch of realism, the project is an unmitigated disaster.  The problem is cost.  See whether you agree with the residents or with Homewood.

Gapa has a total of 178 residents in 97 families.  According to Hankyoreh, it has average daily electricity usage of 142 kW, and maximum peak usage of 230 kW.  To supply that demand with "renewables," the Gapans acquired for themselves two big wind turbines, each with a rated capacity of 250 kW, plus they installed solar panels on 49 of the 97 homes, with a total rated capacity of 174 kW.  That would be a total capacity of 674 kW, against maximum peak usage of 230 kW, so nearly triple the peak demand and well over four times the average demand.  And finally, the Gapans were fully aware that wind and solar don't work all the time, so they also got themselves a gigantic battery with a capacity to store 3.86 MWh of electricity, which should theoretically be enough to go more than a full 24 hours at their usage level with the wind and solar not functioning.  (The battery pack of a Tesla Model S supposedly has a capacity of 85 KWh, meaning that Gapa's battery is equivalent in storage capacity to about 35 Teslas.)

So with all that the Gapans should have way more than sufficient capacity to supply all their electricity needs with just the renewables -- right?  Actually, not even close.  According to Hankyoreh, in the most recent measuring period of April 23 to July 12, the renewable resources supplied just 42% of Gapa's power -- 32% from the wind, and 10% from the solar.  And where did they get the rest?  From backup diesel generators, of course!

Between Apr. 23 and July 12 of this year, Gapa Island had a cumulative energy self-sufficiency rate of 42%. The island is meeting 32% of its energy needs from wind power and 10% from solar power. The rate climbed above 50% in May, but fell again in the monsoon season. The other 58% of energy is still supplied by diesel generators.

Oh, and the renewables-based electricity system, even with the diesel backup, only produced enough power to supply just four (!) electric cars.  So it seems that the large majority of the Gapans must also continue to drive gasoline-powered vehicles.  That means that the renewable contribution to Gapa's total energy usage is likely to be less than 20%.   

Now, can we please get an idea how much has been spent to get the Gapans all the way up to generating 42% of their electricity (and perhaps 20% of their total energy usage) from renewables.  Hankyoreh has the figures:

A total of 14.3 billion won (US$12.49 million) was invested in the project. Two 250kW wind turbines were installed, along with 174kW solar panels in 49 locations. Other installations included an energy storage device, a system control center, power conversion equipment and remotely controlled power meters.

That's $12.49 million for 97 households -- $128,000 per household.  Homewood points out that, assuming a 15 year useful life for the system and zero return on the invested capital, that would mean $8000 per year per household, or about $670 per month per household.  (By contrast, 2014 data from the U.S. EIA here show average monthly household electricity bills in the continental U.S. ranging from a low of $84 in Maine to a high of $145 in Alabama.)  But wait a minute: add a 4% rate of return on invested capital, and the cost per household goes up to more like $13,000 per year, or close to $1100 per month.  That's close to ten times what the average American currently pays for electricity -- and this is to get up to maybe 20% or so of energy usage from renewables!

So how do the Gapans feel about their wildly expensive energy system?  

“At first, we weren’t satisfied with the results of renewable energy. Now, though, it’s benefiting us in two ways: our electricity bills are lower and the number of tourists is higher,” said Jin Myeong-hwan, the 55-year-old mayor of Gapa Island.

"Our electricity bills are lower"?  How did that happen?  Oh, it seems that this whole wildly expensive renewable system was supplied to Gapa Island gratis by the utility company.  As Homewood puts it:

It is little wonder the islanders’ electricity bills have come down, because the capital cost of the project has been paid for by Santa Claus.   

I would have said the tooth fairy, rather than Santa Claus, but whatever.

So what exactly is the climate crusader's vision of how the United States is going to get up to say 50% of total energy usage from renewables?  If getting to 20% requires multiplying average utility bills by around 10, will getting to 50% require multiplying average bills by 20, or maybe 30?  I've never seen one of these people even remotely attempt to present honest numbers.  If any reader is aware of any such presentation, I would be glad to look at it.     

What Is The Most Preposterous Article In Today's New York Times?

