Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. My Pet Economic Theory Explaining the Increase in Income Inequality

 

Premise 1: All environmental laws disproportionately affect the cost of living for the poor, the lower middle class, & the middle-middle class as the cost of the most basic goods, food, housing, transportation, and wage rates are directly distorted.

Premise 2: Any environmental law not justified by the effect on the actual environment is justified by an environmental political ideology and thus cannot be rationally argued with but can only be stopped by political opposition.

Taking both premises and the fact that there has been no truly effective political opposition to environmental ideology since it began full scale on earth day 1970, it is obvious to me that the main perpetrator of income inequality in the last 50 years has been the ideological imposition of unnecessary environmental laws. Take the famous “stagflation” of the Carter years. Carter was the first President to press an extreme environmental agenda. He had inherited a soft economy from the post-Viet Nam era. However, a mysterious stagflation was occurring which none of the economic theories of the time could explain. Carter himself decided to blame the American people insisting they had a “malaise”. I was out selling scientific instruments in the “rust belt”. We had a whole new branch of the business opened up to us with EPA certified instruments designed to monitor the environment and provide the EPA with environmental “audits” from major industries. As I rode up and down the Ohio Turnpike between Detroit and Pittsburgh, I noticed people living in cardboard boxes under the underpasses. Unemployment was hitting 11% putting an incredible downforce on wages. Carter would only talk about the environment and the malaise.

Since that time all of our huge wage-related productivity increases have been absorbed by this twisted environmental obsession. Green industries, as they have been called, are by and large fantasies of the ideologues. They are economic losers even with the massive government investment in both research and direct subsidy. The poor, the lower middle class, and even the middle middle-class have had ideological environmental leeches applied to their standard of living holding them back. Of course, the wealthy who spend only a tiny percentage of their income on basic commodities, go unaffected. Even a flat tax would be more equitably spread between rich & poor.

Thus over time, massive income inequality is produced by an economy grotesquely distorted by environmental ideology.

Q.E.D.

Regards,

Jim

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There are 38 comments.

  1. I Walton Member

    I go back to the beginning of modern environmentalism. The outdoorsmen who fought for it, passed it, designed its initial thrust were a handful of people who cared because they skied, fished, hiked, and climbed mountains. It got rolling by the late fifties helped by Lawrence Rockefeller, one Senator and one Congressman whom these outdoorsmen educated. They passed the first legislation in the early sixties, clean water act, the wilderness bill, and created a outdoor recreation study that showed its economic value but also the power of the issue. So others moved in, encouraged by a semi dishonest book got a nation wide movement rolling that took it downhill pretty fast. It moved from a handful of very able outdoorsmen to mobs of Washington bureaucrats and professional lobbyists. It’s where I gained my first insight into Washington’s ability to corrupt everything it wraps its arms around. 

    • #1
    • November 12, 2019, at 11:03 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  2. James Gawron Thatcher
    James Gawron Post author

    I Walton (View Comment):
    It moved from a handful of very able outdoorsmen to mobs of Washington bureaucrats and professional lobbyists. It’s where I gained my first insight into Washington’s ability to corrupt everything it wraps its arms around. 

    I Walt,

    So very true. Being an instrument salesman meant you worked hard, needed to know a lot, and didn’t make a lot of money. However, it was the greatest “fly on the wall” spot to be in. Big industrial corporations don’t buy instruments just to have them. They only bought especially this kind of instrument when the U.S. EPA had put a gun to their head. This was quite an education for me in my twenties. A Federal Regulatory agency has immense power. Once they have a wide-ranging law to enforce they are a power unto themselves. Only a President can reel them in. Carter was egging them on.

    When we had a revolution in 1776, we talked about how the power to tax was the power to destroy. It is high time to realize that the power to regulate is also the power to destroy.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #2
    • November 12, 2019, at 11:21 AM PST
    • 13 likes
  3. Stad Thatcher

    I submit the only place where there is real income inequality is in countries with non-capitalist economic systems.

    There will always be differences in income (“inequalities”). The question is, are the inequalities due to the differences in the employees and their jobs skills, where they work, etc. – or due to a government which dictates everything from prices to wages to benefits.

    My neighbor is a high level manager for the contractor I (as a Department of Energy employee) had oversight of (but not for his particular department). No doubt our incomes are vastly different (public vs. private sector), but we get along and have a lot in common.

