Saturday, May 23, 2009

Waxman-Markey is "badly flawed piece of public policy"

I had previously argued that Waxman-Markey was mindless, rampant nanny-statist eco-tyranny.

Amazingly, Washington Post's Steven Pearlstein agrees. Consider this stunning indictment:

The other thing to say about it is that it is a badly flawed piece of public policy. It is so broad in its reach and complex in its details that it would be difficult to implement even in Sweden, let alone in a diverse and contentious country like the United States. It would createdozens of new government agencies with broad powers to set standards, dole out rebates and tax subsidies, and pick winning and losing technologies, even as it relies on newly created markets with newly created regulators to set prices and allocate resources. Its elaborate allocation of pollution allowances and offsets reads like a parody of industrial policy authored by the editorial page writers of the Wall Street Journal. The opportunities for waste, fraud and regulatory screwup look enormous.
This seems certainly the case based on a reading of this bill. The level of economic intervention is huge. The needless redundancy ('belt-and-suspenders' regulations) adds huge economic costs with zero benefit. Corruption, waste and job-killing cost-hikes for utilities, energy using industries, etc. will cripple our economy for years to come. It will kill jobs and productivity. How on earth can such a slew of terrible (unintended) consequences be better than the status quo?

Answer: It isn't.

The rise in CO2 from 1950 to today has paralleled an increase in temperatures over 60 years of ... 0.4C. That's all. The next 50 years will not see a marked increase from that; in the past 10 years we have seen no warming. The Waxman-Markey goal is 17% reduction by 2020, even though Europe's cap-and-trade scheme seems not to have worked much at all. This amounts to about a 4% impact on global CO2 generation in the 2020 timeframe. In short, miniscule and meaningless impact on actual global termperatures. The phrase "Costs too much, does too little" comes to mind.

The excellent column on the dreadful Waxman-Markey bill had one jarring and out-of-step statement:
"The Waxman-Markey bill may be the best bill that the political system can produce, and surely it is far preferable to doing nothing."
I challenge this. Doing nothing, ie, doing nothing to regulate the harmless and benign CO2 is PRECISELY the better answer compared to this horrible bill. And if this is the best the political system can muster, disband Congress!

"Doing nothing" does not need to mean doing nothing forever. This bill is far worse than doing nothing to regulate CO2 for the next 5-10 years. "Doing nothing" could mean "Do nothing to regulate CO2 for the next 5 year, but do everything else you can to get ready for the future."
To wit:
In the next 5 years, we can see if the trend of non-warming that we have seen for the past 10 years is a blip in an up-trend or an actual refutation of the man-made global warming models. In the next 5 years, we can take an R&D only approach and build the technologies that are needed, such as next-generation nuclear, energy efficient lighting LEDs, plug-in- electric vehicles, etc. None of this requires cap-and-trade nor the heavy hand on eco-nanny-statism.

Yes, a carbon tax would be better. But even better would be a carbon tax with a global temperature trigger. That is to say: Tax CO2 emissions, but only start to tax CO2 emissions if and when the temperatures do in fact rise. Why tax something that causes 'warming' when the earth is cooling?

UPDATE: Waxman-Markey "stuffed full of unpleasant surprises."

Waxman admits: "I don't know the details" and hires speed-reader to read the bill.

Sono Bono Mack casts lone GOP vote for Waxman-Markey: "While I still have significant concerns about this bill, particularly with regard to its cost and its failure to recognize innovative technologies like advanced nuclear energy, I believe this is the right direction for our district, for our nation and for our future." Wait, it has huge costs and is wrong about key real solutions, but stupidity like this is the 'right direction'? ... oh wait ... “Already, (the Coachella Valley is) seeing exciting new developments in wind, solar and geothermal energy, and this bill will help us grasp this potential.” ... Translation: It's all about the Greendoggle PORK money!

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