Cap-and-Trade: Oregon Republicans are blowing it (Just like they did with last walk-out)

oregonC02Emissions

Oregon Senate Republicans stayed away from the Capitol Thursday, preventing a vote on HB 2020, a key bill for Democrats that would cap greenhouse gas emissions. The walk-out is a mistake, just as was another walkout in May.

Resolution of the last Republican walk-out in May 2019 involved an agreement by Democrats to sacrifice a bill that would have tightened vaccine exemptions and a gun reform bill that would have tightened gun restrictions.

The Republicans might have placated some of their anti-vaccine and anti-gun control base, but those voters were never going to switch political sides anyway. Moreover, the anti-vax crowd is actually pretty small. Just 17% of Americans believe that “parents should be able to decide not to vaccinate their children, even if that may create health risks for other children and adults,” according to Pew Research.

Resolution of the May Republican walk-out also involved included a pledge by the Republicans not to walk out again for the rest of the 2019 session. The new walk-out compromises that commitment.

The Republicans claim that the agreement was conditional on them having opportunities to have a meaningful impact on HB 2020 as it moved forward. So much for that..

A key Republican goal is to get an emergency clause in the cap-and-trade bill removed. The clause would allow the bill to go into effect immediately after Gov. Brown signs it, preventing opponents from trying to refer the bill to voters for a costly and contentious fight.

Removal of the emergency clause could mean the Democrats would be facing iffy public votes on two major bills dear to their hearts, the cap-and-trade law and the Student Success Act, which will impose a gross receipts tax on Oregon businesses to fund $2 billion in education spending every two years.

A Senate agreement to remove the emergency clause would also mean sending the bill back to the House for another vote, a potentially time-consuming move that could mean no resolution before the Legislative session is set to end on June 30.

Frankly, the Democrats would be slitting their own throats if they agreed to remove the emergency clause. Oregon has a high environmental profile, but winning a public vote on the cap-and-trade law, with its projected cost of $550 million just in the first year and a sweeping progressive spending agenda, would be a heavy lift. The projected increase in gasoline and residential natural gas prices alone could turn off voters.

Knowing all this, the Democrats are unlikely to capitulate this time around.

Gun safety training: another feel-good solution to shooting deaths

Umpqua Community College candlelight vigil

Umpqua Community College candlelight vigil

After every shooting rampage, whether at Umpqua Community College, San Bernardino, or Sandy Hook, voices are raised across the country calling for “something to be done”.

The latest solution to escalating firearms deaths, put out there on Jan. 9 by the New York Times, is government-mandated gun safety training. The fact that it would have little impact on gun deaths, except, perhaps, to make suicides more efficient, is apparently irrelevant.

“…since we’re awash in firearms anyway, we’d be better off if people knew how to use them without hitting anything other than their target,” The New York Times argued in a Jan. 9 editorial.

Sounds good, but according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the majority of firearm deaths aren’t caused by bumbling undertrained shooters inadvertently blasting people. Instead, most gun deaths, roughly 6 of every 10, are suicides. This has been the case since at least 1981.

Training potentially suicidal people how to handle a gun better is unlikely to prevent them from blowing themselves away.

As homicides by firearms have been declining, the share of all gun deaths by suicide has been growing.

In 2010, for example, there were 31,672 deaths by firearms, including: 19,392 suicides (61%) compared with 11,078 homicides (35%).

In 2013, there were 33,636 deaths by firearms, including 21,175 suicides by firearm (63 %) compared with 8,454 homicides by firearms (25%).

Mandated safety training of potentially homicidal folks (including criminals, if they are so inclined) is also unlikely to sway them from their murderous intent. And if the New York Times’ objective in calling for required gun safety training is greater accuracy by shooters, does it make sense to insist on homicidal nutcases learning how to aim better?

I’m no gun-rights evangelist, but this push for government-mandated gun safety training to cut down on gun killings sounds to me like an attractive, but flawed and costly, tactic more symbolic than anything else.

If gun control proponents really want solutions, they should be realistic about what tactics will cost in time and money and whether they are capable of actually accomplishing anything meaningful.

Progressives say “Nyet” to the free market

For all their bleating about conservatives wanting to constrain personal choice, as in their anti-abortion stance, progressives are quite comfortable limiting the choices of others themselves. The result is a kind of ruthless do-gooderism, forcing others to live their lives according to the narrow precepts of smug true believers who know best.

Take retail gun and music sales.

The members of the Trinity Wall Street Church, an Episcopal parish in New York City that champions progressive causes, want Walmart shareholders to have a say on whether the company should establish policies governing the sale of offensive items.

Gus for sale at Walmart

Gus for sale at Walmart

That would include products that are “(1) especially dangerous to the public, (2) pose a substantial risk to company reputation and (3) would reasonably be considered offensive to the community and family values that Wal-Mart seeks to associate with its brand.”

The church’s objective?  To force Walmart to remove from its shelves high-capacity rifles and sexually-charged or violent music.

What’s next, shareholder votes on stores stocking water pistols, banned or challenged books, white American Girl dolls, 50 Shades of Grey or American Sniper DVDs, gory video games like Gears of War 3 and Call of Duty Black Ops, or the “Plan B” contraceptive pill?

In essence, the church wants to substitute its judgment and the judgment of other left-leaning true believers for the free market.

Just like the plastic water bottle zealots.

plastic-water-bottles

I’m no fan of paying for water in plastic bottles. For one, It’s obscenely expensive, compared with household tap water. Two-thirds of the bottled water sold in the United States is in individual 16.9-ounce bottles, which comes out to roughly $7.50 per gallon. That’s about 2,000 times higher than the typical cost of a gallon of tap water. Most often the bottled water isn’t of higher quality than tap water either and the containers generate tons of wasted plastic.

But progressives aren’t satisfied with urging people not to buy bottled water, to use a reusable water bottle instead. They want to go much further. “Rally your schools, workplaces, and communities to ban bottled water,” they implore.

Another case of progressives wanting to impose their values and choices on me.

Companies should be free to develop and market safe products and consumers should be free to decide whether to buy them. Banning stuff because some slice of the population opposes a product for ideological reasons is offensive.

And of course I can’t pursue this topic without talking about Hillary Clinton.

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Hillary wants to require that prescription-drug companies spend a set portion of their revenue on research and development, or forfeit federal support such as tax credits or research money.

Does Clinton really think the government should go so far as to instruct how private businesses spend their revenue, all in the name of a higher good as defined by Hillary? And Bernie says he’s the socialist in the race.