Among the issues most commonly discussed are individuality, the rights of the individual, the limits of legitimate government, morality, history, economics, government policy, science, business, education, health care, energy, and man-made global warming evaluations. My posts are aimed at thinking, intelligent individuals, whose comments are very welcome.

"No matter how vast your knowledge or how modest, it is your own mind that has to acquire it." Ayn Rand

14 May 2009

Waxman Horsetrades for Votes on Carbon Tax

The Houston Chronicle published an interesting article by Jennifer A. Dloughy on the horsetrading Democrat Henry Waxman is doing to get the approval of enough of his House Energy and Commerce Committee members that it can be brought up for a vote in the House. He has reduced his requirement that CO2 emissions be decreased by a catastrophic 20% in 2020 to a catastrophic 17% reduction. Dlouhy writes:

To exceed the limits, power plants, refiners, manufacturers and other industries would have to buy emissions allowances on a new carbon market. But after weeks of negotiations, committee Democrats have agreed to give away 35 percent of the allowances to electric utilities, 15 percent to trade-sensitive industries such as timber and steel manufacturing and a small number to the auto industry.

Still undecided was the question of how many allowances should be given to refiners, with the final number likely to rest between 1 percent and 5 percent.

She notes that Texas Democrats Gene Green and Charlie Gonzalez want these allowances for Texas refineries. Rep. G. K. Butterfield of North Carolina wants tax relief for low-income households. Once again, the politicians are busily deciding who will and who will not get slammed by the increased energy costs that the Waxman-Markey cap and trade carbon bill will cause.

Of course, I am seeing no evidence that most of us are going to be able to escape these terrible costs. For every politically powerful special interest that gets a pass, at least initially in order to get a bill passed, the rest of us will bear a still greater burden. Since the most productive people in America are always too busy working to protest or to lobby for special provisions in their interest, it is always the most productive and the most hardworking who are burdened the most with these costs. This is usually not a pass for those who may be less productive, however. The politicians usually pretend to make provisions to help them, but these provisions are hardly ever more than a fig leaf. The vast majority of Americans always suffer when the politicians start picking the winners and the losers in society.

Some seem to think that politicians are a necessary correction on the winner-loser decisions of the free market of Capitalism. Actually, the free market neither makes such decisions, nor designates anyone a loser or a winner. It only leaves the doors open for people to voluntarily manage their own lives and allows them the personal decisions on how they are going to do that. The market does not decide who is going to trade with whom for what. You do that as an individual. You decide how much TV you are going to watch, how many hours you are going to sleep, how many and which books you are going to read or study, where you are going to live, which profession or trade you are going to pursue, how many hours you are going to work, and how focused you are going to be as a worker. Capitalism is the system that allows individuals to be individuals. The socialist or statist alternative takes these choices away from you and puts them in the hands of politicians and bureaucrats who do not know you as an individual and have their own personal agendas to pursue.

Can you imagine the problems simply to decide who has exceeded the limits on CO2 emissions? How do you set the limits? Are they done by different formulas from industry to industry. What are the formulas for home use? What are the formulas for driving? Perhaps no industry can use more energy tomorrow than 83% of what it used yesterday, so does this mean that no new industries will be allowed to come into existence? Maybe they get to buy the allowances of high energy use industries such as aluminum refining, which are likely to vanish. Does this then mean that no new airplanes will be built because we will have no aluminum alloys? Steel making should also vanish. Does this mean no new cars and no steel-framed buildings are to be built?

Then, how on earth do they monitor what every company and every individual is using in energy. Of course they will come up with schemes to run the carbon tax system, but it will become very arbitrary and chaotic. The horsetrading by special interests going on now to get this bill out of committee is piddling compared to what will go on when every company and every person is screaming over the increased cost of energy. If something is passed by Congress, many a Congressional head is going to roll in up-coming elections. Finally, we will get some turn-over in Congress!

If this Waxman bill or a more compromised bill does not pass, we will still see much destructive meddling by the EPA. The EPA is determined to create energy chaos quite without any further help from Congress.

Part of the reason I keep pounding on global warming and energy use and restriction issues is because these are blatant examples of irrational judgment run amok in academia, Washington, and in much of the popular culture. There really is little excuse for this nonsense. I know that most people are capable of doing a better job of figuring these things out. With so much at stake, why do so few people use so little of their brain-power to understand these issues?

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