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January 26, 2005

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Heh. I'm pro-conservation (I think somewhere I had a post on it.... ahh here it is . The idea that conservation and conservatism are naturally opposed never made sense to me. Like trying to keep poor people from starving, conservation strikes me as something that left and right can have fun fights over means but should have broad agreement about ends.

Well, in the darkness of blackouts all cats are gray, therefore the strangeness of our bedfellows ... or something like that.

conservation strikes me as something that left and right can have fun fights over means but should have broad agreement about ends.

totally agree

I sense that the current Administration, however, views "conservation" the same way McDonald's views "dieting."

Um, so where do conservatives stand on outsourcing?
In terms of it being another way our tax-dollars are flowing outward?

I mean dollars, not just tax-dollars, sorry.

votermom?

Can you connect the dots on that better? How are "tax dollars" connected to conservation?

It was a typo, Edward, sorry. Here's my questions, not related to conservation at all, but to things that the left and the right might actually agree on.

What does the right think about the outsourcing/ off-shoring of jobs?

votermom, the right, and I guess many or most economists, think off-shoring is neutral or good for our economy, and esp. good for the foreign countries involved. See Dan Drezner's excellent center-right blog for tons of discussion.

Er . . . just to pick a nit, we are not going to run out of "electricity." We may run out of certain means of generating it, but that simply means we have to find other -- hopefully renewable -- means of generating it. (Although some parties on all sides are going to have to budge from formerly recalcitrant positions. Some additional nuclear capacity may have to be involved, the snobs on Martha's Vineyard may need to put up with wind generators in their field of view, etc.)

There was an interesting editorial in, of all places, the 01/05 issue of Compliance Week (a publication targeting CEOs, IROs and others responsible for SEC compliance at corporations) discussing the shareholder value of being green; specifically, of not only conservation-minded facilities upgrades and employee incentive programs*, but of simple things like not profligately leaving the lights in your buildings on all night. There are two strip centers near my apartment, and both leave a boatload of lights on all night, every night. One of them doesn't even have active tenants yet -- it's still under construction. But in their efforts to start letting people know, "We're here!" the soon-to-be-open Wegman's, Starbucks, Quiznos, and Provident Bank all leave their signage and interior lights on all the time. (Which, as it happens, shine directly into my bedroom window, interfering with sleep.) Making me even more pissy, the Fairfax County Government Center is about 500 yards up the street, and it leaves the lights on all night too. Grrrrrrrr.

I encourage everyone to write both the tenants of shopping centers like this, and the property managers, urging them to turn the lights off when nobody could possibly be shopping there.


*One company specifically mentioned is Hyperion Solutions, which instituted a $5,000 rewards program for employees who purchase fuel-efficient cars -- using any technology -- that get at least 45 mpg. Another, Genzyme, made facilities upgrades that resulted in 38% less energy usage and 32% less water usage. That translates directly into shareholder value. It's a good piece -- I'll excerpt from it if anyone wants to read it.

"Like trying to keep poor people from starving, conservation strikes me as something that left and right can have fun fights over means but should have broad agreement about ends."

Ah, Sebastian, we'll bring you over to the dark side yet ;)

Great post, Edward.

votermom,

According to this:

Each dollar that a US company spends on outsourcing a service job to India generates an estimated 1.13 USD in net value for the US, according to a recent study in the current edition of the Milken Institute Review (reg. req'd). The study also estimated that India gains 0.33 USD in net value from local wages, profits earned by local outsourcing companies and their suppliers, and taxes collected from all the local companies involved in the operation.

votermom: my sense is that outsourcing is already one of those issues that defies left/right divisions. Some people on the left think it's fine, probably with an added bit about the need to help workers with any transitions they need to make from one industry to another, and also about the need for serious investment in order to help ensure that when the dust settles our competitive global niche is a good one. Some people on the right think it's awful (I expect Pat Buchanan does, for instance, though I don't feel like doing the work needed to find out.) (And there's always Lou Dobbs.)

Thanks Stan & rilkefan.
But what about wages lost, and therefore decreased local consumption and decreaed tax revenue?

PS Stan , that link doesn't work for me, just brings me back here

Er . . . just to pick a nit, we are not going to run out of "electricity."

