Monday, December 15, 2008

The Environmentalist Mob Takes a Piece of the Action

"I have a vision, we got a town full of thousands of small stores and businesses, people who are working real hard. I think they should be working real hard-- for us. Because we are for the people, and if you ain't for the people, you can't buy the people. We will become the people's silent partner. Every time some citizen buys a pound of hamburger, we get a nickel. Every time some guy gets a haircut, we get a dime."

Big Boy Caprice, Dick Tracy

It's called a Piece of the Action, or in the more loftier economic vocabulary, Rent Seeking Behavior. And it defines how our economy works today.

Once upon a time, you went into business and opened a factory making chairs. You concentrated on making a quality product at a reasonable price, and so you either succeeded or failed. Then came the layers of government regulation.

The first layer controlled what kind of chairs you could make, out of what kind of materials and how much you had to pay your employees and forced you to accept union control over your factory. (A previous layer, which was implemented by FDR but declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, declared what price you could sell the chairs at, and what discounts you could offer, and in what quantity.)

With the first layer, you no longer just made chairs, you made the sort of chairs that the government allowed you to make, under the conditions they allowed you to make them under.

The second layer came in the form of increased taxation to fund the multiple regulatory bodies which oversaw all the regulations you were being forced to obey. Each layer of regulation justified government expansion to oversee its enforcement.

This second layer created a massive bureaucracy, which was itself a political perk. Heading an agency or holding a decent position in it was a political reward that politicians doled out to supporters and friends. It was a step on the ladder of political advancement.

The third layer consisted of free trade agreements that opened the United States to a flow of foreign cheaply made goods, that did not abide by any of the first layer of regulations.

Where the first stage had made the production of domestic goods non-competitive, the second layer made it increasingly expensive to even try and compete, and the third layer flooded the market with goods from countries that were not burdened by any of these regulations in the first place.

The fourth layer of course was the pork layer. Not only had the government made it painfully difficult and expensive for you to run your chair factory, the high taxes didn't just go to the vast government bureaucracy, it also went to handing out benefits for the politically connected.

So while you dutifully made quality chairs, another factory owner a town over donated money to a congressman, who saw to it that the Federal government would appropriate some of your tax money to building a local Chair Museum stocked with chairs from his factory.

Or better yet, he creates a trade group that lobbies for standards that will benefit him, and put you out of business. Next year the official who comes to inspect your factory, was formerly the spokesman for your competitor's trade group.

At this point the factory owner reasonably wonders why he bothers making chairs at all, instead of selling his factory to a mall developer, taking the tax hit and retiring. And that is exactly what did happen all across America, leaving American industry in shambles, and the American working class in bad shape.

But the other factory owner in the next town, has recognized a very simple fact. That consumers and businessmen are no longer his market, the government is. As in Socialism or Organized Crime, when the hand in the till takes enough, and redistributes it, it becomes the source of economic activity.

Of course this economic activity does not create value, it is parasitic in nature. Once government expands beyond providing needed services, and comes to view keeping an omnipresent regulatory eye as a social good in and of itself, it becomes the touch of death for a free market economy.

But in such a system, it makes a lot more sense to lobby for a bailout, than it does to put your own house in order. It makes more sense to get public assistance, than to get a job. It makes more sense to lobby your congressman for pork, than it does to run a chair factory.

But with all these layers, now comes a final layer. The environmental layer. Of course environmental regulations were always a fact of life, but Global Warming has changed the nature of the game. With carbon emissions defined as pollutants, virtually every human economic and non-economic activity falls under the aegis of environmental regulations.

It's unsurprising that Obama's big economic recovery plan talked a good deal more about energy efficiency than about economic recovery. Liberals have been pushing the idea that Global Warming is the supreme crisis, Al Gore is off warning the Germans that the South Pole will be gone in 5 years, and it is convenient because Global Warming like nothing else provides for the ultimate bit of grabbing A Piece of the Action from just about everything.

Big Government Liberals have exhausted the credible and even halfway credible reasons for increased regulations. With Global Warming we move into the phase of using an imagined crisis to take a piece of everything. If everything that people do can be defined as polluting... than everything we do can be regulated and taxed.

