Ecology, Environment & Conservatives

Conservatives think in terms of systems. We appreciate that ecology and economy share the same root because both are complex systems where outcomes are disproportionate to inputs and results can be distant from causes in time and space. Humans are deeply dependent on both systems, but can completely comprehend neither. In the 21st century, ecology and economy are inseparably connected and many of the same principles apply to both. This understanding colors our thinking.

Free market principles apply very well to the environment with one very big caveat - lack of ownership. People protect, nurture and cultivate what they own and are careful in the use of their own scarce necessities. They are less responsible when they encounter something that is owned by nobody or everybody. That is why the term “public bathroom” conjured up such a negative image when you just read it. The environment suffers precisely because it is the common property of nobody and everybody.

Governments have a legitimate and compelling interest to protect the environment because of the ownership problem. Conservatives, liberals and almost everyone in between recognizes this as truth, but they disagree about the extent, methods and efficacy of government interventions. Remember that both ecology and economy are complex systems. Making a law to ban of require something may not solve the problem and may create greater problems somewhere else in time or space.

Government intervention has mixed results. Many of today's troubling ecological problems result from earlier or continued government intervention. Government sponsored water projects have sometimes exacerbated flooding, destroyed wetlands or helped create deserts. Government subsidized insurance and building programs have encouraged people to build homes on unstable hillsides, sensitive coastal areas and in literally below sea level estuaries. Government programs helped introduce and spread invasive species such as kudzu, multiflora rose, nutria, which now destroy native habitat and cost millions of dollars each year to control.

On the plus side the environmental laws enacted in the 1970s are largely responsible for the vastly cleaner air and water Americans enjoy today. However, both ecology and economy are subject to the law of diminishing returns. Anybody who has ever dieted or exercised understands this. Early success comes easier and at lower cost. Cleaning up the first 90% costs less than the next 9% and the last 1% is impossible to accomplish at any cost.

Conservatives understand that people live in the world and that human beings must use the earth's resources. Recognition of humanity's place in nature and that a wise use of resources will ensure a sustainable future is the key to success. The idea that nature can be walled off from man or even that humans are blight on nature is perniciously wrong headed. Such ideas will result in greater human misery AND greater destruction of nature. Remember, people preserve and protect what they own. Too much nature separated now and forever from man is the ultimate example of something that is owned by everybody and nobody. People are clever. Eventually someone will figure out how to get at the nature behind the walls and especially if they do it illegally they do they will have little incentive to conserve or protect.

In both ecology and environment, wise use can produce more of the things you want, but you cannot have everything you want at the same time. A reasonable environmental policy recognizes this. Some places will not be natural. Some pollution is unavoidable and may be harmless. Remember that it is the amount - the dosage - that makes the difference between a deadly poison and a live saving medicine.

The environmental regulations enacted during the Nixon Administration worked reasonably well. They should not be reversed. Command and control is very effective when applied to big and urgent problems. It worked. Building on this success, the situation today calls for more subtle regulations and more innovative responses, in other words, an effective conservative solution. What does a conservative environmental policy look like? In many respects it looks like a liberal policy. Perhaps 90% is virtually identical. The difference is in methods and basic philosophy

The basic conservative philosophy is one of wise use. Ecology and the human economy are part of the same system. They are not in competition. In fact, both must be healthy for either of them to thrive. Of course we cannot have all the good things we want at the same time. A forest that is producing wood products this year will not be providing habitat for the animals of the deep woods. On the other hand, it will soon be a great place for the animals of the forest openings and in a generation’s time it will again be a deep wood while someplace else is producing those wood products. Tradeoffs are required. It is clearly not practical or desirable to demand zero pollution. That last 1-5% is almost impossible to clean up. The cost just is not worth the effort.

To go with this philosophy, the method for accomplishing goals is the market mechanism. Opponents misunderstand the market mechanism. They think it is about greed. Actually it is about empowerment. The market empowers individuals and voluntary groups to make decisions based on what they believe will be most beneficial to them and uphold their values. It rewards good choices while not requiring some experts to decide what a good choice is. The empowerment that the market gives releases human creativity. The free market has produced the wealthiest societies in the history of the world. Before the rise of the market democracies, poverty was a constant companion to humans always and everywhere. The free market, with the proper incentives, can also produce a cleaner environment at lower cost.

