The results of political compromise — maybe by definition — are seldom satisfactory to anyone. But hasn’t this whole process recently gotten worse than ever before? The ultimate version of the healthcare reform that the Obama administration put through was the product of a hammer and tongs fight from the insurance companies, the pharmaceutical industry, the enormous money and power that they and their partners brought to the battle. Supported by a political machine that benefited from convincing voters that the whole idea of reform was tantamount to socialism, the bill that was ultimately passed is an utter disappointment — and may ultimately fall apart for any number of reasons, one of which is as basic as a successful constitutional challenge.
Closer to my home in the energy sector, I have to say that cap and trade legislation is a similar sort of disaster in the making. Anyone sincerely wanting to use the public sector to lead the way to a sustainable approach to energy has extremely clearcut tools at his disposal. How about the simplicity of a carbon tax? A feed-in tariff? What’s the matter with just pulling the subsidies on oil? If you really want clean energy, there are abundant and crystal clear ways to do it — instantly.
The solutions are all around us — and yet we’re headed in a direction that really couldn’t possibly work. Cap and trade will certainly make a few rich people even richer by creating yet another sandbox in which our *great* investment bankers can play. But the notion that the efficiencies of a free market will move in such a way to place a natural limit on carbon is so ridiculous that it could have only come from a process in which there is fundamentally no genuine concern for solving the problem at hand — one that is just anxiously looking for another opportunity to bilk a clueless electorate.
Think I’m exaggerating about the laughable ineffectiveness of our current political compromise? Ask yourself how it’s possible that a country of the stature of the United States with its (albeit waning) importance on the world stage still does not have an energy policy. It’s not that we have a bad one; our political environment is so contentious and corrupt that we don’t have one at all.
I hereby join the tens of millions of other garden-variety Americans who would give President Obama a piece of advice.
Sir, if you have any chance of re-election, look for counsel outside the Wall Streeters you have brought to your side. Knock off the compromises that result in the garbage legislation that will otherwise be your legacy. Do what you promised your supporters who brought you to office, and do what’s right by your own wits and the intent of the majority the the people who elected you. What do you have to lose?