March of the ‘regressives’

March of the ‘regressives’

Some public policy musings on which to chew for the weekend:

Has the Allegheny County Airport Authority re-upped any kind of “incentive” agreement with Qatar Airways’ cargo service at Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT)?

There’s been no public announcement. But you’ll recall that the authority did leave that door open. Which is troubling considering Qatar failed to come close to the cargo volume it promised in a deal heavily underwritten with public dollars.

Of course, that deal incentivized Qatar to fail, essentially paying it to not meet its volume goals.

Speaking of market perversions, those much ballyhooed – and also publicly subsidized – British Airways direct flights to London from PIT are just over a month old.

So, how are those flights doing?

Are they the be-all and end-all that those defending their $3 million in taxpayer subsidies claimed them to be?

Or will subsidizing past be subsidizing prologue and the flights either disappear or are severely curtailed after the two-year subsidy plan ends?

A day doesn’t go by in Greater Pittsburgh that somebody isn’t out on the hustings hustling for a $15 hourly minimum wage. Invariably, we hear that government raising the wage floor – in some jurisdictions by more than 100 percent – is a matter of “social justice.”

But as Investor’s Business Daily (IBD) recently reminded, wage floors by government fiat have had an unflattering – though wholly predictable – result in New York City.

An IBD editorial documents how 4,000 workers lost their jobs at full-service restaurants in the Big Apple just in the last three months of 2018.

Why? Because of a whopping increase in the state-mandated minimum wage.

“A study by the American Action forum concluded that minimum-wage hikes that went into effect in cities and states around the country this year will kill 261,000 jobs right away and 1.7 million jobs over the long term.”

Perhaps the “social justice movement” should be renamed the “social injustice movement” and “progressives” should be retagged as “regressives.”

Another darling of the “regressives,” both in Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania at large, is this notion that converting to “renewable energy” to reduce our “carbon footprint” by slashing carbon dioxide emissions is a win-win – for the environment and the economy.

Never mind that the mechanics and economics of such utopian efforts are preordained to deliver dystopian results. To that end, a 2016 study of the European Union experience to 2014 is most instructive.

Far from being cost-efficient, the EU’s 1 trillion euro efforts up to that time have been found to be cost-exorbitant, far out-pacing, say, using natural gas, by a factor as high as 50 times greater (when calculating capital costs).

Just as troubling, was that there was little evidence to suggest C02 emissions declined. In fact, when factoring in the emissions associated with manufacturing “green energy” components, C02 levels likely increased.

From the report’s conclusion:

“By government and EU diktat, this expenditure has been extracted in the most part by extra charges imposed on utility bills throughout Europe. Viewed as taxation on individuals this is very regressive — it imposes more burdens on poorer people whilst leaving wealthier people who are more able to pay less affected.

“It also burdens European industries with vast energy costs, making them increasingly uncompetitive, as has now been seen from the uncompetitive nature of steel making in several European countries.

“These renewable energy charges are also invisible in government accounts as a tax income at all, as it is a price imposed on consumers by industry.

“These regressive ‘green taxes’ have already led to significant fuel poverty … throughout Europe.

“Increased energy costs impact … European industries with many major corporations seeking more congenial manufacturing locations outside Europe to the detriment of European economies.”

Additionally, the study reminds that the renewable energy industry could not exist without the government-mandated subsidies and preferential tariffs.

“Without its government mandate, government subsidies and government interference, renewable energy would never be a chosen part of the generating mix — when viewed from the needs for the engineering viability of a nation’s electrical supply grid.”

Such a bill of particulars is a damning indictment of the designs of the quixotic “greens.”

That local and state government officials continue to pursue such programs disserves sound public policy.

Colin McNickle is communications and marketing director at the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy (cmcnickle@alleghenyinstitute.org).