Carbon cap and trade, good idea? Bad Idea?
Reader sammy sends George Will:
Title: Carbon cap and trade, good idea? Bad Idea?
Here is the “con” case from George Will via The Washington Post:
An unprecedentedly radical government grab for control of the American economy will be debated this week when the Senate considers saving the planet by means of a cap-and-trade system to ration carbon emissions. The plan is co-authored (with John Warner) by Joe Lieberman, an ardent supporter of John McCain, who supports Lieberman’s legislation and recently spoke about “the central facts of rising temperatures, rising waters and all the endless troubles that global warming will bring.”
Speaking of endless troubles, “cap-and-trade” comes cloaked in reassuring rhetoric about the government merely creating a market, but government actually would create a scarcity so that government could sell what it had made scarce. The Wall Street Journal underestimates cap-and-trade’s perniciousness when it says the scheme would create a new right (“allowances”) to produce carbon dioxide and would put a price on the right. Actually, because freedom is the silence of the law, that right has always existed in the absence of prohibitions. With cap-and-trade, government would create a right for itself– an extraordinarily lucrative right to ration Americans’ exercise of their traditional rights.
Lieberman guesses that the market value of all permits would be “about $7 trillion by 2050.” Will that staggering sum pay for a $7 trillion reduction of other taxes? Not exactly.
It would go to a Climate Change Credit Corporation, which Lieberman calls “a private-public entity” that, operating outside the budget process, would invest “in many things.” This would be industrial policy, a.k.a. socialism, on a grand scale — government picking winners and losers, all of whom will have powerful incentives to invest in lobbyists to influence government’s thousands of new wealth-allocating decisions.
Lieberman’s legislation also would create a Carbon Market Efficiency Board empowered to “provide allowances and alter demands” in response to “an impact that is much more onerous” than expected. And Lieberman says that if a foreign company selling a product in America “enjoys a price advantage over an American competitor” because the American firm has had to comply with the cap-and-trade regime, “we will impose a fee” on the foreign company “to equalize the price.” Protectionism-masquerading-as-environmentalism will thicken the unsavory entanglement of commercial life and political life.
Regarding McCain’s “central facts,” the U.N.’s World Meteorological Organization, which helped establish the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change — co-winner, with Al Gore, of the Nobel Peace Prize — says global temperatures have not risen in a decade. So Congress might be arriving late at the save-the-planet party. Better late than never? No. When government, ever eager to expand its grip on the governed and their wealth, manufactures hysteria as an excuse for doing so, then: better never.
Reader sammy sends this along
Update: World Meteoroligical Organization link says things are getting dicey. Can you find the no rise in temperature implication? Is this another instance of misinterpretation of a document? (h/t Robert M)