Thursday, November 08, 2007

Here it comes - the Carbon Tax

It is just perfect. It couldn't have been a better example of the problem. For years, I have said here and elsewhere that the Portland planning elites are motivated by all the accolades and awards they get from all their like-minded comrades back east.

Today, the front page of the Oregonian makes my point.

Dan Saltzman goes to the "Greenbuild International Conference" in Chicago, and at his swanky, invitation-only reception last evening, he unviels his latest, greatest program to win another sustainability award from his chums.

He wants to tax homebuilders who don't use enough carbon-reduction practices, and subsidize those who do. That of course requires "carbon inspectors," along with who knows how much associated bureaucracy.

And oh my, his fellow conferees were nearly orgasmic in their accolades: "It's bold," said Suzanne Malec-McKenna, Commissioner of the Environment for the city of Chicago. "I think it's great. It's definitely the direction our cities need to be going."

So Commissioner Dan is the toast of the sustainability crowd meeting in Chicago. And there was a perfect visual on the back page of the story: Saltzman, Tom Potter, and the lady who runs the city's Office of Sustainable Development, cocktail glasses clinking in mid-toast, huge smiles of accomplishment on their cheery faces.

Meanwhile, back at home, not everybody was smiling. Local builders are ready to go to battle. Saltzman didn’t bother to consult them, and they know exactly what this really means: higher housing costs, as so-called “sustainability” measures are mandated through tax incentives that drive up costs.

The builders know what a farce this stuff is. “Sustainability” apparently means spending a lot of money on energy saving systems that save only a fraction of the energy that would be required for it to be cost effective. Otherwise you wouldn’t have to mandate it –people would WANT to install the stuff without the tax incentive.

But Saltzman types don’t understand this, or they pretend not to. They think it is a good trade to spend $5,000 on some system to save $100 a year in energy cost, because, hey – it isn’t their money. I’ll bet if you offered Saltzman a similar return on his public pensions account he would politely decline.

But not every builder objects. We learn in the article that the program was designed with the help of local builder Gerdling Edlen, who is a “leader” in using these “sustainable” construction practices. Wow, what great, responsible people these builders are! They have made big investments in using all these money-losing techniques, so now they want the government to mandate them so their investment isn’t down the drain! What humanitarians!

The sad part of all this is it will just make housing that much more expensive in Portland, and hurt the low income and the young family that much more.

And that is the legacy of the “progressives:” harm the poor


DonS said...

Looking at the future in Portland I see: A great city of course, rich with things to do and see and excitement. But for the majority who live in the City life will be difficult and expensive. If they don't make a lot of money their life will be very small. Tiny, perhaps shared housing and lots of time spent on buses and streetcars because they can't afford a car. And the streets at increasingly for every purpose except cars. I know that I need to move out very soon, and then just visit now and then.

Anonymous said...

I used to call him "Clueless Dan, the Water Man" (back when he had the water bureau).

Now he can be "Clueless Dan, the Carbon Man".

Anonymous said...

I am sooooo glad I'm retiring in about 24 months and leaving this looney bin they call Portland. One ahs to wonder if the inmates are running the asylum in Portland. Nearly every day I see some act of civic stupidity or new, non-vital expense put into play by the morons on the City Council. One has to wonder when the voters will rise up and throw all these sorry excuses for human beings from the bus.

CPMCD2000 said...

Ya know ... gotta say I love the blog... simple and to the point and on top of that your writing is excellent.

Unfortunately I disagree.

I think these are the kind of 'bold' moves that will make this city better.

Portland is progressive in nature and has spearheaded many things like this which have come to make it an example to many cities. Cities are aspiring to function as well as Portland does.

You are stuck in a small-minded box which is seeing the here and now.

Many things Portland officials did in the 60s-70s with efforts for things like this with biking and sustainability and pubic transit are benefiting us today greatly.

You cant understand why this is good because you are stuck in one dimension when the people whose asses are on the line are trying to think of the 3 dimensions there actually are.

But I am a realist in the real-world and I know there will be negative nancies like you along for the entire ride.

Anonymous said...

Harm the poor is right.

I just learned this morning that Saltzman's Bureau of Sustainable Development was at one point contemplating an ordinance to ban the sale of used appliances. Their thought was that older appliances are not energy efficient.

They did not consider the fact that every poor family in town relies on used and older appliances.

Dave Lister

OregonGuy said...

Portland auto dealers shouldn't be allowed to sell new or used cars unless at least of third of those sold are powered by LNG.

This will have a nearly immediate impact on the number or cars on the road.

And will help the conversion of Portland from a greed-based to earth-friendly place to live.

Until we remove cars from the hands of all people, only selfish people will have cars. People don't cause Global Warming, criminals do. You can't hug your kids with a Chrysler. Until we outlaw cars, only outlaws will have cars?

I'll continue working on the battle cry.