Green Liberty Should Be Goal of Green New Deal

Reply Fri 19 Jul, 2019 03:10 pm
The Democrat and Republican Parties are notoriously polarized with regard to economic regulation. Republicans maintain staunch faith in the ability of independent actors within a free market to utilize their liberty to achieve a good society in the absence of regulation (or at least a minimum amount of it). Democrats, on the other hand, seem to view freedom as something that emerges from regulating the economy; and their concern with liberty, the premise that individuals can behave responsibly without government interference, seems to be more or less absent or at least fleeting.

Maybe Democrats are right in many cases that liberty often fails to achieve a good society through self-regulation and free market dynamics, but should they give up on liberty completely? Arguably they can't in a nation founded on the ideal of liberty. What they can do, however, is propose regulations with the objective of ultimately liberating people and businesses to self-regulate, provided they actually do so.

Without the ultimate goal of liberating people to regulate themselves and their businesses according to the premise that liberty should be the basis of a good society/economy, they fail to honor everyone who still believes in the possibility of a republic as a good form of government.

So let's take an example regarding climate regulation in New York:
“I think New York state businesses and ratepayers are going to be the victim of that desire to beat Washington or beat another state on these lofty goals and you may see people flee for states that don’t have these burdensome energy mandates,” Kracker said.

In this scenario, we can foresee a situation where high cost energy reforms in NY push people/businesses to migrate to other states with less costly energy/regulations. As such, the economic motive to migrate and use less expensive energy results in another economic motive at the level of those other states to maintain climate-irresponsible energy sources/practices so that wealthy NY investors will want to come invest there.

So how can government intervene in such a situation so that climate-irresponsible energy isn't stimulated by differences in regulation at the state level; and do so in a way that seeks to restore liberty/self-regulation as quickly and efficiently as possible?

Arguably, the way to do this is to stimulate (price) competition in the markets that drive up the cost of climate-sustainable energy sources/practices. E.g. if solar and wind projects are expensive in NY, then the alternative shouldn't be to go burn coal and natural gas in another state, but rather to go utilize cheaper solar and wind energy, batteries, etc. In that way, the market for solar and wind in NY can also benefit from cheap renewable energy hardware being utilized at a lower cost elsewhere, and that should ultimately lower NY renewable-reform costs to levels that don't push people/businesses to migrate.

Of course none of this acknowledges the more fundamental problem that energy demand is inelastic due to a long history of cheap energy availability throughout the age of fossil fuels and nuclear. As long as consumers and businesses maintain the expectation of cheap abundant energy available all the time, they will fail to achieve the liberty of self-regulating energy use in a way that achieves sustainability without government intervention.

As such, the question then becomes how to liberate people/businesses from the energy dependency that deters them from putting their liberty to the task of reforming and disciplining their own energy use/consumption practices at the level of households and businesses. Could it be that the dream of energy abundance will be the brick wall that the dream of liberty finally meets it demise? Given the choice between cheap abundant energy and achieving sustainability within the paradigm of liberty, will they choose abundance and foresake liberty in the process?
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