February 27th, 2008 by Rightsideup

I note the Wall Street Journal has finally covered Barack Obama’s Patriot Employer Act, which I posted on a couple of weeks ago. It seems he’s been touting it on the campaign trail, too, so apparently he’s still keen on it and willing to admit that fact:

Recently in Janesville, Wis., he repeated his intention to make it a priority as President: “We will end the tax breaks for companies who ship our jobs overseas, and we will give those breaks to companies who create good jobs with decent wages right here in America.”

The paper does a nice job covering the several reasons why this would be awful. Let’s hope that message gets out to the population as a whole and not just the WSJ’s already-conservative readership.

February 12th, 2008 by Rightsideup

It appears that Obama may actually have a policy we can really associate with him, albeit one which seems to be being pursued more aggressively by another Senator keen to use his name just at the moment (no prizes for guessing why). The Hot Air blog highlights an interview with Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio published by the Nation in which he states the following:

I’ve talked to Barack a lot about his Patriot Corporation Act, which is not trade per se, but it’s certainly part of the economic package around globalization. The Patriot Corporation Act has not gotten the attention that I would hope it would. But, basically it says that if you play by the rules, if you pay decent wages, health benefits, pension; do your production here; don’t resist unionization on neutral card check, then you will be designated a “Patriot Corporation” and you will get tax advantages and some [preference] on government contracts.

So we have something Barack Obama apparently believes in enough that he was willing to put pen to paper (or have his staffers put pen to paper) to craft legislation to make it a reality. And is it the kind of soaring, high-minded proposal we’ve all come to expect based on that wonderful rhetoric of his? Er, no.

It’s clear where the Nation’s own William Greider stands on this – he thinks it’s wonderful. But it’s just a tiny bit shortsighted, isn’t it? For starters, it ignores the main reasons why companies offshore and outsource in the first place – high labor costs (thank you Democrats), lots of burdensome regulation (thank you Democrats), high taxes (thank you Democrats) etc. etc. It reminds me of the experience we’ve all had sometimes – we have a table or chair where one of the legs is short, so we trim the others to make them symmetrical, but then we realise we overdid it, and now we have to go back to the original one and shorten that a bit too. Pretty soon we realise the table or chair is now about the right height for a garden gnome and give up and throw it away. The Democrats’ tendency to want to intervene throughout the economy will lead to the same result – one bit of tinkering leads to another and before long we’ve completely hamstrung the entire business sector and have nothing but a mountain of unemployment and a recession to show for it.

I’m just glad we finally know where Obama stands on something, and it’s particularly wonderful that it highlights the heavily left-leaning, interventionist philosophy we all know is hiding beneath the “yes we cans” and the unity message. Now if we could just infiltrate the mainstream media enough to actually get them to report on this stuff…

April 26th, 2007 by Rightsideup

More on the carbon cap and carbon credits scam from the Financial Times. Further evidence that the global warming lobby and its supporters have been more interested in being seen to do something than actually doing anything that makes a significant impact.

March 4th, 2007 by Rightsideup

The Wall Street Journal has an article on climate change (Cap and Charade) which looked at the issue of businesses getting sucked into the climate change debate. See previous blog from 27 January for the first mention of this. It focuses on the artificial scarcity in CO2 emissions caused by a cap-and-trade system, and the perverse incentives a plan to introduce such a system creates for businesses. Efficient (“green”) businesses which already have low carbon emissions are seeking to get their allowances set as high as possible so they can make big windfall profits from selling their CO2 rights.

A nasty cynicism on the part of businesses has crept in around climate change – whereas they used to fight the climate change agenda on the basis that it would force them into changes in practices that would be detrimental for their businesses, they are now embracing it at least in some cases because they see a way to make a quick buck. But of course this lends additional false legitimacy to the whole campaign and it could end up coming back to bite them if it adds further to the “the debate is over” trend we’re seeing.

January 27th, 2007 by Rightsideup

While the rest of the country was obsessing about Iraq and the State of the Union address, few commentators picked up on the meeting of business executives urging President Bush to do more about climate change. One who did was Kimberley Strassel, who has taken over the re-launched Potomac Watch column at the Wall Street Journal.

This week’s column dug a little deeper into the meeting and the attendees than anyone else and came up with some interesting titbits.

Democrats want to flog the global warming theme through 2008 and they’ll take what help they can get, even if it means cozying up to executives whose goal is to enrich their firms. Right now, the corporate giants calling for a mandatory carbon cap serve too useful a political purpose for anyone to delve into their baser motives.

An interesting point. When business leaders turn green, their usual critics on the left keep mum because they need whatever support they can get. Somewhat more worryingly, no Republicans pointed out what was going on here. At any rate, it was under-reported.

But what we risk doing here is what has already been happening in the UK – i.e. that all the major parties sign up to “doing something” about climate change before we really know what that “something” should be. At this point, there are at least five major obstacles to conclusively proving what needs to be done about climate change:

  • We still don’t have a clear and consistent picture of how much temperatures have risen or are likely to rise
  • We haven’t been able to establish a causal link between human activity and any warming that has taken place, only a correlation between increases in carbon dioxide emissions and observed warming
  • We don’t know how much warming (or cooling) would be taking place without the human impact, which makes it very difficult for us to try to get back to a notional planetary equilibrium
  • We don’t have a good idea of exactly how much we need to reduce greenhouse gases to achieve the desired levelling in temperatures
  • We don’t understand what impact global warming would have in totality, and whether this impact would be, on balance, positive or negative for human welfare across the globe.

In the absence of really good answers to these questions, it seems foolish to rush headlong into signing legislation that would make significant attempts to impact climate change. This could end up being nothing but a costly exercise in PR for the politicians, lobbyists and now business leaders who jump on the bandwagon. Much more attention needs to go to answering the questions more authoritatively, stating what we really do know in measured terms rather than hysteria, and understanding more about the possible conflicts of interests in the lives of those who are driving the climate change agenda. Strassel does a good job in identifying the key conflict of interest which exists for these business leaders – they are supporting a plan that would reward their companies for something they are going to be doing anyway:

The Climate Action Partnership, a group of 10 major companies that made headlines this week with its call for a national limit on carbon dioxide emissions, would surely feign shock at such an accusation. After all, their plea was carefully timed to coincide with President Bush’s State of the Union capitulation on global warming, and it had the desired PR effect. The media dutifully declared that “even” business now recognized the climate threat. Sen. Barbara Boxer, who begins marathon hearings on warming next week, lauded the corporate angels for thinking of the “common good.”

Four of the affiliates — Duke, PG&E, FPL and PNM Resources — are utilities that have made big bets on wind, hydroelectric and nuclear power. So a Kyoto program would reward them for simply enacting their business plan, and simultaneously sock it to their competitors.

Hopefully the reporting of future statements by this group will see these efforts for what they are – the same old tactics that Democrats and the left in general usually smears but sees fit to overlook when they work to their advantage.