On any given day, it is always a challenge to figure out which of the articles in the New York Times is the most preposterous.  But today there is a candidate that is very hard to top.  It might be the most preposterous article of the week, or even of the month.  The headline is "In U.S. Jails, A Constitutional Clash Over Air Conditioning."  The author is Alan Blinder.

Blinder travels to places like Texas, Louisiana, and Alabama to uncover the startling fact that even today many jails and prisons in these very hot areas do not have air conditioning.  Of course, during the summer the prisoners swelter.  Some have health problems that may be exacerbated by the heat.  Blinder interviews several lawyers and inmates who have brought cases alleging that the lack of air conditioning is no less than a constitutional violation, for "cruel and unusual punishment" under the Eighth Amendment.  (Is it any problem for that position that air conditioning didn't even exist for the first 140 or so years after the Bill of Rights was enacted?  I'll leave the answer to that one to you.)  Anyway, to listen to the lawyers and inmates who are Blinder's sources, the lack of air conditioning for inmates is completely unacceptable, and it is further obvious that this subject rises to the high level of a constitutional violation.  Example:

“It’s almost impossible for courts to deny the constitutional violation because extreme heat undoubtedly exposes individuals to substantial risk of serious harm,” said Mercedes Montagnes, a lawyer for three inmates with health issues who challenged conditions on Louisiana’s death row. “Now what we’re grappling with is the remedy.”

So if it is so obvious that not providing air conditioning to prison inmates is a constitutional violation, why am I saying that this article is completely preposterous?  Here is the reason: with the exception of this article, the New York Times devotes a good five percent of its news and editorial coverage to the campaign to take air conditioning away from poor and low-income people.  I am referring of course to the climate crusade.  Could it be possible that they are so dumb as not to realize that there is any inconsistency here?  Yes, it is completely possible.

Now, the Times in its advocacy for the climate crusade does not explicitly say that the program here is to take air conditioning away from the poor.  But that's only because either they can't add two plus two or they are hiding the ball from the reader.  (It could be both.  Don't assume that the left hand and the right hand know what each other are up to over there.)  In some fifty or a hundred or more articles and editorials per month, the New York Times advocates in one way or another for public policies that will "reduce greenhouse gas emissions," supposedly to "save the planet."  What are these policies?  Inevitably, they are policies that are intentionally devised to drive the cost of energy up so that many people will be forced to consume less of it.  Sometimes it's a "carbon tax."  Sometimes it's "cap-and-trade."  (Here's an example of NYT advocacy for "cap-and-trade.")  Sometimes it's regulations designed and intended to put the cheapest types of energy out of business, as by making generation of electricity from coal illegal, or by denying permits for pipelines from the Canadian tar sands.  (Here's some advocacy for the so-called "Clean Power Plan" to put the coal industry out of business.)  

The carbon-restriction policies favored by the New York Times are not small-time policies that would reduce fossil fuel usage by some few percent.  No, the Times wants fossil fuel usage reduced by half or more, and immediately if not sooner.  The "cap-and-trade" program or carbon tax that would accomplish such a dramatic goal would have to raise energy and electricity prices by a multiple, probably three to five times, if not more.  Now ask yourself, in such a squeeze which must raise prices sufficiently that people in the aggregate give up half or more of their energy usage, exactly who is going to be forced to give up what?  You can be sure that the losers will not be the editors of the New York Times.  Of course the people who will have to consume less energy will be poor and low income people.  And what will they be forced to give up?  It is obvious to anyone who thinks about it that air conditioning is at the top of the list.

And the Times is not completely oblivious to the fact that enforcing anti-greenhouse gas restriction mandates very likely means that the poor cannot have air conditioning.  Instapundit today points to this article from the Times in 2012, making exactly that connection:

But as air-conditioners sprout from windows and storefronts across the world, scientists are becoming increasingly alarmed about the impact of the gases on which they run. All are potent agents of global warming.

Well, nobody ever accused the New York Times of actually having any understanding of how an economy works.  It just all comes from the tooth fairy, to be allocated in accordance with perfect fairness and justice by all-knowing government bureaucrats.  Still, New York Times, in the perfect world where fossil fuel usage goes down by 90% and the government decides who gets what, do people in the bottom half of the income distribution get air conditioning, or no?  If yes, how does that possibly work?