Would = Could, Or Why Are Journalists Often Such Idiots?
While at work the other day I saw an interesting headline to an article.
State emissions cap would help economy while saving the air
My first thought was, “Hmmm…I wonder if they’ll talk about improved economic efficiency?” So I read the article. And nowhere in the article does it talk about economic efficiency. Instead in the third to last paragraph (which I’ve included below so that the full context is present) we find this nonsense (emphasis added by me):
Once in place, a mandatory cap on emissions would not only help California do its part to combat global warming but also would pump new vitality into the state’s burgeoning clean energy sector. It would be a signal to entrepreneurs and innovators that new energy technologies could truly pay off. As such, it could prove to be a shot in the arm of California’s economy.
So we went from “Would” in the title to the article to “could” way down at the end of the article. The editorial staff at the San Jose Mercury News are a bunch of blockheads (this is actually the charitable interpretation, IMO). I thought my grammar and english skills were bad, but sheesh how is it possible to go from would to could?
On top of this, the very idea that it will be good for the economy is suspect. A cap-and-trade emissions strategy is going to impose another layer of costs on the energy industry in California and when it comes to electricity California already pays pretty high prices. What will be the likely result? Some firms might very well shut down, cut back on employment, etc. In short, cut costs. This will likely diminish economic output and since the basic measures of economic performance tend to track just output it will likely show up in official statistics as a loss, not a gain.
Now, this is where the economic efficiency comes in. There is more to the economy than simple output of goods and services. There is also value in things like clean air, and other environmental issues as well. So it is possible that this move will improve economic efficiency, but title of this article is highly misleading at best and at worst and outright lie.