Keystone Kop

Former President George W. Bush Jr, to an oil industry conference on 14 November:

I think the goal of the country ought to be “how do we grow the private sector?” That ought to be the laser-focus of any administration. And therefore, once that’s the goal, an issue like [the] Keystone pipeline becomes a no-brainer.

He should know.


  1. Warren Terra says


    Ah yes, the Keystone XL pipeline, which promises a small number of short-term construction jobs, a vanishingly small number of long-term support and maintenance jobs – and all so that the dirtiest, most destructive fuel source in the world can more efficiently be extracted and shipped to China, a fuel source whose use should be discontinued on the grounds of so-called “oil dust” alone, even if there weren’t all the many other problems, and a pipeline that promises inevitably to despoil and destroy large swathes of our heartland when it inevitably leaks, likely including our aquifers. That we’re even contemplating approving this suicide pact is an indictment of our society.

    • MobiusKlein says


      Didn’t promise jobs, but “how do we grow the private sector?”. If you think about the $ in certain private sector areas, it will grow some.

      GOP economic policy is never driven by a goal of job growth. Just GDP growth, and if jobs come or go, it’s not the point.

      • Therapsid says


        Job growth isn’t the goal of Democratic economic policy either.

        Even if a relative few jobs are lost through shutting down Keystone, that still means a loss of jobs in exchange for things like climate, the environment, and quality of life.

        So, Democrats are equally willing to exchange jobs for other goods.

        In any event, GDP growth is the substrate upon which social mobility is built.

        • says


          There actually is a lump of labour, and it’s determined by aggregate demand for goods and services, not by any single investment project. The way for the US government to increase employment just now is to run a bigger deficit. The GOP has a “laser-like focus” on preventing this.

        • MobiusKlein says


          for the assertion that GDP growth is the substrate for social mobility, I ask for some proof.
          (as compared to, say, quality free education, lead free childhood, or violence free childhood)

          And definitions of what ‘social mobility’ means, because it does not sound like ‘income inequality’.

          And why ‘social mobility’ is more important than a baseline quality of life at all income levels. (such as Universal Healthcare)

          • Warren Terra says


            It ain’t necessarily so:
            Inequality, economic growth and social mobility
            Richard Breen
            British Journal of Sociology Vol 48, No 3 (1997): 429-449
            Pullquote from the Abstract, in case my academic IP address is getting me to protected content others can’t see:

            We show that there is no necessary link between rates of social mobility and levels of economic growth. This, we suggest, provides an explanation of why rates of social mobility show very little cross-national variation and display no very evident trend over time towards greater societal openness.

            see also this, which cites some other sources, and makes the argument that where there is evidence for a correlation between social mobility and growth, this proves neither the existence nor more importantly the direction of causation: even where there is a correlation (as there may be, it’s apprently a dispued question), it is as conceivable that greater social mobility drives greater growth as it is the other way ’round.

  2. Andrew Sabl says


    Nice zinger, James.

    My son, corrupted by *Mad* magazine (who thought it would last longer than Life or Newsweek?), has become fond of the old-fashioned insults “nitwit” and “numbskull.” In his mouth the dead metaphors come alive and actually sound quite wonderful. The ex-president indeed has no more wisdom than would fit in a louse’s egg.

    • Dennis says


      News sources come, and news sources go. Good satire is hard to find. Mad has been providing good satire for more than 50 years…

      BTW, Newsweek lasted (in print) 1933- 1952, Life 1883- 2000 (albeit in various formats, from weekly, to irregular to monthly). Mad has a way to go yet.

  3. Dead or In Jail says


    There are so many good arguments against Keystone XL. Here are three(3):

    1) Climate change is real and is already imposing disastrous costs for those who live near coasts. We must arrest climate change and not exacerbate it.

    2) There simply aren’t that many jobs to be gained from Keystone XL. If we must continue to extract fossil fuels, fracking for NatGas is a much better way to goose our economy.

    3) Building the Keystone Pipeline not only risks environmental catastrophe, it is guaranteed to blow up the private property rights of significant number in order to enrich a small number of oil executives.

    Despite an embarrassment of riches in terms of substantive arguments against Keystone XL–any two of which could be dispositive–you decided to take a cheap shot against President Bush. Much like Keystone XL, President Bush’s legacy has more drawbacks to qualify as a regrettable idea (e.g., Iraq War, Medicare Part D, signing the awful McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform, teaming with Sen. Kennedy to pass No Child Left Behind, ad infinitum) and yet you decide to take a substance-free pot-shot at President Bush? In this target-rich environment, you decide to take pot shots? What the heck, James Wimberly?

    • James Wimberley says


      I said my piece on Keystone at some humourless length before: here, here, and here.
      I’m not on any kind of fence here. Perhaps you underestimate the power of ridicule, against both dumb public figures and dumb projects.