I Hate to Clean Up!

Don’t you?

I love to cook; but I hate to wash the dishes.  I love woodworking; but I hate to sweep the shop. I love to tend our horses; but mucking stalls is another matter entirely.  I love a good night’s sleep; but make the bed?  Maybe later.

Am I alone in this?  If so, at least I’ve passed it on to my kids.

But I think I’m a lot like you.  You know that cleaning up is part of every activity, but maybe mom will come along and do it for you – or maybe your wife, or your roommate, or someone.

Cooking is fun. This is not!
But responsible people – and conservative people – know that this is no way for adults to act.  We rightly screamed bloody murder when steel companies poured toxic runoff into our nation’s rivers. We made electric utilities install smokestack scrubbers to keep acid rain from killing our forest and lakes.  We insisted that the refrigeration industry stop using CFCs that burned through the earth’s ozone layer.

These were their messes.  They were grown-ups.  SOMEONE had to clean up.  And we weren’t their mom.

Well, now a conservative spokesman has started speaking like a responsible adult to his fellow conservatives.  Bob Inglis, Republican former congressman from South Carolina, is telling conservatives that it’s anti-conservative to expect someone else to clean up our oil & coal mess.  In a free market, says Inglis, oil, gas and coal will contain all their costs – including the cost of clean-up.

“Conservatives say that free enterprise, not government mandates, can deliver innovation,” said Inglis, in an article published in USA Today (full text below).  “But we’ve been waiting since 1973 to be freed from foreign oil. Maybe that’s because all the costs aren’t ‘in’ the petroleum –  the national security risk, the costs of protecting the supply lines out of the Middle East, the cost of the pollution from tailpipes and the cost of tax subsidies for petroleum. If those costs were paid at the pump and not out of sight, we’d be aware of our need, and America’s entrepreneurs would meet our need with new fuels.”

Of course, you can already hear the screams of the oil and coal industry and the many politicians who rely on them for funding: He’s calling for new taxes!!

Not so.  Someone bears the costs of wars in petro-states.  Someone pays the health costs of the soaring asthma epidemic. Someone pays for the massive tax subsidies we give to oil companies. Someone pays the costs of floods, droughts, sea-level rise, and crop failures associated with climate change.

Hell with the lid off: Pittsburgh before EPA regs
You know who that “someone” is, right?  Not them.  But rather, you and I.  And to varying degrees, virtually every other person on the planet.

Today, the price of your car contains the cost of steel made without polluting our rivers. The price of your house contains the cost of insulation that doesn’t destroy the ozone layer.  The cost of a dozen eggs is enough to prevent manure from running off into our lakes. These aren’t taxes.  They’re the cost of behaving like adults.

But the cost of a gallon of gas? Well that’s another matter.  And the oil and coal tycoons want to keep it that way. They’re hoping that mom – or someone – will bear the cost of their clean-up.  As we do today.

Here’s Republican Congressman Inglis’ appeal to fellow conservatives.  No matter your political leanings, I think you’ll like what he has to say.

Thanks for reading, and may God bless you. 

J. Elwood

Rep. Bob Inglis (R-SC)
Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s recent assertion that the science of climate change has been politicized is almost certainly true. Environmental groups (the kind that always gave me F’s on my congressional report cards for voting against bills such as cap-and-trade) decided a while back to run this play on the left side of the political field. But perhaps the strongest proof of Perry’s assertion is what we conservatives are doing now…

Perry asserts, and many conservatives believe, that the flow of grants have produced a corresponding flow of studies indicating human causes of climate change. Skepticism is warranted, but it’s relieved by an observation: Scientists become famous by disproving the consensus, not by parroting it. You don’t get a theory named for yourself by writing papers that say, “Yeah, like he said.” You become famous (and, for the pure of heart, you advance science) by breaking through with new understandings.

In the zeal of our disproof, many conservatives have latched on to the outliers to create the appearance of uncertainty where little uncertainty exists. Accordingly, only 15% of the public knows that 97% of climate scientists have concluded that the planet is rapidly warming as a result of human activity…

Many conservatives believe that, even if climate change is caused by human activity, the costs of correction outweigh the benefits. What does that calculation say about our objectivity, our commitment to accountability and our belief in free markets?

Conservatives say that free enterprise, not government mandates, can deliver innovation. But we’ve been waiting since 1973 to be freed from foreign oil. Maybe that’s because all the costs aren’t “in” the petroleum – the national security risk, the costs of protecting the supply lines out of the Middle East, the cost of the pollution from tailpipes and the cost of tax subsidies for petroleum. If those costs were paid at the pump and not out of sight, we’d be aware of our need, and America’s entrepreneurs would meet our need with new fuels.

But markets can’t respond when some fuels escape accountability. If the coal industry, for instance, were held accountable for all of coal’s costs – including health effects – we’d build emission-free nuclear power plants instead of coal-fired plants. Electricity rates would rise because we’d be paying all of coal’s cost at the meter, but health insurance premiums would fall. In such an all-costs-in scenario, the profit motive would drive innovation just as it drove innovation with the Internet and the PC – without clumsy government mandates.

Conservatives can restore our objectivity by acknowledging that Americans are already paying all the hidden costs of energy. We can prove our commitment to accountability by properly attaching all costs to all fuels. We can prove our belief in free markets by eliminating all subsidies and letting the free enterprise system sort out winners and losers among competing fuels.

Or, more cynically, we can attempt to disprove science, protect the fossilized and deprive America of a muscular, free enterprise, no-growth-of-government alternative to cap and trade.

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