This is no exaggeration. Global warming alarmist quizzes target any ordinary everyday behavior as being part of your Carbon Footprint. And naturally environmentalists push for using taxation to force people to limit the size of their Carbon Footprints. And so a plan to take a piece of the action on a scale that not even the craziest mobster could have ever dreamed of, moves forward.

None of this is theoretical. Bills have already been proposed that levy financial penalties and added taxes based on a Carbon Footprint. But they are only the first tentative baby steps of a Green Tax that would as thoroughly crush humanity under a comprehensive bureaucratic tyranny, as anything out of the USSR.

Among the proposals, a carbon tax on obesity and of course for children.

Families would pay a $5000-plus baby levy at birth and an annual carbon tax of up to $800 a child under a plan flagged in Australia's top medical journal. Every couple with more than two children would be taxed to pay for enough trees to offset the carbon emissions generated over each child's lifetime.
"Every newborn baby in Australia represents a potent source of greenhouse gas emissions for an average of 80 years, not simply by breathing, but by the profligate consumption of resources typical of our society," he wrote. "Far from showering financial booty on new mothers and thereby rewarding greenhouse-unfriendly behaviour, a baby levy in the form of a carbon tax should apply, in line with the polluter pays principle."
Australian Breastfeeding Association spokeswoman Karen Commisso said the idea was crazy. "What a bizarre suggestion -- so now we have to pay to have children?"

Naturally we do. And we will.

And what of the single mothers who cannot afford to pay for a child. The pollution can be ended with a simple compulsory abortion.

Welcome to the Brave New Environmentally Correct World, where children are just so much pollution. A sentiment that Pharaoh or the leaders of the People's Republic of China could easily get behind. But that is exactly where we are heading.

The central thesis of the environmental movement, is the same as that of all tyrannies... that humans are the problem. And if humans are the problem, the only solution is to keep them under tight control at all times.

The first environmental regulations were justified by a need to protect humans from pollution, but now environmentalists identify humans, even as newborns, as the source of pollution. The village is being destroyed to save the village.

Global Warming is an imaginary crisis with no end and with no limits. This justifies imposing controls without limits. If all the earlier layers of regulation were the equivalent of the mob shaking you down for protection money, the environmental layer is an open mob takeover of everything you have.

Global warming is the ultimate shakedown, that will take a piece of everything, not simply the chair making factory, but every activity you engage in, from drying your clothes to eating out to having a child.

The fifth layer will make it impossible for legitimate industry to exist in America. It will seriously depress standards of living, drive up unemployment, and pour money into government coffers and enrich that politically connected factory owner in the next town over who was smart enough to get into carbon trading. It is the ultimate rent seeking behavior that will divert money from productive areas to environmental regulating ticks sucking dry everyone who actually works for a living.

The fifth layer pays for all, and it leaves us paying for it all.


Mrs. Anna T said...

Oh, don't even get me going on that one! In my birth country, USSR, we had this saying: "no person - no problem". What way to fix the world can be easier than turning it into an EMPTY world?

I blogged about this Australian "environmental plan" some time ago, and it still gets steam flowing out of my ears.

I suppose one of the options is to have as few people as possible so we can carry on with our wasteful lifestyle. However, being fewer doesn't mean we will be any less consumption-driven.

Reducing mindless consumerism would require a great deal of discipline, self-control and sacrifice. I suppose that's why having fewer children is the more attractive option of being "eco-friendly". It just goes hand in hand with our current selfish, self-indulgent, get-it-now attitude. And I guess that's also why it's promoted by "professionals" aiming for quick headlines and cheap popularity.

Sultan Knish said...

environmentalism is a perversion of conservation, which focused on preserving nature so humans could be enriched by it, to a movement that views humans as a plague or infestation on the otherwise pure and perfect planet

it's the biological version of the left's political ideas about civilization and human development

Anonymous said...

Excellent piece. Global Warming aka the liberals religion is just as you print...imaginary crisis with no we have an environmental czar-Oblahblah and his Chgo cronies want their hands in everything-
from the land of Blago, Rahmbo and the big O

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