June 4, 2008
Regulating Your Gas Stove
By Jim Babka
CORRECTION: In our rush to keep up with the Senate yesterday we provided you with the wrong bill number for the "cap and trade" legislation currently pending for a vote. This won't matter for those of you who sent messages to Congress. The politicians knew what bill you were talking about. We've corrected the number in our campaign. It is S. 3036.

Quote of the Day:

"While commonly known as cap-and-trade, which sounds pithy and free-market oriented, a more accurate but less sexy-sounding name would be a system of tradable rationing coupons. In plain English, that would mean putting a price on greenhouse gas emissions, which would raise costs for anyone burning fossil fuels, whether in a gasoline tank, a coal-fired power plant, or a natural gas stove."
-- Steve Mufson, energy reporter for the Washington Post

Subject: Regulating your gas stove

Notice the last words in our quote of the day: "gas stove." This gives you a good idea of how far-reaching and intrusive the so-called "Climate Security Act" could be. In the short run it may only regulate fossil fuels at their source. In the long-run the regulations are likely to extend to every aspect of life, from the large to the small.

Notice also the name of the bill, and its use of the word "security." This name reflects the politician's standard operating procedure. First they incite fear, and then they promise security. It would have been more honest to call it something straightforward, like the "Anti-Global Warming Act."

More honest still would be something like the "Total Control Act." If the government must sell, and you must buy, an emission permit for your gas stove, or your lawn mower, and perhaps your fireplace too, then we are very close to a state of total government control over the economy.

Is this hyperbole? Possibly, but probably not. The bill is 344 pages long, and you can bet that almost no one in the Senate has actually read it. Later, unelected bureaucrats will craft many hundreds or thousands of additional pages to establish specific regulations.

Still more trees will be killed to add even more pages in the years to come, as exceptions and new restrictions are added to completely unrelated bills, and passed without deliberation. The pages of regulations will grow to keep pace with this.

At every step of the way lobbyists will be meeting with Congressional staffs, seeking special provisions that will benefit them, and/or hurt their competitors. Many politicians will work to provide these favors with an eye toward future positions on boards of directors, or million dollar lobbying contracts with this or that carbon emitting industry. This could explain part of why so many politicians favor the complexity of "cap and trade" over the relative simplicity of a carbon tax (combined with tax cuts in other areas).

Are we saying that a carbon tax wouldn't be subject to the buying and selling of exceptions? No, it would be. But the complexity of "cap and trade" makes it far, far more suitable to the purpose of selling favors -- in large part because it would be much harder to detect favoritism in a complex, bureaucratic "cap and trade" scheme, then it would be in a simpler carbon tax plan.

Sadly, this issue isn't going to go away any time soon. All of the major party presidential candidates favor "cap and trade," so we're going to have to fight this for a long time. We took a big step in that direction yesterday, sending nearly 4,000 messages to  Congress.

If you haven't yet sent a message against "cap and trade," you can do so here.

If you did send a message yesterday, we still need to keep reminding Congress that we do NOT want a bill permitting warrantless spying, and granting immunity to the telecoms that participated in previous warrantless spying. It would be very helpful if you would send a message on that subject today. You can do so here.

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Thank you for being a part of the growing Downsize DC Army.

Jim Babka
President, Inc.
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