Year 4, Month 7, Day 19: Nail Your Shoes To The Kitchen Floor

An Op-Ed in the Richmond Times-Dispatch demonstrates conservative myopia nicely:

President Obama’s climate plans, which he outlined Tuesday, address a real problem using the sub-optimal methods that have become the hallmark of his administration. As in health care, he would make gargantuan government even bigger, more complex, and more opaque. As in questions ranging from labor relations to Libya, he would act by executive fiat. And as always, he would shift ever more control from private to government hands.

The current plateau in global warming is not unique, and does not invalidate the scientific consensus that human activity is making the planet hotter in ways that will cause significant harm to millions of people. Government has a legitimate role to play in ameliorating that situation.

Unfortunately, Obama has chosen poor means to do so. Setting carbon quotas, appliance standards and mileage rules, for instance, requires armies of bureaucrats to oversee entire industries. A far more efficient and market-friendly answer to the negative externalities inflicted by greenhouse-gas emissions would involve taxing them so producers would have to internalize the costs. This would do much to level the energy playing field and make green energy price-competitive.

But letting market forces do their work is not this president’s way. He prefers the heavy and visible hand of government, preferably his. So he also has proposed further privileging renewable energy, even though some renewables inflict negative externalities that are far harder to quantify. (Wind turbines, for example, kill more than 573,000 birds a year.)

Some of the president’s proposals – such as a quadrennial energy review, similar to the quadrennial defense review conducted by the Pentagon – make good sense. Taken together, however, the package represents an unwieldy attempt to micromanage multiple sectors of the economy without the bother of involving the democratic process. It may become part of his administration’s legacy – but that is no cause for celebration by anyone.

Nothin’ to see here, folks. Move along. July 1:

If President Obama’s climate-change proposals really are big-government overreach, then perhaps it’s time for vocal advocates of market-based small-government solutions to step up to the plate. Where are the Republicans advocating ways to incentivize CO2 reductions? Where are conservative politicians who recognize the dangers of climate change, who seek to enlist the mechanisms of capitalism in the defense of our species, our civilization, and our planet?

Well, I won’t keep you in suspense. They’ve been expelled from their party. Thanks to the Tea Party coalition’s effective control of primary nominations, any member of the GOP who acknowledges the existence of human-caused climate change can expect the fate of former South Carolina Representative Bob Inglis, whose 2010 primary defeat was largely due to his willingness to elevate scientific facts above anti-science ideology.

To criticize the President’s plans without acknowledging that Republican intransigence makes legislative action on the crisis impossible is journalistic irresponsibility.

Warren Senders

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