    My point is the left uses these contrived “differences” to imply a problem exists, and only they can set about fixing it (but they never do). It’s like the man-woman income difference.

    • #3
    • November 12, 2019, at 12:17 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  4. CarolJoy, Above Top Secret Coolidge

    Excellent points you have made.

    I live in an area where for many families, the only hope their children had was to attend community college or join the military. Now Trump has eased environmental restrictions and so the Big Energy companies across the land offer up many jobs for anyone willing to move to those regions.

    I also notice that there is this fascination with comparing the top echelon of income earners with the people in the middle. Meanwhile, the ground level floor of America’s economy, and the first rung up the ladder of the economy are ignored.

    When you have massive numbers of newly arriving immigrants hitting the work force, the people at the 1st rung of the ladder are demoted to the ground floor. Nowhere is this more true than in California. Here paying people under the table is a common practice. (Although the Dems all seem to deny this has ever happened in the past or that it is happening now.)

    This occurs in part because the fact that in Calif the social services agencies offer so many benefits to new arrivals. So those people don’t mind being paid $ 3 an hour or whatever, as they get benefits over $ 1,500 a month.

    But when Bill Clinton saw that welfare was reformed, it was mandated that people can only get benefits for five years. So the people demoted from rung one of the ladder back to ground floor may not even qualify for many of the perks their replacements have taken, as they have already used up their five years. There is some irony that they may well have contributed to the tax base, but it doesn’t matter: they are not among the chosen few.

    These facts explain why in the last two months, two different individuals have cried on my shoulders about how hard their lives are and why in the world is everything, including free college tuition at UC system and community college now offered to the newly arrived. Both individuals were immigrants who came here about 30 years ago.

     

     

    • #4
    • November 12, 2019, at 12:53 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  5. CarolJoy, Above Top Secret Coolidge

    IOn your article, you state this: Taking both premises and the fact that there has been no truly effective political opposition to environmental ideology since it began full scale on earth day 1970, it is obvious to me that the main perpetrator of income inequality in the last 50 years has been the ideological imposition of unnecessary environmental laws.

    I would like to mention that adding in “racist” as well as “environmentalist” is another way the discussion gets shut down. The state of Calif is broke. Yet 18 months ago, the state added in 351 millions of dollars to prop up the special programs for hispanics in the grade school system, as apparently they aren’t learning English fast enough. The whole idea is a lie: these kids are extremely bright and in a short four or five years catch up to their classmates in terms of being English language speakers. But by then their parents are sick of living in Calif’s big cities and the family then returns home to south of the border. However someone new now occupies their kids’ old classrooms, and can’t score well on English as they are new arrivals. (On edit – these 351 millions of $$s are an addition to already existing funding – not at all the total of funds for English as a second language.)

    This situation is never examined, or if it is noticed, it is deliberately ignored. After all, what is wrong with having another slush fund? If anyone should object, they’ re racists, rights?

    • #5
    • November 12, 2019, at 12:59 PM PST
    • 1 like
  6. Stad Thatcher

    CarolJoy, Above Top Secret (View Comment):
    Meanwhile, the ground level floor of America’s economy, and the first rung up the ladder of the economy are ignored.

    Not totally ignored. The left is doing its best to destroy entry-level jobs with huge hikes in the minimum wage, thus depriving many unskilled or teenaged workers at that first crack at success. The “feeding a family of four” argument is standard for raising the minimum wage, but the truth is very few minimum wage workers are doing it as the principal or sole breadwinner.

    • #6
    • November 12, 2019, at 1:06 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  7. David Foster Member

    Strongly related to this is the cultural hostility toward manufacturing, transportation, and similar ‘thing’ industries that developed in America from roughly the mid-1960s up to just a few years ago. For example, there was (in 2004) a story about people in the towboat industry in Seattle who have had to wait between four and five years to get permits for minor facilities improvements. This was not just about bureaucratic delay and inefficiency–there is something else going on.

    “It’s all cultural,” says Eugene Wasserman, executive director of the Neighborhood Business Council. If it were biotech, it would get the green light.

    “Biotech is cool. Propellers and pilings are uncool,” is how the government’s attitude is summed up by columnist Bruce Ramsey of the Seattle Times.

