Paul Ryan: ‘Climate Change occurs no matter what’ (and government is not going to pay for it)

We’re winning the message (see below), so the climate battle shifts to our old friend, money, where it’s always been.

“Who’s gonna pay for it?” asks a paraphrased Paul Ryan. “Not me or my friends.”

From Igor Bobic in the Huffington Post:

Paul Ryan Says ‘Climate Change Occurs No Matter What’

“Climate change occurs no matter what,” Ryan said Wednesday, as quoted by CNN. “The question is, can and should the federal government do something about it?”

“And I would argue the federal government, with all its tax and regulatory schemes, can’t. And all it will do is end up hurting [profits, by which I mean] our country, our people and especially low-income individuals [whom I deeply love],” he added. […]

We’re winning the first battle — yes, climate change is real. Now for the next battle — cost. “It’s too expensive to come from general funds.” And they’re right, because to really offset the “social cost of carbon,” at some point some of those profits from externalizing carbon cost are going to have to be taken back, forcibly. Perhaps most of them.

That’s one choice — make the wealthy pay for their mess.

Flood via Shutterstock.

Flood via Shutterstock.

The other choice for government is abandonment of the non-wealthy to their fate, and Paul Ryan is drawing those lines already. We’ve seen what happens when the “non-wealthy” in question are brown (Katrina). But what happens when they’re white and relatively middle-class (even relatively Tea Party–ish)?

As the climate crisis unfolds, the crunch will come — whom does the government really protect? And that discussion — about the social contract — will break the social contract in a significant enough way to matter. Nothing like a squabble over scarcity (pretend or otherwise) to tear a society literally apart.

Which is why I make my pitch Chicago-style (early and often) that we should be making our pitch ahead of the game. Our pitch:

When it’s climate crunch time, the cost should come from one source first — the people who caused the problem.

At crunch time, anything government does to coddle the rich (per Wall Street–funded Paul Ryan‘s implication above) will look like another bank bailout to the TP folks, and it should. Limbaugh will then get them to point at “libruls” as the source of their pain, and we’ll be so caught up in fighting each other (because of wealth-controlled withheld resources), we’ll never solve it.

Until …

Greenland melts, taking us fully to another -cene, and not the Holo one we’ve been so comfortable in. (Does it strike you that the Holocene is the real Garden of Eden? It does me.)

David Koch will die a happy man — all he needs is “business as usual” another five years or so, when the next carbon president takes office — but not the rest of us. If Paul Ryan can be pre-emptive with his message, so can we — When the bill comes due, hand it to the profiteers. We could even be pre-emptive now, Chicago-style.


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Gaius Publius is a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States.

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29 Responses to “Paul Ryan: ‘Climate Change occurs no matter what’ (and government is not going to pay for it)”

  1. jacobmccandless says:

    I’m not paranoid but I don’t want anyone following me. Nor am I an isolationist but I don’t want to wait in line very long.

  2. Mickey Askins says:

    Ryan and his ilk are speedbumps in the road to progress.

  3. Silver_Witch says:

    Here in California – we have lots and lots of programs for solar, some are scams – some are real….

    Me I don’t own a home – because I refuse to be a slave to a bank ever again – so it is not an issue for me at all.

  4. Calamity_Jean says:

    Recently some companies have been offering zero-money-down loans to buy rooftop PV systems. They might not have come to your area yet.

  5. Calamity_Jean says:

    A revenue-neutral carbon tax and dividend would act as an income transfer from the wealthy who use more energy to the poor who use less. It’s working in British Columbia Canada.

  6. Silver_Witch says:

    Except for the hills San Diego is definitely a walking town!!! As for LA – it is neither a walking town or a driving town – I am waiting till they get telaporters or I learn to Astral Project!

  7. rmthunter says:

    I’ve discovered over the years that some cities are walking cities —
    Paris, Chicago, and New York (believe it or not) are great cities to
    walk in — maybe because commercial districts are scattered throughout,
    and in Paris and Chicago there are lots of parks and plazas.

    In Los Angeles, on the other hand, I was once paced by a squad car while I was walking from our hotel to a coffee shop three blocks away.

  8. Silver_Witch says:

    I didn’t know ChiTown was so progressive. DC has gone totally bike crazy same way – with lots of bike share stations, dedicated lanes etc. And even here in San Diego (where I live now thankfully) we are doing dedicated bike lanes, all buses have bike rakes and there are lots of riders.

