Tag Archives: climate change

Laws, Policies and Consequences

The law of unintended consequences is as merciless as the law of gravity. This article lists three instances where the law of unintended consequences caused supposedly well-intentioned laws to turn into nightmares, especially for those of modest income.

Unintended consequences

The Fast Food Franchise Bright Idea

Chin Jou’s book Supersizing Urban America: How Inner Cities Got Fast Food With Government Help, published in 2017, should become a classic on the subject of unintended consequences.

The book recounts the story about the federal Small Business Administration setting up a program to help residents of inner cities become entrepreneurs. The SBA would guarantee loans to start business franchises. Dunkin’ Donuts stepped right up to help promote the program, followed by McDonald’s and Burger King. Once fast food companies realized inner cities had become a gold mine, they leveraged their prospects with advertising, and inner cities residents became faithful consumers of fast foods.

The unfortunate unintended consequence is unhealthy obesity.

The War on Terror and the Rise of Terrorism

9/11 was a tragedy where we experienced in real time, in U.S. soil, the death of almost 3,000 civilians. Therefore, the hurt and anger that resulted in the war in Afghanistan, and later Iraq, could be understood. George Bush sent troops to Afghanistan to clean out terrorist camps, and to Iraq to eradicate supposed weapons of mass destruction.

The unfortunate unintended consequence is well described by this paragraph,

What the US tends to forget, or intentionally ignores, is that armed reactionary groups like ISIS are born out of the destabilization created by Western military intervention … [H]ostile anti-American resistance groups gain momentum, sympathy and legitimacy from the actions carried out by Western forces.  Foreign Policy Journal, 2015

Fighting Climate Change

Everybody wants clean air, clean water, and the absence of extreme climate. Therefore, to ensure these graces, legislators have done what legislators tend to do – pass laws. The laws of preference favor transit-oriented development (TOD) intended to reduce automobile miles traveled and greenhouse gas emissions.

TOD policies set strict urban-growth boundaries, establish vast conservation areas where development is not allowed, and encourage development only along transit corridors. Under such plans, density is promoted as desirable not only as means of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but also as an engine of growth and, therefore, tax generation.

The unsurprising unintended consequence of transit-oriented policies is unaffordability of real estate. As places to build shrink and neighborhoods resist high density, supply of housing decreases and prices for renting or buying a roof over one’s head go up.

California, a state that boasts its leadership in controlling climate change and forcefully promotes transit-oriented policies has chased away its working poor and its middle class, who cannot afford astronomically housing costs.

The problem is that high-density housing–that is, mid-rise and high-rise housing–costs 50 to 68 percent more, per square foot, to build than low-density housing. If California really wants to build housing that is affordable to low-income people, it needs to build more low-density housing. To build that, it needs to open up land that has been off-limits to development because it is outside of urban-growth boundaries.  Will Density Make Housing Affordable? New Geography, March 2018.

Examples Abound

Government policies apparently implemented in good faith can easily turn sour and result in unanticipated harm. Who can forget the mass displacement of residents in the 1950s -1960s in the name of urban development? Who can ignore the cost of health insurance after the Affordable Care Act? How many families have been torn apart and how many children have been caught in the cross fire of the war on drugs?  But these are all subject for future articles on the Just Vote No Blog.

Therefore, regardless of your party affiliation or political leanings, proceed with caution in supporting sweeping legislation, regulation, or executive orders at all levels of government.

Rapidly “Decarbonize” or Perish!

City officials from around the U.S. and around the world on December 5, 2017, signed the Chicago Climate Charter at the Inaugural North American Climate Summit. The mainstream media puts the number of city mayors that signed the Charter at “dozens” and “more than 50.” A count of signatures on the Charter posted by the host Mayor Rahm Emanuel shows 64 signatures. The media says 36 of the signatories were U.S. mayors.

Sixty four out of 4,416 cities in the world is 1.45% (assuming “city” means jurisdictions housing 100,000 or more residents). That’s not much. However, 56% of U.S. signatories might be sufficient for what could be the Charter’s objective.