    See my post Faux Manufacturing Nostalgia.

     

    • #7
    • November 12, 2019, at 2:03 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  8. I Walton Member

     

    Stad (View Comment):

    I submit the only place where there is real income inequality is in countries with non-capitalist economic systems.

    There will always be differences in income (“inequalities”). The question is, are the inequalities due to the differences in the employees and their jobs skills, where they work, etc. – or due to a government which dictates everything from prices to wages to benefits.

    My neighbor is a high level manager for the contractor I (as a Department of Energy employee) had oversight of (but not for his particular department). No doubt our incomes are vastly different (public vs. private sector), but we get along and have a lot in common.

    My point is the left uses these contrived “differences” to imply a problem exists, and only they can set about fixing it (but they never do). It’s like the man-woman income difference.

    Exactly, which they use to get even richer.

    • #8
    • November 12, 2019, at 2:39 PM PST
    • Like
  9. Randy Webster Member

    I think the closest I ever came to earning the minimum wage (other than when catching chickens) was when I was in high school working as a busboy, and even then I made $2.01/hr when the minimum was $1.60. Other than that, I always worked in construction, and was never paid even close to minimum wage.

    • #9
    • November 12, 2019, at 3:02 PM PST
    • Like
  10. DonG (skeptic) Coolidge

    I think environmental nuttiness has lowered productivity and wages against the alternative history, but has not affected income inequality. The primary driver is globalization. This has two huge effects. After WWII, the US was only industrial nation and that was really, really, really good for workers and reduced income inequality. After about 1970, trade introduced downward wage pressure on US workers while at the same time allowing for wider reach of ownership class. The global reach of industry (many more customers) necessitated higher compensation for those creating and managing the globalization. This hit a peak with WhatsApp. This was a company of 55 employees with 2 billion customers was purchased for $19B. Globalization and digital scale allowed huge reach and huge wealth/income.

    Another cause of inequality is the mis-measurement of compensation due to the rise in non-monetary compensation (health insurance, safe work conditions, flex hours, govt. pensions,…). 

    • #10
    • November 12, 2019, at 3:48 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  11. James Gawron Thatcher
    James Gawron Post author

    DonG (View Comment):
    I think environmental nuttiness has lowered productivity and wages against the alternative history, but has not affected income inequality.

    Don,

    Perhaps you are missing my main point. Environmental laws are massively directed at consumer commodity goods. The poorer the person the greater the percentage of their income they spend on consumer commodity goods. Thus environmentalism, especially as practiced without regard to any environmental reality, destroys the real living standard of the poorest. Environmentalism is a parasite on the poor, the lower middle class, and even the middle middle class. The upper-middle-class and the rich barely notice the price of commodities. Unless of course, they want to make a play on commodities on Wall Street or the Chicago Board of Trade.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #11
    • November 12, 2019, at 6:03 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  12. DonG (skeptic) Coolidge

    James Gawron (View Comment):
    Perhaps you are missing my main point. Environmental laws are massively directed at consumer commodity goods. The poorer the person the greater the percentage of their income they spend on consumer commodity goods. Thus environmentalism, especially as practiced without regard to any environmental reality, destroys the real living standard of the poorest.

    I get what you are saying, but it is kind of backwards to phrase “end-cost inequality” it as “income inequality”. Globalization would have a lessening effect, since poor folks tend to buy goods manufactured in places with less environmental regulation.

    • #12
    • November 12, 2019, at 6:54 PM PST
    • Like
  13. David Foster Member

    DonG (View Comment):
    Globalization would have a lessening effect, since poor folks tend to buy goods manufactured in places with less environmental regulation.

    So do higher-income folks, though: for example, high-end iPhones.

    The globalization impact on lower-income people, I think, is more from the competition for jobs and the downward pressure on wages.

    • #13
    • November 12, 2019, at 6:57 PM PST
    • Like
  14. David Foster Member

    The left’s war on economical forms of electricity production is particularly effective in harming those at the lower end of the income scale. In fact, it is a triple-hitter:

    1–direct impact by increasing residential electric bills.

    2–indirect impact by increasing costs of many kinds of manufactured goods and the operating costs of business establishments of every type.

