It's the fierce urgency of now, as told by a plutocratic con$ervation afficionado:
For too many years, we failed to rein in the excesses building up in the nation’s financial markets. When the credit bubble burst in 2008, the damage was devastating. Millions suffered. Many still do.
We’re making the same mistake today with climate change. We’re staring down a climate bubble that poses enormous risks to both our environment and economy. The warning signs are clear and growing more urgent as the risks go unchecked.
This is a crisis we can’t afford to ignore. I feel as if I’m watching as we fly in slow motion on a collision course toward a giant mountain. We can see the crash coming, and yet we’re sitting on our hands rather than altering course.Sounds great, right? He was very careful not to mention "Cap and Trade" in his editorial, despite the fact that Goldman Sachs literally wrote the book on how to profit from excess carbon emissions back when he was in charge of the banking behemoth.. And so, Paul Krugman has very thoughtfully taken up the slack and actually gone to the right of Paulson's piece. While Paulson only obliquely and euphemistically refers to "innovation," Krugman pragmatically cuts to the chase and cheer-leads President Obama's beloved profiteering Cap and Trade agenda:
In policy terms, climate action — if it happens at all — will probably look like health reform. That is, it will be an awkward compromise dictated in part by the need to appease special interests, not the clean, simple solution you would have implemented if you could have started from scratch. It will be the subject of intense partisanship, relying overwhelmingly on support from just one party, and will be the subject of constant, hysterical attacks. And it will, if we’re lucky, nonetheless do the job.(Krugman can't even let a column on climate change go to print without mentioning the non sequitur of Obamacare. Talk about awkward! Then again, the Conscience of a Neoliberal was probably gnawing at him.)
My response to Krugman:
Goldman Sachs, which Paulson used to run and which he helped bail out at our expense, stands to profit big-time from carbon credit trading.
Whenever a free market guru mentions "innovation" and concern for the planet in the same breath, the bait and switch alarm bells should be ringing in your head.
Instead, Paulson is lauded for courageously breaking away from right-wing nuttery, simply by deigning to believe in man-made global warming.
As Matt Taibbi wrote some years ago in his now-famous "Vampire Squid" magazine piece, Goldman Sachs has long been anxious to blow up the carbon tax bubble:
"The new carbon credit market is a virtual repeat of the commodities-market casino that's been kind to Goldman, except it has one delicious new wrinkle: If the plan goes forward as expected, the rise in prices will be government-mandated. Goldman won't even have to rig the game. It will be rigged in advance."
If polluters go over emission limits, they'll be able to buy credits from the more compliant companies. Then the financial predators will corner the market on the ever-scarcer credits, and stand to make as much as a trillion dollars... a year!
So, if you believe that Paulson wrote his op-ed purely out of altruistic concern for your lungs, I'd say I have a bridge to sell you, except that it's probably already been privatized and plundered by the financial mafia. Call it GoldmanCare.Paulson's fondness for Cap and Trade (as opposed to the straight tax he is now touting on paper in order to get the money-making debate restarted) goes way back. He co-founded, with Al Gore, a private equity greenwashing firm called Generation Investment Management (GIM) and a now-defunct Goldman-funded offshoot called the Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX) to pre-position the big players for the rigged game... now in limbo, thanks to the "wing-nuts" in Congress who hate it just because Obama likes it.
And since the phrase Cap and Trade is itself a now-tarnished euphemism for "pay to pollute," the neolibs are scrambling to come up with new ways of championing it. EPA Chief Gina McCarthy, for example, euphemizes it as "multi-state market-based programs."
Obama is simply trying to re-animate it by handing it over to the states and away from a recalcitrant Congress. Oh, and he gets brownie points from Krugman and other denizens of "the left" for once again being seen as trying to do the right thing. It's the audacity of aspiration. Gaius Publius has a good synopsis of how the game is being played.
The predators of the financial class are tired of waiting to cash in on another catastrophe. They are tired, as GIM warns on its web-page, of being able to offer only an "aspirational" investment opportunity to its deep-pocketed clients. Now that climate change, along with income inequality, is all the rage, what better time to foment the fear, clean the air a tiny bit, co-opt environmental groups, feel better about their crazy-rich selves, and make gazillions more dollars at the expense of the precariat? Do it while Hurricane Sandy is still on our minds. Do it while the predators are still profiting off Hurricane Sandy victims.
It's Disaster Capitalism, ad infinitum.