Posted by James @ 1:01 am on June 30th 2009

Remember ‘Whatshisface’?

I do.


  1. I would like to see Ron and the CFL offer a specific positive vision of reform with regard to externalizing the cost of carbon emissions, and with regard to containing the cost of medicine.

    There ARE policy options open to them consistent with their ideological positions, and cases to be made that government policy is the problem in each area rather than the solution. But on these two issues, even I am getting to the point at which simple advocacy of the status quo is untenable. Let’s hear a case for liberty-based solutions.

    Comment by Rojas — 6/30/2009 @ 1:45 am

  2. Rub a lamp.

    Comment by James — 6/30/2009 @ 2:08 am

  3. PS> Is it me or has the posting area gotten narrower?

    Comment by James — 6/30/2009 @ 2:10 am

  4. I can reluctantly get behind some sort of carbon tax if it were implemented in a revenue neutral way. Any sort of implementation of when coupled with equal and opposite corporate/capital gain/individual tax cuts would be okay in my book. When the goal is carbon emission reduction increased pricing of carbon is the way to go.
    My ideal carbon bill would no longer than ten pages, most of which would detail the accompanying tax cuts.

    Subsidization of clean technology and hideous programs to create “green collar” jobs are nothing more than money pits for the taxpayers which also act as gold mines for special interest groups. Sadly the government is taking the latter approach and is trying to stick its hands into vast portions of the economy as it tries to accomplish exactly the same thing that individual people and businesses would do in response to higher carbon prices. The government is just going to create new red tape and waste in this effort.

    @James – Nope. YouTube got wider a while back when they made it possible for HDTV style widescreen videos to be uploaded. Regardless, if you look at the embedding html code you can alter the setting that says ‘width=425’ or whatever down to a lower number and make it fit within the confines on this site.

    Comment by Cameron — 6/30/2009 @ 7:32 am

  5. Thanks Cameron.

    Comment by James — 6/30/2009 @ 11:17 am

  6. Subsidization of clean technology and hideous programs to create “green collar” jobs are nothing more than money pits for the taxpayers which also act as gold mines for special interest groups.

    On the other hand, that’s not what cap and trade actually IS, is it? Cap and trade is a recognition that carbon emissions exact a specific, tangible cost which isn’t accounted for by the traditional market methods; therefore, it creates a market in reducing those costs, but it doesn’t pick winners among the various possible methods of doing so.

    I will grant for the record that this isn’t the form of cap and trade I’d like to see implemented, but I don’t think the usual arguments about intervention into the market particularly apply.

    Comment by Rojas — 6/30/2009 @ 11:47 am

  7. I suppose I have two complaints. On the one hand I have concerns about the implementation of cap and trade as it exists right now. These concerns are rooted in fears about initial distribution of carbon credits in which the potential for corrupt sweetheart deals seems to abound. Personally, I tend to favor a carbon tax mostly because of its simplicity and ease of implementation compared to cap and trade. Regardless of the style of the legislation, the lack of revenue neutrality in the discussions of these policy types is upsetting.

    That lack of revenue neutrality ties into my other complaint which is broader than just the above piece of legislation. Occurring concurrently with the cap and trade legislation right now there is a second element of this issue – new programs and other emissions related environmental goodies from the government. I fear the broad government action towards the creation of green job subsidies, solar subsidies, ethanol subsidies, electric car battery subsidies, and numerous other money pits. There’s one hell of a difference between pricing carbon and shoveling government money towards better light bulbs and windmills. I don’t like the fact that these ideas are lumped together in legislation. Revenue neutrality goes out the window with the creation of new government programs and grants. This secondary issue is different from the idea of cap and trade but is being tacked onto the cap and trade legislation in Congress.