    3–further indirect impact by making domestic production less cost-competitive, and hence reducing employment opportunities.

    • #14
    • November 12, 2019, at 6:59 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  15. James Gawron Thatcher
    James Gawron Post author

    DonG (View Comment):

    James Gawron (View Comment):
    Perhaps you are missing my main point. Environmental laws are massively directed at consumer commodity goods. The poorer the person the greater the percentage of their income they spend on consumer commodity goods. Thus environmentalism, especially as practiced without regard to any environmental reality, destroys the real living standard of the poorest.

    I get what you are saying, but it is kind of backwards to phrase “end-cost inequality” it as “income inequality”. Globalization would have a lessening effect, since poor folks tend to buy goods manufactured in places with less environmental regulation.

    Don,

    You’re right that trade can be a relief from higher costs providing you still have a job in the country you are living in. Also, let’s not forget that environmentalists are the greatest globalists of them all. They definitely want the Paris accords so that extreme environmentalism can hamstring the foreign economies too and raise the price of their goods. One way or another it penalizes the poor first and foremost.

    The greatest friend the poor have is a full-employment economy. A full-employment economy is impossible under environmental doctrine.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #15
    • November 12, 2019, at 7:02 PM PST
    • 1 like
  16. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… Member

    I agree with DonG that environmental policies cause some harm, both by depressing economic activity and by raising commodity prices, but I doubt that such policies are a major contributor to income inequality.

    I also agree with DonG that globalization has put downward pressure on working class wages, and that this is a major contributor to inequality. I think that immigration has had the same effect.

    Finally, I think that income inequality has grown because, over the past 50 years or so, due to increasing societal complexity, both technologically and legally, there has been a substantial increase in the market value of high intelligence. Murray and Herrnstein pointed this out in The Bell Curve, in 1994.

    • #16
    • November 13, 2019, at 9:51 AM PST
    • Like
  17. James Gawron Thatcher
    James Gawron Post author

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):
    I agree with DonG that environmental policies cause some harm, both by depressing economic activity and by raising commodity prices, but I doubt that such policies are a major contributor to income inequality.

    Jerry,

    I don’t get how you can discount the nearly direct relationship. Nothing is as regressive as a bad environmental law, it murders the poor. If you passed a flat tax it wouldn’t disproportionally hurt the poor as much as a bad environmental law would. If you relentlessly maintain these kinds of policies, and they have been maintained since Carter, then it would slowly eat away at the lower third of the workforce. Other effects like demand for higher intelligence would be tiny in comparison. A basic full-employment economy, made possible by removing extreme restrictive regulation, would supply enough decent-paying jobs to support all.

    Basically, the Democratic Party has gone from being the friend of the working man, 1950s-1960s, to now being the enemy of the working man. Maybe the instincts of the Trump voters are underrated. They know that in some way they are being screwed by the Democrats and somehow Trump is helping them. Maybe they’re right.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #17
    • November 13, 2019, at 11:00 AM PST
    • 1 like
  18. CarolJoy, Above Top Secret Coolidge

    Stad (View Comment):

    CarolJoy, Above Top Secret (View Comment):
    Meanwhile, the ground level floor of America’s economy, and the first rung up the ladder of the economy are ignored.

    Not totally ignored. The left is doing its best to destroy entry-level jobs with huge hikes in the minimum wage, thus depriving many unskilled or teenaged workers at that first crack at success. The “feeding a family of four” argument is standard for raising the minimum wage, but the truth is very few minimum wage workers are doing it as the principal or sole breadwinner.

    As someone who would love to have a part time employee, but know that I would be in trouble for not paying someone 4 bucks an hour more than I make, I totally agree.

    The entry level jobs being destroyed and all the other results are noticeable. For instance: there are few old time-y restaurants that serve comfort foods in my area any more. An ethnic restaurant such as the many Mexican or Indian restaurants operate through using family members that are very poorly paid, if paid at all. But an American must pay his or her workers, or feel the wrath of the both the State and the Feds.

    • #18
    • November 13, 2019, at 1:01 PM PST
    • 1 like
  19. Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo… Thatcher

    I think you make a mistake in conflating the original environmental laws, initially passed during the Nixon Administration, which dealt with basic air, water, and hazardous waste pollution, and then enhanced during the Carter Administration, with the continued drumbeat from environmentalists since the 1980s for additional controls which cost much more with much less impact or with some of the energy/environmental initiatives of the Bush and Obama administrations most of which had dubious benefit.

