Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Speaking In School

If the Indispensable Man has accomplished one thing, it's that he has distracted us from other elements of the Obama administration who are also experiencing "growing pains" as they adjust to their new offices. Energy Secretary Steven Chu, for one must be grateful for the anonymity that he is able to operate under, so he can propose daft ideas like a "Carbon Tariff:"

Energy Secretary Steven Chu on Tuesday advocated adjusting trade duties as a "weapon" to protect U.S. manufacturing, just a day after one of China's top climate envoys warned of a trade war if developed countries impose tariffs on carbon-intensive imports.

Mr. Chu, speaking before a House science panel, said establishing a carbon tariff would help "level the playing field" if other countries haven't imposed greenhouse-gas-reduction mandates similar to the one President Barack Obama plans to implement over the next couple of years. It is the first time the Obama administration has made public its view on the issue.

"If other countries don't impose a cost on carbon, then we will be at a disadvantage...[and] we would look at considering perhaps duties that would offset that cost," Mr. Chu said.

Note that he speaks of "leveling the playing field" if other countries don't handicap their manufacturing. Does this mean the US is going to go ahead and do so, regardless of what anyone else does? Nice choice of words, by the way. He actually used the words "weapon" and "duties that would offset that cost." But, don't call it protectionism! That's for boobs! I have a PhD!

Representatives from countries that think they should have productive economies were not amused:

Li Gao, a senior Chinese negotiator from the National Development and Reform Commission, told Dow Jones Newswires Monday that a carbon tariff would be a "disaster," would prompt a trade war and wouldn't be legal under World Trade Organization agreements

"It does not abide by the rule of [the] WTO and, secondly, it's not fair," Mr. Gao said, adding that his delegation would relate China's concerns to U.S. officials.

No it wouldn't be fair. It would be especially unfair to Americans who are not agitating for this sort of thing. People like the idea of "protecting the environment" in a vague way. They don't want to launch a trade war for the sake of the No Growth dreams of the environmental movement.

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