Does America Want a Climate Action Mandate?

Dennis Spisak and Progress Ohio want you to think that a clear majority of Americans want a “Climate Action Mandate”.  People actually said they want a mandate?!?  Well, not really.

According to a poll sponsored by Environmental Defense Fund (sponsor of the DDT genocide), Americans believe that we should address climate change now in a way that creates jobs and re-builds the economy.  It should be noted that mandates aren’t the only way to accomplish this – but progressives tend to favor the use of Government force to further their social goals.

Spisak asserts that survey results of 78% constitute “a majority of Americans”. We don’t yet have final voter turnout numbers, but it’s estimated that about 53% of the voting aged population turned out. Let’s do some math:

53% x 78% = 41% (not a majority)

51% / 53% = 96% of voters surveyed needed for a true majority

It’s not nearly as impressive, and an inconvenient truth for progressives who hang their hat on the notion of “majority rules” and “might makes right”.

Spisak suggests that “investing in clean energy will create millions of new jobs and rebuild the economy”.  It sure sounds nice to be able to make lemonade when life gives you lemons, but the idea that misfortune causes economic benefit (also known as “the parable of the broken window”) has already been soundly refuted.  That hasn’t stopped Progressives at all levels from touting it nearly 160 years later:  

Obama says he will "transform the challenge of global climate change into an opportunity to create 5 million new green jobs," which he likens to the economic activity triggered by the personal computer. This way of looking at climate change is a variation on the broken window fallacy, according to which the loss caused by a smashed window is offset by the employment it gives the glazier.

By the same logic, Obama should view war, crime, and hurricanes as opportunities to create jobs. All three generate economic activity, but we’d be better off if the resources spent on bombs, burglar alarms, and reconstruction were available for other purposes, instead of being used to inflict, prevent, or recover from losses.

Likewise, overhauling manufacturing, transportation, and power production to reduce the emission of carbon dioxide may or may not be justified, but it is properly viewed as a drag on the economy. We’d be better off if we didn’t have to worry about, and use resources to minimize, climate change.

SOURCE: Obama’s Job Fetish, Reason, 10/22/2008

That said, I’m concerned that Spisak seems to misunderstand the scope of the president’s authority to impose the mandates he favors.  A quick skim of Article II Section 2 of the US Constitution, I couldn’t find anything about a power to impose mandates on we the people.

In fact, Spisak’s view seems to conflict with Article I Section 1 of the Constitution that states:

Section 1. All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.

Moreover I couldn’t find any authorization under Article II Section 8 of the Constitution that allows Congress to impose such mandates.

Dennis concludes with:

It’s clear that the public no longer buys the tired argument that economic progress and environmental protection are at odds with one another.

This may well be the case, and I hope that more people come to understand that pollution is a form of economic waste (inefficiency) that all people should work to reduce and eliminate.  I just don’t agree that mandates are the best way to affect change, or that the Executive or Legislative branches of the Federal Government are authorized to meddle in the issue.

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