    Me I love walking – it is more pleasant for me. I just got a bike and thought I would give that a go – seemed more trouble than it is worth…but I don’t go far 3.2 miles each way.

    Wonder if we could get President Obama to put on his “sneakers” and walk with us!!!!

  9. rmthunter says:

    That’s what struck me about the Conoco/solar battery thing: they could have put them into commercial production, or licensed them, and made a fortune. All the R&D had been done — after that, it was just marketing. But the oil companies — and corporations in general — think immediate profit — “long-range planning” means next quarter.

  10. pvequalkt says:

    all this projection… yet we have already witnessed what gummint will do…
    Remember Sandy? Just last year? That li’l superstorm thingie that put several east coast states under water? You remember… the gummint spent all effort to get their wall street masters back in bid’ness hours after Sandy left… and still, today, homeowners on the Jersey shore haven’t been made whole (or even partial)?
    You wanna know the diff between cheney’s sock monkey and audacity hopey changey? look at the diff between their “respective” responses to K and S… not much gap there at all (sock monkey didn’t bother to pretend to give a shit… ahc pretended).
    If Wall street had been in N’awlins, you can be sure brownie would have had the army, navy, air force and coast guard working on bailing out their parking garages just as soon as the storm waned. Of course, all those black and brown folks in the dome woulda still been on their own.
    So what I’m saying is that we already know because we’ve already seen. In case nobody was paying attention.

  11. Silver_Witch says:

    Excellent post rmthunter, I think all these new ideas are super and we all have do to what we can individually (without help from corporations). I walk – those who can afford solar panels should buy them straight-out and reap the benefit.

    Telsa had the same problems with patents – way back in the dark ages…rumor has it that the government took everything on his death from his home/office/labs.

    They are so silly – they (corporations) could reap so much from new technology – but they are lazy and not very clever.

  12. Indigo says:

    I think you got it right when you mentioned that “we’ll never solve it.” Your context was, I grant you, rhetorical but the facts are right there in front of us. The wealthy entrenched are entrenched, they have every intent to stonewall any efforts to regulate carbon, tax production, or promote accountability at production levels until, as you put it, Greenland melts. The pseudo-Libertarian futurists are ready for a neo-feudalism that will, to put it simply, restore medieval droit du seigneur and with it make serfs of the unmonied among us. And for those of us who still have some money in that sock under the mattress, another financial collapse can be arranged at a point in time coincident with Greenland melting. Absent an actual insurgency and a global revolution, we’ll never solve it. The unending liberal conversation is exactly that, a conversation. No action happens.

  13. rmthunter says:

    Actually, a few years ago Sony developed a solar panel-battery system specifically for passenger vehicles and small trucks under a DoD contract. And just to demonstrate what we’re up against, when the contract was completed, one of the oil companies — I believe it was Conoco-Phillips — bought the patents and the factory, leveled the factory, and buried the specs so deep no one will ever find them. That’s the kind of forward thinking you find in the “energy” companies.

    In Chicago, there are some efforts toward renewables — I’ve noticed that the newer fire and police stations have solar panels on the roof, and I’ve noticed more and more commercial and residential buildings with solar panels. And there should be a way to build wind turbines into the design of high-rises, which create their own wind, as anyone who’s ever walked to Lincoln Park from anywhere west of the lakefront high-rises can tell you.

    Of course, efforts by the energy utilities to charge consumers for installing solar panels need to be nipped in the bud. And those gas and oil rebates and tax breaks should be redirected toward utilities that invest in wind farms and solar arrays.

    None of this is going to happen, of course — we all know how Congress and the White House operate at this point: follow the money.

    As for Paul Ryan, he doesn’t think government should pay for anything that’s actually going to help the non-super wealthy — now that he’s gotten his college education paid for by Social Security.

  14. Bill_Perdue says:

    The problem is that Clinton is very much a liberal and she carries are the baggage that motivate all the liberal politicians who invaded Vietnam and who killed half a million Iraqi children.

    As for Paul Ryan he’s like all Democrats and Republicans – his principles follow his bank account(s).

  15. Silver_Witch says:

    These are excellent suggestions – really they are. However, I don’t see those things happening (although there are quite a few companies in California that will put solar on your house and then charge you for the electricity-many of them are scams or at least using your property to get power and then charge you for use of it).

    I just don’t see many articles about what we can do – just what we are not doing and how it is all the republicans fault. It might well be – but we, each of us as individuals can do small things. Do we? No – they can’t even get us Californians to cut down on water use in the worse drought we have had in a long while.

