Plus Tom Toles on “Fine for a painting, but not for a planet?”
I have a bonus Toles blog post and cartoon (in color) at the end, but first, here’s a post from my colleague Matt Yglesias:
A frontal assault on the idea of prudential regulation of the financial system is unlikely to be a political winner, so the smart guys are sneaking through the back door:
Mr. Gensler, in testimony before a House appropriations subcommittee, called the Commodity Futures Trading Commission “a good investment for the American public, overseeing vast markets with a relatively small staff.” Despite the nation’s budget deficit, Mr. Gensler said his agency needed a budget increase “because, as we saw in 2008, without oversight of the swaps market, billions of taxpayer dollars may be at risk.”
Although the White House agrees with Mr. Gensler, Congressional Republicans are eying severe cuts to the agency’s funding.
Of course the premise of Gensler’s testimony is that if Congressional Republicans come to believe that higher CFTC funding is important to maintaining appropriate derivatives regulation, that will make them more inclined to back it. My suspicion is that the reverse is true. If Gensler were to solemnly promise that he will endeavor to waste a giant share of his agency’s budget on buying really fancy office chairs, that the committee might be persuaded to listen to lobbyists from the chair industry and pony up the money. The aim here is to starve enforcement agencies of money needed to enforce the law. Then when the next crisis comes we’ll get (a) a giant bailout and (b) the argument that since existing regulations didn’t work, clearly what we need to do is formally repeal all regulations and pretend there won’t be any future bailouts.
A brilliant strategy, in a Bernie Madoff sort of way (see “Is the global economy a Ponzi scheme?“). And that brings me to Toles’ latest:
Here is Toles’ latest blog post, “Fine for a painting, but not for a planet?”
There is a principle in art conservation. “Don’t do anything that can’t be undone.”
Seems like an idea that could usefully be applied to planet earth. Specifically in three ways.
1) Don’t drive species to extinction
2) Don’t destroy a habitat that species rely on.
3) Don’t change the climate in ways that will result in the above.
Yes species occasionally go extinct all on their own. And occasionally are swept away in huge mass extinction. This is not one of those times unless we make it one. Species are not replaced in a time frame that has any meaning to human history. We have the power to impoverish ourselves irreversibly or take care of what we have. The argument on the other side would be what, exactly?