Friday, June 26, 2009

The Sad Way Our Country Works

Today, the US House of Representatives passed the "American Clean Energy and Security Act", by a vote of 219-212. This historic legislation not only represents a sweeping change which will mean lots of things to lots of people, and will no doubt be fiercely debated in the Senate (and where I, as someone who is rooting for America to return to prosperity in spite of the Democrats, hope it is killed), but it also is a great example of exactly how politics in this country works today, and pretty much everything which is horribly corrupt and broken with the current system and most of its participants. As such, I figured it would make a good specific case study to examine, in hopes that future governmental systems can be crafted to avoid every single thing involved in coming to this point with this bill.

First, let's look at the official name: broad, sweeping, and sounds nice, like something everyone would be in favor of; after all, who doesn't like clean energy and security. The only problem is, it's completely misleading, to the point of being intentionally deceptive. The bill is a simple new tax on energy use, with about 1000 pages of extra crap piled onto it. At the very least, it should be the "Energy Tax and Other Crap" bill, if nothing something more descriptive like "Cap and Tax and Pork", or "All Hail Global Warming and Zenu", or maybe something topical like "Swine Flu Energy Tax"; anything would be better than this deceptive garbage.

Second, let's look at the background. The bill is nominally intended to help prevent Global Warming, a religious movement of the past decade or so lead by environmentalists and Democrats, and opposed (or at least debated) by scientists, rational thinkers, and humans with functional brain stems. It's not the first time public policy has been dictated by religion and/or politics, and it won't be the last, but every single time is regrettable and unconstitutional, and this is absolutely no different.

Third, let's talk about the false pretenses for a little bit. Obama and the Democrats tout the bill as creating jobs, when the exact opposite is likely to be the case, which they know, and their advisers know, and pretty much everybody knows, but the supporters of the bill are willing to trade as an acceptable sacrifice for advancing their agenda and getting a system of arbitrary government controls and a system where financial success is determined by government mandate rather than capitalist competition in place. Again, this sort of obviously deceptive, "open lie" that everyone repeats is exemplary of the standard political procedures in effect today.

Forth, lets look at the actual legislation itself. It began as an agenda item, fulfilling promises given during various campaigns to effectively give handouts to particular special interest groups. As it made its way through various committees, it gained pages, as people tacked on their own special interest pork and unrelated changes to unrelated laws. The night before it was to be voted on, the author added 300 pages of unrelated law changes with nobody else in the House even read before they voted on it. It was so laughably ridiculous that when the leading Republican decided to read portions of the bill to the rest of the House, everybody had a good laugh about how incomprehensible it was, and how nobody knew what it said or meant, how ambiguous the sections he did read were, and how absurd it was to be voting on new US laws without even reading them! It could be the script for a juvenile comedy about a ridiculous made-up laughing-stock government, except it really just happened! Moreover, it's not even strange enough to warrant more than a passing notice; these days it's apparently business as usual in the juvenile laughing stock we call the US House of Representatives.

I could go on to talk about the language and the bill itself, although apparently it's not yet actually available for anyone to read, anywhere, despite the fact that it's already been passed. I could discuss the partisan nature, and how the vote was roughly along party lines, and what that implies for the much-touted and yet to be observed "new spirit of cooperation" the Obamanation was supposed to usher in. I could talk about how our so-called "representatives" are supposed to be representing the interests of the people, and not special interests. However, all of those are pretty well-known already, and it just emphasizes the point.

This bill represents everything which is wrong with American politics, in summary form. May it serve as an example to other or future governments of how horribly wrong your governmental actions can become if the system is even slightly flawed or the people do not actively check their "leaders".


  1. If and when we vote in more responsible people to our government, will we be able to repeal some of these asinine bills that are being passed?

    I hope we can survive as a country during this term of office. Of course there are still many people who are still being blinded by The Won.

    People, take off your 'rose colored glasses'.

  2. It’s absurd to liken efforts to control carbon emissions to a religious movement. It’s just plain wrong to say the efforts are opposed by scientists and reasonable people. We know for certain that the planet’s climate is changing and that human activities account for a significant fraction (maybe a third, maybe two thirds; we don’t know) of the change.

    Generating greenhouse gasses benefits the one who does it at the expense of others. Taxing these activities makes the cost to emitters more in line with the actual cost to society.

