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Gus Van Horn blog

Reblogged:The Value of Stating Your Honest Opinion

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Over the weekend I accidentally had the pleasure of shutting down an annoying solicitor cold. On top of that, I gained a positive interaction with a neighbor and perhaps further small opportunities to support the enormous value of industrial civilization.

At home with the kids while my wife was out helping her parents house-hunt, I heard a knock on the door. It was close to when I expected everyone back, so I half-expected my wife. Instead, I got one of today's equivalents of a patent medicine salesman: It was a representative of a solar panel installation company.

Image by Vivint Solar, via Unsplash, license.
We exchanged pleasantries, and then had something like the following brief conversation, picking up from the instant it became clear he wanted to push solar panels on me:

Me, cutting him off in mid-sentence: No thank you. I am not interested in solar panels.

Salesman: You're not interested in saving money?

Me: I'm not interested in government subsidies. Also, I support the continued use of fossil fuels because I don't think solar technology is anywhere close to being able to replace them.

Salesman: Would you like our brochure?

Me: No thanks. Thank you for your time.

Salesman: Have a good day.

Me: You, too.

I think this was an okay response, but not a perfect one, and I'm not going to beat myself up here: For one thing, I'm easing out of a long period of not having many face-to-face conversations like this.

That said, I look back wishing I'd noted that solar is actively harmful because it destabilizes the power grid, and had a clearer idea about how the government "incentivizes" it in Florida. (I believe it's actually primarily through tax breaks, although I would hardly be shocked if the apparent dollar cost savings seen by a homeowner turned out to be unimpressive over the long run.)

On the positive side of the ledger, I was firm, but polite. I successfully cut my time losses and spared myself a litany of green intellectual debris. I may have succeeded in doing my small part in countering the leftist trope that all opposition to environmentalism comes from knuckle-dragging troglodytes. And, perhaps the salesman at least knows that there are thinking people who question the premise that solar is a panacea.

Best yet, a neighbor happened to walk by while I was doing this. I didn't know who it was until later, when, driving by while I was outside with the kids, she stopped to thank me for shutting this guy down so quickly.

Although I think she was more impressed with the fact that I so quickly dispatched a solicitor, I did take the opportunity to reiterate my contention that solar is not a cheap or reliable power source, and I mentioned that Alex Epstein's The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels did a great job countering lots of garbage -- Yes, I used the term. No, I'm not sure that was the best time to use it. -- about energy and global warming hysteria.

Will my neighbor follow through on my recommendation? Time will tell. Did others overhear me make it? Maybe. But the most important thing was that I didn't let the guy guilt me or leave thinking he was offering anything of value to me. Unlike anyone else on my block (that I know of), I will not so much as have this person darken my door again, and, knowing how my mind works -- slowly and in the background -- I will have an even better answer the next time this happens, if there is one.

My main small regret is that I would have liked to more clearly register my moral disapproval of this racket in the moment, so as to avoid any staircase wit later on.

-- CAV

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