By Paul Driessen
Nov. 28, 2015
The tasty birds are affordable. Government turkeys enrich crony corporatists, but cost us dearly.
To commemorate Thanksgiving – and garner First Family photo ops – presidents often host Rose Garden ceremonies, where they “pardon” a turkey, before sitting down to dine on one of its cousins. In fact, Americans ate close to 50 million of these tasty birds this year. We roasted our family bird in a Big Green Egg, with bourbon and barbecue sauce on and under the skin. Lip-smacking!
Unlike their wild cousins, today’s domesticated turkeys are bred for hefty portions of white and dark meat, atop legs that barely support their bodyweight. You might say they are big, bloated and unsustainable – like too many government programs that should have gotten the axe long ago.
Washington turkeys are fed by crony capitalism, far-left economic and social engineering, smarter-than-thou top-down initiatives, and a belief that Washington should determine winners and losers. They attack unsuspecting taxpayers, consumers and businesses, pilfering billions of dollars that could be spent on things that really matter – including job creation and preservation, terrorism and national security. Only the few are thankful for them.
The Obama Administration has unleashed some hugely destructive turkeys. Some, like ObamaCare and Dodd-Frank, required mostly Democrat congressional connivance. But one of the most foul of fowls, the Clean Power Plan, was devised by the White House and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in league with radical environmental groups, to eradicate coal mining and burning, and ensure that electricity rates would “necessarily skyrocket,” just as President Obama promised in 2009.
The CPP is justified by the absurd claim that eliminating U.S. coal will save the Earth from “runaway” global warming and climate change. But there has been no measurable warming for 19 years – the opposite of what computer models and White House press releases have claimed – and NOAA appears to have been cooking the books on its temperature data, to find manmade warming where there isn’t any.
Moreover, far from being a “pollutant,” carbon dioxide is vital plant food – essential for all life on Earth – and developing countries continue to increase coal-burning to power their growing economies, bring electricity to 1.3 billion people who still don’t have it, and lift billions out of abject poverty. In fact, China alone has been burning 17% more coal per year than previously reported; just that unreported wedge is 70% of what the United States uses in a year, and more than Germany’s annual coal consumption!
Add what India, Africa, Poland, Southeast Asia, Indonesia and other countries plan to use in the next 30 years, and U.S. coal consumption and CO2 emissions are almost undetectable globally. In Asia alone this year, power companies are building more than 500 coal-fired plants, with 1,000 more on planning boards.
Of course, none of that is relevant to climate ideologues in and out of the Obama Administration. Nor are the CPP’s adverse impacts on jobs, families, businesses, communities, or people’s health and welfare.
But when the states drag the CPP turkey into court, the EPA might stop its strutting. Obama mentor and legal scholar Lawrence Tribe says the CPP likely violates the Constitution, by illegally commandeering state government functions and “treating states more like marionettes, dancing to the tune of the federal puppeteer,” in violation of the Tenth Amendment, which reserves important powers to the states.
Thus far, the rule of law has been merely a minor burr under the Administration’s saddle, as it rides roughshod over Congress, the will of the people, and the overall public interest. Executive orders, influence-peddling, and campaign contributions for subsidies and preferential treatment are standard operating procedure for a president determined to build a legacy – not on Benghazi, ObamaCare and terrorism failures, but on climate change, which he insists is the “greatest threat to future generations.”
Many world leaders have embraced Obama’s vision of looming climatic cataclysms, but are fast regretting their decisions. European Union air quality measures are forcing the closure of numerous older coal-fired power plants. But the supposed replacements, mostly wind and solar, are heavily subsidized, intermittent producers of electricity that is so unreliable and expensive that it kills industries, jobs and people. They are already hastening the demise of Britain’s entire steel industry and 6,000 more UK jobs.
Early this November, well before winter cold set in, the United Kingdom’s National Grid already had to use an emergency order to prevent widespread blackouts. Unexpected power plant shutdowns and a near absence of bird-butchering wind power forced the government to offer up to 40 times normal electricity rates (up to $3765 per kilowatt-hour!) to get factories and other major power consumers to switch off their electricity. The UK is now rolling back many of its “green” energy programs.
In Germany, power companies have been ordered to buy wind, solar and other “green” energy, regardless of the price. Its biggest electric power provider lost €7.8 billion ($8.3 billion) just in the third quarter of 2015. Even worse, Ms. Merkel’s market meddling has created an oversupply of expensive green electricity, when it’s least needed, and German electricity rates are expected to hit record highs next year. By the end of 2016, average European households will have to pay some €540 ($575) more per year for electricity.
By forcing power companies to buy green energy, EU countries also encourage fraud. Companies actually made money by connecting diesel-powered generators to their solar arrays or shining coal- or nuclear-powered arc lights on their solar panels, to generate electricity on cloudy days or in the dead of night.
All this is where the U.S. is heading under Obama dictates, which distort the marketplace to benefit favored industries or groups. The Renewable Fuel Standard requires blending ethanol into motor fuels, which among many other failings creates an ethanol credit trading system that crooks use to steal millions of dollars. No wonder even ultra-green California voters increasingly oppose costly ethanol mandates.
Unfortunately, the RFS, CPP and other Washington turkeys are as hard to kill as Freddy Krueger. Congress lacks the will to chase them down with a hatchet, and the administration feeds them for its own political reasons. Having corn farmer and ethanol producer support during the Iowa caucuses is also a winning political strategy – unprincipled but effective, costly to the majority but beneficial to the few.
Indeed, every taxpayer and consumer pays for these turkeys, not just those in Iowa or California. A new study shows that the RFS will costthe New England economy some $20 billion between 2005 and 2024, reduce labor income by $7.3 billion, and destroy 7,050 jobs per year.
The CPP and broader War on Coal are hammering Midwest red states far harder than New England and West Coast blue states. By the end of 2023, 600,000 jobs will be lost and average American households will lose $1,200 in income per year, as electricity rates and the cost of goods and services continue to rise.
Obama’s War on Coal is most devastating to families in coal-producing states, where nearly 50,000 coal miners have lost their jobs and incomes – as have tens of thousands in power plants, restaurants, shops and other businesses. Hillary Clinton’s “solution” (and strategy to increase her odds of winning the Democrat presidential nomination) is spending $30 billion in OPM (other people’s money) to “retrain” coal miners and other workers for life in her new utopian-energy economy. Now President Obama is leading an ideological entourage to Paris, to rope the United States into a draconian climate treaty.
Once again, government will get to decide which industries, companies, workers and families win – and which one lose. We just get to pay. Wasting good money on bad projects – and on unaccountable, unelected, overpaid ruling elite bureaucrats – is enough to ruin a Thanksgiving tryptophan-induced nap.
Benjamin Franklin may have preferred the turkey over the eagle as America’s national symbol, because it is “more respectable.” Brave and wily wild turkeys truly are a challenge for experienced hunters.
But wily government turkeys, which preen in public and exist only to feather the nests of bureaucrats and campaign donors, have no redeeming qualities. It’s time to put them on the chopping block.