Good point. The Power Trip piece had a bit where an AES executive explained to a camera, for the sake of boradcasting to the former Soviet citizens who didn't understand why they now had to pay for something they had received for free for as long as they could remember. He repeated slowly and patiently that he needed to buy gas to burn to generate the electricity. If he has no gas (and that costs money) he could not generate electricity.

There were dozens of heartbreaking segments with sincere elderly people arguing that AES should just make an exception in their case because they were poor and couldn't afford the electricity. AES, of course, said no.

we are not going to run out of "electricity."

Heh. At least, we're not going to run out of electrons. What may go away is the potential (please, I didn't mean it) to get them moving.

votermom,

Oops, sorry. Try here - http://polls.yahoo.com/public/archives/57019568/p-quote-379

votermom: the argument for outsourcing being OK goes: the reason outsourcing happens is that we have increased trade across national borders in general. When jobs go overseas, if we consider it in isolation then it's bad for the workers who lose their jobs, but good for the consumers who get to buy cheaper goods. And this can be a lot of consumers -- e.g., if memory serves we are all (in the US) paying much higher prices for sugar than we would if we weren't protecting our sugar industry (FL politics again), and a lot of people buy sugar.

But if we don't consider it in isolation, but instead ask about global trade as a whole, then we have to consider not just the people who lose their jobs and so won't be paying taxes, but also the people who will get jobs they wouldn't otherwise have had making goods to export, and so will add to tax revenues. Also, as before, the various consumers who should be paying lower prices for the things they buy.

All this being said, you can accept the general point while still thinking that, as far as trade agreements go, the devil is in the details. For instance, since I really do not want American workers to have to compete with people using slave labor, and I do not want to provide incentives for people to use slave labor. So I'd support incorporating a ban on it in trade agreements, as (I suspect) would most people. I would support incorporating labor and environmental standards (I will just say this without getting into details, as that would take too much time), for similar though less extreme reasons: I want globalization to lift all boats, not start a race to the bottom, and I think that the terms of global trade agreements can be set in such a way as to provide incentives for this to happen.

Probably more of an answer than you wanted, but oh well ;)

oh, and votermom: when I said this:

"we have to consider not just the people who lose their jobs and so won't be paying taxes, but also the people who will get jobs they wouldn't otherwise have had making goods to export, and so will add to tax revenues."

I should have added that according to standard economic theory, there will normally be more people with new jobs than people who lost jobs. This doesn't help the people who lost jobs, which is why (somewhere, earlier) I said that I think we should do what we can to help people who are laid off to make the transition to a new job smoothly.

Probably more of an answer than you wanted

No, that's perfect, actually. I feel a bit guilty to Edward about going off-topic from energy and the environment, though.

back to your earlier post:
my sense is that outsourcing is already one of those issues that defies left/right divisions

Any bets that one's view of it ties to one's personal experience with the phenomenon? :)

That corrupt governments and institutions make a lot of money on oil is hardly an observation unique to the neocons. And it is hardly unique to neocons that reducing oil consumption would help on this, and would also reduce the trade deficit. The only ones against doing anything about it are the hard-core libertarians and any politician too cowardly to talk about oil consumption taxes. Oh, right....


If I weren't using dialup, I'd link to the appropriate cartoon at Mark Fiore... hardly a neocon!

I sense that the current Administration, however, views "conservation" the same way McDonald's views "dieting."

That would be nice... These days McDonals has adapted its offerings quite well to dieting ;-)

Improved auto efficiency is great, and I'm all for cleaner fuels. But isn't improving infrastructure another key element in conservation? Not just expanding the economy but making better and cleaner what already exists?

I'm thrilled to see that more people are starting to recognize that conservation can occur without inconveniencing people. Hybrid cars are really a good step in the right direction, and if we can create a Prius snob for every Hummer devotee, we're surely making some progress.

I do wonder, however, how compatible economic expansion is with environmental conservation. Radical greens would argue that expansion (economic and otherwise) has destroyed any hopes of conserving resources and wilderness for future generations. Moderates have always balanced the abstract goals of conservation with the generally acknowledged need to expand the economy (as Christine Todd Whitman notably did in her Leonard Lopate interview [WNYC] this afternoon).

Perhaps I don't quite understand the economic policy of the neo-cons. They are more reputed for their polical Ideals than their economic policy, after all, so if someone can explain the neo-conservative economic vision, I'd be grateful.

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