Power And Dollar

What Can Non-Profits Do For Climate Change?

Bush announced his goals on climate change.  Sierra Club already says Bush’s plan will require a miracle to save our planet.  Even McCain’s ideas are more agressive than Bush’s.  Very little is said about climate change in yesterday’s Pennsylvania presidential debate between Clinton and Obama.  Why is Bush anouncing something so useless and so late?   Is it part of his last minute legacy plan?  How does it relate to my non-profit organization when it is not an advocate of climate change?

This is his stall tactics. 

Getting a bill passed requires a process in the congress and senate.  It goes through committee, agenda arrangement, scope definition, text proof reading among members and aides, negotiation among members, parties and administration.  By providing something (anything), it takes off some of this momentum to his goals. 

Bush realizes that something will get passed in the next administration.  But providing something so vague, he can drag the bargain wide open for the next round of lobbying and thus provide a possibility of pushing a resolution less aggressive than it otherwise would be. 

In other words, he is not aiming for any kind of success.  He is aiming for a pay back to his constituence.  He is not even aiming for a legacy.

However, one point is worth noting: if Bush recognizes the need to address this issue, it will be difficult for anyone in the future to deny climate change.  The remaining question will be what and how: what should be done and how to get it done.

A lot of attention will be focused on what the emission will be.  However, the how question will affect more people in a wider range than media will be able to focus on.  Advocacy groups/nonprofit organizations representing interests not directly affected by the emission will have to pay attention on the how question.  Unfortunately, since media do not focus on the how part, advocacy groups and nonprofit usually lose their sight of it. Here are two examples to achieve the same goal with different implementations and their corresponding effects outside of pollution.

Example: emission legislation requires enforcement.  This will increase the government budget, i.e taxes.  Who gets the worst of it? Small business since cost of compliance always takes up a higher proportion of cost than a big business.  Emission can also be achieved by placing a higher gas tax and increasing personal income tax exemption at the same time without affecting the federal government’s revenue as well as its budgeting.  And the effect will be significantly different in aspects outside of the pollution. 

The former will increase government participation in the overall economy.  The latter will not.  The latter will at the same time help elevate the tax burden on the lowest income bracket tax payers, same the $10k/year income group.  Now, the poverty group suddenly have an interest in how the goals are achieved. 

When attention is so focused on emission, attention on other pressing issues are forgotten.  That is why climate change can be percevied, as an elitest cause, as a competing interest against other interest groups, say proverty groups.  It needs not be.  In fact, groups of different causes can exploit opportunities of any issue to further its own goal without sacrificing the issue of the moment. 

And exactly because advocacy groups and nonprofit organizations may not be able to follow these legislation details as well as being not able to provide these suggestions to complement the legislation to achieve its goals (piggy bag), politicians now can service the interests of the lobbyists’ paying customers without much scrutiny.   Therefore, if the issue of the moment is to discourage a certain behaviour (pollution), then your organization can always advocate to tax that behaviour and cut taxes (or spend that same tax revenue) for your constituence (seniors, students, low income, domestic abuse victim).

Fiscal policy is boring.  However, that is the most effectively way to modify the aggregate behaviour to achieve a goal.  Aggregately, people adjust their behaviour to the most use of their budget.  Even people who do not subscribe to that specific ideology now gets taxed and contributed to the cause.  An issue completely unrelated to your organization’s goal can help you when the implementation can be compromised to your favour.  In fact, you can suddenly become an ally of any issue of the moment, if you can demonstrate you can mobilize votes to support a legislation.

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April 17, 2008 - Posted by | advocacy, clinton, Current Events, Democrats, election, Election 2008, environment, fundraising, mccain, nonprofits, obama, opinion, politics, Regulation, Republican, wordpress-political-blogs

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