Appeared in the Korea Times on Jan. 16, 2007
By Sean Hayes
My father has gone green. No my father has not been transformed by Al Gore’s “Inconvenient Truth.” He has been transformed by market mechanisms that have encouraged him to go green. My father is a conservative conservationist and he doesn’t even know it.
Yes, my father, proudly, has purchased the liberal do-gooder mother ship ― the Toyota Prius. No he didn’t accept the free Al Gore bumper sticker or the dinner with Jane Fonda.
Last year, in the United States, the Toyota Prius, for the first time, outsold the highest selling sports utility vehicle- the Ford Explorer.
My father and many others purchased this gas-electric hybrid because it gets 22 kilometers per liter, many states don’t impose sales tax on the car, a federal tax credit is available, the car has a mid-size car feel, it doesn’t cost considerably more than a non-hybrid and the car operates in the same manner as ordinary cars (no extension cords required).
My father, the conservative conservationist, is helping an increasingly ailing environment and he is doing it with a smile on his face. If we left this issue to our Al Gore type environmental scare tactic-liberals we would be in risk of destroying many of our cherished economic and social freedoms.
Thus, Korea must watch the footsteps of my father and thus encourage consumers and manufacturers to go green or radical conservationists may step-in and strip us of freedoms that we hold so dear.
Thus, the real “inconvenient truth” becomes obvious. We will lose many of our cherished freedoms through increased government intervention in our lives, if we don’t do something to lower our dependency on fossil fuels.
So first, on the supply-side, we need cars and other products that are greener. We need, through tax incentives, to encourage manufacturers and retailers to create and market green products.
Second, through the demand side, we need consumers, like my green father, to be encouraged to purchase green products. This can be accomplished through cutting VAT taxes and increasing tax credits.
Thirdly, we must reframe the environmental issue. The liberal scare tactics help only the liberal political cause and does little to nothing in finding a reasonable solution to the problem. We need to refocus our attention to educating the population on the economic necessity of being responsible citizens and stewards.
Fourth, we must consider and promote the economic opportunities available in being greener. Many companies, because of economic realities, have chosen to go green because it helps their bottom line.
For example, Unilever has increased its efforts to recycle its manufacturing waste products, WalMart has begun to lower its energy dependency, and a plethora of companies have been investing heavily in alternative and renewable fuel sources.
Lastly, we must encourage private innovation. We need to create a profit motive for private enterprises and individuals to develop more eco-friendly buildings and products and thus create a more sustainable way of life.
As in the words of the Republican governor of South Carolina: “If conservatives cannot reframe, reclaim and respond to climate change with our principles intact, government will undoubtedly provide a solution, no matter how taxing it may be.”
Hopefully, the next administration will take heed and lead us down the conservative conservationist path.
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