Obamacare’s failure to launch wasn’t the only major government debacle this year. Around the world, government planners saw their dreams come crashing down around them as their best laid plans fell apart.
The Obama administration’s error-riddled rollout of HealthCare.gov — that only cost taxpayers $174 million to build — was only one among several failed social experiments by bureaucrats this year.
Around the world nanny state schemes are falling apart at the seams. From efforts to curb smoking rates in Australia to reducing carbon dioxide emissions in the European Union, governments have failed to achieve their goals.
Aussies love their smokes
The Aussie government’s crusade to curb smoking rates has fallen flat on its face, according to a report issued last month. Despite the country’s law passed last year requiring “plain packaging” for cigarette cases, the country’s smoking rates have remained unchanged.
The study by consulting firm London Economics looked at actual smoking behavior before and after Australia’s plain packaging law went into place. The law requires that tobacco packaging double the size of the warning label and get rid of any brand imagery on the front of the pack.
The plain packaging law seemed to have some effect at first, according to the report. After three months, smoking rates started to slightly decline. However, after eight months smoking rates moved back up slightly, erasing any previously made gains in curbing smoking rates.
“Over the timeframe of the analysis, the data does not demonstrate that there has been a change in smoking prevalence following the introduction of plain packaging despite an increase in the noticeability of the new health warnings,” said Dr. Gavan Conlon of London Economics.
EU cap-and-trade bottoms out
Cigarette smoke is not the only emissions nanny statists have been looking to curb. The European Union has a cap-and-trade scheme that aims to cut carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels, which they argue causes global warming.
However, Europe’s best laid global warming scheme essentially collapsed this year as the price of carbon dioxide credits hit new lows, and EU member states could not agree on a fix for the problem.
“Though the EU carbon market still exists, fallen prices for carbon certificates disappointed many politicians and bureaucrats as they hoped to generate revenues through the carbon trade system,” Fred Roeder, director of Young Voices and a researcher with the Montreal Economic Institute, told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
EU officials have pledged to fix the broken scheme to curb greenhouse gas emissions, but a report by the International Energy Agency said that prices for carbon credits would need to increase to more than $65 per metric ton of carbon in order to push companies to get off coal. However, carbon credit prices have been at about $7 or less for some time, meaning the scheme is essentially useless in terms of curbing global warming.
“Thus the EU carbon trade market is de-facto dead,” Roeder added. “This is a good example how impossible it is to anticipate future demand and volume of markets and illustrates how poor central planning and government interventions are able to cope with the world’s problems.”
Ethanol fuels environmental destruction
Several years ago Congress decided that biofuels would be the answer to the U.S.’s energy security problems. The idea was that blending more and more biofuels, like ethanol, would wean the country off foreign oil.
However, falling demand for oil due to lagging economic growth coupled with increasing ethanol blending requirements have caused the federal biofuels mandate to become unworkable. Not only are refineries at the limits of what can be safely blended into the fuel supply, but the ethanol mandate has caused farmers to devote more corn the biofuels — driving up food and fuel prices.
A broad coalition of refineries, livestock and poultry producers, environmentalists and anti-hunger advocates are petitioning Congress to scale back the ethanol mandate. The refining industry even wants the mandate to be fully repealed.
“The mandate on corn-based ethanol in particular has had a devastating effect on the entire food economy from livestock and poultry producers facing record feed costs, to food retailers facing record food costs, to consumers here and abroad struggling to balance food budgets in tough economic times,” reads a letter to Congress from groups opposing the blending mandate, including Action Aid USA, Clean Air Task Force, Environmental Working Group and Oxfam America.
Europe’s Green Energy Nightmare
Germany was once hailed by environmentalists as the Shangri-La of green energy, now is facing a power crisis. The country’s green energy subsidy scheme has driven up electricity prices and cost consumers nearly $30 billion this year in power surcharges.
“German consumers already pay the highest electricity prices in Europe. But because the government is failing to get the costs of its new energy policy under control, rising prices are already on the horizon,” reports Der Spiegel. “Electricity is becoming a luxury good in Germany.”
It’s not just Germany that’s suffering from green energy woes. Spain and Britain are also under intense economic pressure from out of control subsidies. Indeed, the continent is faced with rolling blackouts and rising energy costs.
“We’ve failed on all accounts: Europe is threatened by a blackout like in New York a few years ago, prices are shooting up higher, and our carbon emissions keep increasing,” said GDF Suez CEO Gérard Mestrallet.
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