Wes Vernon
June 9, 2008
Part 2--The plot to throw you out of work and stick you with higher taxes
By Wes Vernon

(See Part 1)

In a normal world, anyone who says the best way to deal with bad economic times is to raise taxes would elicit some not-too-polite snickers. But this time, that idea is being advanced by a United States senator, and it is no laughing matter. (Patience, we're leading up to that.)

Damage control

In a classic case of shooting first and asking questions later, Senator Barbara Boxer is sending a message that amounts to "Oops! While I'm saving the world by leading the charge to slay the dragon of 'climate change' and damning the nasty skeptics (including qualified scientists) for asking questions, how do I keep the great unwashed off my back when they lose their jobs or get socked with a stiff tax and hefty price hikes to pay for my social engineering playpen?"

"Cap and trade"?

The Senate this past week took up the so-called "Cap and Trade" bill, whose aim to is to use the hoax of man-made "global warming" as an excuse to tax you blind and dictate the way you live.

The Wall Street Journal calls this monstrosity "Cap and Spend." Very good, but this column prefers "Tax and Rob" i.e., the former picks your pocket, and the latter relieves you of employment.

How it "works"

The legislation would mandate lowering the cap on carbon emissions every year starting in 2012 until they have been cut by 66% by 2050. What will happen to the growing population that will require more energy? How dare you ask that question? Haven't you heard? Boxer says the "debate on global warming is over." An arrogant way of telling those who dare to disagree that they are to shut up.

Under Tax and Rob, if one industry or plant or entity exceeds its emissions "allowance," it can purchase "allowances" from another entity that has emission allowances to spare.

That has been done before on a relatively small scale, but it has been mostly voluntary and in the private sector. This time, the government will create a whole slew of new agencies, one of which will auction off allowances to the entities that would be targeted. And, you guessed it, money will flow to the new agency before a deal is struck between the trading partners. You and I will pay a steep price for this.

First, when government creates scarcity, the consumer pays through the nose. See, for example, how the ethanol scam has driven up the price of food by making corn scarce for humans and putting it into machines.

We are also painfully aware of the skyrocketing prices at the pump due in large part to the Boxers of the world, who won't let us drill for the trillions of gallons of gas and oil available on our own soil, even though the Communist Chinese are drilling 45 miles off the Florida coast, with Hugo Chavez and other America-haters about to join in. It's just Americans who cannot drill there. Mrs. Boxer says no. Tax and Rob would compound that insanity. Driving up the prices for oil, gas, coal, and food is but a prelude to what is in store for us if Tax and Rob becomes law.

Secondly, the corporations (large and small) are not going to pay to put themselves out of business (though some may eventually be boxed into a corner where they will indeed have to file a Chapter 11). Those that survive will pass the tax onto the consumers to you and me. And the way Madame Boxer figures it, you won't know you're being taxed. She thinks you're stupid, and will blame those evil companies. "Chump change?" No way. The California senator figures on raising money to the tune of $3.32 trillion by 2050. Again, that's out of our pockets.

BTW only about half the carbon allowances will actually be auctioned off. The rest will go to those who "take the lead" on emission reductions. Lady Boxer will decide which entities are worthy of that largesse, but presumably attending her political fundraisers just may coincidentally enhance your chances of making the inner circle.

The many ways to skin a taxpayer er, cat

Governments are not at a loss for ingenious options to relieve you of your hard-earned money.

A dictatorship can just come right out and announce a tax hike. A shot in the head if you make a fuss. Something akin to that ignited the American Revolution about 232 years ago.

In a representative republic, however, such schemes require government policy-makers to be sneaky about it, lest the voters' anger is aroused. That's what is happening here. Boxer and her cohorts (Senators Joe Lieberman and John Warner) are trying to scare you into thinking they are anointed to "save the world" (on dubious or "junk" science). Thus, they push the Tax and Rob bill, which they want you to believe will affect only the big bad oil companies and the evil rich.

This kind of eyewash is a classic example of what Winston Churchill meant when he said representative government was the very worst system possible except for all the others.

Boxer's oooopsie!

So now, what does Boxer Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works do?

Someone apparently gave her the word that the people are not exactly beating down the Capitol doors demanding this legislation. Thus the senator now says (in so many words): Hmmm, what are we going to do with all those plebeians who lose their jobs and can't afford the higher taxes er higher prices with which we er the businesses sock them? What'll they do when their utility bills and the costs of driving go out of sight? Bad news on Election Day! Can't have that!

