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My view: Climate plan in line with Utah's founders

By John Kateel

Published: Thursday, May 28 2009 12:05 a.m. MDT

Protecting the sanctity of the family, serving the needs of the community, working for the collective good; these are universal values that bind the LDS community together. They should be the underpinnings that bind all communities together. This cohesion and literal execution of ideals by members of the LDS community makes Utah one of the best places to live in the United States. Even though I am not an adherent of the faith, I find these values unique in the United States and more prevalent in Canada and Western Europe.

President Barack Obama is taking steps to bring the nation closer to core LDS values. Here is why.

The strength of Utah derives from the philosophical reasoning of the Prophet Joseph Smith and Brigham Young. They believed that the strong and able should work with industry and diligence to create a functional community based upon thrift and community service, yet strangely devoid of the excesses that marked 19th-century life.

To the outside observer, most notably Mark Twain, the success of the system was evident. He noted that Salt Lake City was devoid of loafers and the types of predatory scams common in many cities of the day.

The collectivism of the 19th-century prophets would be derided as socialism today.

Obama acknowledges that capitalism and free markets serve certain goals of society well, but they need to be tempered with a greater collective goal of making sure the "winners" of a capitalistic society actually add value to a society as a whole. For example, it can be surmised that in a purely capitalistic system, the right of the producer to maximize profit by spending the least amount of money or attention on reining in externalities like effluents and pollution is justified because this profit maximization leads to a higher return on shareholder equity. This rise in value would then presumably be reinvested in some other value-increasing enterprise.

Where the founding prophets and Obama converge is in realizing that externalities like pollution do have cost that is borne by the community without compensation. They both agree that the producer does have the right to a profit, yet this profit must not come at the uncompensated expense of the community as a whole. Hence I find Obama's cap-and-trade centered environmental policy well in line with the values of the pioneering founders of the great state of Utah.

John Kateel of North Salt Lake works with J.M. Alexander Eco Friendly Products.

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