    Also, as some others have commented I do not see the connection with income inequality.

    • #19
    • November 13, 2019, at 6:14 PM PST
    • Like
  20. Freeven Member

    My simpleton theory explaining the increase in income inequality:

    1. The minimum income is always zero;
    2. Most people seek and find ways to increase their income;
    3. Hence, increasing income inequality.
    • #20
    • November 13, 2019, at 9:35 PM PST
    • Like
  21. James Gawron Thatcher
    James Gawron Post author

    Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo… (View Comment):

    I think you make a mistake in conflating the original environmental laws, initially passed during the Nixon Administration, which dealt with basic air, water, and hazardous waste pollution, and then enhanced during the Carter Administration, with the continued drumbeat from environmentalists since the 1980s for additional controls which cost much more with much less impact or with some of the energy/environmental initiatives of the Bush and Obama administrations most of which had dubious benefit.

    Also, as some others have commented I do not see the connection with income inequality.

    Gumby,

    I’ll reiterate. There is an inherent disproportionate effect on the income/cost of living for poor v. rich in environmental regulation. If the only environmental regulation invoked had been purely justified by hard empirical proof then that’s the way the cookie crumbles. However, I know from personal experience and I think you know from everything that has been happening in the last 45 years, that environmental regulation has been driven by ideology, not science. The ideology has gotten worse, not better. The extremity of the Green New Deal dwarfs all previous environmental ideological fantasies. The green technology has proven to be completely ineffective and there is actually hard empirical data that demonstrates that the threat from global warming is negligible if it exists at all.

    All of this adds up to a relentless downforce on the economic prospects of the poor & lower middle class. My personal experience is really irrelevant to the argument as you may be pointing out. Ignore it and just consider the heart of the argument. What I am saying is that it isn’t the earning capacity of the rich or the upper-middle class that is causing an income disparity (as the Democrats are relentlessly claiming) but rather it is the relentless downforce on the economic prospects on the lower half of the economic spectrum that is holding the lower half back and this is what has increased the disparity.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #21
    • November 14, 2019, at 7:07 AM PST
    • Like
  22. colleenb Member

    To all: very interesting discussion. Thanks for starting the ball rolling @JamesGawron. Its what I love about Ricochet.

    • #22
    • November 14, 2019, at 7:20 AM PST
    • 1 like
  23. Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo… Thatcher

    James Gawron (View Comment):

    Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo… (View Comment):

    I think you make a mistake in conflating the original environmental laws, initially passed during the Nixon Administration, which dealt with basic air, water, and hazardous waste pollution, and then enhanced during the Carter Administration, with the continued drumbeat from environmentalists since the 1980s for additional controls which cost much more with much less impact or with some of the energy/environmental initiatives of the Bush and Obama administrations most of which had dubious benefit.

    Also, as some others have commented I do not see the connection with income inequality.

    Gumby,

    I’ll reiterate. There is an inherent disproportionate effect on the income/cost of living for poor v. rich in environmental regulation. If the only environmental regulation invoked had been purely justified by hard empirical proof then that’s the way the cookie crumbles. However, I know from personal experience and I think you know from everything that has been happening in the last 45 years, that environmental regulation has been driven by ideology, not science. The ideology has gotten worse, not better. The extremity of the Green New Deal dwarfs all previous environmental ideological fantasies. The green technology has proven to be completely ineffective and there is actually hard empirical data that demonstrates that the threat from global warming is negligible if it exists at all.

    All of this adds up to a relentless downforce on the economic prospects of the poor & lower middle class. My personal experience is really irrelevant to the argument as you may be pointing out. Ignore it and just consider the heart of the argument. What I am saying is that it isn’t the earning capacity of the rich or the upper-middle class that is causing an income disparity (as the Democrats are relentlessly claiming) but rather it is the relentless downforce on the economic prospects on the lower half of the economic spectrum that is holding the lower half back and this is what has increased the disparity.

    Regards,

    Jim

    Let me try this again because I am left very confused by your argument that ” it is obvious to me that the main perpetrator of income inequality in the last 50 years has been the ideological imposition of unnecessary environmental laws.

