Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Red and Green Isn't Just For Christmas Anymore

If you want to see what America could possibly look like in the future, you only have to look across the Atlantic to socialist Europe. There, leftists have succeeded in creating the welfare states that liberals seek to create here. Europe has plunged into social statism much more enthusiastically than America has, so we have the benefit of seeing the endgame of liberal ideas and policy proposals before we implement them. Today, the Daily Mail has a chilling piece on Tory MP Tim Yeo's plan for "carbon ration cards". The scheme would roughly work like this:

"Every adult in the UK would be given an annual carbon dioxide allowance in kgs and a special carbon card.

The scheme would cover road fuel, flights and energy bills.

Every time someone paid for road fuel, flights or energy, their carbon account would be docked.

A litre of petrol would use up 2.3kg in carbon, while every 1.3 miles of airline flight would use another 1kg.

When paying for petrol, the card would need to swiped at the till. It would be a legal offence to buy petrol without using a card.

When paying online, or by direct debit, the carbon account would be debited directly.

Anyone who doesn't use up their credits in a year can sell them to someone who wants more credits. Trading would be done through specialist companies."

This is a veritable statist goody bag that should make any freedom loving American cringe. Essentially, the British government would put limits on its citizens' life styles, their travel, their vacations, their diets, and the temperature of their homes just for starters. Go beyond that limit and an individual must "buy top-up credits from individuals who haven't used up their allowance". The article doesn't go into the consequences if an individual doesn't buy more credits.

What's worse, the scheme would criminalize the purchase of gasoline without a government issued card. "Ah, Mr. Smith, you wish to purchase petrol? Papers please comrade." In other words, the government would control the sale of a commodity essential to the lives and livelihoods of most of the citizenry. The restrictions it places on travel alone reminds one of a more totalitarian Europe that many thought dead and gone. "York is a long way from here Mr. Smith, what business have you there to justify the use of so much of the State's fuel?"

I'm certainly not an expert on the carbon footprint of the food I buy, but the mere idea of the government being involved is startlingly Orwellian. How much carbon is produced to make a 2 liter bottle of soda? What's going to be the yearly Big Mac allowance? Will vegetables be allowed? Will farmers be able to harvest wheat and corn fields considering they convert carbon into oxygen?

This may seem ridiculous, but do you trust the British Parliament or any government to police itself? To keep itself from from venturing into the absurd once it has license? Essentially this scheme would allow the government to regulate demand. As a consequence, they control supply. If only a certain amount of wooden bookcases can be bought with the available pool of carbon credits, the bookcase maker is going to have to cut production to stay solvent (and perhaps raise the price). The same with oil, coal, steel, etc. The government will have de facto control of the means of production. How long until they make it de jure? Still seem ridiculous? Perhaps, but this is at least a step in that direction.

This needs to be exposed for what it is. Anti-capitalist, anti-consumerist, socialism at best. At worst something much darker. For the first time in western history, societies are on the verge of intentionally lowering their standards of living. Since the first city states emerged in the Mediterranean World, Western Civilization has made steady progress toward freedom and abundance. Its wasn't without its setbacks, but eventually the ideas of personal and economic freedom lead to unimaginable prosperity. Our children are not unhealthy for lack of food, but because they are too fat! We are want for nothing, and are told its a problem. We have to tighten our belts and make do with less instead of trying to make more. A little more misery is the price for sustaining human life. The Communists made us miserable, but at least they promised a glorious future.

The "regressive" environmental movement aims to stifle capitalism, not for the Proletariat, but with the same result. The "sustainability" dogma is a branch off the Marxist tree. "Capitalism has failed, the earth is dying, the State must intervene and put limits on individual prosperity or else the robber barons and industrialists will destroy us all." At least they're finally being truthful though. Now they say to our faces that they're going to ration the hell out of us. That we must make do with less. That the future is grim and we may not survive it. That prosperity is the problem. It is a sad commentary on the crisis of confidence our Civilization is experiencing that we'd contemplate throwing the game and ceding the future to the Chinas of the world. Let's hope they're a benign hegemon.

All three Presidential candidates here in America buy into this manufactured crisis, though I don't think low enough of McCain to believe he sees it for what it is. Make no mistake Senator, a cap and trade scheme is not a capitalist solution to this imagined problem. It cedes a point that must be staunchly opposed. Once you accept the premise and establish the precedent, much of the fight is already lost and we're resigned to try and keep our footing on the slippery slope.

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