A Climate of Liberty

By Dan King - Staff Reporter Whitehall Times

Polls during the 2014 election cycle showed that climate change and energy efficiency were crucial issues to many voters.

Many libertarians, like Gary Johnson, acknowledge that climate change is a threat and that it is man-made, but how can libertarians tackle that issue while staying true to principles?

Libertarians have the opportunity to separate themselves from both democrats and republicans on this issue, as both major parties have botched this one.

The democratic answer to this issue is well intentioned, but incredibly flawed. Democrats have looked toward burdensome regulations on business and failed subsidies. The latter of which has created either failed businesses or companies that in all actuality aren’t that energy efficient.

Subsidies for “energy efficiency” by democrats have just amounted to another faulty instance of crony capitalism and corporate welfare. For the prime example, look at Tesla. Taxpayers were burdened with supporting that company and for little or no return.

How seldom do you see a Tesla car out on the road? Most likely, never. 

Even with the subsidies, the average Tesla price is still a staggering $101,500. It makes it pointless to have energy efficient, alternative energy-based cars, if nobody can afford them.

The government also throws subsidies at companies like Monsanto, which have had more of a negative impact on both the environment and the small business, than a positive impact.  

Democrats have also pushed for things like carbon taxes. These taxes would either push companies out of business, or the businesses would find loopholes, like they so often do.

Government too frequently attempts to discourage bad activities, instead of encouraging good ones.

While democrats have failed to take into account the unintended consequences of policies, republicans continue to bury their heads in the sand and pretend there is no threat to the environment.

In return for a sheer disregard for the environment, one would at least expect some economic prosperity and free market promises, but republicans have been an utter failure on that as well. Subsidies are deplorable in every regard, but at least democrats don’t pretend that they are for smaller government.

The libertarian approach should be simple. Instead of throwing taxpayer money at companies before they prove their energy efficiency, work toward scaling back taxes on companies with a proven record of good energy policies and practices.

At the start of the industrial revolution, capitalism was the biggest threat to the environment, now it is the biggest asset to the environment. Technology and innovation – not government overreach – have led to more energy efficient cars, an increased supply and demand of organic or responsibility grown products, and generally speaking, a more sustainable world.

If government scales back the tax burden on responsible companies, instead of ramping up the taxes on irresponsible companies or dishing out subsidies, then the irresponsible companies will be incentivized to follow in the footsteps of their responsible counterparts or be destined to fail. And hopefully, this time, government won’t bail out the failures. If done right, the free market has a lot to offer the environment and the economy.   

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