Voting With Your Feet Against Disastrous Climate Change Policy
by Deneen Borelli (bio)
It's time to kick those expensive kicks, black Americans. Nike and Timberland aren't working in your best interests.
Saying goodbye won't be hard to do since these companies want to eventually make it impossible to afford their shoes.
Nike and Timberland are affiliated with the Business for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy (BICEP) coalition, which wants to unilaterally impose a risky "cap-and-trade" regulatory scheme on our nation. This would raise prices on virtually everything, with costs falling the hardest on those who can least afford it.
To disrespect consumers in this way is reason enough to take your business elsewhere, but it gets worse. While asking us to tighten our belts, these companies are going to be making their shoes in countries where they can skirt the laws they want enforced here.
Essentially, cap-and-trade is a tax on fossil fuels. Businesses, in theory, will convert to alternative energy sources rather than pay higher costs for oil, coal and natural gas.
With wind turbines and solar panels in short supply right now, future suffering is inevitable. President Obama realizes this, noting in January of 2008 that "under my plan of a cap-and-trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket." He also casually noted that affected businesses "will pass that money on to consumers."
A study released by the National Black Chamber of Commerce (NBCC) also suggests cap-and-trade could kill more than 2.7 million jobs a year through 2030. The liberal Brookings Institution paints no better picture - estimating 1.7 million would be lost annually.
Additionally, the NBCC study says cap-and-trade would reduce the American GDP by $350 billion a year and cost the average worker around $400 while consumer prices rise.
The little guy will suffer most. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office noted "most of the cost of meeting a cap on [carbon dioxide] emissions would be borne by consumers, who would face persistently higher prices for products such as electricity and gasoline... [and] poorer households would bear a larger burden relative to their income than wealthier households would."
Under cap-and-trade, a policy desired by President Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Nike and Timberland, it seems the rich will get richer while the poor get poorer.
Nike and Timberland wouldn't feel the real pain of cap-and-trade restrictions. The proposal their BICEP coalition wants applies only to the United States. Nike makes a good deal of footwear in places such as South Korea and Vietnam. Those countries will not be affected. Timberland makes shoes in China - another country not willing to inflict cap-and-trade on itself.
Nike recently resigned from the board of directors of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to protest the business organization's opposition to the Obama-Pelosi-Reid cap-and-trade scheme. The Chamber, however, is not opposed to regulating carbon dioxide emissions as much as imposing cap-and-trade restrictions unilaterally. The Chamber is worried about the United States losing its ability to compete. Nike and Timberland seem to have put their own interests ahead of America's.
Placing environmental desires before economic recovery is unpopular. A recent Public Strategies' poll found 62 percent of respondents say economic recovery is a higher priority than environmental protection. A National Center for Public Policy Research-commissioned poll of black Americans found 76 percent held similar views.
In promoting his company's cap-and-trade policy on the environmental web site Grist, Timberland CEO Jeff Swartz noted "Consumers can now discriminate." And they should. In the face of Timberland, Nike and other companies' disregard for their customers' economic well-being, they don't deserve your hard-earned money.
Many black Americans put a great deal of value on the shoes they wear, but Nike and Timberland don't appear to put a lot of value in them. Black Americans should return the favor and buy elsewhere.
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Deneen Borelli is a fellow for the Project 21 black leadership network. Comments may be sent to [email protected].
Published by The National Center for Public Policy Research. Reprints
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