To hear the Left talk these days, it would be easy to forget all about a simple rule of economics: No matter what you do, there’s always a trade off. If I buy a car, for example, that means I don’t take that vacation to Hawaii. Or if I have pizza for dinner, that means I don’t have spaghetti. More flexible hours with the job usually results in lower pay over the long term, and that three hours I spend watching football is time I don’t get to spend with the family. It’s an easy enough concept, and all of us do it without so much as a second thought—except when it comes to politics, and then all rules get thrown out the window.
Take Kamala Harris, for example. She seems to have this idea that you can have middle class tax cuts while at the same time rolling out Medicare for everyone. Or Elizabeth Warren, who wants confiscate the weath of billionaires with her Ultra Millionaires Tax, but doesn’t stop to consider whether those golden geese might decide to stop laying eggs they can’t keep. Or Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, who thinks her Green New Deal can wean the country off of fossil fuels inside of a decade, replacing them with more expensive, less reliable and less efficient renewables, all without sacrificing economic output and the lifestyle we’ve come to know and love.
Oh, and did I mention they want to do this when the country is already $21 trillion in the hole?
To our social engineers, though, those kind of details are best ignored—or, even better, pretended out of existence. That’s because in the mind of a central planner, every variable is known and every outcome perfectly predictable. Economies don’t shift in response to new incentives, and over time the playing field doesn’t change.
Except when it does, as the little town of Georgetown, Texas, recently found out the hard way:
In 2012, the city committed to moving its energy grid to 100% renewables, a combination of wind and solar. Ever since then it has been touted as a model for the future and was even featured in the sequel to Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth.
But it turns out Georgetown residents aren’t thrilled with how things are working out in their town. When Georgetown committed to renewables it bought enough that it could cover peak summer usage plus a little extra for future population growth. It locked in 2012 prices by committing to long term contracts of up to 25 years.
Unfortunately for Georgetown, the fracking boom happened and the United States produced so much cheap natural gas that we’ve become a net exporter of fossil fuels. While gas brought energy prices down over the past couple years everywhere else, Georgetown was locked into pricey contracts for more energy than it needed. And because everyone else was paying less, no one wanted to buy Georgetown’s excess green energy, which means the town is stuck paying for it to the tune of several million dollars.
So all the experts who thought they could predict the energy market for the next 25 years turned out to be wrong? Whodathunkit? It’s not like human beings have a history of coming up with ingenious solutions to major challenges. And it’s not like the free market is nimble enough to provide what people need in a better, faster and cheaper way than a centrally-managed government.
What’s hilarious about this story is how the town residents are up in arms because they’ll now each be shelling out hundreds of dollars more per year on their electricity bills. It would seem that their support for the green movement doesn’t extend to the green in their wallets—and that when it comes down to it, they’re more than happy with fossil fuels so long as it costs them less money.
Hopefully the Green New Dealers in Washington are paying attention.