Jeffrey Sachs is at it again. Having gained fame as a theorist of why mass starvation is better than price inflation in the Second and Third Worlds, Sachs is now telling First Worlders that 21st century capitalism is going to be just peachy keen:
Taking shape, therefore, is nothing less than a new 21st-century model of capitalism itself, one which is committed to the dual objectives of economic development and sustainability, and is organised to steer core technologies to achieve these twin goals.
Consider the challenge of a bankrupt automobile sector, with General Motors and Chrysler on the verge of insolvency, and Ford not far behind. Rather than viewing the crisis merely as a traditional left-right debate over bail-outs versus market-driven bankruptcy, Obama recognised that the near-bankruptcy of the sector calls for a hands-on approach to transform the core of automotive technology itself. In the Obama strategy, GM will not be closed to punish it for past corporate or societal mistakes. It’s worth far too much as a world leader in the electric vehicles of the 21st century.
The work of moving from a few demonstration vehicles to a new mass industry will take a least a decade. The government will have to support research and development, the high costs of early models, public awareness and acceptance, and the supporting infrastructure. In the case of plug-in hybrids, this means a high-performance power grid fed by sustainable power generation, such as solar or wind power, or coal plants that capture and store the carbon dioxide. For fuel cells, it means a new infrastructure of hydrogen filling stations along the interstate highways and in the major cities.
All this, Sachs assures, is being brought to fruition by “a team of scientific and technological advisers of stunning quality, including two Nobel laureates (Steven Chu and Harold Varmus), and longstanding leaders in climate, energy, ecology and cutting-edge technologies.”
And, the good news doesn’t stop there, kids! “[W]ith America’s technological prowess, and Obama’s pivotal commitment, it [the United States] is likely to jump to the lead.”
So,in Sachs’ professional analysis, we stand not here:
This stunningly ignorant and dangerous piffle redoubles my appreciation of Dmitry Orlov’s observation that economists are “astrologers to the wealthy.”