The recent wave of failed “green” programs, ranging from Solyndra to green jobs programs that fall far short of the promises, should provide those who claim to be worried about crony capitalism, like Occupy Wall Street, with ample opportunity to stand up against this example of corporate-government collusion. Instead, many on the left embrace these programs, even when they enrich a few at taxpayer expense.
My recent column in the USA Today, with examples from my recent book Eco-Fads, highlights this contradiction:
Writing in TheWall Street Journal, [New York Senator Kirsten] Gillibrand’s piece was titled “Cap and Trade Could Be a Boon to New York.” It described the inherent complexity of cap-and-trade not as a drawback, but as an opportunity from which Wall Street brokers could profit. At a time when securitized assets and creative derivatives were being indicted for their part in creating a nationwide housing bubble, she saw an opportunity to use those same instruments in a government-created energy market.
Why was she so tone-deaf to the risks of her proposal? With the rise of trendy environmentalism, politicians and businesses eagerly try to cash in with the public — politically and financially — by appearing green. As the social value of appearing green has increased, politicians propose public policy ideas designed to take advantage of that appearance, selling policies that may do little for the environment, but rig the rules of the game to benefit both favored businesses and sponsoring politicians.
Although cap-and-trade was never passed by Congress, other “green” policies were. In many ways, the bill is now coming due for those policies that emphasized image over effectiveness. You can read the whole piece here.