The Charter’s objective is for cities and regions to continue working on commitments made under the Paris Climate Agreement, even though the U.S. withdrew from the Agreement. Just Vote No discussed why President Donald Trump did not renew U.S. participation.

Considering the fact that the U.S. is the only country at present not to be a participant in the Paris Climate Agreement, this Charter begs the question, why bother, if the other nations that do belong to the accord can carry on the work without the U.S. – or can they? Maybe it is not work that is needed but funding, otherwise called redistribution of resources from those according to their ability to those according to their need. Redistribution of wealth principally from the United States and the more affluent countries in the European Union to the poor countries was clearly spelled out in the Paris Climate Agreement.

Principals behind the Chicago Climate Charter are not U.S. city mayors simply wanting to ensure clean air and clean water for their jurisdictions, but global players, or in the case of California Governor Jerry Brown and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, global wannabes:

* Michael Bloomberg :  Former mayor of New York City and now United Nations Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change.

* The Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy: An international alliance of cities and local governments with the objective of assisting jurisdictions to transition to low-emission societies.

* United States Conference of Mayors: Forum for city officials to discuss diverse challenges, but also founding member of the Global Parliament of Mayors.

* C40 Cities: Network of big cities committed to implementing measurable and sustainable action on climate change.

*Rahm Emanuel:  Mayor, City of Chicago, host of the 2017 North American Climate Summit, where the Chicago Climate Charter was signed.

* Jerry Brown: Governor of California and founder with Michael Bloomberg of America’s Pledge, an initiative to quantify actions of U.S. states, cities, and businesses to drive down their greenhouse gas emissions consistent with the goals of the Paris Agreement.

If these players are so determined to carry on the objectives of the Paris Agreement, and one prerequisite of the Paris Agreement is for more affluent countries to fund the climate change initiatives of the less affluent, they will surely find a way. For example, the Global Covenant of Mayors partnered with the European Investment Bank and the World Bank Group,

Paris, France, 12 December 2017 – Today, at the One Planet Summit in Paris, the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy and World Bank Group, the world’s largest multilateral development bank, announced a new partnership to provide technical and financial assistance to 150 cities across the world undertaking aggressive climate action programs. The World Bank’s investment [loan] of $4.5 billion USD will ensure cities battling the increasing threats of climate change have the funding necessary to implement sustainable initiatives and climate resilience programs.

The lending will occur over the next three years under the umbrella of the World Bank’s City Resilience Program (CRP), and will draw on resources from IFC [International Finance Corporation] and MIGA [Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency] to provide financial and technical assistance to 150 cities, including current and future Global Covenant cities, to drive climate ambitions forward and upwards and build greater resilience to climate and disaster risks.

Let’s focus for a moment on the phrase “climate and disaster risks.” Governor Jerry Brown’s website mentions the Governor’s keynote speech on December 12, at the Two-Year Anniversary of the Paris Agreement:

Pointing to the state’s nearly year-round fire season – and the blazes still raging in Southern California – the Governor also sounded the alarm on the costly and destructive global impacts ahead unless we rapidly decarbonize.

CA wildfire nbcnews 2More effective action would be for Californians either not to build homes right next to wild areas that have regularly gone up in flames for as long as history exists, or for conservation rules to allow for cutting down vegetation where Californians want to build houses. This NBC News image shows how close this beautiful home is to the dense vegetation in the background.

 

Houston-flood-mapThe same can be said for building in floodplains. Floodplains will not move or disappear when we all “decarbonize.” They will stay where they are and keep flooding. And folks will keep building homes in them.  This map shows the blue areas of flood risk, all populated.

 

Weather.com makes an interesting observation regarding the flood zones, “Politicians appear to be supportive of this new development despite the inherent risks of building on a floodplain.” Intriguing. Cui bono – who benefits?

We should always keep in mind that government’s only source of funds is the taxpayer. Any redistribution of funds is redistribution from a taxpayer’s pocket to someone else’s pocket. Therefore, if you feel “climate crisis” is the cause of lives and property tragically lost in California’s fires or Houston’s floods, we are certain you will gladly pay any additional taxes that result from efforts to “rapidly decarbonize.” Otherwise, you can Just Vote No on “decarbonization” funding.