I’m a Betting Man

A letter I just sent Al Gore (through an old contact named Kaylee):

Dear Mr. Gore,

Aside from your relentless quest to get governments around the world to adopt industrial policies that don’t make sense, I see that you fancy yourself Nostradamus as well, claiming that you are prescient enough to know what the growth industries of the 21st century will be. From your New York Times column:

And we would still trail China in the race to develop smart grids, fast trains, solar power, wind, geothermal and other renewable sources of energy — the most important sources of new jobs in the 21st century.

Aside from the fact that the most robust correlation in growth theory is conditional convergence; which means that we should expect China to develop faster, using newer technology, simply from the point in which they started, I believe that your characterization of the “important sources” of new jobs in the 21st century are all relegated to turn-of-the-20th century thinking. It simply does not follow that heavy industry will generate the employment for most (or even a relatively large number of) people throughout the rest of the century. Even if you are a bear on Ray Kurzweil’s vision, this can not be the case. Not only is it not the case, but you promoting this type of industrial policy instead of the principles of free trade is threatening to make everyone in the world poorer.

So, I offer you a friendly wager of $100, even odds, that says “smart grids, fast trains, solar power, wind, geothermal, and other renewable sources of energy” will not constitute more than 1/5th of the employment in the United States in 2030. Each of us will buy a 20-yr bond, and the winner donate the proceeds to his chosen charity. Why do you say?


Niklas Blanchard

I don’t hold any hope of Mr. Gore responding, but it’s always fund to write letters =].


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