    You could argue that possibly over 50% of the climate change we’re observing will continue even if all greenhouse emissions and deforestation were stopped. You can argue that the increased GDP over time that we might experience by burning fossil fuels faster (than we would with gov’t controls) will generate wealth that can be taxed in the future to deal with the costs of global warming. But likening concerns about something that clearly will cost future generations to religion is pure nonsense.

    It will be a great accomplishment if we can successfully forgo some benefit now for the sake of a greater benefit to future generations. I'm not totally optimistic about the world gov'ts' ability to pull it off, but it would great achievement.

  3. CJ:

    You could argue (and scientists have) that 99% of the global warming the Earth is currently experiencing is due to natural fluctuations in solar energy emissions. You could also be aware of the fact that the US isn't even the largest producer of CO2 pollution (China is), not to mention accounting for an even smaller amount of the total including all countries. If you're scientifically inclined, you could also be aware of the tenuous nature of the theories of how pollution leads to warming.

    What's not disputable, in my mind, is that there is no scientific consensus that global warming is primarily caused by CO2 pollution, or that reducing such pollution in the US alone would have any appreciable affect on the climate worldwide. When there's no scientific consensus, and only disputed pseudo-scientific hypotheses and non-rational beliefs, and yet people adamantly believe something is true, that's called religion. Note that I'm not saying any particular hypothesis is wrong, or that pollution isn't bad; I'm just saying the current unsubstantiated religious zealotry is just that.

    When you say things like "for certain" and "clearly" with respect to The Church of Global Warming, it's a pretty clear sign that you're a believer, and thus not really in a good position to render an impartial objective judgment. As I've said before, it's unfortunate that something which may be a real danger to the planet and our species has been so politicized (by Al Gore and others) that it has devolved into the realm of religion, and thus can (and probably should) be marginalized, and certainly kept out of governmental policy; but that's the fault of the people who politicized it for their own gain, and until it becomes flushed from the system, it will never be anything but a religion with zealots.

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  5. This comment works as well here as well as in the last post:
    The problem with a direct energy tax is that taxpayers will expect the money to go to road repair or other silly nonsense. By doing it this way, Washington collects the money, passes it out to "special interest groups" who pass it on to folks such as the Saudis who then slip money into pockets of the same politicians who wrote the stupid bill. Then those same politicians want to raise our taxes because D.C needs money besides the money they are printing continually. I am getting dizzy from going around in circles.

    By the way, I have studied both climatology and meteorology as a hobby for years now (since I experienced my first hurricane) and have posted on KOOKs blog several simple ways to dumbfound science professors trying to teach global warming. I am glad to see other intellectuals joining in this fight. 2 years ago it seemed like I was the lone voice in the wind against "voodoo climatology."

  6. Here is an example of one of my "climate posts from KOOK's blog.
    *Note that I attempted to put this in a perspective that someone who doesn't know anything about climate can understand:

    While on the subject of "green", "green jobs", geenhouse gasses etc. I look at it like this: "Green" is the new "Red" as in communism. The color for communism was red mainly from the Russians but it has been repackaged in a nice friendly "green" wrapper to sell to Americans. The "star and sickle" don't sell well here in the States so to sell Government jobs they get called "Green" jobs now. Green sounds much nicer and less controlling than either "Government" or "red." Here's a little more "Green 101." The fact is any Carbon Dioxide emitted by a smokestack or a tailpipe sinks to and into the ground like a rock in the water because Carbon Dioxide is far heavier than air. Air is a nearly constant solution of CO2, O2 and other trace elements similar to salt water. CO2 doesn't pile up in the atmosphere because of the oxygen and other trace gasses that are far lighter than CO2. That is Global Warming hoax #1 plain and simple. It is no different than water coming out clouds as rain when they get thick enough, and the water becomes heavy enough, but they don't teach that in science class anymore. That is the reality behind "Green." Funny thing is when I ask those who support Global Warming about this they seem dumbfounded.

    You can prove this effect by filling a beaker with pure CO2 and corking it. Then light several candles on a table. Uncork, then turn upside down the CO2 beaker 2-3 ft directly above the candles. You will see the candles go out as the excess CO2 falls to the floor.

    This is a most rudimentary way to prove what happens to excess CO2. When I have done this in front of or asked so-called experts about this, they were dumbfounded.

  7. The argument I constantly make is this: it doesn't matter if global warming is real or not. Because there is indisputable evidence that there is a link between poor air quality due to excessive carbon emmissions and serious health risks. For that reason alone, we should work towards creating tougher environmental standards.

