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PearlY, we may be having an apples and oranges moment.
I googled "oil company lobbying expenditures, and quickly found an article from the Center for American Progress, yes, a liberal advocacy group, that claimed that "fossil fuel" industries (oil, gas, coal, and electric utilities and their respective trade associations spend $2 billion in lobbying and campaign contributions between 1999 and 2010.
If you accept "fossil fuel industries" instead of just "oil companies" I'm pretty confident that hundreds of millions in lobbying is a fair, ballpark figure.
A recent article in The Atlantic estimated the value of oil company tax breaks at $7 billion a year. I'd love to see the source of your belief that oil company taxes, etc dwarf their reported profits.
As a final note, the idea that people who object to massive tax breaks to massively profitable fossil fuel companies should just write a personal check to the Treasury and stop complaining is both juvenile and offensive.
Today we learned that the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has reached 400 parts per million (ppm). This is first time in human history the levels have been this high, and some scientists—real scientists—estimate this is the highest level in three million years.
The burden of proof on this issue does not lie with people who “support the AGW hypothesis” as PearlY and others put it.
The burden of proof lies with people who believe that relentlessly dumping gigatons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere will have zero effect on the livability of our biosphere.
Steve Singleton and other climate denialists refuse to accept this burden of proof, at least partly, I think, because they realize how difficult it would to convince people that our atmosphere is a bottomless garbage pit.
To accept the Singleton Hypothesis, it’s necessary to believe that thousands of scientists, across multiple continents, over more than two decades, have joined a secret conspiracy to distort the facts and create a false sense of panic.
As far as I know, Singleton has never even suggested a possible motive for this worldwide conspiracy, nor can he point to a single example of such a worldwide, decades long scientific conspiracy ever existing before.
On the other hand, there is the FUD Thesis, that people and organizations whose short-term profits and power are threatened by change can delay or even prevent those expensive changes by investing a few million dollars in the creation of “fear, uncertainty, and doubt.”
The FUD factories currently supporting climate denial have a crystal-clear motive: next quarter’s earnings statement. And there are multiple examples of this strategy being employed in the past.
The arguments against climate change are the same arguments, sometimes by the same people, against the idea that cigarettes cause cancer. We’ve heard the same arguments that it “crush the economy” to remove lead from gasoline, to stop acid rain, to protect the ozone layer, and on and on.
We can argue about the relative costs of proactively preparing for a radically warmer, wetter world versus the potential cost of doing nothing and hoping for the best. Last year’s Midwest drought and Superstorm Sandy might give us an insight into that arithmetic.
But until Steve Singleton or the Heartland Institute can come up with a theory on how the earth’s atmosphere and oceans can continue absorbing an increasing amount of CO2, without any negative impact on our fragile biosphere, we probably shouldn’t pay too much attention to their attempts to change the subject.
Well, PearlY, we may have different ideas of what constitutes "kindergarten-level economic thinking.
You seem to believe that the only valid response to oil company abuses is to forgo using their products entirely, and return to life as lived in the 18th century. I would call that kindergarten-level.
If you financial statements, you probably know that oil companies spend hundreds of millions of dollars lobbying lawmakers and regulators to twist the rules in favor of their short term profits. And you probably know this lobbying pays off quite handsomely, in lower taxes, and let's-look-the-other-way regulations.
The people Bush put in charge of monitoring federal revenues from oil and gas leases were scandalously inept, but Obama's embrace of deep-water drilling was equally problematic, given the massive BP oil spill.
I get it that "we're the ones" buying oil company products . . but I share your faith in market incentives. Remove the massive subsidies for the production of fossil fuels, throw in a modest carbon tax, and solar panels and bicycles will look a lot better to a lot of people.
The suggestion from Bill McKibben is not "divesting from companies that do business with oil companies," PearlY, that would be, as you suggest, both complicated and ineffective.
What McKibben is asking Whitman and others to do is sell their Exxon Mobil stock or move their endowment or retirement funds to managers who will agree not to purchase fossil fuel company stocks in the future.
That's fairly easy to do and no, it won't hurt the oil company's market caps all that much. But it could have important symbolic value, making it clear that relentlessly dumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, regardless of its impact on future living conditions, is just as obnoxious as racial apartheid.
