You may have noticed that I have not blogged a lot on climate of late. This is mainly because nothing substantial has really changed in four years or so. The skeptic argument has not changed and really has not been refuted. In fact, published estimates for climate sensivity continue to move down towards my estimates.
But I could not resist linking to this
Several House Democrats are calling on Congress to recognize that climate change is hurting women more than men, and could even drive poor women to "transactional sex" for survival.
As I understand it, the justifications for strong and detailed government oversight of commerce rests on two ideas:
- That government officials somehow have better incentives than private actors and are more likely to act in the interests of the general public
- That a few carefully selected smart people standing on top of the system managing top down can impose better structural solutions for markets than will emerge organically.
Readers will know in advance that I think both of these statements are total crap, but I don't need to explain the reasons yet again because Democrats in the House of Representatives just created the most clear refutation possible by making Maxine Waters the ranking Democrat on the House Financial Services committee (which has oversight for the most regulated industry in this country).
Ms. Waters fails both these tests. She has a history of putting her own financial interests ahead of her oversight mission, and as far as the smart person standing at the top model, she has time and again demonstrated her complete lack of understanding of the very industry she regulates (well, either that or her entire career in Congress has actually been an elaborate bit of Dada-ist performance art).
Via the AZ Republic:
House Democrats narrowly won a key test vote Friday on sweeping legislation designed to combat global warming and usher in a new era of cleaner energy. Republicans said the bill included the largest tax increase in American history.
The vote was 217-205 to advance the White House-backed legislation to the floor, and 30 Democrats defected, a reflection of the controversy the bill sparked.
Interestingly, Democrats are selling the bill by saying it won't work. Since a cap-and-trade scheme can only succeed if it changes consumer consumption patters, it must impose costs on consumers to work. But...
"The bill contains provisions to protect consumers, keep costs low, help sensitive industries transition to a clean energy economy and promote domestic emission reduction efforts," the White House in a statement of support for the legislation.
Next stop, Senate, where the bill has even more of an uphill climb.
Update: Final tally on the main vote was 219-212. Of course absolutely no one who voted "yea" has any idea what they voted for, since no one can even produce a copy of the bill, much less attest that he or she read it.
Seldom do I plagiarize editorial titles - I usually try to make up my own post title, even if mine is not as good as the original. But how can you not give kudos to an MSM editorial like this:
An iPod for every kid? Are they !#$!ing idiots?
The Detroit News
We have come to the conclusion that the
crisis Michigan faces is not a shortage of revenue, but an excess of
idiocy. Facing a budget deficit that has passed the $1 billion mark,
House Democrats Thursday offered a spending plan that would buy a MP3
player or iPod for every school child in Michigan.
No cost estimate was attached to their hare-brained idea to "invest" in education. Details, we are promised, will follow.
It is good to see a MSM outlet treating this type of stupid populist government proposal with all the seriousness it deserves. I wish they would cry foul more often. Via Hall of Record.
As I wrote before, the new Democratic Congress try to end certain subsidies received by major oil companies. All fine and good, at least as long as it is really a subsidy and not just an contract obligation they would like to get out of.
One might be led to believe that the Democrats were finally going to address the corporate welfare issues they have been promising to deal with for years. Unfortunately, it appears that they are really only looking for an excuse for some populist demagoguing against Exxon. Subsidies still appear to be A-OK:
The Cato Institute's Jerry Taylor and Peter Van Doren are all in favor of eliminating energy subsidies. By that measure, they find
the House Democrats' 100-hour energy legislation -- H.R. 6, the
Creating Long-Term Energy Alternatives for the Nation Act (aka the
"CLEAN Energy Act") -- to be quite a disappointment.
Energy subsidies, of course, have been a historical disaster. If you have ever traveled around California, a common site you will see is 1) Windmills that are not working and 2) Rooftop solar fixtures that appear badly broken. That is because these facilities were installed cheaply as subsidy magnets, rather than actual, you know, investments that made any sense. Here in Arizona, every third rich persons SUV has this Arizona environmentally-friendly license plate that says the truck is dual-fuel. When I moved here, I though that was kind of cool. I know several countries that have good CNG (compressed natural gas) economies in their transportation sector. It turns out, though, that none of these vehicles actually fill up with anything but gasoline. Several years ago Arizona had a subsidy for buying dual-fuel trucks that exceeded the cost of conversion, so that everyone did the conversion as a money-maker.
And these are far from being the worst. How many billions have been sunk into R&D rat-holes that have produced nothing except some professor's tenure? Remember that alternative energy and energy conservation technologies are among the hottest sectors in venture capital nowadays. The VC's I know can't get enough of these projects, and are project rather than money limited. This means that every subsidy and grant for energy can only go to one of two places:
- Projects that are already going to be privately funded, so that all they do is displace private funding, which makes them a total waste of taxpayer money
- Projects that were rejected for private funding as uneconomic or unpromising, such that the spending is a waste unless you assume Congressmen and government bureaucrats are sharper than VC's in picking investments.
My observation is the two political parties differ on subsidies only in terms of style. The Democrats appear to have no problems with subsidies as long as they go to sympathetic and fashionable companies (e.g. Google via net neutrality) rather than companies they have deemed to be unfashionable (e.g. Exxon).