On Cap and Trade, Righties Aren’t Betraying Their Own Principles

Righties never betray their own principles, because they don’t have any principles. The closest thing they’ve got to a principle is the knee-jerk, Pavlovian opposition to anything that can be labeled “liberal,” “progressive” or “democratic,” either capitalized or not.

I bring this up because Paul Krugman writes,

The truth is that conservatives who predict economic doom if we try to fight climate change are betraying their own principles. They claim to believe that capitalism is infinitely adaptable, that the magic of the marketplace can deal with any problem. But for some reason they insist that cap and trade — a system specifically designed to bring the power of market incentives to bear on environmental problems — can’t work.

You know that the teabagbots who wave “down with cap and tax” signs at town hall meetings couldn’t explain what the “cap and trade” program is even if you gave them the Cliff’s notes and a half hour to study them. The truth is that the cap and trade model is probably the most conservative (in the dictionary sense of the word) and business-friendly means anyone has come up with to bring down carbon emissions. It challenges industries to come up with their own solutions and then rewards innovation and results.

As I see it, the alternatives are (1) doing nothing, or (2) what Paul Bledsoe of the National Commission on Energy Policy calls “command and control through the existing Clean Air Act,” which in the current political climate is about as likely to happen as Holsteins climbing trees. In fact, some on the Left are opposed to cap and trade because it is too business friendly. They charge that it will turn into another way for the financial sector to make a lot of money while screwing the rest of us.

But our captains of industry prefer Option 1, not doing anything. I suspect they plan to pull an Auto Industry — keep on as if there’s no problem and hope the crash doesn’t come until they’ve retired. And then government can bail out whatever poor sucker is running the company when that happens.

However, Juliet Eilperin writes for the Washington Post that the

Obama administration will formally declare Monday that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions pose a danger to the public’s health and welfare, a move that lays the groundwork for an economy-wide carbon cap even if Congress fails to enact climate legislation, sources familiar with the process said. …

…It could trigger a series of federal regulations affecting polluters, from vehicles to coal-fired power plants.

My guess is that if they thought the Obama Administration might really hit them with stringent regulations, the captains of industry will suddenly decide cap and trade isn’t so bad.

Right wing propaganda to the contrary, cap and trade is proving to be a success in Europe. Krugman also says,

The acid rain controversy of the 1980s was in many respects a dress rehearsal for today’s fight over climate change. Then as now, right-wing ideologues denied the science. Then as now, industry groups claimed that any attempt to limit emissions would inflict grievous economic harm.

But in 1990 the United States went ahead anyway with a cap-and-trade system for sulfur dioxide. And guess what. It worked, delivering a sharp reduction in pollution at lower-than-predicted cost.

5 thoughts on “On Cap and Trade, Righties Aren’t Betraying Their Own Principles

  1. It baffles me how anyone except someone with a death wish can be against halting the poisoning of our planet.

  2. I went to an interesting talk a couple weeks ago where a guy talked about how his company was buying up carbon offsets on a micro – scale. I didn’t understand how it worked, but somehow if one of us decides to buy one ton of carbon off-set (say purchasing some sustainable tree planting project in Costa Rica [if you want explore this topic, this website has more information http://www.clearskyclimatesolutions.com/%5D ) the company can estimate a value for your carbon offset (General Electric’s carbon offset would be more valuable than my carbon offset) and then trade it in a quasi stock market.

  3. It baffles me how anyone except someone with a death wish can be against halting the poisoning of our planet.

    I find myself wondering similar things. Do these people have grandchildren, but hate them very much? Are they Millennialists who overslept? Are they mass murderers afraid of the loud noises a gun or bombs would make?

    Perhaps the simplest explanation is the right one (Occam’s Razor): they’re in denial about something that threatens their world of selfish comforts and outsized, wasteful toys. “If I can’t have my Escalade and my styrofoam, I don’t wanna liiiiiive!” (To which they give me no choice but to respond: “Yeah, well, bye.”)

  4. Pingback: (Serious) Man Made Dangers | Xenia Institute

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