What about practical experience? Market based cap and trade in the 1990 Clean Air Act signed by the first President Bush effectively controlled acid rain at a lower cost than most estimates. When pollution becomes a cost, firms seek to control it and they can be more imaginative in their responses. Consider two hypothetical cases. In the one case, regulations dictate that pollution from plants cannot exceed a certain level and firms must install scrubbers to reduce pollution. You get a lot of dirty plants with scrubbers. If you make pollution a cost, firms may choose to use scrubbers, but some will switch fuels; others will shut down inefficient plants or perhaps rebuild with newer and cleaner technology. They will be able to reduce pollution faster and at lower cost. That is what happened in the real situation.

Alternative fuels provide a more recent example. When the price of gasoline rose, billions poured into research and development for alternatives.

In both ecology and economy, the best course is to find the points of leverage and then allow the nature or market mechanisms to work in an iterative way to create solutions that work and are sustainable. In ecology, the point of maximum leverage is the limiting factor. That is the thing that prevents or enables an organism or ecosystem to thrive. The point of maximum leverage is often the price. Price contains the known and anticipated scarcity of a product and at the same time provides incentives for individuals to buy more or less. W/o a decent price mechanism, no economy can thrive. It is a limiting factor.

Government can create the best possible responses when it works through prices. We already have taxes. Why not make them more effective? For example, the best way to control greenhouse gases is through a carbon tax. I support a carbon tax. It is such a simple and effective solution; it is hard to understand why we have not jumped on that wagon years ago. I believe it is resisted for several reasons beyond obvious objections to a tax. Leftist environmentalists worry that it might work w/o requiring wholesale changes in the current society. Redistribution would not be necessary. The market would quickly adapt to the higher prices with more efficient engines, imaginative technologies and alternative fuels. People who chose to drive SUVs could still do it, but those SUVs would get great mileage and perhaps produce almost no pollution. Free market firms are already figuring out ways to make green by being green. That upsets some puritan environmentalists. Profits offend them. The market can give us a clean environment with lifestyle not very different from the ones Americans enjoy today. It is that prospect that really frightens the leftist environmentalists. Honest environmentalists welcome the clean progress. Nature is indifferent to it all.

Posted by Jack at March 22, 2007 11:30 PM
Comments
Comment #213303

Jack, Your post is very thought provoking however as it is late I have just 1 question for you. Kudzu, was it a state or federal program that is to blame for the problem? Well one more comment, Conservatives really do not get it when it comes to the environment, perhaps a few conservatives with the ability to think get it, but as a whole they are in denial. That in and of itself is the problem. The liberals and conservatives are not disagreeing small they are disagreeing large on this issue.

Posted by: j2t2 at March 23, 2007 12:57 AM
Comment #213304

Jack, environmetalists (or ecologists, whatever) left and right are in favor of a CO2 cap & trade system. It’s your Republican political leaders that are preventing these wonderful market-based solutions from being enacted.

Posted by: American Pundit at March 23, 2007 1:35 AM
Comment #213307

The article talks of government and private business interests as separate, whereas we know that business spends $millions$ to lobby for the least impact on their short term profits, without regard to long term consequences. Ex: many mines have lobbied for weak worker safety and environmental standards, for instance. And if an expensive disaster occurs, either a government bailout or bankruptcy absolves the company of consequences. Enron stole workers’ retirement funds and criminal charges were not directed at any board members, nor will they face civil suites for their malfeasance.
It is important to recognize that there is no “free market” because of market manipulations, monopolies, insider trading, lobbied protections, vast corporate welfare (subsidies), wealth protection tax laws and selective or no enforcement (Chiquita Banana owners supported terrorists for goodness sake, and none will be taken to Gitmo for “interrogation”, and the IRS has been strangled to avoid nabbing shady offshore tax dodgers).
Recall why Teddy Roosevelt brought monopolies to the woodshed for a little discipline; private interests cannot be trusted to work for the good of the majority since the directors, managers and stockholders have a vested interest only in financial benefits.
Markets can be manipulated to bring about improved environments. If the financial favors granted to oil companies were eliminated, vehicle fuels would be pricey enough to bring about higher mpg cars and increased mass transit use, but a faster way would be to also add a tax on higher fuel use vehicles that is turned over to discount lower fuel use ones.
I take umbrage at the patronizing, snide remarks about puritan environmentalists and leftists who worry that something might work without wholesale change in society. Radical changes are necessary to reign in abuses that the market is allowing. If “the market can give us a clean environment”, why are we having this crisis in global eco-collapse?
I think stogy business thinking allows for “waste”, which really is a measure of inefficiency of a process; engineers such as Buckminister Fuller, William McDonough, Amory and Hunter Lovins, and chemist Michael Braungart are leading the way to non-polluting, not just low but non-, that will serve us just fine. I hope the slow reaction time and defensive obstruction of vested interest polluters doesn’t kill us in the meantime.

