“Yesterday. All my troubles seemed so far away. Now it looks as though they’re here to stay. Oh, I believe in yesterday.” — Paul McCartney
When I was a kid, I used to go to a speech therapist. She was employed at the school. Ms. Francis made me do a lot of things I was uncomfortable with, but they ended up being godsends. For instance, I was voluntold to emcee all of the student events at the school. I know my parents were grateful, so it only made sense that we would go to her husband’s toy store south of us. It was a little further then my parents wanted to drive, but he also was great a repairing toys.
Fast-forward forty years and that store is no longer there. In fact, Toys Are Us has closed their doors and no one repairs toys anymore. No one delivers ice or milk door to door anymore. Sears is virtually dead and Montgomery Ward is dead too. Blockbuster Video came and went along with the other mom and pop video stores.
Change is a part of history. Usually it is for the better, but I suppose that’s debatable. We can make our own ice now. We can drive the few minutes to the grocery store to get our milk. We can stream just about any movie we want any time we want. However, every once in awhile we miss that personal touch that those people brought to us. It makes the world a more lonely place and certainly a less personal one.
That’s likely the psychology at play when conservatives fight tooth and nail to keep coal and gas alive. Trains are probably the only major thing that uses coal. Even many of them don’t do that anymore. Homes certainly don’t use coal anymore and there are fewer coal miners in the United States than people working at JC Penny. I should add that JC Penny is another business that’s likely to be dead by the end of the decade.
So, coal is literally dead industry walking. People usually call those zombies. I don’t want to underscore the fear and anxiety that is caused by being a part of a dying industry. What do I do now? What else am I trained for? How do I feed my family? These are questions that have historically had answers, but those answers didn’t come overnight. Politicians could help in that regard, but they are too busy feeding that anxiety.
That brings us to oil and gas. A high school classmate of mine published a picture of the gas prices where he lives. They were over nine dollars a gallon. We can calmly explain rudimentary concepts of supply and demand. We can calmly explain that we knew this would happen. They taught us this in social studies classes. Fossil fuels are a finite resource. One day they will be gone. I don’t know exactly when that day will be, but I know we’ve been discussing it for at least forty years.
Another of his friends (one I debated with over guns) chose to lambast the Green New Deal. It has become the bogeyman for those resistant to change. He said there was no way that our infrastructure could handle a nation full of electric cars. So, somehow the left is responsible for the market collapsing before our very eyes. Then, we get the not so subtle misunderstanding of what the Green New Deal was all about.
It’s not even a single piece of legislation really. The whole idea is that we know coal and gas will go away and needs to go away. We know the environment can’t withstand unlimited amounts of emissions. We know that renewable energy is ultimately safer, cheaper, and better for the environment. We know that it would lead to energy independence. We know if we start making the transition now then those working in those industries can make smoother transitions to something else.
It’s really the tale of two businesses. Blockbuster video assessed onerous late fees and convenience charges to bleed out every drop of blood out of that rock. They’re dead. Netflix began as a competitor that tried to make renting movies easier. They also saw the future and became one of the first streaming services. They’ve stayed in business while Blockbuster is long gone. Similarly, energy companies can be a part of the next wave or they can go the way of Blockbuster. No politician will be able to prevent that. No politician should try.