One might almost pity Rick Perry. As the secretary of energy, he has to implement Trump’s impossible campaign promise to bring back coal mining jobs. Remember back in 2011, when Perry was running for president, he promised to abolish the Department of Energy? In a foreshadowing of things to come, he said that he wanted to eliminate three departments,”It’s three agencies of government, when I get there, that are gone—Commerce, Education and the, um, what’s the third one there? Let’s see.”
Now Perry is running the department whose name he couldn’t even remember. But he has no clue what he’s doing. He made this painfully clear on Thursday during his first official visit to West Virginia, where he spoke at a coal plant. Managing to be condescending and completely wrong at the same time, he told listeners,
Here’s a little economics lesson: supply and demand. You put the supply out there and the demand will follow.
With this, Perry managed to demonstrate that he has no understanding of economics. Supply and demand is a staple of economics classes. It actually describes how pricing changes as supply and demand change. For example, if the demand for coal increases and the supply stays the same, then the price goes up. Conversely, if the supply goes up, the price goes down. But economics doesn’t magically guarantee that more supply will produce more demand, as demonstrated by everyone who never bought a Microsoft Zune.
The bizarre claim also suggests that Perry has no knowledge of what’s happening in energy markets. Here in the United States, coal looks unlikely to become competitive with natural gas anytime soon. Globally, analysts are expecting the world to produce millions of more tons of coal than the world needs this year.
Perry should know better, since he took the class Principles of Economics when he studied at Texas A&M University. But he probably didn’t understand much of what was taught, since he received a D in the class. He also took Composition and Rhetoric, a class that teaches “analytical reading ability, critical thinking, and library research skills.” While he managed to get a C, apparently the lessons didn’t take.