The opposite of marketing is making us think

Holman Jenkins asks “Do you find yourself living in a nation where the elites are a disappointment?”  His answer is:  it is/was ever thus, and “The only good answer is a federal government that stops mass-producing so many vested interests.”

He lists examples – Central bankers, labor unions and their allies, politicians, business leaders – but saves his best for “Green energy impresarios”:

A member of the elite, surely, is the richest man in the world,Bill Gates, who let the cat out of the bag recently, saying subsidies to today’s green energy technology are a waste of money and capable of influencing climate only at a cost that is “beyond astronomical.”

Marketing by definition is selling us ideas that agree with our intuition. The opposite of marketing is making us think. Green energy is marketing. People like Elon Musk are not selling solutions to global warming, they are selling $100,000 T-shirts that say “I’m doing something about global warming.” Even then, he requires involuntary exactions from taxpayers to make his T-shirt business viable.

Mr. Musk knows better but he plays along because it’s working very well for him. That’s what elites do.

His environmentalist supporters play along because public policy victories are precious and don’t bear close inspection to see if they are real victories. Politicians play along because it accommodates their donors and generates crowd-pleasing sound bites and headlines, and that’s good enough for them, even if the real-world effects are nil or negative.

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