Monday, February 2, 2009

If You Can't Beat Them...

As if we needed more evidence of the intellectual bankruptcy of Republicans, Texas State Senator Kip Averitt has introduced a bill to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the state. His bill is intended to increase the state's influence on any future federal regulations targeting global warming.

“We have more to lose than anybody,” he said at a news conference in Austin. “If and when the federal government does something, Texas needs to be at the table.”

Having completely abandoned principles, Averitt is reduced to culling favor with Obama and Congress. Rather than fight for the rights of energy producers and consumers to use their property as they choose, he prefers to follow the left's agenda in order to get in on the action. His approach, and his plan, represents a complete surrender to the left.

Averitt, who is the likely chairman of the Senate's natural resource committee, touts his plan as "market-oriented" rather than regulatory. He supposedly has the support of both environmentalists--which is never a good sign-- and business leaders--which is an even worse sign.

Averitt seems to believe that since his bill will provide incentives for actions he thinks are desirable, rather than simply mandating those actions, his solution is "market-oriented". However, a true "market-oriented" solution would not be emanating from the Texas legislature. It would come from the market--innovations on the part of producers and demands on the part of consumers. A true "market-oriented" solution would be the result of the voluntary and consensual interactions between individuals, not a response to some financial reward dangled by a legislator.

Government intervention in the economy--whether through regulations or incentives--invariably create disruptions. Regulations simply prohibit individuals from acting according to their own rational judgment; incentives give them a financial reason to do so. Regulations are the stick; incentives are the carrot. And if the carrot doesn't do the job, the stick won't be far behind.
Averitt accepts this as if it is a metaphysical fact. Rather than contest the idea that Washington (or Austin) has a right to regulate anything, he embraces the process. Rather than fight for the right of Texans to bake their own cake, he just wants to make sure that they get a few crumbs.

Victor Flatt, a law professor at the University of Houston, argues that this is a smart move.

Those states that adopt some kind of greenhouse-gas requirement or restriction will see some kind of benefit. When you stay out of the game, you lose that first-mover advantage.
This captures the essence of modern politics--a battle between competing special interest groups, each seeking to exert some kind of influence on legislation. Each seeks to win some kind of favor, either by proclaiming that their plan serves the "public good" or by licking the boots of legislators. To those involved in this, it truly is a game. It's a chess match, in which each side seeks to outmaneuver its opponents in order to influence legislators. The "prize" for winning is the ability to violate the rights of other individuals. But the "prize" is short lived, for the process will soon repeat and everybody lines up for another crack.

There is only one possible conclusion to this--totalitarianism. Increasing government controls and regulations will ultimately conclude in complete government control. Democrats have wanted as much for years. And Republicans no longer stand in their way.


Burgess Laughlin said...

Legislator: "Texas needs to be at the table.”

This notion of "table" needs a full analysis by someone someday. It is all the more dangerous because it is a metaphor and thus an indirect reference--to something. That something needs to be dissected completely so that it can be excised.

You have taken a solid step in that direction: ". . . a battle between competing special interest groups, each seeking to exert some kind of influence on legislation." (And more.)

I suspect that two of the ideas (and ideals) behind the metaphor are egalitarianism (the table is vaguely round) and communitarianism (which holds that individuals are fully alive only when they are active in their community). There are probably other intellectual roots that need to be traced.

Brian Phillips said...

From a literal perspective, "a seat at the table" means a chance to be a part of negotiations. As a metaphor, it would mean that everyone has a voice in the issue at hand (this is my initial thought).

This would have egalitarian implications--everyone gets a voice, regardless of the legitimacy of their position. We must treat all opinions as valid, etc.