By William O'Keefe
This year’s Earth Day celebrations, dating from 1972, followed a predictable script: they predicted environmental catastrophe unless developed countries change their profligate life styles and plunder of resources. As icing on the Earth Day cake, President Obama signed the Paris Agreement on climate change, which aims to keep the world below two degrees Celsius of warming.
In 1972, the major environmental concerns were air and water pollution and the apocalypse that would take place by the end of the 20th century from the exhaustion of the earth’s natural resources. The predictions of dread, whether they be the exhaustion of food supplies, the depletion of oil resources, a growing cancer epidemic, or deadly urban air pollution have all proven false. Since 1998, the ultimate threat to mankind has been sold as the threat of climate change.
Although these predictions were political contrivances, the cost to society in addressing them as if they were real has continued to grow and weakened our economic resiliency. Economic growth is stalled at 2 percent, productivity has declined to less than 1 percent, over $2 trillion in potential investment is held offshore, and labor participation is at 1970s levels.
The Code of Regulations, a proxy for the burdens imposed on industry, has grown from about 23,000 pages in 1960 to over 175,000 pages in 2014. And, it keeps growing, now measuring over 24 feet high. The effect of this complexity of regulation falls disproportionately on younger firms, which according to economists John Haltiwanger, Ron Jarmin, and Javier Miranda in a National Bureau of Economic Research paper, are the engines of new job creation.
Read the rest here.