Well Bless Our Heart

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Almost 40 years ago, I moved from Massachusetts to Alabama. A few years later, I was at a party where I overheard a woman complaining to her friends about her husband’s diet. It was a fad diet that he had adopted after being gruffly informed by his doctor that he needed to shed 100 pounds to avoid future heart failure. But 20 years later, he had lost barely a single pound. Of the diet, she said, “It’s ridiculously expensive, absurdly difficult to prepare, and it simply doesn’t work.” Of her husband, she said, “He’s stubborn as a mule; he won’t try a different diet; he just wants to keep pissing into the wind.” Pausing in exasperation, she added, “Well bless his heart.” And everyone laughed.

I didn’t get the joke, until a friend explained that “bless his [or her] heart” is often used by well-mannered Southerners as an expression of disapproval — the woman had just called her husband an idiot.

Biden doesn’t change the diet. He doesn’t notice that he has just been insulted. He hastily reaches for his checkbook.

 

When writing “Net Zero Intelligence” for Liberty, I thought about this story. For a moment it seemed like a reasonable allegory for the futility of the net zero carbon emissions scheme — an austere fad diet of solar panels and windmills that would cost more than $433 trillion, yet would produce a global temperature reduction of only 0.17°C. But a key element was missing: the obese husband didn’t know, in advance, that the diet wouldn’t work.

Let’s say that, at the outset, his doctor (let’s call him Dr. Slappy) told the man (let’s call him Brandon) that if he strictly followed the “Dr. Slappy Weight Loss Plan” for 20 years, his weight would be reduced by less than one pound. In this case, Brandon might have asked: are you telling me that if I follow your weight loss program for 20 years, doing so at enormous expense and lifestyle disruption, I will be merely one pound lighter, and teetering on the cusp of heart failure, despite my best efforts? And Dr. Slappy might have replied: yes — that, and that you are a moron for even considering such an embarrassingly ineffective, prohibitively expensive, inherently infeasible plan. At this point, Brandon might have declined. He might even have sought out a different doctor, with a different diet.

In the Net Zero Intelligence story, President Joe Biden is the patient. America elected him to make climate change policy decisions. So let’s say that one of Mr. Biden’s climate change gurus (let’s call him Dr. Slacky) told him that none of the climate change plans that rely on solar panels and windmills (Net Zero Carbon Emissions, the Green New Deal, the Paris Climate Accord, etc.) will reduce the global temperature by more than a small fraction of a degree. Then Mr. Biden, (possibly, conceivably) asks: are you telling me that if the US spends almost $500 trillion, scrupulously following your climate change prescription for the remainder of the century, the temperature will be reduced by less than one degree? But when Doctor Slacky replies, Yes — that, and that you are a moron for even considering such an embarrassingly ineffective, prohibitively expensive, inherently infeasible plan, Mr. Biden doesn’t change the diet. He doesn’t notice that he has just been insulted. He hastily reaches for his checkbook.

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