Posts Tagged ‘environmentalism’

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Creating artificial demand

July 30, 2009

I spoke with a friend of mine last night on the issue of infrastructure-building in cities as a means of creating economic stimulus and reducing environmental impact. Our debate turned to proposals to build both light rail and heavy rail systems in Ohio’s cities, especially in Cincinnati.

The support for these proposals is based on these principles:

  1. People want and need mass transit, because it will be cheaper than driving cars.
  2. Cities want and need mass transit to alleviate congestion problems and to create jobs.
  3. These mass transit systems, once created, will be sustainable, profitable and successful.

I will not get into the specifics of #1 and #2, since a number of other studies have already addressed these misconceptions. One in particular dispels the myths of the environmental and economic benefits of these systems, and even points to the role that government-subsidized rail systems played in causing the economic collapse in Japan (the so-called “Lost Decade,” from which Japan has yet to fully recover).

But all the research I have ever read suggests that #3, the sustainability and profitability of mass transit, is unlikely. Most mass transit programs in major cities have to be subsidized by the government because the general public does not use them enough to be profitable.

Why would the government use tax dollars to build something that the average person doesn’t want and wouldn’t use anyways? Why, to “stimulate the economy” and “create jobs,” of course. This is the principle of creating artificial demand.
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Germany shows some common sense on the environmental front

July 27, 2009

“Eco” is like the carbon molecule of political vocabulary. You can combine it with so many other words to get new words. Eco-feminism, eco-terrorism, eco-mysticism, etc. Germany takes the cake for inventing “eco-imperialism” and introducing serious questions into the debate over the effects of environmental reform on national economies and free trade.

Reuters reported last week that Germany’s State Secretary for the Environment Matthias Machnig used the word to attack  a French plan to levy tariffs on imports from countries that haven’t tried hard enough to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Such a plan, he said, would amount to “eco-imperialism” and are a violation of World Trade Organization rules. You see, the French need to impose tariffs on other countries because their own environmental regulations make their domestic goods and services too expensive to be competitive. That means:

  1. France passes environmental taxes.
  2. France cripples its economy.
  3. France petitions EU to tax imports from non-EU countries in order to keep its domestic goods competitive in domestic markets.
  4. Other economies suffer.

On top of the issue of tariffs being a threat to free trade, there is the issue of supernational governments/treaties and how they hurt even countries that don’t participate in them in the first place.  Non-EU members and non-signatories of the Kyoto Protocol get screwed. Actually, it’s the consumers in EU and signatory countries that get screwed. They pay higher prices because their governments don’t believe in free markets, competition and free trade. But…they will get what they voted for. I hope it’s worth it.

The worst part of this article? It states that the cap-and-tax bill that just passed the House is serving as a model for the EU to enact carbon tariffs. That means that the American Clean Energy and Security Act is so socialist that Europe hasn’t even thought of it yet, and they have to play catch up to us in the game of “let’s ruin free markets to solve a problem that isn’t even our fault in the first place.”

In other news, tax-delinquent Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geitner is finding it hard to sell his home, too…even though he “saved the economy.”