    #1. Are you arguing that income inequality has gotten worse (as Progressives are claiming), which also means even the poor are getting wealthier (which is why Progressives dropped the term “poverty” and now talk about “inequality” or are you arguing that environmental laws have prevented the poor from making economic progress and keeping them in poverty?

    #2 What environmental laws do you think were necessary? I ask because all of our basic environmental laws have been enacted since 1970.

    #3 On what basis do you think environmental laws are “the main perpetrator” compared to other possible factors for the persistence of poverty?

    #4 What is the evidentiary basis for the statement, “Since that time all of our huge wage-related productivity increases have been absorbed by this twisted environmental obsession“?

    Please note I am not arguing about the Green New Deal (which, in fact, is not law yet) and about which I agree with you on substance. You are making a historical retrospective argument.

    • #23
    • November 14, 2019, at 7:34 AM PST
    • Like
  24. GrannyDude Member

    I’m wondering whether it’s environmental regulations or all regulations? That is, the requirement that hairdressers be licensed isn’t (is it?) environmental, but it prevents micro-businesses from getting started in poor neighborhoods…etc.?

    • #24
    • November 14, 2019, at 8:34 AM PST
    • 1 like
  25. RufusRJones Member

    David Foster (View Comment):

    The left’s war on economical forms of electricity production is particularly effective in harming those at the lower end of the income scale. In fact, it is a triple-hitter:

    1–direct impact by increasing residential electric bills.

    2–indirect impact by increasing costs of many kinds of manufactured goods and the operating costs of business establishments of every type.

    3–further indirect impact by making domestic production less cost-competitive, and hence reducing employment opportunities.

    I completely agree with this.

    I seriously wonder if we would be better off just burning more clean coal, simply because it’s so cheap it has to net out. 

    • #25
    • November 14, 2019, at 8:35 AM PST
    • 1 like
  26. RufusRJones Member

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):
    I also agree with DonG that globalization has put downward pressure on working class wages, and that this is a major contributor to inequality.

    Every western government has done every single thing wrong with respect to this. And then they wonder why populism and socialism is breaking out everywhere.

    • #26
    • November 14, 2019, at 8:36 AM PST
    • 1 like
  27. RufusRJones Member

    I try to follow a libertarian Car guy named Eric Peters. He is constantly talking about how CAFE standards don’t net out when you look at the ultimate resources chewed up at the end, and the externalities of some manufacturing processes. Supposedly there’s going to be a shortage of cheaper vehicles for the poor coming up because of this stuff.

    I also heard that solar panels don’t net out from manufacture to disposal unless you are south of Oklahoma City. They are going crazy with that stuff in Minnesota.

    • #27
    • November 14, 2019, at 8:41 AM PST
    • Like
  28. James Gawron Thatcher
    James Gawron Post author

    Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo… (View Comment):
    Please note I am not arguing about the Green New Deal (which, in fact, is not law yet) and about which I agree with you on substance. You are making a historical retrospective argument.

    Gumby,

    I know I am leaping through History quickly but in this case, there is no other way to do it. First, I would caution you that if Trump were to be impeached then it is almost inevitable that something like the Green New Deal will be implemented. This is how ideologically whetted the Democratic Party is to this obsession and how dangerous the world in which we live really is.

    All of the other factors have been around for a very long time. They have an effect but the effect really isn’t that consistent. You are correct that the effect of Earth Day 1970 was mostly psychological. Generating a Malthusian mass neurosis makes the general public fearful of economic growth rather than welcoming its beneficial effects thus softening up the electorate for future exploitation. The legislation that had a massive effect was the 1978 clean air act. This puts EPA regulators directly in the way of large industrial American expansion. I can tell you that from experience it wasn’t labor problems or foreign competition but rather having a federal regulatory agency breathing down your neck that retarded or even froze big industrial investment in this country.

    Much of the early direct effects of the 1978 Clean Air Act were based on acid rain fears which never materialized. The Global Warming fears are still with us even as the data has disproved the phenomena. Such is the effect of the ideology. We are relentlessly distorting investment in favor of “renewable energy” even when it has proved itself to be a complete loser. If the Democrats get full executive power I guarantee you that fracking will be regulated out of existence and we will be back in the energy rut. There is no rational need for any of this. Virtually all of it is “unnecessary” unless you are a left-winger who so desperately wants power that you don’t mind how much havoc you render to get that power.

