How old am I?

Why, I’m so old that I remember when market-simulating pollution-control regulations – polluter charges or cap-and-trade – were the official conservative alternative to command-and-control regulation. I was sympathetic to that critique, and frustrated about the environmental movement’s unwillingness to see reason.

But now that the enviros have embraced a GHG tax or its cap-and-trade equivalent as the way to deal with global warming, conservative support is nowhere in sight. They’re all too afraid of Grover Norquist.

Remember this the next time a conservative explains how we ought to voucherize public education. The minute that happens, the conservatives will come back and decide that we need to means-test the vouchers. That done, they’ll attack the remaining program as “welfare.”

This is not a group of people it’s possible to do business with.
Update Steve Benen has more on this – I hadn’t known that cap-and-trade was part of the McCain-Palin platform in 2008 – and examples from many other fields. Why is it that advocates of bipartisanship such as David Broder never seem to criticize this tactic, and just keep complaining that the Democrats are failing to be bipartisan as long as Repubicans bloc-vote against their own ideas when Democrats embrace them?

Comments

  1. says

    I completely agree, and am entirely depressed over it. It seems like most conservative politicians, pundits, etc. are not serious. And so there's this weird dialogue between them and the conservative public, who seem either kranky or simply tribal.

    My only hope, apart from a massive shift in the movement, is to try and pick off friends and relatives with honest dialogue and critical engagement. But they tend to fall either into the two camps I mentioned above. The kranks will simply spout FOX news talking points and have no interest in deeper discussion. The tribal sort just aren't very interested in general – even if they can't put up much of a fight. For instance, I had a long talk with a cousin of mine who hates government and taxes, and yet when we started talking about poor kids and our moral obligation to help them, he ended up literally proposing there be some sort of corporate tax that goes directly to poor schools. I asked him if he had ever heard of the Democratic party.

    But I'm somewhat anti-social as it is and so just don't have any real Republican friends. The polarization in the country feels like a modern dark-ages.

  2. says

    This is in many ways the natural result of the current democratic-establishment negotiating position. If the democrats/liberals/adults whatever take the former rightwing position, the only way the republicans can act as if they have a reason to exist is to pull everything further to the right. (Yeah, sure, some tiny fraction of voters remembers what positions were 5, 10 or 20 years ago, but mostly it's about the immediate present.)

    I've always believed that one of the reasons things got done (to the extent they did) in previous generations was the presence of a credible (even if for some very elastic value of "credible") threat on the far side of the sane adult establishment. If the (neo)liberals are playing the role of the people who aren't going to nationalize your industry, or seize your property and burn your cities to the ground, or send you to re-education camps, the right wing has more incentive to accept compromises. If the only thing that happens when liberal initiatives fail is that the right wing gains points, eh.

    (Of course, Gaia is rather too credibly on that far side of the democratic establishment but the time constant is too long.)

  3. Josh G. says

    I agree with paul. Leninist Communism was a terrible system to actually live under, but it made an excellent threat to keep the right wing in line.

  4. says

    Remember this the next time a conservative explains how we ought to voucherize public education. The minute that happens, the conservatives will come back and decide that we need to means-test the vouchers. That done, they’ll attack the remaining program as “welfare.”

    Kleiman WIN.

  5. Rich Puchalsky says

    I stopped reading your blog years ago, Mark, but I'm back for this post because of a DeLong link. And, yes, you were naive then, and it was quite apparent to the people in the environmental movement who you were frustrated with. Is that now going to change your future writing at all? Or are you always going to be one step behind, scolding people for not "seeing reason" the next time?

    Cap-and-trade always was a bad idea, by the way, and it's quite telling that enviros have adopted it even as market fundamentalism is hopefully on the retreat elsewhere. But I don't think that you really know why it's a bad idea. What I'm trying to say is that your naivete makes you an active part of the problem. The moment that the GOP becomes more conciliatory on the surface, I'm guessing that you'll rush back in.

  6. KLG says

    "This is not a group of people it’s possible to do business with."

    Very late to this party, but tell us again, Mark, how Obama has been doing so well dealing with these very same people for the past 18 months. You know, bipartisanship and all that.

  7. Shaun Milano says

    I don't want my kids going to crappy public schools, so I will take a voucher thanks very much

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Mark Kleiman explains, it’s not possible to work with Republicans. They play Calvinball. Why, I’m so old that I remember when market-simulating pollution-control regulations – polluter charges or cap-and-trade – were the official conservative alternative to command-and-control regulation. I was sympathetic to that critique, and frustrated about the environmental movement’s unwillingness to see reason. [...]