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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Consrvative Conservationist?

I just read an article at the washingtonpost.com from Friday, February 23 written by Mark Sanford. He starts off by saying that – due to climate change – people are losing their rights, freedoms, breathing poorer quality air and casing fiscal harm to our children. This sounds an awful lot like an externality. As we know the solutions to an externality is government intervention and the imposition of a corrective tax. This is Sanford’s plea to the conservatives – That they step in take action before the left takes control and, by extensive regulation, our “personal freedom is pushed closer toward extinction.”
He suggests 3 things the conservatives should do.

1 – Replace scare tactics for intervening in climate change with principles such as “responsibility and stewardship”. He cites that many in his area of S. Carolina are seeing the benefit of helping the environment AND their wallets. This seems to be consistent with the Coase theorem.

2 - Corporations such as BP and Shell are investing in alternative fuels which cuts carbon emissions and reduces dependency on OPEC. This will help expand the economy and protect the environment. Seems like a bootleggers argument to me.

3 – Innovation, not regulation is how to address climate change. Encouraging R&D, energy efficiency and being concerned about our children’s future more than whether our exhaust emissions are causing the problem. This seems a little bass-ackward to me. Surely we want to know what the human cause (if any) is, and THEN fix it for our children’s future. Why cut exhaust emissions if the real danger lies in cows’ farting! (Methane).

I don’t claim to know what is the right or wrong thing to do, but it does seem that if the economic incentives exist and the market is able to fix the problem, whatever that is determined to be, then government intervention should naturally tend to diminish.

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