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September 1, 2009

Clinton pushing climate change initiatives in Canada

ENVIRONMENT - Bill Clinton was in Canada last Saturday promoting climate change initiatives and free health care.

Of course, Canada already has free health care, but the point is still made. The United States is just starting on the road to free health care, for every uninsured child, senior and adult in the United States.

Clinton tried to pass free health care during his 8 years in the White House and only managed a few meager initiatives, health care programs for uninsured children. His goal of free health care for Americans was shouted down by Republican bigots in Congress worried about the overall cost and "Communist-style health care" (which is nonsense, because the USA up until 2009 was the only western country that didn't have free health care).

When George W. Bush got into power America's public health care system took one step forward and two steps backward. Bush signed into law a Medicare drug benefit program (something even Canada doesn't have), but later vetoed State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) legislation which would have expanded free health care to ten million American children (and would have been funded by a modest increase to cigarette taxes).

Since getting into power President Obama has quickly managed to do what Clinton couldn't do because he didn't have support from Congress, and what Bush refused to do because he doesn't give a damn about poor people. Less than a month in power and riding on overwhelming support and a Democratic majority in Congress, Obama signed the United States into a new era of free health care.

The issue is still being discussed in Congress, but its essentially a done deal. Better yet Obama already found a way to pay for it by decreasing the amount wealthy people get back from the IRS when they make charitable donations. Wealthy Americans used to get back 35% of their donation, but now they only get back 28%.

And poof! Free health care in America finally became a reality. Done and paid for.

Now if only we could do the same thing for the environment?

Clinton is effectively an unofficial ambassador for the Obama administration. So whenever he visits Canada or other nations overseas to give speeches, he's not just acting as a former president who cares about the USA, he's acting as a global ambassador for the USA to the rest of the world. That is how a former American president should act... help the USA and the world by being a spokesperson. (You will note Bush in comparison avoids the spotlight as much as possible.)

The problem is that selling the environment is a much tougher sell than health care (and we can see how long it took Americans to join the rest of the civilized world).

Think of it like a car... when you buy a new car from the Ford Motor Co. you expect it to work properly. But lo and behold they bought cheap brakes from China and the next thing you know you are upside down in a ditch, the car is on fire and in order to rescue you the firemen have to amputee your leg.

Afterwards you sue the Ford Motor Co. for damages (because they imported faulty brakes from China) and are awarded millions. Ford then promises to only buy quality brakes built in North America and has to recall thousands of cars to replace the brakes on each one.

But what about the tailpipe? Try and make the argument that cars pollute, produce greenhouse gases, which locks in heat, which causes global warming, which causes climate change, which causes a host of other environmental problems like polar ice caps melting and rising sea levels.

You can't sue Ford for damages. You'd have to sue the entire automotive industry, the coal industry and any other industry producing excess amounts of greenhouses gases... and it wouldn't just be the United States. It would be a global lawsuit. Its so ridiculously huge it would just plain never happen.

Thus trying to sell green initiatives to Americans can be very tricky. We can't even do it in Canada because we currently have a corrupt Conservative government under the "do nothing" bogus Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Harper has no intention of setting caps on greenhouse gases. He's been bought and paid off by the Alberta oil industry and the Atlantic coal industry.

Name one thing Harper has done to help the environment since getting into the PM's chair in February 2006? He announced some new national parks. That is it. The man epitomizes the "do nothing" approach to politics.

There has been no new "climate change initiatives" in Canada since Paul Martin left power in 2006.

And thus we come full circle. Now we understand why Bill Clinton is pushing such initiatives in Canada. Its because our own government is too lazy and corrupt to do it themselves.

83% of Canadians support initiatives to combat global warming and climate change. So why can't we elect a government that will actually make good on its promises?

Its because Canada has three separate left-wing parties: The Liberals, the NDP and the Greens. The NDP and the Greens will NEVER get elected and win a majority government, but the vote splitting between the three has resulted in the Liberal party being held back from winning majority governments. Its the reason we keep getting minority Conservative governments.

Remember Stephane Dion's idea to put a tax on carbon emissions? He bet an election on it and failed, despite the fact that it was originally a Conservative idea. What happened was the Reform Party (which has since changed its name to the Canadian Alliance Party, and changed it again to the Conservative Party) held a discussion back when Jean Chretien was still in power. Chretien wanted to put a cap on carbon emissions, but the Reform Party under Stockwell Day thought it was a better idea to just tax carbon emissions instead.

Stephen Harper later replaced Stockwell Day as leader, but because Harper is a puppet of the oil industry (whereas Stockwell Day is a puppet of right wing Christians) they had to abandon the carbon tax idea... which left it to be picked up by the Liberals and touted.

The problem is there really is no other ways to combat climate change. We have to cut carbon emissions somehow, and the only ways to do that is:
  • Cap Carbon Emissions.
  • Tax Carbon Emissions (and hope companies reduce the amount they release).
  • Make cars more efficient (which we've already done).
  • Increase sales of more fuel efficient cars like hybrids, electrics, hydrogen, etc. (which we are currently doing).
  • Phase out coal powered plants by building lots of solar/wind alternatives (which we are doing already).

Which implies we will eventually start taxing/capping greenhouse gases anyway. Its just a matter of who will do it first, Canada or the United States?

Judging by the fact Obama has a majority of Democrats in Congress the USA might beat Canada to it.

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