Paul Krugman on the Coming Onslaught of Crazy Right-Wing Climate Economics—From Scalia, Rubio and Pals
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Paul Krugman took a look into his incredibly accurate crystal ball in today's column and predicted that, now that the Obama Administration is intent on actually doing something about indisputable man-made climate change, conservatives will, of course, keep attacking science, but also call any attempt to regulate or address the problem a Marxist plot.
Because that's just how they roll.
Everywhere you look these days, you see Marxism on the rise. Well, O.K., maybe you don’t — but conservatives do. If you so much as mention income inequality, you’ll be denounced as the second coming of Joseph Stalin; Rick Santorum has declared that any use of the word “class” is “ Marxism talk.” In the right’s eyes, sinister motives lurk everywhere — for example, George Will says the only reason progressives favor trains is their goal of “diminishing Americans’ individualism in order to make them more amenable to collectivism.”
So it goes without saying that Obamacare, based on ideas originally developed at the Heritage Foundation, is a Marxist scheme — why, requiring that people purchase insurance is practically the same as sending them to gulags.
And just wait until the Environmental Protection Agency announces rules intended to slow the pace of climate change.
We can't wait. And, it turns out, we don't need to.
We've already seen examples of the hysteria about regulation emanating from the right. In a recent case before the Supreme Court about power-plant pollution, the majority ruled that the E.P.A. does indeed have the right to regulate the poisonous smoke emanating from coal-fired power plants, because it crosses state lines. But, as Krugman points out, the reliably wrong right-wing nut-job justice dissented. "Justice Scalia didn’t just dissent," Krugman writes, " he suggested that the E.P.A.’s proposed rule — which would tie the size of required smog reductions to cost — reflected the Marxist concept of 'from each according to his ability.' Taking cost into consideration is Marxist? Who knew?"
Krugman foresees more of the same from the right. Any attempt to regulate pollution will be seen as a "tyrrannical act," even market-based ones, which Republicans used to like (as recently as the Bush years, for Pete's sake)
And of course, limiting pollution will also have a "devastating effect on our economy," as Senator Marco Rubio likes to argue.
Why is this crazy? Normally, conservatives extol the magic of markets and the adaptability of the private sector, which is supposedly able to transcend with ease any constraints posed by, say, limited supplies of natural resources. But as soon as anyone proposes adding a few limits to reflect environmental issues — such as a cap on carbon emissions — those all-capable corporations supposedly lose any ability to cope with change.
Now, the rules the E.P.A. is likely to impose won’t give the private sector as much flexibility as it would have had in dealing with an economywide carbon cap or emissions tax. But Republicans have only themselves to blame: Their scorched-earth opposition to any kind of climate policy has left executive action by the White House as the only route forward.
Finally, the brilliant Krugman dispenses with the argument that the U.S. does not have to do anything about limiting its output of greenhouse gases, because we are no longer at the top of the heap of polluters, China is.
We're a strong number 2, he points out, and U.S. action on climate change is "a necessary first step toward a broader international agreement, which will surely include sanctions on countries that don’t participate."