The House of Representatives just took a large step towards refashioning the United State into a Third World economy with first world self-regard. The so-called “cap and trade” (“cap and tax” to its opponents) bill, sponsored by Henry Waxman and Edward Markey (remember those names, voters), squeaked by 219-212. (The roll call is here: check to see if your Congressman just voted to impoverish you and your country.)
Reacting to the Democratic victory (but one, please note, that would not have been possible had not 8 Republicans voted for it: they are listed in italics in the roll call), Rep. Markey of Massachusetts described the “American Clean Energy and Security Act” as “the most important energy and environmental legislation in the history of our country.” This is true. Plenty of unpleasant things are important. Rep Markey is also correct that the legislation “sets a new course for our country.” Indeed, I’d say it was all part and parcel of Obama’s observation, made last October, that he and his henchmen were only a few days away from “fundamentally transforming the United States of America.” Where Rep. Markey errs is in his conclusion: that this “important” “new course” “steers us away from foreign oil and towards a path of clean American energy.”
In fact, Ed, it will do almost nothing to emancipate us from foreign oil even as it steers us towards a path of less American energy. The architect Mies van der Rohe famously said “less is more,” to which Robert Venturi equally famously quipped “less is a bore.” This is not the moment to intervene in that discussion about the place ornamentation and authenticity in architecture. Applied to the world of economics, however, we can observe with confidence that less is less.
The Wall Street Journal explains some of what this new legislation would mean:
By putting a price on emissions of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, the bill would affect the way electricity is generated, how homes and offices are designed, how foreign trade is conducted and how much Americans pay to drive cars or to heat their homes.
So, thanks Ed! And thanks Harry! And thanks to the other 217 Congressmen and women who just voted to make America poorer and less competitive on the world stage. I hope that the electorate will remember your actions when the next election comes around.
To help them remember, let’s pause further to consider the meaning of this bill. Kimberley Strassel, writing in The Wall Street Journal yesterday, noted that while the green church of Al Gore thrives among the power elite of Washington, elsewhere in the world it is facing serious challenges from scientists as well as politicians. “Among the many reasons President Barack Obama and the Democratic majority are so intent on quickly jamming a cap-and-trade system through Congress,” she observes “is because the global warming tide is again shifting.”
It turns out Al Gore and the United Nations (with an assist from the media), did a little too vociferous a job smearing anyone who disagreed with them as “deniers.” The backlash has brought the scientific debate roaring back to life in Australia, Europe, Japan and even, if less reported, the U.S.
In April, the Polish Academy of Sciences published a document challenging man-made global warming. In the Czech Republic, where President Vaclav Klaus remains a leading skeptic, today only 11% of the population believes humans play a role. In France, President Nicolas Sarkozy wants to tap Claude Allegre to lead the country’s new ministry of industry and innovation. Twenty years ago Mr. Allegre was among the first to trill about man-made global warming, but the geochemist has since recanted. New Zealand last year elected a new government, which immediately suspended the country’s weeks-old cap-and-trade program.