(Oh, and if you think the tax revenue from oil companies dwarf their record billions in profits, please Google "oil and gas tax loopholes." )
PearlY, you might want to re-check your information sources. US GDP is about $15.7 trillion last year and the total national debt is just about the same at about $16 trillion.
Those are worrisome figures but our debt is not EIGHT time our total annual GDP.
As Wikipedia dryly sums it up, "Historically, the US public debt as a share of GDP increased during wars and recessions, and subsequently declined. For example, debt held by the public as a share of GDP peaked just after World War II (113% of GDP in 1945), but then fell over the following 30 years."
We clearly have a long-term debt problem, but it could easily be handled with some modest adjustments to promote economic growth and reduce unemployment. Unfortunately, most of these "adjustments" would be considered "revenue increases" and are vigorously opposed by most of the same people who fan the flames of deficit panic.
Just to make sure no one's confused, the Professor Erler quoted in the article is not, repeat not, a progressive describing his own beliefs.
Erler is be a reputable political scientist, but he is affiliated with a conservative think tank, the Claremont Institute, which is devoted to promoting "a limited and accountable government that respects private property, promotes stable family life, and maintains a strong national defense."
Nothing wrong with that, lots of people believe in those things. But it does mean that Erler's description of "what progressives believe" is about as credible as Barney Frank's view of Ronald Reagan.
For a better understanding of what progressives actually do believe in, like progressive income taxation, I suggest a quick look at Joseph Stiglitz's column on the NY Times website.
That's an interesting list you've compiled, 5Dad, and I'll be curious to see what PearlY or NamVet come up for services they think shouldn't be paid for by "forcibly taking" i.e. tax collections.
It's easy to parrot Ayn Rand in general terms about the evils of taxation, but much less popular to describe the toll roads, private parks, gated communities, and private security that would replace public services in a libertarian paradise.
Just to return to the beginning of the thread, I see that Roberta has published another remarkably content-free diatribe in today's paper.
I keep wondering what specific program or policy of the Obama administration she thinks has done more damage to the country than the trillion-dollar (and still counting) war in Iraq?
(And no, Roberta, the Bush record is not "moot" . . . just a couple of months ago, our Congress tied itself in knots trying to overcame the damage done by the "Bush-era" tax cuts.)
Peter, you're absolutely correct. The professional sports monopolies are adept at creating artificial shortages in order to leverage taxpayer support and prevent any meaningful regulation of their profitable businesses.
The sports leagues, particularly the NFL, are also great at gaming the TV and cable networks to ramp up their TV revenue. They've traditionally offered the four broadcast networks only three possible game packages . . . which didn't matter much when only TV advertisers were paying the bill.
But more recently, the broadcasters are trying to recover some of the hundreds of millions they've given the leagues by passing the costs onto to cable TV operators . . . which will roll straight down to the customer's cable bill.
Ala carte cable billing would put a crimp in this part of the scam, but don't hold your breath waiting for it. The NFL, NBA, and MBL are the world's biggest promoters of socialism now that the USSR is dead.
Nobody should be fooled by Rich Lowry's dishonest attempt to flip the terms of debate so that "denialists" applies to people who take climate change seriously.
The Economist article that he selectively quotes from is available online and is much more thorough and nuanced than Lowry would have you believe.
The Economist's own conclusion is nicely summarized in their editorial headline: "Climate change may be happening more slowly than scientists thought. But the world still needs to deal with it."
The article discusses whether it would be better to spend multiple billions to adapt to climate change rather than multiple billions in a fruitless attempt to prevent it.
In neither case, would the multiple billions to strengthen our power grid, improve seawalls and coastal buffer zones, and accelerate the adoption of renewable energy be a waste of money, let alone bring about a collapse of the economy.
Just to keep you in touch with the real world, please note that the deficit is projected by the Congressional Budget Office to fall this year and continue shrinking in 2014. Unemployment continues to be a problem, but the economy is adding jobs . . . when Bush left, the country was losing hundreds of thousands of jobs per month, with no end in sight.
I'm never quite clear what Roberta means when she says Obama is ruining the country or when you say the US is "weak in the eyes of the world." And so far neither you or Roberta seem able or willing to offer much in the way of specifics.
Last login: Thursday, May 16, 2013
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