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Injustice as Routine; Fallout from Declaring CO2 a Pollutant; "Green" Jobs; Threat to My Blog
Submitted by George Reisman on Mon, 2009-05-04 10:42
Injustice as Routine
I want to take note here of two outrageous injustices that have occurred within the last few days.
One, reported in the main front-page headline of today’s New York Times is that the United Automobile Workers Union and its pension fund is to become the largest stockholder in Chrysler when the firm emerges from bankruptcy. This is the very same union that brought about the collapse of Chrysler in the first place. Its philosophy and policy of grabbing ever more in wages and benefits while doing almost everything possible to prevent the company from earning the wherewithal to pay those wages and benefits made it impossible for the company to survive in the face of competition not subject to such union bloodsucking.
A further aspect of this same injustice is the government’s naked overriding of Chrysler’s contractual obligations to its bondholders in order to place the U.A.W. and its pension fund ahead of more senior debtors in the Chrysler bankruptcy. Those bondholders who stood up for their contractual rights were denounced by President Obama for refusing to make “sacrifices,” i.e., of their contractual rights. Many of them then gave in, fearful no doubt as to how the government might use its vast array of arbitrary powers against them if they refused, e.g., how the IRS would treat their income tax returns, how the EPA, SEC, FTC, et al. would treat their application for permissions of this or that kind.
The second injustice I want to note is that in this age of alleged “diversity,” a young woman, Carrie Prejean—“Miss California”—who apparently was on the verge of being declared “Miss USA,” was denied that title for no other reason than that one of the pageant’s judges did not like her opinion that marriage was a union between a man and a woman. In response to a question asked of the contestants, she had answered, “No offense to anybody out there, but that's how I was raised and that's how I think that it should be between a man and a woman.” The judge, one Perez Hilton, said "I was absolutely shocked and incredibly frustrated in her, and disappointed. That is not the kind of woman I want to be Miss USA.” So, to be Miss USA, a woman must comply with whatever beliefs such a “judge” wishes to impose. As of this writing there doesn’t seem to much anger and outrage over this travesty of justice.
NOTE: IF THIS BLOG DISAPPEARS, BE SURE TO FOLLOW MY POSTS AT WWW.CAPITALISM.NET (See my previous post for an explanation of this threat.)
posted by George Reisman's Blog @ 9:21 PM
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Fallout from Declaring CO2 a Pollutant (A Potential News Dispatch from a World Going Mad)
New York—Now that carbon dioxide has been declared a pollutant by the EPA, numerous local jurisdictions around the country, whose finances have been badly hammered by the current recession, are considering the imposition of “Exhalation Taxes.”
New York’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg and California’s Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger are reportedly preparing a joint statement citing the legitimacy and inevitability of taxes on CO2 emissions in general and on human exhalations of CO2 in particular. Humans emit CO2 into the atmosphere and thus contribute to global warming every time they exhale, in other words, every time they let out their breath. Some studies have estimated that taking all human beings together their exhalations account for as much as 8 per cent of all human-caused CO2 emissions. This is more than the proportion emitted by all privately owned aircraft in the world and is thus an important and fruitful target for reduction.
The Obama Administration has until now preferred a system of “cap and trade” as the means of limiting CO2 emissions, rather than any direct tax on emissions. Under that system, the Federal Government will limit the overall total amount of permissible emissions but allow individuals to emit as much they wish by buying the emission rights of others. A high official in the New York City government, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that the Mayor and the Governor have arranged for a joint task force, financed at the Mayor’s expense, out of his personal fortune, to study the feasibility of adapting this system to human exhalations. A particularly troubling aspect of any adaptation, the source explained, is how to combine it with plans by the Federal Government gradually to reduce the overall total of permissible emissions.
Among the task-force’s assignments are determining the extent to which people might use the oxygen they breath in more efficiently (oxygen-efficiency option), so that they would be able to correspondingly reduce their exhalations of CO2. Another potential solution under study is the possibility of sequestering the exhalations in jars and various other containers, so as to reduce the overall release of CO2 into the atmosphere (CO2 sequestration option).
No official estimates have been released as to what the average person might expect to have to pay in order to exhale in compliance with the law, but some insiders place it initially as working out to as little as 50 cents per day. According to polls conducted among individuals who identify themselves as environmentalists or as political moderates, the general consensus is that “we can live with that” and “it’s a small price to pay, to keep the planet safe.”
Support for higher exhalation taxes and/or more stringent cap-and-trade limitations is indicated by the reported brisk sale of bumper stickers urging “polluters” to stop exhaling altogether. The stickers say, “Stop Exhaling, You God-Damned Polluting Bastards.” It is unclear whether the drivers of the vehicles which carry the stickers count themselves as polluters too.