Posted by: garyc at March 23, 2007 5:34 AM
Comment #213310

Antarctic melting may be speeding up

“I feel that we’re getting uncomfortably close to threshold,” said Church, of Australia’s CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research said.

Past this level, parts of the Antarctic and Greenland would approach a virtually irreversible melting that would produce sea level rises of meters, he said.

Posted by: womanmarine at March 23, 2007 7:41 AM
Comment #213315

Carbon taxes should be supported on a bipartisan basis and, in fact, prominent economists and opinion leaders from across the political spectrum have stated their support for putting a price on carbon through a carbon tax. To see a list of carbon tax supporters, see the “Supporters” page at our Carbon Tax Center’s web site.

There are compelling reasons why, contrary to American Pundits’ statement, many environmentalists (left and right) are not lining up behind cap-and-trade. As described in more detail in our issue paper on carbon taxes v. cap-and-trade, carbon taxes are superior to cap-and-trade because: 1) they lend predictability to energy prices whereas cap-and-trade aggravates price volatility; 2) carbon taxes can be implemented much more quickly; 3) carbon taxes are transparent and easily understandable unlike the opaque and difficult to understand cap-and-trade system; 4) carbon taxes can be implemented with far less opportunity for manipulation by special interests; 5) carbon taxes address emissions from every sector; and 6) carbon tax revenues can be returned to the public through progressive tax-shifting while the costs of cap-and-trade systems are likely to become a hidden tax as dollars flow to market participants, lawyers and consultants.


Posted by: Dan at March 23, 2007 8:24 AM
Comment #213318

Gary

The attitude I am talking about is evident in your statement.

“If the financial favors granted to oil companies were eliminated, vehicle fuels would be pricey enough to bring about higher mpg cars and increased mass transit use, but a faster way would be to also add a tax on higher fuel use vehicles that is turned over to discount lower fuel use ones.”

The first part is great. I agree. The second part does not follow from the first. If you raise the price of fuel, you create an incentive to use it more efficiently. What you drive is less important that how you drive. An SUV owner who drives 10 miles a week is using a lot less fuel than a Honda Civic owner who drive 1000 miles a week.

When you ask government to micromanage consumption, you are not improving the environment, just creating stoppages. We really should not care what someone drives. We need to look at the total impact on the environment.

I mentioned the systems nature of the problem. When you go after the limiting factors (price is a big one) you get results many times your effort. If you go after the manifestations (type of vehicle) you may get no improvement at all.

Woman

Yes, I believe global warming is an issue and the best way to address it is through a systemic approach that uses points of highest leverage.

Dan

Thanks. I was fishing for some comments and factual backup like yours. How did you find us?

AP

I have been studying up on cap and trade. It worked very well against the acid rain problem. It works in one country, but internationally it is problematic because it gets too tied up in politics and valid conflicting issues. The EU cap and trade has worked not at all, although they may be able to get some milage out of it with significant reform.

A carbon tax requires NO international cooperation and there is little incentive for governments to cheat. If it replaces other taxes, it has no net effect on economic growth, but rather redirects to better forms of energy.

So I agree that cap and trade is a useful tool and should be applied in some places. But a carbon tax is a more elegant solution.

Posted by: Jack at March 23, 2007 9:39 AM
Comment #213321

Jack,

Who are these environmentalists who oppose a carbon tax? Are you talking about major organizations or a few bloggers?

Posted by: Woody Mena at March 23, 2007 9:49 AM
Comment #213323

Jack,

I agree with you mostly. I like taxing gas. I wouldn’t want government to choose ethanol or nuclear power as our national solution, for instance. However, when you are in an emergency situation, sometimes the free market is not enough. We went to the moon and created the atom bomb through hands off government programs. I think we need a similar kind of government sponsored think tank to tackle global warming in addition to the market.

