Before 2013 begins, catch up on the best of 2012. From now until the New Year, we will be re-posting some of The New Republic’s most thought-provoking pieces of the year. Enjoy. In early 2010, Karl Rove convened a group of businessmen for lunch at a private club in Dallas. The guests included some of the richest and most influential people in Texas. T. Boone Pickens, the corporate raider from Amarillo, was there, as was Harlan Crow, the prodigal son of Trammell Crow, the most prominent real estate developer in the country in his day.
This article is a contribution to 'Is There Anything That Can Be Done? A TNR Symposium On The Economy'. Click here to read other contributions to the series. One of the problems with the news cycle is that perennial issues—problems and solutions both—tend to get ignored in favor of things which have changed in the last few hours or days or weeks. As a result, when it comes to the global economic crisis now in its fourth year, one of the key potential solutions has been left all but ignored from the outset: making improvements to labor mobility.
[Guest post by Alex Klein.] In the past week, the media and government have justifiably exhausted all possible ways of beating up on S&P. Although juicy, as I’ve argued before, these criticisms are coming a year too late.
WASHINGTON—The genius of American conservatives over the last 30 years has been their understanding that the most effective way to change the country is to change the terms of our political debate. On issue after issue, they have done just that. Sensible regulation was cast as a dangerous quest for government control. Modest measures to alleviate poverty became schemes to lock the poor into "dependency." Advocates of social insurance were condemned as socialists.
Shifting gears on the cap-and-trade debate is the latest proposed approach for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. by decoupling the major emitters: utilities, industry, and transportation. The latter would be addressed through a "linked-carbon fee" on transportation fuels. That is, a gasoline carbon tax, but also on aviation fuel and diesel. While details are still forthcoming, on the surface there’s a lot to like. The transportation sector is one the largest contributors of GHGs in the U.S. today so any strategy to reduce emissions will have to start there.
The results are in, and the shareholder effort to push Exxon in a more environmentally friendly direction has come up short, winning 40 percent of the vote: Exxon Mobil’s chairman and chief executive, Rex W. Tillerson, defeated a shareholder effort on Wednesday to take away one of his jobs at an annual meeting punctuated by a debate of the company’s policy toward renewable energy and global warming. The vote was nonbinding and would not have guaranteed a change in company policies had it passed.
When historians one day dissect the long arc of humankind's use of fossil fuels, they may very well zero in on October 9, 2006, as a turning point for Big Oil. That's when it became clear that the major oil companies--the giants that had survived numerous predicted extinctions and gone on to ever-greater profit and influence--were undergoing a tectonic shift and would either reinvent themselves or die.