The Limited Economic Scope of Van Jones

For being a closet Marxist, Van Jones, who recently resigned as Barack Obama’s energy policy adviser, is a compelling figure. His speeches are clever and insightful. His idea that you can’t just replace one form of energy with another and expect to change people’s minds about existing forms of the statism and corporatism is right on, though he mistakenly fails to identify those as the root problems. His wanting to transform from a “pollution economy” to a “green economy” is respectable. However, the way he proposes going about doing that will forestall that transformation and further bind those chains of inequality. I only wish he would read Henry Hazlitt’s version of the “Broken Window Fallacy,” the seen and the unseen, to know the errors of his ways.

He believes that by paralyzing the coal and oil industries in regulation and taxes, the federal government can transfer those funds to his preferred, Earth-friendly energy producers, creating jobs for the industrial base. (Here, I’m referring to Obama’s pledge to “bankrupt” the coal industry.) With this limited economic impact in mind, a large, aggressive organization is necessary to carry out this agenda. If a city or even state government tried imposing Jones’ vision, imagine the rate of exodus for energy-sensitive companies, including the very industrial companies needed to build highly machined “green” devices. I don’t suspect that people are willingly going to pay double to cool their homes or drive to work when they can just as easily migrate from those tax-heavy municipalities. First, one would need to centralize a great deal of power into the hands of the executive branch. An intrusive revenue collection agency would be necessary to bully people into compliance. Finally, the organization must be able to dislpay an overwhelming threat of force to minimize any dissent.

What I am saying is that the Republicans had six years to do away with all the requirements necessary to carry out this agenda. They did worse than nothing to dismantle these institutions; they expanded them. They made them more entrenched, more invasive.

Van Jones was just a bit player. Now he’s a martyre. He’s going to get some thinktank gig that pays double his old sallary. He’s going to be replaced with someone who has the same agenda, minus the YouTube baggage.

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