Posted by: Max at March 23, 2007 9:56 AM
Comment #213326

Jack,

I found your site through a “google alert” for “carbon tax.” I’ve come across some very thoughtful posts, such as yours, as some that are not particularly thoughtful (today’s understatement).

A carbon tax requires no international cooperation to implement in the United States, but ideally it should be implemented globally to eliminate or minimize leakage. For now, we’re focusing on this country. If you go to our “Supporters” page, you’ll find a reference to an excellent study by Robert Shapiro that analyzes why an international carbon tax would be far superior to an international cap-and-trade system.

Posted by: Dan at March 23, 2007 10:15 AM
Comment #213325

Jack,

I found your site through a “google alert” for “carbon tax.” I’ve come across some very thoughtful posts, such as yours, as some that are not particularly thoughtful (today’s understatement).

A carbon tax requires no international cooperation to implement in the United States, but ideally it should be implemented globally to eliminate or minimize leakage. For now, we’re focusing on this country. If you go to our “Supporters” page, you’ll find a reference to an excellent study by Robert Shapiro that analyzes why an international carbon tax would be far superior to an international cap-and-trade system.

Posted by: Dan at March 23, 2007 10:15 AM
Comment #213330

Max

The one does not preclude the other. Our government spends vast fortunes or R&D (as it should) other governments spend some too. I just do not think we can expect a moon program or an A -bomb to come from these programs. The energy problem is not like these things. Energy is primarily a market problem. We already have many of the solutions at hand or in development. We use energy sources that are cheap and convenient. The problem is that the costs are externalized. The carbon tax will help make these costs more apparent in the energy we use and then the imagination and innovation of billions of people and millions of firms will do the rest.

Dan

Thanks again. As you say, the carbon tax will work quick, w/o a bureaucracy to run it and can be implemented by us w/o getting everybody else on the same page at the same time. It is a great solution.

Woody

They do not so much oppose a carbon tax as want to mess it up with other things that do not work or are aimed at their own social agenda. The carbon tax works best when it does not have strings. In other words, if you want to drive an SUV you can, but you pay the price. We do not need a separate SUV ban.

We use prexisting tax and price mechanisms to make the program work.

From some leftist environmentalists you get the “yes, but” re carbon taxes. They want to enact all sorts of social and redistributive things that will not actually improve the environment. It makes it harder to get passage of the real effective method - the carbon tax. (I do not make that distinction to be difficult. There are rightist environmentalist (like me) and leftist environmentalists and we do not always agree on methods).

Posted by: Jack at March 23, 2007 11:01 AM
Comment #213336

Jack,
First of all, thanks for the consistently thoughtful and intelligent analysis from the right hand side of the spectum. I may not always agree, but you always skip the soundbytes and address the facts.

The success of earlier environmental efforts was due in part to the outstanding educational aspect of the environmental movement, which created the political consensus to do something. Back then, some “educators” went too far, but mostly the public at large got the message. Today, with carbon, I am still not sure.

We still have Inhofe and others groundlessly dismissing the science, and we still have an administration policy of just talking about it. Some in industry have come on board, but most still only care about the bottom line. We are at the point now where the politics of climate change can really go either way. As much as Gore’s academy award may help the educational side, so, too, could a media barrage from the petroleum industry hurt it.

So, as much as we want to talk tax v. regulation and which is better, we still have to break the political logjam. If we get better CAFE through Congress (as opposed to something better) that can only help the environment. When you say the first 90% is easy: shouldn’t we just be doing that today, getting laws enacted that actually reduce carbon emmissions?

Posted by: Steve K at March 23, 2007 12:22 PM
Comment #213345
The EU cap and trade has worked not at all

Jack, from what I read thee EU cap & trade system is working fine. Perhaps you can back up your opinion with a link — and I don’t mean a notoriously incorrect Heritage Foundation article. :)

Posted by: American Pundit at March 23, 2007 1:01 PM
Comment #213348

Jack

“Conservatives think in terms of systems.”


“Evangelical’s Focus on Climate Draws Fire of Christian Right

By LAURIE GOODSTEIN
Published: March 3, 2007
Correction Appended

“Leaders of several conservative Christian groups have sent a letter urging the National Association of Evangelicals to force its policy director in Washington to stop speaking out on global warming.

The conservative leaders say they are not convinced that global warming is human-induced or that human intervention can prevent it. And they accuse the director, the Rev. Richard Cizik, the association’s vice president for government affairs, of diverting the evangelical movement from what they deem more important issues, like abortion and homosexuality.

