From Townhall, the financial industry, including TARP recipients Goldman Sachs and J. P. Morgan who have received $35 billion between them, is investing in a new venture:  lobbying Congress in favor of cap and trade.

And with good reason.  Having read the writing on the environmental wall, in fact having added a few verses itself, Wall Street has been planning for a European-style future for quite a while:

To take advantage of this opportunity, Goldman has invested in European and U.S. carbon trading platforms, including the Chicago Climate Exchange. JPMorgan invested in the creation of The Green Exchange™, a unit of the New York Mercantile Exchange that will trade in “a comprehensive range of environmental futures, options, and swaps contracts for markets focused on solutions to climate change …”

Investing in trading platforms represents only part of Wall Street’s green scheme. Goldman and JPMorgan have invested heavily in renewable energy companies. Goldman “invested over $2.5 billion in clean technology such as renewable energy and energy efficiency projects…” and JPMorgan “has invested (or committed to invest) a total of $2.4B for its own portfolio in renewable energy transactions and raised $3.4B from other parties.”

One way J.P. Morgan plans to cash in on carbon emissions trading is to distribute more energy-efficient stoves to people in Africa and then sell the theoretical savings in carbon output as carbon credits on the carbon exchange to some other company. The price of these credits is arbitrarily assigned, the real amount of carbon emitted decreased is unknown since there’s no way to tell if people will actually use the new equipment, but so what.  They’re doing something for the environment, and making a ton of money besides, in the true spirit of capitalism.  Fortune Magazine estimates that by distributing 10 million stoves “you could be looking at a business with modest costs and between $200 million and $450 million a year in revenues.”  It’s harnessing the power of capitalism in the service of saving the environment, and that’s good for everybody, right?

Wrong.  This is not capitalism in action.  There is no free market at work here.  What J.P. Morgan and other corporations are doing is gaming a government-rigged system, and trying to influence the rules for their own benefit.  It makes good business sense because the government is setting the rules, but it’s not capitalism.  And why is the government involved so heavily in promoting alternative sources of energy?  It’s not just funding research and development.  It’s subsidizing these companies because they can’t succeed in a truly free market. Enough people are not freely buying their product. In other words, the government is deciding who’s successful and who can drop dead in the alternative energy market, instead of letting the chips fall as they may.  Capitalism is based on the free exchange of products, the value of which is determined by the people doing the exchanging.  That’s not happening here, and it was never intended that it should.

Clever people, though, whoever decided to frame this in the language of capitalism.  When I see the word market, my default assumption is “the free market” and all that it implies about capitalism.  I’ll bet that’s true for a lot of people.  And it’s a major step on the road to destroying the idea of the free market.  Witness all the blame for the financial system mess being placed on predatory deregulation and businessmen’s greed.  The fact that it was in no way free is ignored. The underlying cause of it, inept government involvement, will not be exposed in any meaningful way, no matter how many panels Senator McCain calls for.

This systematic attempt to tarnish capitalism’s brand is very likely to succeed, and that should be very worrying to anyone who cares about individual liberty.  You may be thinking, this is just big business’s problem, and they’re greedy pigs anyway, so who cares?  Hey!  You know what?  You’re a player, too, and will have a much bigger stake in this if cap and trade becomes law, through the higher prices you will have to pay for everything, including the electricity you use.  People in northwest Indiana are screaming loudly about a proposed electricity rate hike, the first in 20 years.  It’s part of a settlement of a 2005 case with consumer groups.  But the people don’t care.  The rates are too high.  Hate to tell you this, fellow Hoosiers, but you ain’t seen nothing yet.  Wait till cap and trade kicks in.

Lenin said “The Capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them.”
It’s not capitalists who are hanging us.  It’s the opportunists who are hiding behind capitalism’s skirts.  And they should be called out on their lies.  Freedom doesn’t need fashion accessories–she’s beautiful just as she is.

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