    Comment by Cameron — 6/30/2009 @ 12:41 pm

  8. Carbon emissions take place in a market where carbon costs are externalized. Health care coverage takes place in markets where there are near monopolies
    and the consumer is at an disadvantage in both health and insurance acumen and in ability to negotiate when one’s life is the commodity being bartered for. The insurance provider has the incentive to reduce costs while collecting premium…

    I’ll let this guy say it,
    since he does a better job:
    The top priority of for-profit companies is to drive up the value of their stock. Stocks fluctuate based on companies’ quarterly reports, which are discussed every three months in conference calls with investors and analysts. On these calls, Wall Street looks investors and analysts look for two key figures: earnings per share and the medical-loss ratio, or medical ―benefit‖ ratio, as the industry now terms it. That is the ratio between what the company actually pays out in claims and what it has left over to cover sales, marketing, underwriting and other administrative expenses and, of course, profits.
    To win the favor of powerful analysts, for-profit insurers must prove that they made more money during the previous quarter than a year earlier and that the portion of the premium going to medical costs is falling. Even very profitable companies can see sharp declines in stock prices.

    In both of these areas, the government is trying to tune the market which is not producing the best social goods because one is externalizing the cost of its waste and the other is externalizing the cost of its obligations to cover the sick.

    Problem is? Obama is trying to make change without change. Like everything else he’s done domestically, he’s putting weak proposals as his first offer in order to limp the bills over the Senate hurdle, which then get picked over by Blue Dogs and republicans so that they have no meat left, and then Obama can sign them.
    He’s set the conciliatory tone and it’s making bad policy.

    Mr Obama aims to keep his promises, which is admirable. Unfortunately, there is a problem. This is not, as many Republicans argue, that neither issue requires forthright action. Both do. The problem is that the bills emerging from Congress are bad and Mr Obama does not seem to mind.

    The cap-and-trade bill is a travesty. Its net effect on short- to medium-term carbon emissions will be small to none. This is by design: a law that really made a difference would make energy dearer, hurt consumers and force an economic restructuring that would be painful for many industries and their workers. Congress cannot contemplate those effects. So the Waxman-Markey bill, while going through the complex motions of creating a carbon abatement regime, takes care to neutralise itself.

    It proposes safety valves that will ease the cap if it threatens to have a noticeable effect on energy prices. It relies heavily on offsets – theoretical carbon reductions bought from other countries or other industries – so that big US emitters will not need to try so hard. It gives emission permits away, and tells utilities to rebate the windfall to consumers, so their electricity bills do not go up. It creates a vastly complicated apparatus, a playground for special interests and rent-seekers, a minefield of unintended consequences – and the bottom line for all that is business as usual.

    If you regard universal access to health insurance as an urgent priority, as I do, the draft healthcare bills are easier to defend as at least a step in the right direction. Nonetheless, the same evasive mindset – the appetite for change without change – has guided their design. If you are happy with your present insurance, the bills’ designers keep telling voters, you will see no difference.

    “Do not let the perfect be the enemy of the good” he keeps saying, but that’s implies there is some good.
    Much as you may like the idea, this is another 1300 pages of complexity and loopholes. Buried in there, I’ll wager, are more than enough ways for large organizations (the ones who hire lobbyists) to get all the exemption and evasion they’ll need. Consider the alternative of a carbon tax calibrated to achieve the same emission reductions, and applied to all sectors including vehicle fuel consumption. I’m no expert on translating ideas into pages of a bill, but that can’t be much. And given that it allows us to do away with the CAFE standards, I figure we’ve done a great service of dramatically simplifying the whole regulatory process for carbon emissions.

    The more complex you make things, the more opportunity you give experts to charge rents when interpreting the complexity:

    Obama is constantly offering weak and watered down policies to appease the body politic. By doing this, he is burning support who gave him a mandate for change, not status quo.

    There was a need for economic stimulus and infrastructure investment that could have been used for carbon reduction, public transit investment, clean public power generation, etc…

    You got tax cuts.

    There is a need for cap and trade regulation on CO2 that could have given incentives to spur green investment by subsidizing good producers and penalizing the bad.

    You got a:
    bill [that] is 85% diffferent from what President Obama proposed just a few months ago. No wonder that his budget director called this type of legislation “the largest carpet welfare program in the history of the United States.”
    Until families share in the billions this bill grants powerful lobbies, I cannot support it.

    He ended up supporting it, bent through the similar tactics used by republicans when they passed Medicare part D through Walter Jones dissent:

    No, we shouldn’t make the perfect the enemy of the good, but Obama should stop becoming the enemy of the good. If you believe in the goddamn good, then put it forward and fight for it.

    Otherwise, stop wasting your words and people’s time.

    Comment by thimbles — 6/30/2009 @ 1:37 pm

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