Sunday, June 28, 2009

Is Cap and Trade Good Politics?

Setting aside all other considerations, is the House Cap and Trade bill good politics (politics in the sense of either helping a person or group remain or get into power)?

We all saw how much people freaked out when gas prices were high recently. If energy prices soar similarly because of the bill, the outcry will be just as great. When the rise in prices is traced back to the bill, won't those that passed it get the scorn?

The bill won't immediately cause an increase in energy prices, however. The bill seems structured so that prices would gradually rise over many years. The majority of people who voted for or signed the bill will be long out of office, Obama included. Thus, in the short term, the bill would seem to curry favor with environmental, primarily global warming, types without having too much of a negative backlash.

Many years down the road when and if the masses notice energy price increases (or even shortages) due to the bill, Congress could overturn or modify the bill. However, what if the bill is signed into law and Obama signs some sort of treaty that would have severe penalties if we drop or modify the provisions of the bill? That would be a nasty trick to play on us.

All things considered, the bill looks like good politics. This is especially true if it doesn't make it out of the Senate.

On a side note, I think it is hilarious that the criticisms section of the Wikipedia article on Cap and Trade is so lacking:

The main criticisms are that it won't work to curb carbon emissions for various reasons. Here are some other things that could have been mentioned:

  1. Is this something that governments should be doing in the first place? In my view, governments should only do things that protect individual rights. That would include protection from pollution. However, the pollution would have to have real, provable negative effects. Also, the pollution wouldn't be allowed to occur (just in moderation as the bill allows if you accept that carbon is a pollutant). Ongoing, real, pollution is something that a government should put a stop to.
  2. Some scientists say that carbon is a trailing indicator of global warming and not a cause.
  3. The talk surrounding the current bill includes the idea that increasing the cost of energy will somehow be good for the economy (a totally ridiculous idea).
  4. Cap and Trade is an artificially created market with arbitrary limits. Real markets have no such artificial, government imposed limits. It seems that Cap and Trade is structured as a "market" in order to make it more appealing.
  5. Why should a country impose Cap and Trade on itself when emerging countries like China won't?
  6. Even if you accept that carbon causes global warming, I heard on the radio that models show this bill will only reduce global temperatures a very small amount (about .5 degrees Fahrenheit).
  7. Etc.

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