Part 3 in a series
By Katie Kieffer
Now we’re buying rights?
As I began discussing here and here, cap-and-trade would introduce the new concept of a “right” for corporations to emit limited amounts of CO2 – before man-made CO2 emissions have even been proven significantly harmful to the earth. It’s dangerous to give our politicians the ability to create new “rights” based on such preliminary science because the origination of rights should be reserved for:
- Rights enumerated in the U.S. Constitution
- The inalienable rights enumerated in the Declaration of Independence
Bottom line, the government does not have the power to grant U.S. citizens the “right” to emit CO2, especially when scientists just announced that CO2 may be beneficial to the environment.
Perhaps you’re willing to be taxed via cap-and-trade, pay higher prices for energy and consumer products and give the government the power to dictate your company’s CO2 emissions in exchange for its promise to protect the environment by policing CO2 emissions. This is a fairly common viewpoint, so let’s consider whether it’s a fiscally responsible or earth-friendly view. My assessment is that those who hold this viewpoint care deeply about protecting the earth, and are missing some of the facts. According to this viewpoint, the government – not the free market or private entrepreneurs – is best-suited to protect the earth.
I maintain that, left alone, the market would actually police itself. Corporations that are not viewed by the public as “green,” “sustainable” or “earth-friendly” are no longer popular. For marketing purposes alone, corporations realize that they need to go green – in a fiscally responsible manner – in order to survive. American companies already know that young, Generation Y professionals (born between 1980 and 1994) – will pay more for “green-conscious brands.” There’s no need for big bro Uncle Sam to jump in and try to oversee what will happen naturally. And, there is certainly no need for taxpayers to pay Uncle Sam to oversee and police what will happen naturally.
How good would the government be at protecting the environment via cap-and-trade?
Stanford University’s Hoover Digest reports in its latest environmental research that the government has shown itself to be “environmentally, fiscally and economically irresponsible” in its public land management and National Park Services. According to the Hoover Digest:
1.) “Decades of fire suppression by the Forest Service have disrupted natural fire cycles … and 90 to 200 million acres of federal forests are at high risk of burning in catastrophic fires. …fires put enormous amounts of carbon into the atmosphere…”
2.) Park barrel politics, such as: “the Government Accountability Office testified in Congress that in 2004 the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) earned about $12 million in grazing revenues but spent $58 million implementing its grazing program.”
3.) “Given that the federal estate is worth trillions of dollars, Obama should make land management agencies turn a profit.” National forests earn an average of 76 cents for every dollar spent – a net loss – under government management.
The point? Would you hire a landscape architect to design a green roof for your building that had a track record of blowing budgets out of the water and building environmentally unstable green roofs? Of course not. Likewise, the government’s inability to manage our national forests in an environmentally effective or profitable manner should be a cause for pause before we hand over another big environmental project to them: Managing the climate.
The government has a track record of spending money, increasing the national debt and pushing its own programs into obliteration through poor fiscal planning. How can we sit back and let our government get away with acting so irresponsibly?
Give young leaders a chance
Unemployment is rising and is expected to come out above 10 percent for Nov., 2009. The government is growing and monopolizing our economy, taking away opportunities that rightfully belong to smart, innovative and hard-working entrepreneurs. Young professionals – conservative, moderate and liberal – share common goals such as achieving the American dream, protecting the environment, and maintaining the freedom to build our careers and businesses. We need to decide whether we want to give up a great deal of liberty and cash to pay the government a backwards $6,000-plus tax to monitor carbon emissions and climate change.
Under a backward or regressive tax like cap-and-trade, politicians line their pockets and increase their power while, jobs take a downward spiral. Like entrepreneur, Matt Harrison, I believe our generation has the energetic, entrepreneurial spirit and innovative power to solve this current financial and budding environmental crisis – while turning a profit – without paying Uncle Sam to baby-sit the process.