Friday, April 13, 2007

Climate Change

There is a lot to disagree with when it comes to Andrew Sullivan, but one of the most infuriating canards Sullivan keeps harping on (and there is a pattern) is Andrew's explanation of how the real answers to the world's problems are always a conservative answer. He keeps saying gay marriage is really a conservative idea, for one (!!?). But, his latest solution for climate change? He claims "it's the truly conservative response to an emerging problem. It's simple, involves as little government bureaucracy as possible, and will unleash the private sector to do its magic. Neither Democrats nor Republicans really want to go there, which is a sign of how broken the system is."

Andrew Sullivan is a small government, low tax, little regulation conservative (so am I - to an extent). But his solution to climate change is to, essentially, leave it up to the "magic" private sector by setting a carbon tax. Well, I think we have seen how well the private sector has done when it is barely/badly regulated: tainted pet food, tainted spinach, subprime loans.

So with such a stellar track record of barely-there regulation of the FDA or financial institutions, Sullivan continues to feel the private sector should be left to its own devices to solve the climate change problem. But Sullivan has found a way to do an end-run around his cherished "private sector is the solution for every ill" philosophy; he wants to have a carbon tax. To my mind, Sullivan is simply keeping hold of his conservative principles by slyly slipping in a traditionally "liberal" solution by advocating a tax to spur the private sector to make the necessary changes and innovations (Sullivan would never admit to this).

I don't know why Sullivan is so against regulating greenhouse gasses up front with government mandated regulation (auto mileage/emission, coal plant, etc) when he is advocating, essentially that very thing - a government mandated tax in order to make the private sector do what it needs to do in the first place. Rather than take a direct route to help solve climate change (which, according to scientist, is a pretty damn serious problem!), Sullivan simply wants to take the scenic route in order to arrive at the same destination: to slow climate change. I'm not sure why Sullivan can't just come out and say, this problem requires a quick response, not some slow, "we'll get there eventually" so "I can continue to claim my conservative credentials with this face-saving solution".

If scientist are correct (every indication shows that the science is right when it comes to climate change), the problem of climate change needs a quick response.

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