The letter underlines a struggle between established conservative Christian leaders, whose priority has long been sexual morality, and challengers who are pushing to expand the evangelical movement’s agenda to include issues like climate change and human rights.

“We have observed,” the letter says, “that Cizik and others are using the global warming controversy to shift the emphasis away from the great moral issues of our time.”

Those issues, the signers say, are a need to campaign against abortion and same-sex marriage and to promote “the teaching of sexual abstinence and morality to our children.”

The letter, dated Thursday, is signed by leaders like James C. Dobson, chairman of Focus on the Family; Gary L. Bauer, once a Republican presidential candidate and now chairman of American Values; Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council; and Paul Weyrich, a longtime political strategist who is national chairman of Coalitions for America.”

The only system conservatives seem interested in is reproductive system

Posted by: Andre M. Hernandez at March 23, 2007 1:17 PM
Comment #213355

Steve K

The elegance of a carbon tax is that you really do not need to believe global warming is a serious problem in order to support it. What we know for sure is that most of the world’s exportable oil sits under places controlled by unstable despots, dictators and potentates. We should do what we can to lessen that grip on us for ordinary pragmatic geopolitical reasons.

If you have the carbon tax, you really do not need CAFE. When the price of gas goes up, consumers demand - and carmakers supply - high mileage vehicles. The problem we had is that the price of oil was so low in the 1990s that nobody cared about mileage. You saw just recently how the high price of gas made hybrids fly off the lots and SUVs languish.

The reason I resist regulation is because regulations tend to get circumvented, co-opted and made obsolete. Remember how SUVs got around the regulation by calling themselves light trucks. Clever people will always figure out ways to avoid rules. They will also figure out ways to lower costs. Give them the proper incentive.

Andre

Not all conservatives are evangelical and not all evangelicals are conservative. If we stick to the issues, I am saying that a carbon tax is the best way to address our ongoing environmental problem. I accept the need for other regulations, but want them to be effective against the problem, not designed to service other social of political goals.

I do not think the evangelical movement really has a particular reason to endorse or oppose efforts to stem global warming. It is a practical and not a moral issue. I would agree with the letter writer you cite. They just do not think their organization needs to articulate a position on this issue. Organizations do best when they stick to their core missions. Maybe individual Christians should decide. Every organization does not need to be totalitarian about every issue. But that is just my opinion.

Speaking of core missions, abortion is not one of my issues. My personal belief is that abortion is immoral, but that it should be the woman’s choice. I reject both those who would outlaw it all the time and those who would treat it only as seriously as a tooth extraction. In that way I am in the mainstream of American thought. I will reject the lunatic 5% on the right side of this issue, if you will do the same for the lunatic 5% on the left.

Posted by: Jack at March 23, 2007 2:13 PM
Comment #213356

The conservatives miss a point in both discussions of economy and ecology, given it’s claim here of being of the same root. Both can be planned for down the road, I’ll repeat to no understanding of what I said by the rightwingers, BOTH (ecology and ecology) can be PLANNED for down the road. Set it up so it is there when you get there.

Posted by: Gleep at March 23, 2007 2:15 PM
Comment #213357

Sorry typo; I meant “(ecology and economy)”.

Posted by: Gleep at March 23, 2007 2:17 PM
Comment #213358

AP

It is in last week’s “Economist Magazine”. I get the hard copy and the articles online are premium, but you can find it there in the survey of the EU at 50.

I think it is fairly common knowlege. The EU, under pressure from member states and industry groups, gave away too many carbon permits, so the price dropped. Beyond that, pollutors can just buy permits from developing countries, that really would not have made that pollution anyway. I can sell you a “carbon sink” for 30 acres of bottomland forest if you like. I promise not to cut it down, but since I was not planning to do that anyway all we will have done is make me richer and you feel more virtuous (sort of an Al Gore thing).

Posted by: Jack at March 23, 2007 2:19 PM
Comment #213364

Gleep

You think that humans can effectively plan ecology? How much detail? I am growing trees in a system that is fairly well knows and predictable. Yet nature often does things nobody had planned for or even anticipated. You can try to set the direction and react to circumstances, with the understanding that you may get what you want generally.

As for planned economies, remember the Soviet Union? China’s great leap forward crippled the country for a generation. In both those cases, and many others, they also got lots of people killed and created havoc in their environments. You can influence. You can try to understand parts, but you cannot plan in any real sense beyond short times and local conditions. That is why all centrally planned economies fail.

