I think it was Ed Driscoll who cautioned the Obama Administration that After America was not meant to be an instruction manual. (By the way, personally autographed copies of AA are exclusively available from SteynOnline, he pleads with an eye to his legal bills.) Notwithstanding that advice, page 114 of After America:
That's the question the developed world is facing: Where's it going to come from? A new tax? There's nothing left to tax. By 2009, Europe was reduced to considering a levy on bovine flatulence. You heard that right - not a flat tax but a flatulence tax.
Breaking news re breaking wind:
White House Looks To Regulate Cow Flatulence As Part Of Climate Agenda
The science is settled and so is the flatulence:
The White House has proposed cutting methane emissions from the dairy industry by 25 percent by 2020. Although U.S. agriculture only accounts for about 9 percent of the country's greenhouse gas emissions, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, it makes up a sizeable portion of methane emissions — which is a very potent greenhouse gas.
In After America, I noted the complexity of the proposed flatulence regime:
Ireland was pondering a tax of 13 euros per cow, while in Denmark it was as high as 80 euros per cow. Is a Danish Holstein six times as flatulent as an Irish Hereford? Beats me. But somewhere in Brussels there's a Director of the European Flatulence Agency of Regulation and Taxation (EuroFart) who's got all the graphs. Apparently it's to offset looming penalties each nation faces from EU legislation to combat "global warming". The Times of London reported:
'EU member states are obliged to cut the emissions from non-ETS sectors by 10 per cent overall by 2020. While Romania and Bulgaria will be allowed to increase emissions, Ireland and Denmark are each faced with cuts of 20 per cent in farming sector emissions.'
Even allowing for the regulatory yoke Europe's cowed citizenry labor under, the bureaucratic logic here is hard to follow. Why is some Bulgar's Holstein allowed to increase his flatulence while the poor Jutlander's polled Hereford has to put a stopper in it? Is there a dearth of flatulence in the Balkans but a Code Red alert over the North Sea? Couldn't the EU introduce flatulence offsets and let the excessively flatulent Irish trade some of their flatulence to the Carpathians?
For the moment, the ObamaCow regime sounds comparatively simple: a flat flatulence tax across the board and across the barn. Although the EPA's plan is more ambitious than EuroFart's (25 per cent flatulence reductions by 2020, rather than a mere ten per cent), the new regulations will not prove disruptive: If you like your cow, you can keep your cow. You will not be denied coverage if you have a pre-emitting condition. There will be no increases in your cow-pay.
No doubt Michael E Mann has got a graph showing that the flatulence was entirely flat for a millennium until the Koch Brothers lobbied for a massive feed program via the Cowstone Pipeline to benefit their secret baked-bean subsidiary in the Alberta fart sands. No doubt deniers on the take from Big Gas are already spreading disinformation. As I wrote in After America:
Go back to medieval times. The gnarled old peasant is in his hovel, and one day a fellow rides up in the full doublet and hose and says he's come from the palace to collect His Majesty's bovine flatulence tax. It's just three groats per cow, a footling sum of no consequence. Even the medieval simpleton rustic would say, "Aaargh, sire, I dunno. The King's flatulence tax? That don't sound right…"
But fortunately we're all more sophisticated than that now.
Meanwhile, as President Obama prioritizes flatulence reduction, the world moves on. As the old Arabic curse has it, "I fart on your beard." Or as Putin would say, "I fart on your mom-jeans."
PS If you're observing "Earth Hour" in the barn this year, be careful lighting those candles.
~This After America I-told-you-so moment was brought to you by Steyn's legal offense fund.