California Wages Environmental War Against the United States

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California Wages Environmental War Against the United States

As we explained in the May 2018 issue of Trends, the United States is now engaged in a de facto “civil war” between two economic systems built upon two incompatible worldviews. As in the mid-19th century, the two systems cannot coexist because the priorities, values, and policies are incompatible. What one demands is anathema to the other, and vice versa! Civility will only be restored when one model prevails and the other is marginalized.

Today, one model based on fossil fuels is typified by Texas, the other based on solar panels and windmills is typified by California. The Texas model favors small government, minimal regulations, low taxes, tightly controlled borders and social programs that “put U.S. citizens first.” The California model favors big government, strict regulations, high taxes, open borders, and social programs that essentially “treat noncitizens like citizens.”

In prior issues, we’ve discussed the costs and benefits of borders, regulations, and citizen-focused social services, which emphasize earned benefits rather than hand-outs. However, nothing sets the two economic models and their underlying societies apart more than their approaches to environmentalism.

While Texas sees the physical environment as just one relatively minor priority among many, an obsessive focus on environmental standards has increasingly come to dominate California’ public policy. Earlier this year, California was engaged in a concerted attack on energy companies in the courts; a bill pending in the legislature that would fine waiters $1,000, or even send them to jail, if they offered people plastic straws; and UCLA issued a report describing pets as a “climate threat.” California has even taken upon itself the mission of limiting the flatulence of cows and other farm animals.

As the self-described capital of the anti-Trump resistance, California presents itself as the herald of a greener, more socially and racially just society. But notably, that argument was factually devastated by a recent report from Chapman University; in that report, coauthors David Friedman and Jennifer Hernandez demonstrate that California’s draconian anti-climate-change regime has exacerbated economic, geographic, and racial inequality. And, to make things worse, California’s efforts to save the planet have actually done little more than divert emissions of greenhouse-gases (or GHGs) to other states and countries; a Pyric victory at best!

Perhaps no leader has played a bigger role in creating this situation than California’s Governor Jerry Brown. His return to Sacramento in 2011 brought back to power one of the first American politicians to embrace the Club of Rome’s 1972 “limits to growth” thesis...

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