So, here's a little $802 billion stipend to keep the natives from getting restless. Oh, and by the way, if you lose your job because of this, well, maybe just maybe you qualify for a slice of the $190 billion your tax money puts up to "retrain" for a "green collar" job. Maybe working for one of those "alternative energy" companies that managed to sink into Chapter 11 over the past 30 years. And by the way, Lady Boxer decides whether you earn "too much" to get this "retraining" loot. So if you're say, in your fifties, earn a decent salary, and are in a targeted industry you may have to re-think plans for what you thought would be a secure retirement.

Senator James Inhofe, a front line soldier in the battle against this hysteria-born legislation, figures for every $8 you put up in taxes, you may get the benefit of $1, and even that looks from here like a mirage.

Pay them to shut up

Now, of course, as Boxer, Lieberman, and Warner apparently see it, there is the unpleasantness of carbon-loaded businesses sending their lobbyists around to crybaby about being run out of business. No problem, Boxer says, just pay them off. What's a few hundred billion to help them "adjust" and make the "transition" (i.e., hush money). Even the oil business that Boxer and Co. would like to sock with an "excess profits tax," would end up with about $30 billion. Nothing "excess" about that, right?

Boxer rebellion against America

You need not take my word for what Boxer has in mind. In introducing her bill on the floor of the Senate on June 2, she declared that a "recession is the precise time" to enact the Tax and Rob bill because it "brings us hope." It is alarming that a United States Senator either really is that ignorant of basic economics or (worse) knows better, but sees it as a great selling point for a power grab.

The Tax and Rob bill blandly called "Cap and Trade" would allocate $171 billion for mass transit. This column has advocated according mass transit the kind of investment we have allocated in the past to highways. But trying to accomplish that through Tax and Rob is very much like burning down an entire house just to kill a few bugs.

What the bill will do

To sum it up, Senator Inhofe has listed some of the ill effects of Boxer-Warner-Lieberman:

(1) Higher gas prices at the pump between 41 cents and $1 a gallon by 2030 over and above continuing higher prices already believed inevitable if this country does not drill for its own oil, which (again) the Boxers of the world oppose.

(2) The largest tax increase in history, effectively raising taxes on Americans by more than $1 trillion just over the next ten years.

(3) The biggest pork bill ever with record giveaways.

(4) Will cost up to 4 million jobs by 2030, many of which would be transferred overseas where environmental regulations are more balanced.

(5) Will be a huge bureaucratic intrusion into your life likely the biggest since the creation of the IRS, according to Sen. George Voinovich.

(6) The Wall Street Journal says "Cap and Trade" will be the biggest reorganization of the American economy since the 1930s.

And all this is just for starters.

Solution: Live like a caveman

Columnist Charles Krauthammer has said that environmentalism has picked up where communism and socialism left off. Ralph Nader a high priest of the socialist ethos wants everything green, whatever the cost. But he and his fellow greenies don't want clean nuclear energy either.

So back to the cavemen era, or pass the Tax and Rob socialism bill in the name of junk science, or do what the Brits are thinking of doing: a parliamentary committee in London wants every citizen to carry a carbon card to be presented when he fills up his tank, or flies, or uses electricity. Anyone want to bet the ranch this idea is not being crafted somewhere in the recesses of Boxer's power-grab witches-brew?

Small wonder that a Scott Rasmussen poll finds that 67 percent of Americans believe the government has become a special interest, looking out for itself. Tax and Rob is a classic example.

On Friday, this bill supposedly dealing with "the most important issue facing the world today" (according to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid), was set aside as Boxer and Co. decided that well,,,,er..uh...maybe we can wait for a few months (until the 2008 votes are safely counted?). Headlines said the Senate "effectively kills" Tax and Rob. Translation: They beat a retreat for the moment. They will be back to pick your pocket in 2009 when they figure they will have a president who won't veto this threat to your money, your job, and your freedom. President Bush opposes it. Given that both Barack Obama and John McCain support variations of Tax and Rob don't you just love it when the political class offers us "choices"?

Footnote: In the January 28 column, we wrote that Senator McCain regards elimination of Amtrak as "a non-negotiable demand." This was based on credible attributions. I can now report that sources extremely close to the McCain campaign are saying the senator, as president, would not zero out the entire Amtrak system. But he still believes overnight trains, such as the Sunset Limited, are not economically feasible, and that Amtrak over time should be self-sufficient. He also would consider proposals to privatize Amtrak. it is accurate to say that if Senator McCain had his way, the Amtrak map would be considerably reduced from what it is now.

© Wes Vernon

Comments feature added August 14, 2011

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