I know it's very important for decent, patriotic Americans to look down on any country that has universal healthcare, good public higher education, and low energy consumption, but look--Denmark is a very free country with a vibrant economy, flexible labor markets, and better conditions for entrepreneurship than ours. Their unemployment is relatively low. They have high taxes but very, very high quality of life in basically every respect. It's better to be super-super-rich in America, but everyone who's not super-super-rich is better off under the Nordic social system.I cannot remember my exact words, but I do not remember them being a criticism of Danish healthcare, education, labor markets, or environment of entrepreneurship. What I remember saying was that part of the way the Danes have enabled a greener society is by taxing the unholy hell out of any poor sucker who wants to drive his own car.
The core solutions to Denmark's green policy (180% registration tax on privately owned vehicles, for example) are not feasible in a world where freemarket capitalism rules the day.What I am saying is that unlike TPI, who seems to believe that a conversion of American Democracy to Nordic Socialism would make the U.S. a better place, I am looking for solutions to the problems we face that would not impinge on the reckless way of life so many privileged Americans enjoy while also furthering American innovation and America's economy. Forgive my patriotism.
And "magic carbon death ray"? Excuse me. Did the Flying Spaghetti Monster tell you to type that? The carbon sequestration technologies I am proposing be investigated are not dream science like Iron Man's power supply or Star Trek warp nacelles, they are very real and very underfunded technologies that are already proposed and exist in laboratories and scientist's minds all over the globe. Artificial trees that grab CO2 out of the air, artificial photosynthesis baths, buildings with paint that contains active algae, nanoparticle catalysts pumped into the atmosphere that convert CO2 into CO that is easily turned into biodiesel, algae-based power plants, catalytic chemistry processes that turn CO2 into plastic shopping bags (and then turn the shopping bags into diesel fuel)...all of these are technologies that either have been tested in a tabletop setting or have been proposed with believable feasibility studies attached to them. All of these technologies (and many others) are frustratingly underfunded and will remain so as long as bright people like TPI consider them "magic."
If we are going to mix public health care into the environmental debate, let's do so both ways. TPI argues that my "carbon space race" is a waste of money, but consider this: the actual Space Race, you know, the one that spanned 18 years and put 6 manned missions on the Moon, the one where we invented completely new technology and physics, where a huge amount of difficulties were overcome and lives were lost, cost an estimated $143 billion of today's dollars. The CBO estimates that public health care would cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $829 billion dollars. We should start pricing these things in a new unit of currency I shall call "Space Races." So the current health care legislation will cost about 6 Space Races. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have cost 10 Space Races. Our Federal deficit is around 12 Space Races.
So when I suggest we spend a few billion dollars (0.02 Space Races) on carbon sequestration research, or a commenter suggests a 10 million dollar (0.00006 Space Races) X-Prize for carbon capture technology, we are certainly not nearly in the ballpark of the CBO estimated cost for the health care legislation currently being discussed.
And that isn't even universal health care!
So while we are discussing "false dichotomies", perhaps we should turn the gun on its owner: calling my proposed carbon sequestration technology "magic" is a helluva thing to do when the savings Americans will somehow see via cheaper healthcare seems equally, if not more so, conjured by wizards from a fantasy novel.
TPI and I will never agree on some things, like how much my way of life should have to change to make the Earth a better place. But in the spirit of brotherly love, let my extend my hand: the United States must adopt, through some sort of strongly worded, enforceable legislation, an aggressive attempt at lowering the environmental impact its people are having on this planet. And in terms of healthcare and social welfare, I will admit: the citizens of this country are not doing enough to help one another out.