The old farmer says, "Don't eat your seed corn. You need it for planting."
What would Steve Mnuchin say about that? Donald Trump's treasury secretary clearly would say, "It depends. Can it be sold on the futures market?"
We know what Trump's man heading the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, would say: "Seed corn makes great fritters. Fry 'em up."
Team Trump is all about immediate gratification -- aka the next meal -- or at least the next election: not so much as a glance down the road past that.
Trump and Republicans in Congress engineered a tax cut that will drive up the federal deficit by $1.2 trillion over the next decade. For what? Principally, so that America's wealthiest will be wealthier.
Yes, most of us will pay less in taxes. That will mean mainly two things: (1) more debt for your children and grandchildren; (2) strained public services for all.
Somebody in the tea party – for whom red ink was Satan's tonic -- explain that bargain.
Wait, say supporters of short-side (short-sighted) economics. Look at the economy.
No question, the economy looks good -- an upswing that was in gear before Trump took office. It's no surprise, though, that big tax cuts would help. The question is, "At what cost?"
Similar tax cuts preceded the Great Depression. So did tariffs. One could Google "Smoot-Hawley" to learn about this, but don't try schooling Donald Trump on history.
Now let's talk about the long-term economics of saving energy. Scott Pruitt doesn't get it.
Pruitt wants to roll back fuel standards that the Obama administration negotiated with automakers.
Not only did that agreement look to conserve finite petroleum sources, but fuel economy saves Americans money.
The concessions in those standards are slated to reduce fleet efficiency by a stunning 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025.
Imagine the oil saved by that. Now imagine the savings for Americans. The Union of Concerned Scientists finds that the average household could miss out on nearly $28,000 in fuel savings by 2030 should Pruitt get his way.
The same analysis found that the standards have already saved $58 billion in fuel costs since 2012.
We won't mention the greenhouse emissions averted by Obama's wise policy, something to which, again, automakers agreed in exchange for the federal bail-out during the Great Recession.
We won't mention that carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere just reached their highest point in 800,000 years.
Let's not mention that the greenhouse effect is fact, not theory.
Let's observe instead that saving finite energy sources means we have more of them in the future (you know, like seed corn), that regardless of the CO2 issue, using less fossil fuel means less pollution in general – ozone, hydrocarbons, soot, mercury.
The fact is, everything about reducing fuel consumption is good -- unless one doesn't care at all about the environment, or the future.
By the way, the last time CO2 levels were this high was the mid-Pliocene era. At that time, global temperatures soared, the ice sheets in Greenland and West Antarctica melted, and ocean levels were 10 to 20 meters higher than today.
Don't worry about that future, say today's political leaders. We have an election coming up. Excessive heat? With melted butter, that's how seed corn becomes delicious popcorn.