Sunday, June 25, 2006

Bring On Global Warming!

This was the featured letter to the editor in today’s San Francisco Chronicle: “In denial of global warming

Editor -- The global-warming debate routinely ignores one simple truth: We cannot wait to react until a catastrophe is probable. We have to do something once we know it is possible. (Emphasis added by me, of course) In other areas of our lives, we seem to have no problem with this concept. We buy insurance. Premiums are an expense that serves no purpose as long as nothing happens. Except that it protects in case of an improbable, but possible, future loss or catastrophe.

(Strong Ox note: I must interject that the above paragraph is really dumb. We buy insurance because we recognize that events like auto accidents are certain to occur in a population of auto drivers, of which we are a part. The occurrence of auto accidents is certain, and our involvement in one or more of them is possible. Insurance rates are set based on the probability a driver will be in an accident. The higher the probability, the higher the rate. Insurance spreads the cost of the accidents among many, and we pay insurance premiums because we are certain we cannot and do not wish to pay the entire cost of the accident our self if we become the statistic.

Life insurance follows a similar pattern of certainties and probabilities. We know we are going to die, the question is when. Rates are set by actuarial tables which reflect the certainty of death and the probability of when it will occur.

Global Warming is not certain to occur, and if it does, its timing and consequences are unknown. If you want to put this to an acid test, buy a Global Warming insurance policy.

Thus endeth the Strong Ox interjection.)

Why do some people block out this obvious fact when it comes to global warming? I suspect it has less to do with intelligence than with denial: If it does not happen in their lifetime, it does not concern them enough to change their lives. Let our children deal with it. So much for intelligent design.


What a concept! Act when something is possible, don’t wait until it is probable. Following that guideline, we could get a lot done. Forinstance, it is possible that Iran will give a nuclear weapon to terrorists. If that happens, it is probable the terrorists will use it on us. I think I just heard a call for a pre-emptive strike on Iran’s nuclear capabilities.

Actually, it’s funny to see a call to action based on the “possible,” because the Left does not feel any urgency to act even when disaster is certain. Case in point, Social Security will be bankrupt in roughly twelve years. In 2018, give or take a year or two, Social Security payments will exceed receipts. Social Security has a so-called Trust Fund, which is full of special Treasury Bonds. When those special Treasury Bonds are sold to make up the shortage in Social Security payments, the federal government will have several choices, all painful.

(1) Cut and/or delay Social Security benefits – and get voted out of office. Can we agree that this option is dead on arrival?

(2) Increase Social Security taxes on current wage earners. That will delay the inevitable Social Security bankruptcy a few years, then what? Cut and/or delay benefits? Won’t work, see (1) above. Raise taxes some more? If we did that, the higher Social Security taxes would have produced stagnation in the economy and employment. The next tax increases would push the economy into recession, wages would fall, and Social Security contributions would be reduced when increased contributions were needed more than ever.

(3) Cut government spending to make up the deficit produced when Social Security sold the special Treasury bonds. Recession here we come!

You do understand why the rest of government spending has to be cut when Social Security has to sell the special Treasury bonds, don’t you? I didn’t think you did, so I'll explain. I’ll type very slowly. When Social Security was taking in more than it was paying out, President Johnson and the Democrats noticed that all that surplus Social Security money could be exchanged for the special Treasury bonds, and then spent to cover the rapidly increasing Great Society costs in the General fund. For many years now the federal government has been able to spend more lavishly because the Social Security surplus was diverted to cover non-Social Security expenditures. So you see, when there no longer is a Social Security surplus, other taxes will have to be increased to maintain government spending levels or those spending levels will have to be reduced. Drastically.

But wait, there’s more. As the Social Security deficit grows, other taxes will have to be raised to make up the growing deficit. Just as the General fund prospered with the Social Security surplus, so it will suffer increasingly with the Social Security deficit.

To recap, it is not just possible Social Security is going bankrupt, it is not just probable that Social Security is going bankrupt, it is certain that Social Security is going bankrupt. Following the dictum of Mr. Hanns J. Kristen of San Anselmo, we should have done something at “possible,” but we didn’t. We didn’t do anything at “probable” either. And the way the Democrats are blocking Social Security reform, we’re evidently not doing anything at “certain” either.

“Possible, probable, certain.” What comes next? Reality? Not until Democrats have forty or fewer Senators and can’t filibuster reform anymore.

According to Mr. Kristen, we don’t do anything if we’re not going to be affected. We just pass the problem on to our children. Mr. Kristen, we are going to be affected by Social Security’s bankruptcy, and our children even more. We know it. They know it. Republicans know it. Democrats are in denial.

When Social Security goes bankrupt, a good dose of Global Warming may be all that can keep us from freezing our poor miserable butts off.

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