    Every chance that the creative productivity of this society has to produce the kind of low-cost goods and solid jobs that will help the poor & lower middle class is blocked or damaged by the environmental political elite. This is an ongoing process that since the inception of the environmental movement has been institutionalized. When Trump wouldn’t go for the Paris accords (useless but damaging to the American economy) the environmental political elite went nuts.

    You asked about the “persistence of poverty“. This isn’t what my argument is about at all. Income inequality is only about the relative income difference between the upper and lower class. Of course, in a capitalist economy that will in an absolute sense help the poor much more than a socialist economy, a much higher degree of income inequality is tolerable. However, I’m not talking about natural necessary income inequality. Unnecessary environmentalism is an artificial attack on the lower class of an already capitalist economy to subdue them and force them into a socialized economy. Of course, this only adds insult to injury as everyone including the poor will do much worse. Ideology is stupid. Q.E.D.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #28
    • November 14, 2019, at 8:52 AM PST
    • 1 like
  29. I Walton Member

    Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo… (View Comment):

     

    Let me try this again because I am left very confused by your argument that ” it is obvious to me that the main perpetrator of income inequality in the last 50 years has been the ideological imposition of unnecessary environmental laws.

    #1. Are you arguing that income inequality has gotten worse (as Progressives are claiming), which also means even the poor are getting wealthier (which is why Progressives dropped the term “poverty” and now talk about “inequality” or are you arguing that environmental laws have prevented the poor from making economic progress and keeping them in poverty?

    #2 What environmental laws do you think were necessary? I ask because all of our basic environmental laws have been enacted since 1970.

    #3 On what basis do you think environmental laws are “the main perpetrator” compared to other possible factors for the persistence of poverty?

    #4 What is the evidentiary basis for the statement, “Since that time all of our huge wage-related productivity increases have been absorbed by this twisted environmental obsession“?

    Please note I am not arguing about the Green New Deal (which, in fact, is not law yet) and about which I agree with you on substance. You are making a historical retrospective argument.

    In my view it was both direct and indirect. The first modest environmental regulations were based on real environmental issues because in fact severe externalities have to be dealt with one way or the other. It was widely supported because the issues were real. This was rather quickly distorted by interest seeking groups which started a crush, because that’s the way it works, has always worked and why the US and other Anglo Saxon countries were so successful. We thought we were innately above the way the world had operated from the beginning and we were wrong. We have to try to undo most of the centralized regulations and to do so requires more understanding than we’ve been showing. 

    • #29
    • November 14, 2019, at 9:07 AM PST
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  30. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… Member

    James Gawron (View Comment):

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):
    I agree with DonG that environmental policies cause some harm, both by depressing economic activity and by raising commodity prices, but I doubt that such policies are a major contributor to income inequality.

    Jerry,

    I don’t get how you can discount the nearly direct relationship. Nothing is as regressive as a bad environmental law, it murders the poor. If you passed a flat tax it wouldn’t disproportionally hurt the poor as much as a bad environmental law would. If you relentlessly maintain these kinds of policies, and they have been maintained since Carter, then it would slowly eat away at the lower third of the workforce. Other effects like demand for higher intelligence would be tiny in comparison. A basic full-employment economy, made possible by removing extreme restrictive regulation, would supply enough decent-paying jobs to support all.

    Basically, the Democratic Party has gone from being the friend of the working man, 1950s-1960s, to now being the enemy of the working man. Maybe the instincts of the Trump voters are underrated. They know that in some way they are being screwed by the Democrats and somehow Trump is helping them. Maybe they’re right.

    Regards,

    Jim

    Jim, I don’t discount the effect, I just doubt the size of the effect. It’s an empirical question, and I don’t have data on it. If you have such data, please let us know.

    To evaluate your claim, we would need information on the relative cost differential in manufacturing imposed by strict environmental laws, and would need to compare the size of that cost differential to the (very large) size of the wage differential between the US and low-wage manufacturing countries (such as China, India, and Vietnam). My suspicion is that the wage differential has a larger effect than environmental regulation.

    • #30
    • November 14, 2019, at 9:44 AM PST
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