Money has poisoned our democracy. Notes from a visit to Congress.
I went to Washington, knocked on the door, C C7
Rayburn building, second floor, F
To talk about the climate thing. C Am G
But all I saw was dinosaurs, C C7
Business behind closed doors. F F#dim6
Sounded like Ka-ching, Ka-ching! C G7 C
I said I’m breathing fossil smoke. And it makes me choke,
Like when Tobacco was king.
But then we got taxes to correct The true cost of a cigarette,
And nobody’s arguing.
Pollution in the atmosphere’s F
Killing millions every year. C C7
It’s giving us disease, F
And you give fossil subsidies! G G7
You know, fossils represent About seventeen percent
Of our health care bill, Ka-ching, Ka-ching.
So, why not take it off our backs, Give us a carbon tax
And let the market do its thing?
You say that it ain’t fair,
Talk to Smokey the Bear.
Seems pretty fair to me, P
olluters pay a penalty!
You know, solar started on our shores, C C7
New Jersey, nineteen fifty-four F
America. C G7 C
Clean energy is what we need,
To bring us up to speed
Learn a thing or two,
About what it can do.
Give us jobs, clear the air, Give us gobs of savoir-faire,
National security, Without going overseas,
Bottom line, it’s all about
Change your ways, or we vote you out.
No more Ka-ching, Ka-ching!
And the Founding Fathers on your walls,
May smile upon you after all,
If you really let our freedom ring! C G F–
If you really let our freedom ring! C G C–
©Doug Hendren 2016
This song came out of a frustrating day trying to explain to people in Congress why a tax on carbon (identical to a tax on cigarettes years ago) is the best market mechanism to correct some of the harmful and very costly “externalities” associated with fossil fuels, like medical costs, pollution, environmental breakdown, etcetera. According to a 2023 IMF report, current implicit and explicit subsidies to the worldwide fossil fuel industry calculates to $7 trillion per year, or $13 million per minute. This equals twice what the world spends on education, and equals about 7% of global GDP. The economics is clear: Apocalypse Isn’t So Cheap.
There is too much dirty energy money in politics. Numerous recent studies have confirmed that if we put a revenue-neutral fee and dividend on carbon, we will get more back than we put in, while saving lives, clearing the air, improving the economy, and probably salvaging a livable future for our children – if we don’t wait too long.
Climate Change, Fossil Fuels Are Hurting Our Kids, Moyers & Company
Explore the True Costs of Coal, Harvard School of Public Health