There is much in the House cap-and-trade energy bill that just passed that I absolutely hate. It is too weak in key areas and way too complicated in others. A simple, straightforward carbon tax would have made much more sense than this Rube Goldberg contraption. It is pathetic that we couldn’t do better. It is appalling that so much had to be given away to polluters. It stinks. It’s a mess. I detest it.
It's hard to imagine that the author of this piece would still want said bill to pass. Yet, that's exactly what Tom Friedman is saying. If this is how Friedman endorses a bill, I can't wait to read a piece about a bill he doesn't endorse. Furthermore, his defense of passing cap and trade comes down to three paragraphs. The rest of the piece is spent telling supporters how to make sure it doesn't get even worse.
Why? Because, for all its flaws, this bill is the first comprehensive attempt by America to mitigate climate change by putting a price on carbon emissions. Rejecting this bill would have been read in the world as America voting against the reality and urgency of climate change and would have undermined clean energy initiatives everywhere.
More important, my gut tells me that if the U.S. government puts a price on carbon, even a weak one, it will usher in a new mind-set among consumers, investors, farmers, innovators and entrepreneurs that in time will make a big difference — much like the first warnings that cigarettes could cause cancer. The morning after that warning no one ever looked at smoking the same again.
Ditto if this bill passes. Henceforth, every investment decision made in America — about how homes are built, products manufactured or electricity generated — will look for the least-cost low-carbon option. And weaving carbon emissions into every business decision will drive innovation and deployment of clean technologies to a whole new level and make energy efficiency much more affordable. That ain’t beanbag.
Get that. We all need to pass this because Tom Friedman's gut says things will work out if we do. If he were a cop telling us about a murder suspect, I might feel good about his gut. Though, even then, I'd hope there was hard evidence besides his gut.
Here, though, Friedman would like us to believe that a new era of carbon less energy will be ushered in because of a plan he himself admits is terribly complicated, full of holes, and full of giveaways.
The idea that the rest of the world will follow suit because we have shown leadership on this issue is nonsense. Most of the rest of the world have long ago been much more draconian regarding carbon. Beyond that though, it isn't much of the rest of the world we need to worry about. It's China and India. They are the two big polluters. Does anyone really think either country would follow suit. It's the opposite. Seeing an opening, China and India would do everything they could to welcome the so called polluters onto their own shores. China and India would see cap and trade as an economic opportunity.
Essentially, what Friedman would have us believe is that we should support a terrible bill, full of giveaways and complicated schemes because his gut says it will ultimately lead to good things. I know I am convinced.