Government has a legitimate role in setting goals and creating parameters. After that, it needs to let the people fill in the blanks.

Posted by: Jack at March 23, 2007 2:29 PM
Comment #213372

I think that’s sort of what I just said, kind of. You can always anticipate certain effects and those blanks you fill in—the others are sort awash in circumstance, agreed.

With ecology we can keep the waters clean to have clean water in the future, with economy there are certain things you can do to determine a better economic future within a cause and effect sense.

Taxbreaks and economic stimulus packages are those types of things that are in polay for somewhere down the road to make up for a loss—we do that.

You sort of lost me on the whole USSR stuff, China being those were up until recently intellectual currencies/economies, Rubles etcetera.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with planning your future per se. There is alot that can be forseen and much that can’t but of what can it’s best top get hoppin’. The squirrel with the most nuts survives the winter best and so on. Simple point.

There’s no shame in preparation.

Posted by: Gleep at March 23, 2007 2:51 PM
Comment #213378

The reason I resist regulation is because regulations tend to get circumvented, co-opted and made obsolete. Remember how SUVs got around the regulation by calling themselves light trucks.

You’re absolutely right about this, Jack. But taxes get circumvented as well. As soon as Congress takes up a carbon tax, there will be amendments offered for exceptions for the poor, for rural areas, for non-profits. You name it. And many of those will pass, including a bunch that really shouldn’t.

I am all for a carbon tax. But I am also for the regulatory approach, like CAFE standards. I think, in our political world, we will need both.

Posted by: Steve K at March 23, 2007 3:42 PM
Comment #213380

Squirrels usually forget where they bury the nuts, but I see that we do not disagree so much as differ on nuance.

Steve K

You are right too. We have to make no exceptions. If we want to help the poor etc, we should do it via an unrelated tax credit.

Posted by: Jack at March 23, 2007 4:03 PM
Comment #213382

Jack,

When the British government wanted to calculate latitude, they offered a huge sum of money to anyone that could figure it out. That’s how the British came to dominate the sea. Sir Richard Branson is offering $25 million for anyone who can invent new technologies to get carbon out of the atmosphere. Why not? I think there’s more than one avenue we need to explore to solve this problem.

Posted by: Max at March 23, 2007 4:27 PM
Comment #213405

Max

Let’s hope, but not count on it.

I have reasonable confidence that we will solve this problem in time to hit the next one, BTW. If I could choose any time in the history of the world (AND not know the outcomes of the troubles at hand)we certainly have better prospects today than any other time. The future always seems bleak, but we survive and even prosper.

Posted by: Jack at March 23, 2007 7:26 PM
Comment #213411
Conservatives think in terms of systems. We appreciate that ecology and economy…
Really?
  • [01] Abandoning Kyoto Treaty without offering alternatives; Why not bargain for more reasonable alternative plans ?
  • [02] Counting on voluntary program to reduce emissions of harmful gasses; few have so far;
  • [03] Gutting clean air standards for aging power plants;
  • [04] Weakening energy efficiency standards;
  • [05] Relaxing dumping standards for mountain-top mining, and opening the Florida Everglades and Oregon’s Siskiyou National Forest to mining;
  • [06] Lifting protection for more than 200 million acres of public land;
  • [07] Limiting public challenges to logging projects and increased logging in protected areas, including Alaska’s Tongass National Forest;
  • [08] Weakening environmental standards for snowmobiles and other off-road vehicles while pushing for exemptions for air pollution proposals for five categories of industrial facilities;
  • [09] Opposing legislation that would require greater fuel efficiency for passenger cars;
  • [10] Reducing inspections, penalties for violations, prosecution of environmental crimes, and withdrawing public information on chemical plant dangers, previously used to hold facilities accountable for safety improvements;
  • [11] Misleading the public about the Washington mad cow case and the likely effectiveness of USDA’s weak testing program;
  • [12] Not to mention the damage (in many ways) of starting an unnecessary war based on flawed intelligence; resulting in massive environmental damage and loss of life (i.e. no WMD)
Posted by: d.a.n at March 23, 2007 8:00 PM
Comment #213413

Instead of finding new ways to tax things, how about redirecting some of those hundreds of billions of waste, pork-barrel, graft, waste , growing bloated government ever larger, and finally do something useful … like research?

