Thursday, August 28, 2008

People suffering environmental harm are also consumers

The environment and consumer benefits from Pay-As-You-Drive insurance. A 30% participation rate reduces carbon dioxide by 55 million tons, equivalent to taking 10M cars off the road. Transit revenue increases because drivers exercise choice. All the benefits of reduced driving recur. But the Examiner article goes on to say that participation and reporting are voluntary, making PAYD ripe for gaming, because of opposition from consumer groups.

Why is Richard Holober, Consumer Federation of America's Executive Director, on the wrong side of the environment? Consumer groups have championed narrow rights against corporations, as both of them are locked in a buyer-seller pact, to toast the planet. The last thirty years has been a wash for injury prevention. Dangerous jobs have shifted to illegal "unrepresented" immigrants. The injuries has come at the expense of a resource expended planet and a deterioration in privacy rights across the board; and deprivation of life, liberty, and happiness without recourse for groups, like pedestrians and cyclist, on the wrong side of the consumption paradigm. Senator Leland Yee too bought into this resource depleting pollution centric position. Worse driver behavior that has a clear social harm like reckless driving, which uses more gasoline and kills more people, will not be tracked.

Not tracking irresponsible driving behavior sells more cars and allows for more dangerous roads since cities have to accommodate wider streets because of the speed creep law. This in turns sells bigger more polluting engines which can't go slow enough to be safe. The general ignorance of traffic and priority by tree hugging environmentalists is a problem which allows them to continue their polluting behavior that's strangling the biosphere.

We can’t buy ourselves out of global warming and protect consumers in the process and be successful on AB32. The planet suffers and exporting pollution to hapless consumers elsewhere doesn't cut it. We need to strengthen our environmental laws with a carbon fee on imports, not allow loopholes as big as the Global Accord on Tariffs and Trade. Poisner's plan tries to mitigate the harm of auto externalizes by offering consumers an alternative that they can measure in pocket book savings while seeking to preserve our common resources like the biosphere.

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