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Web Letter

The author suggests cap-and-trade as an extreme and, presumably, necessary step to move us from our destructive path. It is pointed out by the previous letter-writers that cap-and-trade may be interpreted as a tax and thus be required to originate in the House, and if it is taken as a unilateral US action it may merely result in the further off-shoring of our emissions. However, there does exist another emissions reduction model that has been successfully used in the past: personal quotas.

Quotas have the advantage of fairness; if they are not tradable then the wealthy have to endure them alongside their poverty-stricken fellow. While it is true that wealthy households could simply erect very large PV arrays in order to use more energy, that is hardly an undesirable outcome.

Unlike cap-and-trade, quotas would actually encourage domestic production since the total emissions of bringing a product to market would be considered. Just think, we could start making our own cheap plastic crap instead of importing it.

Also, since it was FDR who put in place quotas to deal with shortages during WWII, it would further the inevitable comparisons between the president who nursed capitalism through its previous near-death experience and President Obama. I just hope the current occupant can live up to such comparisons.

bradley foster

Eugene, OR

May 2 2009 - 11:40pm

Web Letter

The rule of law has been an established principle of government and is the source of the stability in our society. The idea that all men are equal under the rules keeps all people safe from autocratic power and the whims of the rich, who are most able to grab power. In America only the House of Representatives may propose a new tax.

A president, because of this, cannot legally give himself the power to create a new cap-and-trade carbon tax. Unilaterally creating a new tax would be a violation of the founding rules for our country. Also, it would give any future president the power to unilaterally remove or change the cap-and-trade system, without consultation, because presidents control the EPA and appoint or hold sway over all of the chief officials there.

So one might ask who would write this legislation if not Congress? Who would edit it and vet it for the people's best interest? If you think the EPA should write the rules and enforce them without Congressional oversight, remember that Bush hired industry crooks to run the EPA, and there is no reason to think this won't be the case next time a bad president is in charge. EPA officials are not strictly scientists, they are often political appointees. These regulations could change anytime, at the whim of any future president.

The idea that "going through Congress" is a bad idea is really like saying that we don't need any messy democracy, because too many people's opinions will make things too complicated. In reality, a carbon tax opens a host of new issues: for example, if America puts a cap-and-trade system in place without China and India doing the same, the result will be no reduction in carbon and fewer American jobs, as they will be exported along with our emissions. Congress alone is the deliberating body with the authority to enforce binding rules on society, because it most directly represents the people.

Congress is currently controlled by the Democrats and the public is largely educated about the issue, so there has never been a better time to enact a cap-and-trade system. Also, since presidential actions can always be repealed by future presidents, Congress offers the only permanent way to enact a cap-and-trade system. Let's do this the right and legal way, not the "hardball" way; the president must go through Congress to pass new laws.

Evan Rooney

Brighton, MA

Apr 30 2009 - 1:53pm

Web Letter

Our writer applauds the potential for President Obama to do things like proclaim "cap and trade" without a vote in Congress.

Where is there room for the democratic process?

If rules like that are set out without first convincing enough voters of the necessity, then the opposition will win following elections and repeal it quickly.

Note the opposition centering in Midwest industrial areas against "cap and trade." I guarantee a new ultraconservative revolution, (unlike the moderate Reagan and Bush versions) if this moves quicker than public opinion will support.

John D. Froelich

Upper Darby, PA

Apr 29 2009 - 1:56am

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