In contrast to the extremist position expressed in such bumper stickers, key Obama Administration officials and Congressional leaders are reportedly prepared to guarantee that “no American will ever be allowed to be in a position in which he cannot afford to pay for all of his reasonably necessary exhalations.” The Federal Government, they say, will provide whatever financial subsidies as may be necessary to assure everyone’s right to exhale on terms that he can afford.
President Obama has proposed combining stimuli to promote employment with the fight against alleged man-made global warming, which allegedly results mainly from the burning of fossil fuels. Hundreds of thousands if not millions of new “green” jobs will supposedly be created by replacing power from fossil fuels with power from windmills and solar panels. They will be created in the construction of the windmills and in the production and installation of the solar panels, and also in the construction of a new power grid to carry all the electricity that is supposed to result.
A rather serious problem, which seems largely to have been ignored by those urging a race to build windmills and solar panels, is the fact that the wind does not always blow, nor does the sun always shine. And as yet there is no large-scale economical method of storing electricity for later use. This would seem to imply a need to retain the present system of power production alongside the new system that is to be based on wind and sun, or else to grow accustomed to protracted periods without power.
Or is it the case perhaps that this problem is to be taken as an opportunity for even greater gains in employment in connection with wind and solar power? These might be achieved if, in all those times when the wind does not blow or the sun does not shine, human beings were employed in rotating copper-clad generator shafts, in a manner similar to that of rotating a grindstone in a gristmill, only in the presence of surrounding magnets, so that electricity could be produced by the rotation. (I don’t know how much, if any, electricity might actually be produced in this way. But it would keep people employed in the attempt.)
Indeed, advancing the goals of environmentalism is capable of creating a virtually limitless number of jobs. Big-rig trucks and their “polluting” emissions might be done away with by replacing them with human porters who would carry freight on their backs. Ocean-going ships and their emissions might be done away with by replacing their “dirty engines” with the clean labor of banks of oarsmen. (Sails would be a substitute too, but they are no match for oarsmen when it comes to the number of workers needed.) Automobiles and their emissions might be replaced by sedan chairs and teams of litter bearers.
And if all that is not enough, then think of the jobs that might be created in making coal in the ground absolutely safe. At present there are outcries over the release of trace amounts of mercury, arsenic, and other heavy metals from above-ground accumulations of coal sludge. Yet these metals are found in nature-given, below-ground deposits of coal as well, and could not appear in coal sludge if it they had not first been present in below-ground coal. While perhaps a smaller threat to human health so long as they are locked in below-ground coal, they must undoubtedly represent some threat, if only at the level of parts per billion or parts per trillion.
Since one can never be too safe, it follows that if job creation is the goal, an environmentalist case can be made for extracting all known coal deposits and then, instead of using any of that coal for such environmentally “destructive” purposes as producing electricity or heating homes, simply reburying it. But this time in repositories lined so as to prevent any possible leakage of heavy metals into the surrounding environment.
And finally, think of all of the jobs that a program of environmental “stewardship” might make available. Thus each patch of desert, each rock formation, each clump of grass, and each tree stump, might have assigned to it one or more “stewards” whose job would be to watch over it, protect it, and “preserve it for future generations.” To carry out this valuable work, there could be a whole corps of “stewards.” They could be dressed in special uniforms displaying various ranks and medals, all gained in “service to the environment” and the defense of nature and its resources against the humans.
Indeed, once we put our minds to it, nothing is easier than to think of things that would require the performance of virtually unlimited labor in order to accomplish virtually zero result. Such is the nature of all job-creation programs. Such is the nature of environmentalism. Such is thought to be the path to economic recovery by most of today’s intellectual establishment.
Postscript: I want to note that my book Capitalism: A Treatise on Economics provides further, in-depth treatment of the substantive material discussed in this article and of practically all related aspects of economics. Of special note here is the fact that Chapter 3 of the book is a thorough-going critique of environmentalism. The critique is coupled with a positive demonstration of the fact that under capitalism and its economic freedom the supply of economically useable, accessible natural resources is capable of continuing further increase as man expands his knowledge of and physical power over nature. It is also joined by a demonstration that such increase in man’s knowledge and power at the same time serves progressively to improve his environment, understood as his external physical surroundings, deriving its value from its contribution to human life and well-being. In addition, Chapter 13 of Capitalism provides a critique of all variants of the notion that a problem of economic life is the creation of work rather than wealth.
*Copyright © 2009, by George Reisman. George Reisman, Ph.D. is the author of Capitalism: A Treatise on Economics (Ottawa, Illinois: Jameson Books, 1996) and is Pepperdine University Professor Emeritus of Economics. He is also a Senior Fellow at the Goldwater Institute. His web site is www.capitalism.net and his blog is www.georgereisman.com/blog/. A pdf replica of his book can be downloaded to the reader’s hard drive simply by clicking on the book’s title, above, and then saving the file when it appears on the screen. The book provides further, in-depth treatment of the substantive material discussed in this article and of practically all related aspects of economics.
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