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Greener Pastures

We don’t need a Green New Deal to cut down on the carbon. We just need a sensible policy that actually works.

I recently contacted my Congressional Representative, Ross Spano, with an idea I had that might be a good response to the building cadre of Democrats who are getting on board with the Green New Deal, that dog’s breakfast of tired socialist cliches that the new generation of young progressives is repackaging as a way to save the world. I was concerned that Republicans, while rightfully deriding the GND as wholly unworkable, pretty much stopped right there and never even bothered to offer any alternatives of their own. In this regard, the GOP has reacted much as they did to Obamacare—grumbling, cajoling and complaining without coming up with solutions. And since it’s kind of hard to fight something with nothing, quasi-socialized medicine is now the status quo.

I didn’t want to see that happen with environmental policy, and so I emailed Congressman Spano with a proposal so straightforward and simple that I felt sure that somebody on Capitol Hill must have already thought of it. As Spano is a heck of a nice guy, he actually responded—and here’s what he had to say:

Marc,
Thanks for taking the time to contact us about your idea. I like it!  And as far as I know, no one else has proposed it. 

So what exactly was my idea? Well, pull up a chair, pour yourself a cocktail, and let me tell you about it…

As we all know, the Green New Deal really amounts to nothing more than a massive government takeover of energy, agriculture, transportation and housing in the United States, seeking to impose a budget-busting, top-down agenda that has no realistic chance of either passing or even accomplishing what it supposedly sets out to do—reducing carbon emissions.

There is, however, a much easier way to accomplish that goal, one that leverages the free market and creates incentives for businesses to cooperate without burdensome new regulations.  Basically, it amounts to offering tax credits to businesses who allow their employees to work remotely.  The more employees work from home, the more tax credits a business can claim.  Assuming that the incentives were compelling enough, this would encourage companies to allow more of their employees to telecommute.

This could produce a host of tangible benefits:

  • Less traffic on the roads.
  • Less wear and tear on infrastructure.
  • Decreased need to expand infrastructure.
  • Expanded job opportunities for people in rural areas.
  • Reduced carbon emissions.
  • Give parents a chance to save the expense of daycare by allowing them to stay home with their children, where both kids and parents are happier and healthier.

These benefits could also be realized in a short period of time, having an immediate environmental impact.  They might also encourage internet service providers to expand their offerings in more remote areas, as there could be greater demand for broadband if more people worked from home.

Many businesses already offer such opportunities—my wife, for instance, works exclusively from home—but with the right tax incentives in place, they could be encouraged to expand such practices.  Seems to me that in a scenario like that, everybody wins.  Employers get a tax cut, employees get a nice perk, and everyone gets a smaller carbon footprint.

Most importantly, however, it would provide a good example as to how the free market is so much better at solving problems than some massive government program.

So what do you think? If you also like the idea, contact your own Congressman and see if we can get this ball rolling.

And if you get a chance, thank Ross Spano for his consideration!

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