Can the Fed Save the World?

Trust in government, on the whole, is historically low in the U.S.  Among these low levels, trust diminishes as you move higher in the governmental hierarchy (ex. lowest in Congress, highest in city/county government).  Did government become less trustworthy over time?  More incompetent?  There’s a chicken/egg problem with whether public distrust/disengagement came from government incompetence or government incompetence resulted from public distrust/disengagement.

Keeping this in mind, a quote from The Carbon Efficient City caught my attention:

“These grassroots efforts are important but the Federal Government has the ability to generalize these goals across the whole country, avoiding first-mover disadvantages to regions that choose to act. Equally importantly, they can create a framework that aggregates the contributions of different regions and improves understanding of how the country as a whole is meeting broader global targets.”

These two sentences, in a vacuum, are spot on.  The Fed is where the big resources are, the big regulating and rule-making power are, and where you can bring it all together on as close to a global scale as possible (with apologies to the U.N.).  Outside the vacuum, however, our nation’s government has been shown to be fickle, unproductive, divisive, and unreliable in the last 5-10 years.

I’m an eternal optimist.  I’m a big fan of the potential of government to do good.  However, I don’t know if we want to put our full faith and credit in the Fed to address climate change and carbon emissions.  States rights activists say we need to shrink the Fed down and let the states innovate, compete, and lead on big policy issues.  While their rhetoric is often antiquated and disturbing, they may be right when it comes to climate.

Those in the anti-environmental policy camp say that regulations will cause job loses.  It will stifle they economy.  It will hurt more than it will help.  Yet, states like Washington, Vermont, and California are successfully implementing state-level regulatory solutions and are just now starting to collect data on the results.  In this case, it might be better to let their work play out and disprove the doubters before we buy plane tickets to D.C. to bother our Congresspersons while they try to survive the partisan gauntlet our nation’s capital has become.


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