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The Price of Going Green

June 25th, 2009 · 2 Comments ·

Like an old joke turned ironically true, it seems that the government is now preparing to actually tax us for breathing. This comes in the form of the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 sponsored by Representatives Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Edward Markey (D-MA) which is likely to come to the floor of the Congress as early as this Friday. It is the legislative culmination of the ongoing ecomadness based on the idea that the carbon dioxide is a form of toxic pollution, despite the fact that it is produced in nature, is part of the atmospheric cycle on which all life is based, and is shown to stimulate plant growth and the replenishment of the atmosphere.

Of course, the truth is that carbon dioxide is not an environmental threat, but is merely being raised as a bogeyman to allow for the passage of laws like this new energy bill whose real purpose is social engineering and anti-capitalism. It’s the perfect bogeyman because it’s everywhere and can never actually be eliminated plus it’s produced by almost every human activity — we even breathe it out with every breath. This means that a “carbon tax” can be applied to almost anything and becomes an excuse for raising taxes on everyone through indirect methods where the taxes end up being passed on to consumers in the form of energy price increases. John Dingell (D-MI) who is the senior Democrat in the House admitted recently that “nobody in the country realizes cap and trade is a tax, and it’s a great big one.”

The heart of this energy bill is the idea of a tax on emissions of carbon dioxide and other more serious pollutants, specifically targeting fossil fuels and making it costlier to use them, thereby pushing energy businesses to move into more earth-friendly sources of power. This is combined with the idea of “cap and trade” which allows companies which produce high emissions to buy offsets from companies which produce low emissions, thereby subsidizing the low polluters at the cost of the high polluters.

This all sounds great in abstract, but the problem is that 85% of America’s energy currently comes from fossil fuels of one sort or another, so the initial aggregate cost of the program will be huge. The other problem is that cap and trade just doesn’t work. As has been demonstrated in those nations where it has been used, energy companies find it more practical to just pass on the additional cost to consumers so the net result of all of this is not a reduction in pollution, just a massive increase in prices for energy consumers — effectively a big additional personal tax on every man woman and child in the nation, something they can ill afford in hard economic times.

Analysis of the consumer cost which this program would create suggests that by 2035 the price of gasoline would increase 58 percent, natural gas would go up 55 percent, home heating oil would increase 56 percent, and the typical electric bill would go up a whopping 90 percent. These would be increases to the baseline price and in addition to added cost from inflation and any natural fluctuation in the price of oil. In addition there would be secondary costs as the higher prices impact transportation and manufacturing and create sudden artificial inflation in almost every area of the economy. The finall cost for consumers would be almost $3000 per year starting as soon as the bill is implemented, and within 25 years the cost per family will have increased to almost $5000.

There are also other secondary costs to the economy in taking such a huge amount of money (almost $400 to $600 billion per year) out of the economy. Companies will look to cut costs and that means cutting jobs and wages. Families will not be able to pay the added energy costs and that means an increase in household debt.

The impact on jobs is particularly troubling and has been explored in depth in a stufy (PDF) done in Spain when they implemented a similar program. The administration is promoting this bill as one which creates more “green” jobs. What they don’t mention is that every one of those green jobs created comes at a cost of the loss of 2.2 existing jobs and most of the new jobs are temporary jobs in construction and installation or jobs which cease to exist when the new technology proves to be inefficient and is abandonned. It is estimated that 90% of the jobs created are temporary, so the long-term ratio is more like 20 jobs lost for every job created. Added to the massive job loss already caused by the administration’s failing economic policies this might be a cost too great for the nation to bear.

Massive job loss and energy cost increases for consumers were the result when Spain implemented a carbon tax with cap and trade, and it is that system which President Obama is using as a model for his program. President Obama regularly cites Spain as an example to look to for energy policy, despite the fact that the economic and human impact there has been devastating, prolonging recession, increasing unemployment and taking money out of the pockets of every consumer. The upside is that it is one of the factors contributing to the crushing defeat of Spain’s socialist government in the latest election which brought in more pragmatic reformers.

Fearmongering about “catastrophic global warming” is being used by powerful lobbying groups like the Natural Resource Defense Council to drive support for this bill with no consideration of the damage which will be done to the economy and to consumers. And when you look at the bottom line, the projected outcome of all of this cost and suffering is estimated to be less than two-tenths of one degree in worldwide temperature change by the end of the century. Meanwhile the nation is enjoying what is reported to be one of the the coolest summers on record and a growing group of scientists led by Edward Teller are speaking out against climate change hysteria.

With a floor vote possible Friday, now is the time to contact your representative in congress and urge them to vote against HR2454. Remind them that you can’t afford to pay thousands in additional taxes to underwrite speculative technology and gratuitous expansion of the power of government. Tell them that carbon taxes and cap and trade have been a failure in Europe and that we can’t afford them here.

Dave Nalle has worked as a magazine editor, a freelance writer, a capitol hill staffer, a game designer and taught college history for many years. He now designs fonts for a living and lives with his family in a small town just outside Austin where he is ex-president of the local Lions Club. He is on the board of the Republican Liberty Caucus and Politics Editor of Blogcritics Magazine. You can find his writings about fonts, art and graphic design at The Scriptorium. He also runs a conspiracy debunking site at IdiotWars.com.

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