‘Real Men Burn Stuff’: Economist Krugman Sees Defensive Machismo in Trump Solar Trade War
Why does the Trump administration fear clean, cheap renewables, and have a fetish for toxic fossils? It’s partly a sex thing, the New York Times’ Nobel-prize-winning economics columnist Paul Krugman speculates.
Late last month, the White House levied a hefty tariff on solar panels and cells imported into the United States. Aimed nominally at China, the trade action will do more harm to several supposed American allies—and to America itself, Krugman says.
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“The solar panel tariff will surely destroy many more jobs than it will create,” he predicts. “It will put a crimp in one of the U.S. economy’s big success stories, the rapid growth of renewable energy. Overall, there are around five times as many people working for the solar energy sector as there are coal miners.”
So, why did Trump do it?
Aside from the fact that Trump’s default switch seems set to “bully,” it could, Krugman concedes, be all about the money.
“What’s good for the Koch brothers may not be good for America, but it’s good for GOP campaign finance,” he notes. And what’s good for the Koch brothers is definitely still the “dirty, old power sources, especially coal.”
But sex is in there, too, Krugman asserts. Trump’s salvo against solar panels may well be an anxious effort to assert red-blooded, alpha-male contempt for “hippy-dippy” renewables.
“Trump and others recall the heyday of fossil fuels as a golden age, forgetting how ghastly air and water pollution used to be. 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.” Hence the tongue-in-cheek title of Krugman’s opinion piece: “The Economics of Dirty, Old Men.”