Government won’t become more responsible until voters do too, and that ain’t gonna happen by rewarding irresponsible incumbent politicians by repeated re-electing them.

Posted by: d.a.n at March 23, 2007 8:06 PM
Comment #213430

“[01] Abandoning Kyoto Treaty without offering alternatives; Why not bargain for more reasonable alternative plans ?”

The only alternative plan worth anything is the one that holds the entire planet population and every government to the same standards. Kyoto is a treaty among the willing only. My air (and eventually my water and food) is just as dependent upon what happens in Tibet as what happens in my state. If the “Kyoto Treaty” is so dog-gone important, impose it upon everyone. Pointing to Kyoto as a failure is right, it failed because it didn’t have any teeth.

The U.S. has no incentive to clean up BEFORE everyone else. It would lessen our economy and increase our trade deficits. Imposing the same pan-world standards would make it a non-issue. Ecology and economy will only go hand-in-hand.

Posted by: Don at March 23, 2007 9:37 PM
Comment #213432

d.a.n.

Let me address some of the points quickly.

•01] Kyoto Treaty. Kyoto is a flawed treaty that gave the illusion of progress. Those who signed on have not done better than the U.S. and it is not particularly a conservative thing. The Senate, which included lots of Dems rejected the treaty 97-0.
•02] I do not know what you mean. Major pollution has been dropping for years. The air in the U.S. is cleaner now than it was ten years ago and will be cleaner still ten years from now.
•03] You are missing the point of the overall standards. The average emissions have dropped. We are going after the big picture. SOME plants are making more pollution. Others are making much less. Overall the air is cleaner.
•[04] Please specify.
•[05] Details would help here too.
•[06] You are probably referring to the healthy forest initiative, which is a very good program.
•[07] Ditto. Maybe it is just my wise use philosophy, but I prefer healthy forests to untouched ones.
•[08] The Bush administration enacted the first high standards for off road diesel. You are just mistaken here.
•[09] Do not need it if you have high fuel prices.
•[10] details?
•[11] How many people have died from the disease we call mad cow since it was identified around 20 years ago. I will give you a hint. Out of the 450 million people in Europe and the 300 million in the U.S. you could fit the total fatalities onto two busses. That is the information people do not know about.
•[12] this is a different matter. We debate war and peace often enough.

I understand you are interested in the incumbent thing, but you are missing the point of this post. It is easy to find negatives if you do not look at the whole picture.

BTW - vote out incumbents if you want. This time you will get more Dems. But we have no reason to believe the next crop would be better. The U.S. is a generally well governed country, even when the Dems are in charge.

Posted by: Jack at March 23, 2007 9:41 PM
Comment #213464

Jack, You do provide thoughtful insight here. Where exactly does the carbon tax go? I am not for dumping another boat load of money into the general fund for the politicians to dole out to there pet programs. NO matter what party they claim. If it is net nuetral for me, I am in.

Even better is the market finding the profit motive in the whole thing. I think critical mass is building for “green industries”. Thomas Friedman said years ago that smart money is headed for the green sector. I agree. I believe that we are too focused on cars. It is understandable but narrow.

It is the little things in this life that add up. If you put a twelve pack of bottle beer in the grocery cart, it takes up space, but the rest of the small items usaully add up to more cost. Even dropping to a six pack reduces the bulk but may have no real effect on the price.

Things like sprinkler pipe (a hose and sprinkler moved around the yard was the norm), cd packaging, the plastic in the box we type on, the wrapping around a grocery store steak with styrofoam, the bicycle seats, the clothes in some instances, Swimming pool equipment, etc. all have a some small percentage of converted carbon.

I believe that the difference is in the approach. I see the gung ho environmentalists trying to change, legislate, mandate human nature to solve the problem, ie-mass transit, high density living, unattractive vehicles etc.
Vanity, pride are hard to overcome and change. I would hope instead that market forces would produce alternatives that are appealing. I am more afraid of what is coming at me from the environmentalists then anything that was supposed to eviscerate my rights under the patriot act.

Posted by: scottp at March 24, 2007 10:49 AM
Comment #213465

Scottp

I would want the carbon tax to be used to offset other taxes. The total tax should not change, just the incidence.

The good thing about the carbon tax is that it does NOT dictate methods. It just changes incentives and costs. People and firms can decide how to adapt.

Posted by: Jack at March 24, 2007 11:08 AM
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