In today's column, Paul Krugman anticipates what's coming soon in the climate wars:
... you can just imagine what will happen when the E.P.A. ... moves on to regulation of greenhouse gas emissions.Krugman thinks this flies in the face of right-wing orthodoxy:
What do I mean by crazy climate economics?
First, we'll see any effort to limit pollution denounced as a tyrannical act. Pollution wasn't always a deeply partisan issue: Economists in the George W. Bush administration wrote paeans to "market based" pollution controls, and in 2008 John McCain made proposals for cap-and-trade limits on greenhouse gases part of his presidential campaign. But when House Democrats actually passed a cap-and-trade bill in 2009, it was attacked as, you guessed it, Marxist. And these days Republicans come out in force to oppose even the most obviously needed regulations....
Second, we'll see claims that any effort to limit emissions will have what Senator Marco Rubio is already calling "a devastating impact on our economy."
Why is this crazy? Normally, conservatives extol the magic of markets and the adaptability of the private sector, which is supposedly able to transcend with ease any constraints posed by, say, limited supplies of natural resources. But as soon as anyone proposes adding a few limits to reflect environmental issues -- such as a cap on carbon emissions -- those all-capable corporations supposedly lose any ability to cope with change.But the mythology of right-wingers doesn't assert that capitalists can overcome all obstacles, surprisingly. Right-wingers may worship capitalism and believe capitalists are doing God's work on earth, but they also love the feeling of persecution. Specifically, they love the persecution narrative that's central to their secular religion's bible, Atlas Shrugged.
In Atlas Shrugged, the tyrannical state oppresses the would-be titans of capitalism, who "go Galt" so they don't have to chafe under the tyrant's bootheel. Right-wingers love the notion that they're arrayed against what seems to be an all-powerful, seemingly unstoppable enemy; in the real world we all actually live in right now, capitalism has won everything, but right-wingers would rather believe it's under assault, because then capitalists (and, by extension, their champions) are superheroes. We see this every time a billionaire whines about Occupy Wall Street being like the rise of Hitler. Right-wingers (and the plutocrats they love) exult in their delusions of victimization, because they love to believe that they're fighting valiantly for everything they get.
So of course the right isn't going to tell us that capitalists can adapt to climate legislation -- it's true, but admitting that it's true would make the statist foe seem, well, like a bunch of mere mortals. The right needs to believe that we're far more powerful than that.