Cap and Trade Will Lead to Capital Flight

Ron Paul
Issue CXCVIII - July 4, 2009
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In my last column, I joked that with public spending out of control and the piling on of the international bailout bill, economic collapse seems to be the goal of Congress.  It is getting harder to joke about such a thing however, as the non-partisan General Accounting Office (GAO) has estimated that the administration’s health care plan would actually cost over a trillion dollars.  This reality check may have given us a temporary reprieve on this particular disastrous policy, however an equally disastrous energy policy reared its ugly head on Capitol Hill last week.

The Cap and Trade Bill HR 2454 was voted on last Friday.  Proponents claim this bill will help the environment, but what it really does is put another nail in the economy’s coffin.  The idea is to establish a national level of carbon dioxide emissions, and sell pollution permits to industry as the Catholic Church used to sell indulgences to sinners.  HR 2454 also gives federal bureaucrats new power to regulate a wide variety of household appliances, such as light bulbs and refrigerators, and further distorts the market by providing more of your tax money to auto companies.

The administration has pointed to Spain as a shining example of this type of progressive energy policy.  Spain has been massively diverting capital from the private sector into politically favored environmental projects for the better part of a decade, and many in Washington apparently like what they see.  However, under no circumstances should anyone serious about economic recovery emulate an economy that is now approaching 20 percent unemployment, where every green job created eliminated 2.2 real jobs and cost around $800,000!

The real inconvenient truth is that the cost of government regulations, taxes, fees, red tape, and bureaucracy is a considerable expense that has to be considered when companies decide where to do business and how many people they can afford to hire.  Increasing governmental burden directly causes capital flight and job losses, as Spain has learned.  In this global economy it is easy enough for businesses to relocate to countries that are more politically friendly to economic growth.  If our government continues to kick the economy while it is down, it will be a long time before it gets back up.  In fact, jobs are much more likely to go overseas, compounding our problems.

And for what?  Contrary to claims repeated over and over, there is no consensus in the scientific community that global warming is getting worse or that it is manmade.  In fact, over 30,000 scientists signed a petition recently, directly disputing the claims on which this policy is based.  Legitimate environmental claims should instead be directed towards the public sector.  The U. S. government, especially the military, is the most serious polluter in the country, and is exempt from most EPA regulations.  Meanwhile Washington bureaucrats have classified the very air we exhale as a pollutant and have gone unchallenged in this incredible assertion.  The logical consequence is that there will come a time when we will have to buy a government permit just to emit carbon dioxide into the atmosphere from our own lungs!

The events on Capitol Hill last week demonstrate Washington’s audacity in manufacturing problems just so they can expand government power to solve them.

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