Opinion | Socialism in America will accelerate climate change


Photo Courtesy of Alfred T. Palmer

Smokestacks from a wartime production plant, World War II.

By Fred Shoaff, Columnist

Many claim environmentally progressive policies cannot gain traction alongside corporate dominance. And in preparation for the upcoming election, the political left has placed their faith in Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders to bring down big business and replace it with big government to solve the climate crisis.

The reforms that Democratic candidates are proposing mostly big taxes and big government regulations to allocate much of the wealth earned by corporations and the 1% to the rest of the population. In the case of Elizabeth Warren’s proposals, big corporate taxes are going to funnel money into a “Green New Deal,” which will utilize enormous government spending to research and develop anti-climate change technology.

Increased spending on progressive environmental technology is important, but these proposals that mirror socialism will cripple the businesses and in turn, the wealthy, whom the tax revenues are drawn from.

Large wealth taxes being proposed are even gaining traction with many Republicans and for good reason. The wealth inequality in America is drastic and needs to be addressed, but my concern is overly-liberal policies will drive many of the wealthiest businesses and people out of America altogether. The wealthy will be drawn to countries where more lax production costs and corporate income taxes will make it easier to continue killing the environment.

Under Trump’s economy, it has been no surprise to see the inflow of business to America since lax income tax regulations (which slashed the figure from 40% to 21%) have made wealth accumulation easier.

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Where the wealth is so, too, is business.

But overly laissez-faire government policies have incentivized businesses to cut costs to record lows by rolling back many environmentally protective policies that made operations slightly more costly. If you need a sign of an economic top, look no further than the fact Trump felt the need to eliminate many corporate policies enacted to cut pollution at a relatively slight cost only to find a way to keep the expansion going.

These cost cuts in areas that raise methane pollution and increase the use of other dirty energy create understandable concern about continued environmental neglect. The current far-right policies pushed by many Republicans (often just to spite Democrats) are simply making it more profitable for corporations to pollute rather than to research and develop modern products and production practices.

And as a result, the media is able to paint corporations as the devils of society and people agree. And although corporate political lobbying is an immense issue, at the end of the day, it is the consumer who drives America. The government must use that as leverage against big business as a means to aid the environment. Without a happy consumer, there can be no happy corporation.

President Trump has created a remarkable opportunity to incentivize all of the business he has brought into America to maintain capitalism as the economy of choice. Now that many of the most powerful businesses are in America, the cost for them to leave is far more immense than a set of influential government regulations would be. These regulations could incentivize renewable energy, the elimination of plastic waste and the development of modern technology to trap CO2 and utilize human ingenuity to increase research and development spending.

As an aside, think about how much faster the quality of life would expand if instead of a massive overall income tax cut, the tax incentives wrote-off corporate research and development spending geared toward investment in less waste and cleaner products.

To persuade big companies to enact the policies and research spending to develop incredible technology and discover cleaner production policies, you can’t have socialism and humongous taxes that put an arbitrary price on a company’s ability to practice human ingenuity. But there must be a way to influence old-fashioned righties that all government isn’t bad government as long as it pushes the people toward a goal, rather than smothering the most powerful as a means to end their reign.

If socialist policies take hold for the long run, the strongest and the wealthiest are going to abandon America for cheaper countries, like China and India, where environmental care is neglected. And when that happens, rather than being a leader of how business should be done, America will have relinquished its incredible opportunity to reshape the focus of corporations and will inevitably become even poorer and even stupider.

Fred is a sophomore in Business.

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