The Cost of Climate Change: It’s The Economy, Stupid

The axiom of “watch what people do, don’t listen to what people say” applies well to the world of political analysis; and James Carville’s axiom of “It’s the economy, stupid” applies well to analyzing what people do. Often, voters make day-to-day decisions that are in direct conflict with their political rhetoric and/or voting pattern. Talk is cheap, action is expensive.

Our neighbors demonstrate this misalignment well. While not outspoken politicos, during the 2016 campaign season they made it known they were full-blown Bernie Sanders supporters, aligning themselves with their theoretical passion for community/equality and the environment.

My wife and I live on a six-house private road that employs a “usage” formula for road maintenance funding (i.e. the last house pays more than the first house, since the last house utilizes the entire road). In a recent neighborhood meeting, those at the end of the road vehemently opposed the usage formula ahead of a large repaving project, and suggested an even six-way split. Our “Sanders” neighbors live on the first half of the road, and are thus negatively exposed to an even 6-way split.

With hundreds – not thousands – of dollars at stake, hauling in more than $180,000 per year, and the neighbors at the end of the road in a well-known financial pinch, one would expect full-blown Bernie Sanders supporters to be not just supportive, but perhaps even enthusiastic at the prospect of redistributing some of their earnings toward those in need. But far from it! When Bernie Sanders Income Inequality campaign rhetoric “push” came to hard-dollar economic “shove”, shove flattened push.

Our Sanders neighbors’ theoretical passion for the environment is even greater than that of community/equality. They are ardent recyclers, and initiated an annual neighborhood clean-up day several years ago. This is all well and good – nothing even remotely wrong with it…except for one thing: They do not drive climate-friendly cars. But not only do they not drive climate-friendly cars, one car is used (i.e. subject to old, gas-guzzling technology), and the other is a brand new, gas-guzzling pick-up truck.

If our Sanders neighbors truly cared about protecting the planet, and the negative effects of Climate Change represent a material hidden cost to seemingly less expensive gas-guzzlers, then net-net it should be a long-term economic “no brainer” for our Sanders neighbors to buy seemingly more expensive climate-friendly vehicles. But as any rational voter operating within a free market system would do, they vote with their wallet.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

So while climateers continue to vacuously cite statistics that indicate the vast majority of Americans support combating Climate Change by remaining in the Paris Climate Accord, the fact of the matter is that Americans are voting emphatically with their pocket book in the opposite direction: In 2016, 17.6 million light vehicles were sold in America, fewer than 200,000 of which were electric.

If Americans cared about the long-term cost of Climate Change as much as the post-Paris Climate Accord exit climateer hyperventilation would lead a casual observer to believe, then far fewer gas-guzzlers would be finding their way onto American roads.

As James Carville’s axiom indicates so simply, in politics, almost nothing matters more than dollars and cents.

It. Is. The. Economy. Stupid.

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