There are no such things as unintended consequences. There are consequences and ignorance, and as I’ll show in this post, you really have to ask yourself how some people are promoted to their level of incompetence.
First, let’s start with an example fellow blogger Joel Gilbert, aka Captain Obvious, posted, Tone Deaf, Are They? The source of the post is an op-ed from The Wall Street Journal in which they describe John Kerry’s concern for climate change as Vladimir Putin is pummeling Ukraine. Kerry is quoted, “I hope President Putin will help us to stay on track with respect to what we need to do for the climate.” Note to the “Climate Envoy”: Vladimir Putin doesn’t give a ruble about climate change, nor does Chairman Xi of the Chinese Communist Party.
Making the Bear
The people living under these regimes are the victims, including those in Ukraine, Russia, and China. Not reported is that Ukraine was a hot mess. The United States aided all that by pushing NATO east, allegedly funding uprisings in Russia to dethrone Putin and a coup to put Zelensky in place in 2014, as described by The Progressive Magazine. As the article states, the mainstream press isn’t interested in that. USA Today reported that Ukraine’s former President, Viktor Yanukovych, was pro-Russian. Hmm.
Regime change by external forces (the US) never ends well. I could list at least a dozen disasters, like the coup that put the Shaw of Iran in power in 1953, which ended with 444 days of Americans held hostage and humiliation from 1979 to 1981.
Feeding the Bear
Additionally, NATO countries gave Putin energy resources to use as a weapon. You may recall a company called Uranium One, which gave Putin an outsize share of control over the world’s uranium resources, including those in the United States, in exchange for massive contributions to a certain non-profit. Read about it here in The New York Times. At the same time, or maybe a little later, European countries have allowed themselves to be more vulnerable to oil and natural gas supplies from Russia. Punishing Putin with energy sanctions is like cutting off his food supply while cutting off Europe’s oxygen supply.
In case you clicked any of the links, you may notice that they are all old articles, years before 2022. Why would that be? Because the press doesn’t care about cause and effect. They’re practically begging for expanding the war.
Hitting the People
The sanctions on Russia hit the Russian people the hardest. I recently heard news reports that US Corporations are pulling out of Russia. Again, they are playing to the emotions of free countries. The New York Times provides a list of companies hightailing it out of the country. I’m sure Putin won’t miss KFC, and he’s not a Levi’s customer. All it’s doing is creating scarcity for the Russian people, putting them out of work, and driving up prices. The objective is likely driving for regime change in Russia, but that’s not how dictatorships roll.
Meanwhile, the West has some brilliant ways to ease the energy burden on citizens. Germany is handing out €300 to reduce the energy burden, and California’s Gavin Newsom proposes $400 per vehicle, max two per household, to ease the energy burden. These policies only exacerbate the problem, much of which is a lack of sufficient supply. As I’ve told members of our leadership team over the past couple of years, distributing freshly-created money to everyone in exchange for nothing creates an oversupply of cash and shortages of goods and services. Result: inflation of everything from homes to equities, commodities, and finally, retail goods. It takes at least a year for monetary policy to show up, and showing up, it is.
Also, here in peacetime America, we have a similar misguided policy I cannot explain. To avoid a repeat of the 2021 blackout in Texas, the Public Utilities Commission of Texas reduced the cap on electricity prices from $9 per kWh to $5 per kWh. I don’t understand. Price controls exacerbate shortages now and years into the future. Please help me out here.
Another one of my favorites is tapping the strategic oil reserve to lower prices, which has happened many times over the years. On March 1, the President announced a release of 30 million barrels from the reserve to “blunt gasoline prices,” to which I replied, “releasing 1.5 days of consumption onto the market won’t do anything.” Did you notice the blunt? But then, while I know how much oil the US consumes like I know there are eight ounces in a cup, the Secretary of Energy doesn’t know how much oil the country consumes.
I take a wide variety of perspectives, aka diversity, because there are typically good points across the board. Policies can take years or decades to hit the fan, and the big ones come from a diverse chain of actors across the political spectrum.
Think it through. Learn from mistakes, especially others’ mistakes. De-emotionalize because what seems like a logical idea now typically festers and comes back to bite hard later. As with systemic energy waste in buildings, find the true source of the problem rather than treat symptoms that will make situations worse.