Henry “Hank” Paulson, President Bush’s hapless treasury secretary who undoubtedly made the panic of 2008 worse by his own public flop sweat over the collapse of Lehman Brothers (he had been known at Goldman Sachs more as a pure salesman than as an analyst or nitty-gritty dealmaker), takes to the pages of the New York Times today to draw parallels between the panic and crisis of 2008 and . . . wait for it . . . yeah, I know that you know what’s coming . . . yes indeed: CLIMATE CHANGE. I’d think this was satire if I didn’t know better:
THERE is a time for weighing evidence and a time for acting. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned throughout my work in finance, government and conservation, it is to act before problems become too big to manage.
For too many years, we failed to rein in the excesses building up in the nation’s financial markets. When the credit bubble burst in 2008, the damage was devastating.
We’re making the same mistake today with climate change. We’re staring down a climate bubble that poses enormous risks to both our environment and economy. The warning signs are clear and growing more urgent as the risks go unchecked.
Seriously—we’re supposed to take advice on bubbles and crashes from this guy? Who with a straight face talks about the “one thing I’ve learned” from his work in finance and government? He even writes:
I was secretary of the Treasury when the credit bubble burst, so I think it’s fair to say that I know a little bit about risk, assessing outcomes and problem-solving.
Now he tells us. This would be like asking Robert McNamara for advice on how to prosecute the Iraq War.
Paulson has a solution, which he calls “conservative”:
The solution can be a fundamentally conservative one that will empower the marketplace to find the most efficient response. We can do this by putting a price on emissions of carbon dioxide — a carbon tax.
Betcha didn’t see that coming. Wait—what? You did see that coming?
Much of the article is simply incoherent (like banking and housing policy for a decade before 2008), like this:
The nature of a crisis is its unpredictability.
But he just predicted crisis at the beginning of the article. But for pure Orwellian doublespeak, few things can top this howler:
Some members of my political party worry that pricing carbon is a “big government” intervention. In fact, it will reduce the role of government . . .
Hey, kids, I’ve got this thing called the income tax that will reduce the role of government by lowering pressure on state and local governments to hike your property taxes. . .
JOHN adds: Great post, Steve, only I believe it is “Pat Paulsen.” I only remember that because I am older than you are…