Friday, May 01, 2009

Government Involvement = Letting the Free Market Work

Paul Krugman makes the case in his column in today's NYT that making the changes necessary to address greenhouse gas emissions through a cap-and-trade system will not only not be an economic hardship, they could even be a boon. Here's how it starts:

The 2008 election ended the reign of junk science in our nation’s capital, and the chances of meaningful action on climate change, probably through a cap-and-trade system on emissions, have risen sharply.

But the opponents of action claim that limiting emissions would have devastating effects on the U.S. economy. So it’s important to understand that just as denials that climate change is happening are junk science, predictions of economic disaster if we try to do anything about climate change are junk economics.

The rest.

1 comment:

Adam said...

I see an interesting contradiction between Obama's fiscal policy and Obama's green policy.

If you're concerned about ensuring that the planet is going to be habitable for future generations then we need to face facts: we are basically riding a bike down a winding mountain road where we can start hitting the brakes. It might be too late to brake hard enough to avoid serious consequences... sliding into the guard rail and getting some serious road-rash, but it may not be too late to brake hard enough to avoid a catastrophic outcome of going over the cliff. The thing is if you were in such a situation you'd break very hard very quickly and increased uncertainty about how quickly you could break and how disastrous the consequences could be would be reasons to brake harder, not to wait and get closer to the cliff to make a decision about when and how much to brake. Of course, if it's political suicide to admit that cap and trade is a tax, then the plan is fatally flawed; you have to tax greenhouse gas emissions at the price you think is not incorporated by the free market.

And hoping that the economic cost of a future where you didn't brake hard enough aren't that much compared to the cost of braking now is very irresponsible since it basically dumps all the risk and cost of remediation onto future generations.

Now maybe it's because you can't undo some environmental damage (although you can, at least in the sense that it's not thermodynamically impossible, sequester carbon at some future date instead of cutting emissions now) but I don't understand why Democrats can grasp this concept of it being shitty morality to dump a huge burden onto a future generation as far as the environment but as far as things like budgets it completely escapes them.

I linked to a piece in another comment where the NYT is finally recognizing how irresponsible the new Obama budgets are. This is essentially the same exact disregard for future generations to benefit ourselves as was demonstrated by Bush's doing nothing about global warming except instead of not caring about putting an evironmental burden on future generations the Democrats don't care about putting a huge financial burden on them. Of course to me the concepts are intertwined since until you've gone over the cliff and raised sea levels by 10 feet and done something irreversible an environmental crisis deferred is going to have to be addressed economically.

Can't the parties agree it's not fair to have things that we want but can't afford by making it public policy to screw over future generations on any issue?