The Economics of Dirty Old Men

About washing machines: The legal basis of the new tariff is a finding by the United States International Trade Commission that the industry has been injured by rising imports. The definition of “injury” is a bit peculiar: The commission admitted that the domestic industry “did not suffer a significant idling of productive facilities,” and that “there has been no significant unemployment or underemployment.” Nonetheless, the commission argued that production and employment should have expanded more than it did given the economy’s growth between 2012 and 2016 (you know, the Obama-era boom Trump insisted was fake).

.. Everything we know about the Trump administration suggests that hurting renewables is actually a good thing from its point of view. As I said, this is an administration of dirty old men.

.. Over all, there are around five times as many people working, in one way or another, for the solar energy sector as there are coal miners.

.. Last fall, Rick Perry, the energy secretary, tried to impose a rule that would in effect have forced electricity grids to subsidize coal and nuclear plants. The rule was shot down, but it showed what these guys want. From their point of view, destroying solar jobs is probably a good thing.

.. what’s good for the Koch brothers may not be good for America (or the world), but it’s good for G.O.P. campaign finance. Partly it’s about blue-collar voters, who still imagine that Trump can bring back coal jobs. (In 2017 the coal industry added 500, that’s right, 500 jobs. That’s 0.0003 percent of total U.S. employment.)

.. It’s also partly about cultural nostalgia: Trump and others recall the heyday of fossil fuels as a golden age

.. But I suspect that it’s also about a kind of machismo, a sense that real men don’t soak up solar energy; they burn stuff instead.

.. You shouldn’t even call it protectionism, since its direct effect will be to destroy far more jobs than it creates. Plus it’s bad for the environment. So much winning!