But hey, isn’t that a good thing? As I wrote in May, exploring radical environmentalism’s anti-growth Catch-22:
Ever since the start of the Great Recession, we’ve noticed the weird Catch-22 that dogmatic environmentalists find themselves in. In 2009, when pushing cap and tax, John Kerry said:
The United States has already this year alone achieved a 6 percent reduction in emissions simply because of the downturn in the economy, so we are effectively saying we need to go another 14 percent.
“Well, the good news is, our [carbon] emissions are way down because of the recession. I mean, really, if you want to find a silver lining in the cloud, the number that we were looking for [with cap and trade legislation] … we are well, well [ahead of our goal]…because we have had such a real drop in manufacturing output.”
And add to that this item from the beginning of the month: “President Obama’s solicitor general, defending the national health care law on Wednesday, told a federal appeals court that Americans who didn’t like the individual mandate could always avoid it by choosing to earn less money.”
And hey, if high gas prices are dragging the economy down, the CEO of Government Motors is, like his boss in DC, pretty darn cool with that notion of making them even higher:
General Motors Co. CEO Dan Akerson wants the federal gas tax boosted as much as $1 a gallon to nudge consumers toward more fuel-efficient cars, and he’s confident the government will soon shed its remaining 26 percent stake in the once-bankrupt automaker….
A government-imposed tax hike, Akerson believes, will prompt more people to buy small cars and do more good for the environment than forcing automakers to comply with higher gas-mileage standards.
“There ought to be a discussion on the cost versus the benefits,” he said. “What we are going to do is tax production here, and that will cost us jobs.”
For the years 2017-25, federal officials are considering 3 percent to 6 percent annual fuel efficiency increases, or 47 mpg to 62 mpg. That could boost the cost of vehicles by up to $3,500.
“You know what I’d rather have them do — this will make my Republican friends puke — as gas is going to go down here now, we ought to just slap a 50-cent or a dollar tax on a gallon of gas,” Akerson said.
But it won’t make your Democrat friends puke — the New York Times, Washington Post and Tom Brokaw of NBC are all onboard with the idea — and are only sorry Obama didn’t implement it the moment he took office.
Besides, late last year, Prominent Official Obama Advisor and occasional CNN anchor Fareed Zakaria said that Americans need to reduce consumption, so like most on the left, he should be pretty thrilled with the current economic situation:
Parker asked Zakaria if he had faith the American people could handle the fiscal discipline he advocated. Zakaria used the platform as an opportunity to attack Americans and refute the notion “the American people are wonderful.” His solution: Less consumption by the American people.
“No, I think the people are the big problem,” Zakaria said. “I mean, Americans — everybody wants to say the American people are so wonderful. You know, I think that when they come to recognize that they have to make sacrifices too that it’s not just wasteful — they need to have — they need to recognize that some of what’s going to happen here is fewer. They have to consume fewer things. They have to accept slightly higher taxes. And in the long run, you will have a much better economy.”
And Thomas Friedman, presumably writing from his 11,000-square foot mansion, also believes the rest of America needs to downsize. In his latest agitprop-ed, he quotes radical Australian environmentalist Paul Gilding (and echoes both Thomas Malthus and William James’ hoary old “Moral Equivalent of War” trope):
But Gilding is actually an eco-optimist. As the impact of the imminent Great Disruption hits us, he says, “our response will be proportionally dramatic, mobilizing as we do in war. We will change at a scale and speed we can barely imagine today, completely transforming our economy, including our energy and transport industries, in just a few short decades.”
We will realize, he predicts, that the consumer-driven growth model is broken and we have to move to a more happiness-driven growth model, based on people working less and owning less. “How many people,” Gilding asks, “lie on their death bed and say, ‘I wish I had worked harder or built more shareholder value,’ and how many say, ‘I wish I had gone to more ballgames, read more books to my kids, taken more walks?’ To do that, you need a growth model based on giving people more time to enjoy life, but with less stuff.”
Frankly, I’m not sure if America can survive the level of economic perfection that the president, Kerry, McCaskill, Zakaria, Friedman and other members of the Professional Left long for, but between now and November of 2012, we may well find out.