Sunday, January 18, 2009

Politics Doesn't Stop

Mr. Obama's big problems so far have been his relations with corrupt politicians. I think it will be a continuing problem with his new administration. However, his biggest problem is that the Democrat Party is prone to strangling the economy.

A case in point his his nominee for energy czar, Carol Browner. She is also referred to as the climate czar. And what is with is with this czar business? A drug czar, a car czar, and now a climate/energy czar. I suppose the purpose of the czar if to oversee the 10,000 Federal efforts in a given area and make them all pull in the same direction. Of course a czar is a petty dictator. And you know where that leads. Such a policy has been tried before only it was called by another name Fuehrerprinzip. You know it doesn't sound nearly as appealing in the original German.

So where were we? Oh yeah the new climate fuhrer has an interesting past. However, she was no National Socialist. She was an international socialist (bigger ambitions?). A member of the Socialist International which was founded in 1951. And what is their fundamental policy on energy/climate and other ecological matters?
The best and cheapest solutions to the crisis are those that change the basic framework of production and consumption so that environmental damage does not occur in the first place.
Let me repeat the critical part change the basic framework of production and consumption. What would that mean in practice? Appointing really smart fuhrers who would tell us what to do. No more of that try things out and see who profits capitalist crap. Nope. This will all be very scientific. The smartest people (with the right political connections) will be giving orders. Friedrich Hayek in his book The Road to Serfdom explained why that is impossible. No one person actually knows enough to give the right orders for millions of people. No one can know the correct trade offs in all cases. There is a Hayek I might be willing to take orders from. But it would have to be up close and personal. And even then it would probably lead to Mi Vida Loca as it does in economics.

So back to Browner and her economic ideas.
According to its own principles, Socialist International favors the nationalization of industry, is skeptical of the benefits of economic growth and wants to establish a more “equitable international economic order.” In true Marxist form, it asserts that, “The concentration of economic power in few private hands must be replaced by a different order in which each person is entitled -- as citizen, consumer or wage-earner -- to influence the direction and distribution of production, the shaping of the means of production, and the conditions of working life.”
Of course to carry out that sort of economics you can't just have people going off on their own deciding what is just. You need a dictatorship of the proletariat. In other words the fuhrer decides what is good for you and what you will get. And you will be getting it good and hard.

So how does she intend to reduce carbon emissions? She has a plan. It is called decoupling. Profits will be decoupled from production.
In late-December, Carbon Control News reported that Browner was a “strong backer” of utility “decoupling,” which had emerged as a “key climate policy priority for Obama.”

What is utility decoupling? The profits of electric utility companies have traditionally depended on the amount of electricity sold; basically, the more power that is sold, the more profit that is earned. The productivity-profitability link is a logical and standard business principle that is easy to understand, easy to implement and that has worked for, well, millennia in myriad business ventures -- but no more for electric utilities, if Browner has her way.

Browner wants to sever, or decouple, a utility’s profits from the amount of electricity it sells. More electricity means more coal and natural gas burning, which, according to green dogma, means more greenhouse gas emissions and global warming. So Browner believes that less electricity production is, at least, a partial answer to climate change. But less electricity would mean less profitability for electric utilities, a powerful Washington lobby that Browner can ill afford to antagonize.

To date, the electric utility industry has aided and abetted the climate alarmist cause, if not by actually lobbying for global warming regulation, then at least by its willingness to entertain such regulation as public policy worthy of serious consideration. But since endangering utility profits would likely galvanize the industry once and for all against emissions regulation, the green dilemma boils down to figuring out a way to reduce electricity sales while guaranteeing utility profits. Enter decoupling.

How would decoupling actually function in practice? There are several different schemes for decoupling, but their tedious complexity precludes elaboration here. But the schemes all essentially amount to the same thing -- sticking it to ratepayers and taxpayers. This should come as no surprise, when you stop to think about it.

Decoupling involves government guaranteeing electric utilities steady or steadily increasing profits for selling less electricity. That means implementing one of three basic scenarios: (1) consumers paying more for less electricity; (2) electricity prices remaining steady and taxpayers being called upon to subsidize the difference between the profits from actual electricity sales and the profits guaranteed by government; or (3) some combination of the two. There are no other possibilities.
Obama did promise in his election campaign to bankrupt the coal industry and it looks like he has found just the woman to do it. The British are well into such a scheme and it looks like they are losing their power. Their electrical power.
It was in July of this year that the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee - prop. Tim Yeo - told the government that it must set a deadline for coal-fired power stations to install technology massively to cut their emissions, or they must be shut down.

In so doing, the committee sought to add to the burden on an industry which is already, for diverse reasons, failing to get to grips with the looming electricity shortage – offering a strategy which would make it near certain that the lights went out in 2012 or sooner.

Now, from the same House of Commons which brought you this lunacy, we have the Business and Enterprise Committee, headed by another Conservative MP – this time Peter Luff. His committee is warning that Britain is threatened by an "energy crunch" with disastrous social and economic consequences.
Ah yes the social in socialism brings disastrous consequences. When was it ever otherwise? The electric utilities will make out and the consumer will do without electricity. Corporate socialism at its finest. For the people. With political connections.

So is the Obama team proud of Ms. Browner's socialist connections? I don't think so.
Then there’s Carol Browner, Obama’s pick as energy czar and Clinton’s Environmental Protection Agency director. She’s a member of Socialist International, the world’s leading home for socialism and SI’s Commission for a Sustainable World Society, which calls for “global governance” and says rich countries must shrink their economies to address man-caused climate change.

What’s wrong with socialism?

Not much, too many Democrats say. But someone on Obama’s team was a bit concerned, though, because by Thursday, Browner’s name and biography had been removed from Socialist International’s Web page.
It is almost as if they had something to hide.

And there is another reason why socialist Browner is kind of a funny choice for Obama. When she headed the EPA it was a hotbed of racism.
According to a February 2001 report in TIME magazine, the EPA was plagued with “festering racial problems” during Browner’s time in charge. One African-American EPA employee, Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo, told TIME that she’d been passed over for promotions for being “too uppity,” adding, "We [African-American employees] were treated like Negroes, to use a polite term. We were put in our place.”

Coleman-Adebayo was later awarded $600,000 in damages in a settlement that found the EPA guilty of “discrimination and retaliation against whistle blowers.” Shortly thereafter, Congress passed the “No Fear” government whistle blower protection act in response to the Coleman-Adebayo v. Carol Browner decision.

Dr. Coleman-Adebayo lamented in a recent interview, "The very woman I prevailed against in court is being elevated to a White House decision-level position."

At least 150 EPA employees filed similar lawsuits during Browner’s time there. In one particularly bizarre incident, blogger Shawn Mallow notes, “Anita Nickens, an EPA specialist, and the only black present during a visit of Mrs. Browner, was told to clean the toilet prior to her arrival. Afterward, the rest of her white co-workers bragged about it.”

It's a good thing Browner's appointment to the newly invented post of "Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change" isn't subject to Senate approval.
There are a lot of good things about the Obama administration. Understanding the scientific arguments about global warming isn't one of them. Fortunately, although the scientific arguments about global warming aren't settled the politics is. Green on the outside, red on the inside. Socialism all the way. Because they believe, despite over a hundred years of recent evidence, that government can run your life better than you can.

Our only hope is that Mr. Obama is kept busy with corruption scandals and foreign wars so that he does not have much time or political capital to do serious damage here at home.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

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