Doomed Planet

Part 1: The Waxman-Markey Bill

Taxation without representation is tyranny 

The Washington Court Hotel is just two short blocks from Capitol Hill, nestling among the headquarters buildings of assorted American lobby groups. The hotel is a much-favoured venue for meetings of those who wish to gain the ear of the U.S. capital’s legislators. 

Gathered there in the first week of June, 2009, were members and supporters of the American Meteorological Society (AMS), participating in a week-long Summer Policy Colloquium. The expert meteorologists were joined for their meeting by numerous science and policy analysts, including representatives from the USAID (Africa) office, the Climate Change and State Stability Program of the Office of the Directorate of National Intelligence, the British Embassy and a former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. 

On the afternoon of June 2nd, the Honorable Edward J. Markey (Democrat, Masssachusetts), Chair of the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, was softening up his AMS audience for a group exercise to follow at which the shaping of climate change legislation was to be discussed. This, of course, is the same Congressman Markey who is co-sponsor of the Waxman-Markey tax-and-trade bill that, having recently passed its committee stages, will shortly be subject to a House and Senate vote. 

The Waxman-Markey carbon dioxide taxation bill forms a key part of President Obama’s climate policy and budget strategy. The bill is projected to lumber American consumers with handed-down costs of up to $2 trillion in return for having no likely measurable effect on future climate. 

Economist Jeff Kueter (president of the George C. Marshall Institute) has estimated that Waxman-Markey will reduce employment by more than 2 million jobs and diminish GDP by $9.4 trillion by 2035. Ben Lieberman (energy analyst for The Heritage Foundation) estimates that by 2035 the added costs to the consumer will include a rise of 58% in the price of petrol and 90% in a family of four`s annual electricity bill, for a total family tax impact of $4,618 per year by 2035. 

In view of these figures, it is not surprising that Myron Ebell (Competitive Enterprise Institute) has memorably termed the bill “the biggest tax increase in World History” and “the biggest government takeover of the (U.S.) economy since the Second World War”.

The quality of the scientific understanding on which the Waxman-Markey bill is based is reflected in the views expressed by Congressman Waxman in an April 13 PBS interview with Tavis Smiley:

“We’re seeing the reality of a lot of the North Pole starting to evaporate, and we could get to a tipping point. Because if it evaporates to a certain point … they have lanes now where ships can go that couldn’t ever sail through before. And if it gets to a point where it evaporates too much, there’s a lot of tundra that’s being held down by that ice cap.” 

Containing, as it does, at least five egregious errors or misunderstandings, this statement bids fair to rival the now notorious seven-error opening sentence to Penny Wong’s Green Paper on Australian carbon dioxide taxation. 

It must surely be unique in modern parliamentary history for persons of such monumental scientific ignorance to be carrying the responsibility for legislation as economically damaging and scientifically futile as would be the U.S. Waxman-Markey bill and the Australian Carbon “Pollution” Reduction Scheme (sic). 

Professor Martin Feldstein (Harvard University; and chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers from 1982 to 1984) has commented with respect to the Waxman-Markey bill that In my judgment, the proposed cap-and-trade system would be a costly policy that would penalize Americans with little effect on global warming. The proposal to give away most of the permits only makes a bad idea worse”. 

Are you listening, Kevin Rudd?

Part 2 is here

Part 3 is here

Part 4 is here

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