Forced Choice

There is a little discussed concept with an interesting history called “Forced Choice”; it says that if the size of the space is limited, choices made to fill that space reflect larger issues and fundamental decision making.  The original proponents looked for a reflection of underlying factors and priorities.  A change in relative priorities, or space consumed, plus or minus reflected a change in focus or priorities.  When faced with limitations, choices close in on core motivations. 

This concept became a guiding principal to pre WWII citizen intelligence analysts.  Analysis mainly ignored.  The analysis was done by guys who saw something bad coming in Europe, and hoped not. They saw that defense and intelligence resources had been dismantled as a result of post WWI isolationism. They looked for a way to generate intelligence analysis based only on readily available open source material.

In Germany, as an example,  when the relative percentage of front page reporting related to “Jewish transgressions” steadily increased, these guys saw the trend and predicted Nazi oppression of the Jewish population well in advance of the horrors of the Holocaust.  They got the big picture right, based on the evaluation of symptoms.  You can too.

If you are committed to a green economy as a matter of faith, the Gulf Debacle may make perfect sense to you.  If you believe the quickest way to make the economics of going green look good is to spike the price of petroleum, the Gulf Debacle may make perfect sense.  If you need an evil straw man as a foil; this one is custom made. 

There are only three ways to take green economics out of the red in the short term. 

You can subsidize; the President appeared as we committed $500,000 per green job at a battery plant.  Similar to what it cost Spain per job to implement a green program that they have abandoned as an economic drain capable of crashing their economy.  At least a real live subsidized entity will produce something, for a while.  It may evolve; there could be a breakthrough at that battery manufacturing plant!  Who knows?  At least it’s real and that brings “possible” into play at $500,000 per job to produce technology that, in an ideal world is quickly surpassed by new innovation.  That’s what all this money is for, right, progress, technology, innovation?     

Secondly, if you can inflate the price of oil sufficiently green looks good economically……by comparison, in the moment, not against the trends.  The moment a movement toward market based policies related to production and pricing returns green will crash absent a technological breakthrough.  Green will crash even harder if policy change includes aggressive pursuit of domestic resources.  Forced choice?

Finally, you can innovate.  Come up with what it takes to make a solar panel 80% efficient and can actually be manufactured, or find the final answer to nuclear waste disposal.  Hey, you brilliant young folks, this is your gig, get after it!  While you’re at it maybe you could make a deal with environmentalists that would allow you to run wire from the windmills you’ve already constructed, to the energy grid?  Just saying! 

A great leap forward?  We have the talent, but must wonder if they’ve been unleashed?  Want a green deal that works economically? Unleash the talent, provide resources, get the research coordinated; manage the process. I’ll pay for that!  Subsidize the people who might actually solve the problems.  Make it a Manhattan project.  Two brothers doubled the range of a Prius in their garage, what happened to them?

“China is ahead of us in green investments” bleats the Administration; no argument, it’s probably true considering the game is being player with our money.  However, thinking back; looking for an innovation of significance from the Chinese lately.  Nope, it’s just not coming to me!  Chinese investments are in green component manufacturing not research, they have us for that. 

The Chinese will be polite; “Thank you for handing over the innovation; we will produce it for you at a dollar a day, (Thought balloon “you greedy bastard”)”.  “Oh, wait, wait, we may also just go ahead and reverse engineer the components; you’ve been educating our engineers, mathematicians and physicists for decades, thank you comrade.”  “And, how about that Google, real pain in the butt, huh?” 

The last year’s worth of global energy deals leads you an easy perception; there were a lot of very big deals: Russia, Venezuela, Argentina, Europe, China and a variety of African nations to name a few.  The deals had nothing to do with green; the deals were for exploration, production and transportation on a massive scale.  No big deals based on green technology, green need not apply; oil and gas only please.  Just one of those deals involved the U.S. That was more of a courtesy call that lost out to Russia in the end, those Russians can be charming; I kid you not, charming! 

Add up the open source information and you decide what’s in the “Forced Choice” box and what’s out. 

  • Billions for Green Energy, stimulus, ongoing subsidies.
  • The “science” in support of the “green crisis” is in dispute.
  • Continual global political pressure for more investment in green solutions despite facts in dispute.
  • Perpetual proposals from the Global Community to tax all energy to the benefit of underdeveloped nations as payment due for prior sins, mainly European colonization.
  • Polling indicates support for green research and the fundamental wisdom of it but further demonstrates an understanding that there is a transition period to get from here to there and that domestic resources should be fully in play during the transition.
  • Increasing percentages of domestic Federal lands restricted from exploration
  • Production Moratorium in the Gulf.
  • Know reserves, massive reserves are off limits.
  • Cap & Trade legislation, temporarily on hold, would skyrocket energy costs according to the President.
  • Essential disembowelment of BP, by the time it’s over BP will be a small part of Conoco.
  • No new Federal lease grants
  • Thousands of Gulf jobs gone with the moratorium, a major contraction of Gulf oil industry all but guaranteed.
  • Misrepresentation by the Administration of the Administration’s own experts relative to the moratorium; experts did not think it was necessary; the report was doctored to say it was.   
  • All available resources were not deployed to the Gulf based on logic ranging from Jones Act restrictions to not deploy resources because there “could” be another one in three thousand event.  You’re not done; you have to multiply the 1-3000 odds over thirty years by the current time pressure logic.  1 – 3000 over decades converted to the assumption it could happen any moment. Very long odds.    
  • Interagency cat fights slowed down the processes necessary to respond quickly and effectively; there were a lot of bureaucrats, that might help explain things.
  • How did the Fed’s stop Gov. Bobby Jindal?  They refused to pay!  Economic terrorism at it’s worst.   

See any movement from where you were two years ago, four years ago?  Feel better now, more confident more optimistic? Has the wind direction changed; warmer or colder?  Is the green agenda simply one of many movements aimed at “fundamental change?”  

The same dynamics apply to financial regulation and health care. 

What about Forced Choice?  Well, it doesn’t apply if the available space always expands to equal what you want to put in it.