Ben Stein on Dangers of Cap and Trade

This is a rush transcript from "Glenn Beck," March 3, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GLENN BECK, HOST: All right. Ben Stein agrees. He's — is Ben here? Ben?


BECK: How are you, Ben?

BEN STEIN, ECONOMIST, LAWYER, WRITER & ACTOR: It's great except for the fact that he's dead. I mean, he looked great except for the fact that the guy...


BECK: I mean, I didn't mean currently, he didn't look like him currently. I mean, you know...

STEIN: Of course, yes, of course.

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BECK: It made me a little bit sad.

STEIN: Yes, I understand.

BECK: Give me a little hope here for the love of Pete. I mean, I didn't even — I didn't even get to Dan on the question on Blair, Sarkozy, Merkel, the Chinese, Putin, they're all saying that we — and nobody in America really gets this, it seems — they're all saying that we need a new reserve currency. That's our dollar! If they need a new reserve...

STEIN: I don't think there's going to be — I don't think there's going to be a new reserve currency. It's going to be the dollar for a good long while.


BECK: They're saying that and they're saying that they want to — they're saying that, and they are saying that they want to have some sort of a — what was it that Blair said — like an economic council, a little like the U.N. Security Council. That never works out well!

STEIN: That wouldn't work out well. But the real danger, it seems to me from — comes from controls on our behavior because of so-called climate change that causes so-called global warming. The evidence for that is extremely elusive and tricky, and yet they are planning extremely far-reaching controls for almost everyone in the western world while letting people in the developed countries burn as much of this carbon as they want.

BECK: OK. Tell me about the cap and trade, because what we have — tell me about the difference — first tell me what they used in Europe, which is a disaster, and then compare it to Obama, and tell me what that means.

STEIN: Well, cap and trade means that the government sets an overall limit that carbon can be burned and then it gives various industries credit for the amount of carbon they're going to burn. And if you — supposedly, if you use less carbon than you have been allocated, you can sell those credits to someone who wants to use more. That system is incredibly good for the traders. One of them is Obama's dear, dear friend who's going to run that exchange. So, there's a clue there.

BECK: Who, who?

STEIN: I forget, but that is an old pal of Obama's from Chicago who's going to run the exchange in Chicago that will trade that particular commodity. And that's a big, big scandal that I think nobody is focusing on. Second thing is that...

BECK: ADD moment, hang on. Don't let me forget that. Gresh, write that down, let's cover that tomorrow.


BECK: OK. Thank you. Go ahead. Sorry.

STEIN: The second thing is the European system of cap and trade has not worked well at all. It has barely limited carbon at all because they gave so many exemptions to favored local industries that burn coal throughout the continent. There's no evidence that it works well. There is an idea of a carbon tax which would just impose a straight tax on burning carbon. I don't think that's a fabulous idea either but it does involve this Enron-like business of trading that would be involved in cap and trade.

BECK: Enron was the biggest promoter of cap and trade.

STEIN: Right, exactly.

BECK: Enron had more people on Capitol Hill because they knew they could make money hand over fist just in dealing with carbon credits.

STEIN: Right.

BECK: It's a scam! And you know what?

STEIN: It is sort of a scam, yes.

BECK: Who is — sort of a scam?

STEIN: It's — well, it's a scam.


BECK: I was just saying.

STEIN: I don't want to be...

BECK: Ben, if you could — if you could do this, do you think they'd let you, or do you think they'd put you — you'd be Bernie Madoff if you were like — hey, wait a minute, no, I'm just going to...

STEIN: No, there's — something is being traded. It's just — it's as if it's "made-up" like Bernie Madoff. It's just that it's not showing itself to be effective. Its only effect is to enrich the people doing the trading.

BECK: Yes.

STEIN: And that is a good effect if you are that person.

BECK: Yes. All right. We're just trading our freedom for an invisible gas.

STEIN: Yes, that is — in fact, we are trading our freedom for an extremely elusive ideal of climate perfection, which has never existed.

BECK: Yes, I know.

STEIN: And the fact that global warming is caused by man is not in any way proved.

BECK: This is — first of all, who makes the — who makes the money on the carbon tax, on the cap and trade? The United States government does. Oh, that's great.

STEIN: Well, then the traders do, too.

BECK: Good.

STEIN: By the way, this cap and trade passed.

BECK: Aren't they the same thing — hang on, Ben, aren't they the same thing, the traders and those in the government?

STEIN: Oh, no, no, no, no.


STEIN: The trading would be done on the exchange in Chicago. It's a completely separate trade.

BECK: Oh, you mean that kind of trading and the trader.

STEIN: Yes, but the trading — but the carbon caps, the trade credits would be sold by the government. It would yield an enormous amount of money, and there would be a tax on every person who drives a car or heats his or her house or cools his or her house.


STEIN: It would be a huge new tax.

BECK: Ben, thank you very much. Sir, we'll talk again.

STEIN: My honor.

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