I am in charge of my company's advertising activities. I plan the message, vehicle, and specifications of each ad we produce. This requires me to review each contract with each trade news outlet thoroughly to ensure we both are getting what we want. This can be tedious work. Sometimes the print is incredibly small; there are numbers, footnotes, and other general clutter that make suffering these contracts quite brutal indeed.
Recently, we began negotiations for the largest ad buy in our company's history: a contract that represents a commitment well beyond the next decade. Unlike normal ad proposals from trade outlets, this one required significant examination by every relevant member of our staff. When negotiations began, several objected to certain components of the contract, but I believed most of these concerns were alleviated.
There was never any tight deadline to make the deal official. We are about to enter into trade show season, which requires key members of our team to be on the road and therefore apart from the negotiations, but there really wasn't any pressing need to sign and stamp the deal. Still, by late yesterday, it appeared we were ready to let everyone sleep on the agreement one more night and finalize it in the morning.
Then the trade media outlet did something unprecedented: In an email time-stamped at 3:00 AM Friday morning, they included a large appendix to the contract. It increased the number of pages in the contract by nearly a quarter, and appeared to be mostly legal in nature.
That's when I made the move that ultimately cost me my job: Without reading the complete text of this most important document, I approved it and entered into the contract. My boss actually read the contract late in the day, and was about to call the whole deal off. Then he learned of my action. Apparently, the section included in the middle of the night was a game-changer. I couldn't have known.
For the sake of my family and friends, the above narrative is fictitious. It never happened. Only a fool would act to alter the course of history without first knowing what his action entails, right? Well, apparently such due diligence is too much of a hassle in the United States Congress.
As you all now know, historic global warming legislation was passed late Friday in the House. I won't bore you with the details of the 1,500-page bill, but know this: It fundamentally alters how you and I consume energy in this country. And by alters, I mean dramatically increases its cost.
According to one analysis of the bill:
If the latest Waxman-Markey proposal is signed into law, its economic impact by 2035 will be as follows:
- Direct energy costs will rise by more than $1,500 per year for the typical family of four. Pain at the electric meter will cause consumers to reduce electricity consumption by 26 percent. Even with this cutback, the electric bill for a family of four will be $754 higher in 2035 than it would have been in the absence of Waxman-Markey, and $12,200 higher in total from 2012 to 2035.
- Higher gasoline prices will have forced households to cut consumption by 15 percent, but a family of four will still pay $596 more in 2035 and $7,500 more in total from 2012 to 2035.
- In total, for the years 2012-2035, a family of four will see its direct energy costs rise by $22,800. These inflation-adjusted numbers do not include the indirect energy costs consumers will pay as producers raise prices to recapture their higher production costs. Also excluded are the higher costs of developing more energy-efficient cars and appliances, the disutility of driving smaller, less safe vehicles, and the discomfort of using less heating and cooling.
- As the economy adjusts to shrinking GDP and rising energy prices, employment will take a big hit. On average, employment will be lower by 1,105,000 jobs per year. In some years, cap and trade will reduce employment by nearly 2.5 million jobs.
You can quibble with this assessment if you like. Politics, if nothing else, is a game of cherry-picking facts. But the part that is most troubling to me - scratch that - the part that infuriates me, is that as of Thursday night, this bill was 1,200 pages (which is the basis for the above assessment). By Friday morning, it was 1,500 pages. In the middle of the night, 300 pages were added to this historic piece of legislation.
And virtually no Member of Congress read it.
And this has happened before.
In my fictional account, my boss would have been completely justified in firing me. Just as we are completely justified in firing those who voted yes on this bill without reading it.
For the record, I am one who errs on the side of caution in the global warming debate. I believe we should search for ways to "get greener" (nuclear energy, e.g.). But consider this: The only analysis I've found that speaks to the bill's impact on lowering global temperatures suggests it will cool us off to the tune of two-hundredths of a degree over the next century.
Kind of makes you hot under the collar.
You feel me?