Thursday, May 26, 2011

Not buying the premises

© 2011 Joshua Stark

California State Senate President pro tem Darrell Steinberg says that a budget deal with Republicans is close, which most likely means that:

A)  A tiny cadre of probably termed-out Republicans will support a tax increase, most likely in the form of regressive taxes (sales, vehicle license fees, etc.); and
B)  Democratic leadership will probably support environmental regulatory shortcutting in the name of "job growth".

I don't buy either premises.

First of all, the notion that we can re-establish a robust state government relying even more heavily on the backs of the poor and lower-middle class are ridiculous.  I've talked about the problem with regressive taxes before, but I'll be clear and concise right here:  A tax that disproportionately impacts poorer people is unethical and bad economics, because it devalues dollars by moving more valuable dollars (one dollar is worth more to a poorer person than to a richer one) into a pool of less valuable dollars, it exacerbates the problems of poverty (which require more government expenditures to fix), and it makes government revenues rely upon a more volatile base (poor people's purchasing power fluctuates a lot more than rich people's, which is why everybody wants to be rich).

The second premise is a bit more hidden:  If Democrats agree to curtail environmental regulations in order to grow California's economy (jobs), then they are agreeing to the premise that environmental regulations are dragging California's economy.

I've yet to see a study showing this to be true.  Further, I've seen studies showing that, if anything, the opposite is true.

To be honest with you, the majority of places where California's economy is in dire straits are those places where: 

A) California's environmental regulations have been lax or inconsistently applied;
B) Places where California's economy has always suffered.

Think places like the Central Valley and other poor communities.  For goodness' sake, we refer to them as environmental justice communities! 

Just consider this another unintended consequence of term limits.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Vatican takes a stand on climate change

© 2011 Joshua Stark

The Catholic Church recently published a report from its scientific arm - a non-denominational organization, and one of the oldest scientific bodies on Earth - showing its concern over the indisputable fact of mountain glaciers retreating all over the world. 

From the introduction:

"We call on all people and nations to recognise the serious
and potentially irreversible impacts of global warming caused
by the anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases and other
pollutants, and by changes in forests, wetlands, grasslands, and other
land uses. We appeal to all nations to develop and implement, without
delay, effective and fair policies to reduce the causes and impacts of
climate change on communities and ecosystems, including mountain
glaciers and their watersheds, aware that we all live in the same home.
By acting now, in the spirit of common but differentiated responsibility,
we accept our duty to one another and to the stewardship of a planet
blessed with the gift of life.

We are committed to ensuring that all inhabitants of this planet
receive their daily bread, fresh air to breathe and clean water to drink
as we are aware that, if we want justice and peace, we must protect
the habitat that sustains us. The believers among us ask God to grant
us this wish."