Victor Davis Hanson

None of these protestors discuss the effects of 2 billion Chinese, Indian, Korean and Japanese workers entering and mastering the globalized capitalist system, and making things more cheaply and sometimes better than their Western counterparts.

None of these protestors ever stop to ponder the costs -- and ultimately the effect on their own lifestyles -- of skyrocketing energy costs. Since 1970 there has been a historic, multitrillion-dollar transfer of capital from the West to the Middle East, South America, Africa and Russia through the importation of high-cost oil and gas.

None seem to grasp the significance that, meanwhile, hundreds of millions of Westerners are living longer and better, retiring earlier, and demanding ever more expensive government pensions and health care.

Something had to give.

And now it has. Federal and state budgets are near bankrupt. Countries like Greece and Italy face insolvency. The U.S. government resorts to printing money to service or expand entitlements. Near-zero interest rates, declining home prices, and huge losses in mutual funds and retirement accounts have crippled the middle classes.

Bigger government, marvelous new inventions and creative new investment strategies are not going to restore the once-taken-for-granted good life. Until "green" means competitive renewable energy rather than a con for crony capitalists, we are going to have to create and save capital by producing more of our own gas and oil, and relying more on nuclear power and coal.

Westerners will have to work a bit longer and more efficiently, with a bit less redistributive government support. And they must confess that venture capitalists, hedge funds and big deficit-spending governments are no substitute for producing themselves the real stuff of life that millions now take for granted -- whether gas, food, cars or consumer goods.

Otherwise, a smaller, older and whinier West will just keep blaming others as their good life slips away. So it's past time to stop borrowing to import energy and most of the things we use but have given up producing -- and get back to competing in the real world.


Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and a recipient of the 2007 National Humanities Medal.