By Jim Whitt, Contributing Editor

As much as I love America, these are the times that try an optimist’s soul,” opined economist Lawrence Kudlow in a recent editorial.

I agree. You have to look long and hard to find anything to be optimistic about nowadays, but I found a glimmer of hope in the LinkedIn Workforce Confidence Index. The index was compiled over a 90-day period ending in June this year. 30,000 LinkedIn members were surveyed about their employer’s six-month outlook.

Of the 50 industries included in the survey, respondents were most optimistic about the machinery sector, which included companies such as Caterpillar whose stock value increased 71 percent over the last year. Caterpillar has more than 1,000 openings worldwide and is paying a $1,000 signing bonus for technicians.

Other high-confidence industries included trucking and railroads. George Anders, senior editor at large for LinkedIn, summarized the results like this, “Overall, we’re seeing a standout moment for U.S. industries that run on diesel ….”

This survey did not poll academics, economists, politicians or activists. The optimism comes from people who actually work in the industries represented. Their opinions are based on reality instead of politics and activism.

The pandemic created an alternate universe where reality has been suspended. It created the perfect storm for the government to take even more control of our lives. According to the New York Times, “The goal of the Green New Deal (GND) is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in order to avoid the worst consequences of climate change while also trying to fix societal problems like economic inequality and racial injustice.”

We’ve been told that we must switch from fossil fuels to electricity to save the planet. Well, you don’t see loaders, tractors, trucks and trains plugged into Tesla charging stations. With few exceptions, they run on fossil fuels. Agriculture runs on fossil fuels. The supply chains for every industry run on fossil fuels. Fossil fuels heat our homes and businesses.

The LinkedIn Workforce Confidence Index tells us fossil fuels are not only not going to go away, but that industries that run on these fuels are the industries that will lead us out of the current economic malaise. But fossil fuels will be more expensive because Joe Biden crippled our domestic oil and gas industries by executive order. What’s sad is we were energy independent and now he is begging OPEC for oil to offset the spike in fuel prices that he created.

Proponents of the GND live in La La Land, which Merriam-Webster defines as “a euphoric, dreamlike mental state detached from the harsher realities of life.” These proponents are elitists who can afford to live in La La Land because it has little impact on their lifestyles. The masses may be all for the GND until the harsher realities of life hit them in their pocketbooks. If the masses have to choose between being environmentally correct or being able to afford gas and groceries, which will they choose?

The people who participated in the LinkedIn Workforce Confidence Index survey do not live in La La Land. They live in the real world. If they are optimistic about the machinery sector and trucking and railroads, that should give hope to all of us who live in the real world.

People will still drive fossil-fueled vehicles. People will still fly in fossil-fueled planes. Agriculture will still use fossil-fueled equipment to produce food, which will be delivered to our dinner plates by fossil-fueled trucks and trains.

The La La Land idea that plant-based and synthetic meat will displace real meat is no more realistic than electricity displacing fossil fuels. Real people will still eat real beef.

Hey, that would be a great idea for an ad campaign: “Beef. Real Food for Real People.” Oh wait, that’s already been done. But it’s just as true today as when James Garner drove his fossil fueled 1959 Chevy pickup to the steakhouse in those 1980s beef commercials.

Yes, we have been living in an alternate universe where we’re supposed to believe reducing greenhouse gas emissions will stop climate change and achieve economic equality and racial justice. That’s La La Land. Meanwhile, we’re seeing a standout moment for U.S. industries that run on diesel. That’s reality.

E-mail comments to jim@purposeunlimited.com