  16. Nicholas A Kocal says:

    How about electric cars that get charged by solar power. Or is that not something that can be accomplished. Or how about solar panels on all houses to lower the amount of fossil fuels that have to be burnt. There are solutions, but the republican part (the only political party in the world that denies climate change) does not want to do anything.

  17. gratuitous says:

    Let’s start with a few things: Cut subsidies to oil and coal. Those industries seem to be doing all right, with the obscene (another -cene!) profits and the big pollution they don’t pay to clean up. Instead, let’s plow that money into renewables, wind and solar, and outfit everyone and his dog with the means to generate power by way of the natural phenomena in which we live and move and have our being.

    We don’t have to completely stop doing anything overnight; let’s give the planet a chance to breathe and recover while we cut down on all the pollution we’re belching into the ecosystem. Meanwhile, year by year, a larger and larger percentage of the energy we need can be generated by capturing it from the wind and the sun. As that market becomes more lucrative for the entrepreneurs and the inventors, it will attract people who see a career that can be made, instead of as a sideline hobby.

  18. Naja pallida says:

    Paul Ryan is a libertarian in the same way Hillary Clinton is a liberal, ie, only if you don’t bother to actually pay attention to the definition of the word. He’s just a corporatist right-wing loon, who believes only his own personal causes, and those of his cronies, deserve any public money, and everyone else can go to hell.

  19. Silver_Witch says:

    What is the solution? Are all of us willing to stop driving, giving up cars? I think not. So these posts go on and spout the wrongs of the right and yet we on the left do nothing.

  20. John Smith says:

    Unlike the war in Iraq, climate change will very likely pay for itself with new technologies and new industries.

  21. Bill_Perdue says:

    Paul is a Republican with Libertarian views. He and his fellow Republicans are as unacceptable as Democrat politicians owned by the polluters.

    Spending based on taxes on working people should not pay for efforts to mitigate climate change. Those should be used to pay for socialized medicine, free education all the way, good housing and unemployment and other benefits for retired, discouraged, unemployed and underemployed workers.

    The profits of companies that pollute or contribute to pollution and the dividends they pay shareholders should be taxed at a rate of 100% until there’s a climate turnaround. They caused climate change and they should pay those and the costs associated with the loss of homes and lives due to climate change.

    Democrats and Republicans, Teabaggers, Libertarians and Dixiecrats will never agree to mitigating the rate of climate change or to making the polluters pay for it. Socialists will.

  22. caphillprof says:

    torches, pitch forks and guillotines

  23. BillFromDover says:

    But, they will also still be alive to experience this?

  24. BillFromDover says:

    The climate changes only when outside forces are acting on it… plain and simple.

    In other words, what are your no matter whats, changing it and please be specific?

    Otherwise, your argument is simply: sometimes, shit happens?

    Is it any wonder why your party is also the party of science deniers?

  25. dbryte says:

    “Economists Have A One-Page Solution To Climate Change”

    An effective way to short-circuit much of Ryan’s economic-impact arguments is to change the focus to the idea of a revenue-neutral carbon tax that Planet Money reported on (

    In short, use a carbon tax to change behaviors, then give money back to everyone in the form of a tax rebate.
    IMHO, this idea is very attractive and deserves much more of a political and public debate.

  26. Independent Rob says:

    The wealthy will not end up paying any carbon tax, it will be just added into everyone’s monthly power bill. The wealthy will not end up paying double the price for a new electric car, everyone will (or do without cheap reliable transportation).

  27. bud says:

    The Toledo Water problem is not a local or regional issue. Just as bad fiscal decisions by Reagan took until a financial hiccup in 2007 to show up, watering the desert out West affected farming in the Midwest. Throw in some raw sewage from bankrupt Detroit, mix with changing weather patterns and you’ve got a water problem in Ohio.

  28. heimaey says:

    Just leave private industry to sort it out, Paul. They have such a fantastic record of not polluting the earth to death.

  29. Badgerite says:

    Personally, I want the government in on this in a big way. Imagine a ‘Manhattan Project’ to do something not only necessary but positive. It isn’t as if there is a choice in the long run.
    Fossil fuels are from what? Fossils. God, ( or the great Garglesnatcher, if you prefer ) only made so much. Evolution will have to occur to different sources of powering our societies. The only question is when. Not if. And that evolution will not occur by itself. Or by praying.

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