The Price of Being the Enemy

by Gary Palmer

The evidence is undeniable – global warming is now a major problem for practically every person in America, including the people of Alabama. If you don’t believe it, check your monthly utility bill or the price of gasoline to see that global warming is a big problem in terms of what it costs you.

Technically, the problem is not global warming. It began with cooked up statistics that leftist politicians and environmentalists used to push an agenda that will devastate our economy and do nearly nothing to impact the global temperature. A formidable array of politicians and scientists have bought into the proposition that human activity is bad for the planet.

This belief is not new. In their book The First Global Revolution published by the Club of Rome in 1998, authors Alexander King and Bertrand Schneider make the case for using predictions about worldwide environmental catastrophe to force nations to change economic and governing policies.

King and Schneider wrote, “In searching for a common enemy against whom we can unite, we came up with the idea that pollution, the threat of global warming, water shortages, famine and the like, would fit the bill. In their totality and their interactions these phenomena do constitute a common threat which must be confronted by everyone together.” They concluded, “All these dangers are caused by human intervention in natural processes, and it is only through changed attitudes and behavior that they can be overcome. The real enemy is humanity itself.”

Hmmm. Based on that statement it would be logical to conclude that, if people are the enemy, policies that punish people are not necessarily bad as long as the policies can be billed as helping save the environment.

Needless to say, that would not go over well with most Americans who are opposed to such schemes as Cap and Trade. Even though the Cap and Trade bill died in the U.S. Senate last year (after passing in the House), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), with the full support of the Obama Administration, is in the process of implementing it anyway. If the EPA succeeds in this effort, the impact on the American economy will be devastating.

A Heritage Foundation analysis of the Cap and Trade bill that passed the U.S. House of Representatives projected that the GDP for the United States would decline by a cumulative $9.4 trillion between 2012 and 2035. Heritage also projected that net job losses would approach 1.9 million by 2012 and could approach 2.5 million by 2035. The irony of the job losses is that they will hit manufacturing and mining particularly hard, eliminating thousands of union jobs.

Additionally, the Tax Foundation projected that the total burden of the Cap and Trade bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in 2009 would cost the average family of four over $1,200 per year. Moreover, this burden is regressive across income levels, consuming a significantly higher percentage of low income households’ income. According to the Tax Foundation, the Cap and Trade bill will cost households in the bottom 20th percentile of household income $617 per year or about 6.2 percent of their income.

Even though the U.S. Senate rejected the Cap and Trade bill, the Obama Administration is using the EPA to implement it anyway and at significant cost to low- to middle-income families. Perhaps as a way to justify new, more costly regulations, the EPA released a report earlier this year claiming that the Clean Air Act of 1990 will avert 230,000 premature deaths and add $2 trillion to our economy by 2020. The estimated economic benefits in the EPA report range from $250 million to $5.7 trillion, making it appear that the estimators could not come up with anything close to what the economic benefit might be, so they split the difference at $2.7 trillion.

Claiming that 230,000 lives were spared a premature death as a result of the EPA’s actions is in the same genre as justifying the billions of dollars wasted with the Stimulus Bill by claiming it saved an unspecified number of jobs. No one can prove that environmental regulations have saved lives any more than it can be proved that implementing cap and trade regulations will save the planet, but we can see the proof of the impact that these regulations are having on our household income.

High utility bills and the price of gasoline are just part of the price you pay for being the enemy.

Gary Palmer is president of the Alabama Policy Institute, a non-partisan, non-profit research and education organization dedicated to the preservation of free markets, limited government and strong families, which are indispensable to a prosperous society.

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