Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Climate alarmism and expanded bureaucracies

Here in the Philippines, 2 new national bureaucracies were created:
(1) Presidential Adviser on Global Warming and Climate Change, under the Office of the President, headed by ex-Sen. Heherson Alvarez, and
(2) Presidential task force on Climate Change (PTFCC) under the Dept. of Energy, headed by DOE Sec. Angelo Reyes. Sen. Loren Legarda is proposing the creation of a separate "Climate Change Commission". Some provincial Governors (like Albay Gov. Joey Salceda), city Mayors, have their own local government level task forces on climate change.

All these newly-created agencies are slurping new taxes and fees to maintain an ever-expanding army of climate change bureaucrats on top of DENR bureaucrats. When world oil prices were hitting $150 or higher, the government was nowhere to be convinced to simply drop and abolish the excise tax (on top of VAT) for gasoline products because petroleum in the first place, is a "public bad" that creates pollution and contributes to global warming and hence, must be taxed as much as possible.

These new bureaucracies, these insensitivity to high and inflationary local oil prices because of multiple oil taxes, are a result of alarmist perspective. "We should be alarmed of man-made emissions, hence we should cap and limit such emissions, never mind declining economic activities and job creation due to distortionary and inflationary oil and environmental taxes and regulations, " goes the argument.

About companies and researches that develop clean and renewable energy sources, fine. We don't need government "support and subsidy" for them to prosper and develop, alongside government not over-taxing them (how would you feel paying 47 different taxes and fees that constitute 50 percent of your commercial profit every single year?). Why, because there is big consumer demand. So many people now consider themselves "greens" and would be more than willing to patronize clean and renewable energy sources. If the demand is there, supply will follow. Market and price equilibrium says when the price is right, demand meets supply, and both consumers and producers are happy. There is zero need for government intervention there, except in cases of violation of people and enterprises' right to private property, right to life.

Consider the "smoke emission test" (PhP 300/car x hundreds of thousands of vehicles) every year before one can renew his vehicle registration. Other government agencies themselves do not believe in the accuracy and truthfulness of such tests, so they put up random checks in highways to flag down (and cause unnecessary delays to) many vehicles (especially older ones) for emission tests. What if the climate change bureaucrats will later demand that all vehicles must undergo smoke emission test twice a year, that you need to present the result of those 2 tests to LTO before the latter will renew your car's registration? It's not being done yet, but it's possible. Why, because we should be alarmed of man-made pollution.

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