Thomas Friedman is Wrong
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There is much in the House cap-and-trade energy bill that just passed that I absolutely hate. It is too weak in key areas and way too complicated in others. A simple, straightforward carbon tax would have made much more sense than this Rube Goldberg contraption. It is pathetic that we couldn’t do better. It is appalling that so much had to be given away to polluters. It stinks. It’s a mess. I detest it. Now let’s get it passed in the Senate and make it law.
Why? Because, for all its flaws, this bill is the first comprehensive attempt by America to mitigate climate change by putting a price on carbon emissions.
The other option of course would have been to create a better bill and not force a vote on a bad one. So what is the goal:
More important, my gut tells me that if the U.S. government puts a price on carbon, even a weak one, it will usher in a new mind-set among consumers, investors, farmers, innovators and entrepreneurs that in time will make a big difference...[Obama] is going to have to mobilize the whole country to pressure the Senate — by educating Americans, with speech after speech, about the opportunities and necessities of a serious climate/energy bill.
Or in the absence of a serious bill, this one apparently. Friedman is correct that we need to create a mind-set among all Americans in order to effectively reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. Indeed the Administration needs to mobilize the country to decide our climate/energy future, but trying to force through a "weak...complicated...appalling...mess" is not the way to do so. It is truly "pathetic that we couldn't do better;" but even more pathetic is the notion that we can't do better. We can, and we must, have legislation which provides the energy we need and doesn't kick an already down economy.