    Andreww33, I understand your example with rain, and it makes sense. However, there is such a thing as Acid Rain, the phenomenon that started the cap and trade debate 2 decades ago. Also, while you are correct that the earth will get rid of excess carbon through percipitation, we are polluting the air faster than the earth can clean it.

    I happen to think that global warming is not a left-wing conspiracy hoax. But that's not my main motivation for the fight. When large cities and heavy manufacturing towns have increased risks of cancer because of the bad air, there is a health and well being problem that needs to be corrected. Cleaner cities and towns will largely be unaffected by this bill, at least in the short term, because they aren't polluting as bad as say Los Angeles or Alleghany County, PA.

  8. What's not disputable, in my mind, is that there is no scientific consensus that global warming is primarily caused by CO2 pollution, or that reducing such pollution in the US alone would have any appreciable affect on the climate worldwide.

    There is a scientific consensus based on evidence, which is completely different from religion.

    As to whether we can practically reduce the costs of climate change significantly, that really is a question. I suspect that's why you switch back and forth between arguments: b/c the claim that there's no scientific consensus is wrong. The claim about other countries being worse contributors is totally true. US is pretty efficient compared to the developing world in terms of GDP per unit CO2. The developing world rightly says "you guys got industrialized by emitting CO2 100 years ago. Now that you are more efficient, you want to deny us exactly what you took advantage of." I don't know if the developed world can make the developing world be more efficient even it put all its effort to the cause.

    I don't have all the answers to climate change. The easy answer is somehow emitting all that CO2 really won't cost us anything in the future. We can get GDP growth from fossil fuels without committing some of that future GDP to deal with the repercussions of climate change. The problem is that it's wrong.

    It blows my mind when people say that evidence that CO2 emissions damage the environment is politically motivated, as if there weren't political motivations to burn fuel without regard for the future. Obviously it would be better if CO2 emissions were harmless, but we can't ignore the facts and pretend that things are how we wish they were.

  9. Please link the unbiased, scientific consensus research that CO2 is primarily responsible for the global warming trend we're currently purportedly experiencing. Obviously this would exclude research produced by organizations with a vested interest in increasing their own scope of influence using Global Warming (eg: US government organizations, UN scientist groups, etc.), or scientists with an economic interest in getting more funding for their particular field of study (eg: Global Warming). If there's an undisputed consensus, it should be easy to find unbiased scientific groups unrelated to the area of study endorsing the theory without reservation or significant dissenting opinion.

    To the contrary, and in the interim, I would direct your attention to the wikipedia page detailing part of the controversy around Global Warming. I'm no expert, but it seems far from a consensus to me, which would make unquestioned belief a religious phenomenon, not a scientific one.

    Now, I'm not saying the government should not be doing anything to control pollution, or that there might not be significant costs associated with it in the future. I think it's ridiculous, though, to assert that there's an undisputed consensus, or that Global Warming has not been abused by politicians to enact any number of other unrelated agenda items (this bill, for example), or that people's unwavering and uneducated belief in man-made Global Warming is not, in effect, a religion, in all senses. The sooner rational people can burn down the Church of Global Warming, the sooner we can start addressing the real problems with pollution in effective, and hopefully less politically motivated and hopelessly partisan, ways.

  10. 1. My reading of the Wikipedia article is that while there are legitimate critics of the scientific consensus view, most of the controversy is in the non-scientific media.
    2. Even if I agreed there were no consensus, that doesn't justify inaction. If there's even a chance that our activities today will cost trillions of dollars in the future, there's a reason to take action.
    3. It's laughable to say there's political bias in favor of making difficult changes. We've had a surge in GDP and world population over the last 150 years totally because of the discovery of cheap energy. Cheap energy is one of the underpinnings of the world economy. We will be very old or gone by the time people are paying a significant price for our actions. So almost all self-interested pressure is pressure to ignore the problem and keep the cheap energy coming.

    I want to keep GDP growth, so I know we need to keep the cheap energy coming moving to carbon-neutral energy sources and putting more effort into GDP per unit energy efficiency, we can have growth now without paying for it later.

  11. CJ, as a native Tennessean, I saw the effects of acid rain firsthand. The thing is, those effects which "burned" the tops of the trees in East Tennessee have been eradicated and reversed. I believe much of the pollution causing the Acid Rain in Tennessee was caused by Alcoa in knoxville and they have cleaned up their act environmentally. Issues like 3mile island, acid rain and carbon MOMOxide were real environmental issues back in the 70's in America. Now China and India make these same pollutants on a massive scale yet obama wants to "Scrap and Raid" our economy while being too make things right here.