Why progressives should love a carbon tax

by Ed Dolan

. . . and why not all of them do.

Progressives should love a carbon tax. Most progressives love the environment and believe that carbon emissions cause environmental harm. Unlike conservatives, whose attitudes toward carbon taxes were the subject of my last post, progressives have no generalized aversion to taxes. Carbon taxes should be a natural for progressives, then, if they can accept the power of economic incentives to slow the destruction of the planet.

To be sure, many progressives do express strong support for carbon taxes. Here are just three of many examples:

  • The Center for American Progress has put out a position paper titled “A Progressive Carbon Tax Will Fight Climate Change and Stimulate the Economy.” It argues that climate change, economic growth, and fiscal responsibility are intimately linked, and that a price on carbon should be part of a policy to deal with each of these issues.
  • Gernot Wagner, an economist at the Environmental Defense Fund, argues that it makes eminent sense to tax what you want less of in his excellent book, But Will the Planet Notice: How Smart Economics Can Save the World.
  • In Green Illusions: The Limits of Alternative Energy Ozzie Zehner argues against the wishful thinking that solar, wind, or other technological fixes will bring a future of cheap, clean, and abundant energy. Insisting that a strong push for energy conservation has to be part of the mix, he advocates carbon taxes to counteract what he calls “the boomerang effect”—the tendency for subsidies for clean energy to make energy in general cheaper, therefore discouraging conservation.

Yet, not all progressives are convinced. Many are skeptical on principle of our capitalist economic system and instinctively distrust market-based environmental policy. Others fear that a carbon tax would disproportionately harm the poor. Still others have ethical objections to the whole idea of bribing people to do things they ought to choose voluntarily, out of love and respect for the planet. Let’s look at each of these objections in turn.

Doubt that people really respond to market incentives

One reason that some progressives are skeptical of a carbon tax is a simple doubt that people really respond to prices. If you want to get people to stop doing something, they think, you need a government regulation that commands them not to do it in no uncertain terms.

For example, here is how Earthjustice President Trip Van Noppen puts it in an interview published on the organization’s website:

The problem with a carbon tax, as a nice and tidy solution for climate change, is that some things we tax we still use. We’ve got really, really high cigarette taxes, and people still smoke. It doesn’t necessarily guarantee the reductions that you’d need to have to prevent climate change. So in other words, we wouldn’t know whether the tax would be at a sufficient level to change behavior at the pace we’d need to change behavior . . . we don’t really know how much the market would respond.

The economic term for the responsiveness of demand to a change in price is elasticity. A large negative value for elasticity of demand means that people make a large reduction in the quantity they buy when the price rises. For example, an elasticity of -0.8 would mean that a 10 percent rise in the price of a product would lead to an 8 percent decrease in the quantity purchased. So what is the price elasticity of demand for carbon-based energy?

The fuel for which economists have most extensively studied elasticity is gasoline. One widely cited source is a 1996 meta-analysis by Molly Espey. She concluded that the best estimate for the price elasticity of gasoline demand was -0.26 in the short run and -0.58 in the long run. A 2011 study by Todd Litman of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute provides a comprehensive review of the literature since Espey’s paper. Litman finds long-run fuel price elasticities in the range of -0.4 to -0.8. Those numbers suggest that a tax that added $1 per gallon to the cost of gasoline—still leaving it well below European levels—would cut use by 10 to 20 percent. (For a more detailed discussion of the evidence on elasticity, see this earlier post.)

If elasticity numbers are too abstract, here is a chart from the Litman study, which shows a convincingly tight relationship between fuel prices and fuel use across OECD countries. Can it really be just coincidence that the United States, with the lowest fuel prices, also has the highest fuel consumption?

Prices are having an effect on fuel choice in other industries, as well. One of the strongest trends is increased replacement of coal by natural gas in the generation of electricity.  Duke Energy is one of several big utilities that are rapidly moving from coal to natural gas, in large part because of lower gas prices. According to a report in Forbes, Duke Energy’s chief executive, Jim Rogers, is calling for the government to put a price on carbon with either a tax or a cap-and-trade system. According to Rogers, who should know, doing so would accelerate a trend away from coal, not only toward gas but also toward solar and wind power.

In short, the preponderance of evidence is that prices work, both to promote energy conservation in general and to motivate the choice of cleaner over dirtier sources of energy.

A carbon tax would hurt the poor

Critics of a carbon tax frequently object that any policy that raises the cost of energy would disproportionately hurt the poor. They base the claim on data that indicate that lower income families spend a higher percentage of their budget on transportation, home heating, and electric utilities than do the more affluent. However, even if we accept the truth of that claim, it does not constitute a valid objection to a carbon tax.

The main reason is that policies to keep energy prices low are a poorly targeted way to help the poor. Just do the math. Start with data indicating that families in the bottom half of the income distribution spend an average of about 20 percent of their budgets on energy, compared with less than 10 percent for those in the top half. Combine that with the fact that households in the lower half of the income distribution receive only about 20 percent of all income. Comparing 10 percent of 80 percent to 20 percent of 20 percent makes it clear that lower-income families, despite their greater relative expenditures, consume only about a third of all energy. The much smaller number of households that fall below the federal poverty line probably consume only about 15 percent of all energy. That would mean that for every dollar by which national consumer energy costs decrease, the poor gain only 15 cents.

There are many proposals for combining a carbon tax with targeted mechanisms for offsetting its impact on the poor. One way to do so would be to refund part of the tax directly to low-income households, either through a special rebate or by expanding some existing program like the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. As long as the rebate came in a lump sum, rather than in proportion to energy use, it would offset the distributional effect of the tax without reducing its incentive to conserve.

Another approach—one that is consistent with revenue neutrality—would be to use some of the money from a carbon tax to lower the marginal rate of the payroll tax. Because the payroll tax is inherently regressive, reducing it would disproportionately help lower-income households. With either of these approaches, just a fraction of the revenue from a carbon tax would be enough to compensate low-income households. The rest would be available for other purposes—reducing the deficit, lowering the rates on other tax rates, or expanding other federal programs.

There is also another way to think about the effect of a carbon tax on the poor. Keep in mind that the reason for such a tax in the first place is the belief that carbon dioxide emissions are harmful to the environment. If so, it is just as true for the CO2 emitted by the poor as by the rich.

We do not, as a rule, exempt poor people from restrictions on socially harmful behavior. We do not suspend rules against littering in public parks on the basis of income. We do not allow poor people to shoplift their food from supermarkets; we give them food stamps, instead. By the same token, it is reasonable to require poor people to behave responsibly toward the environment. If we are concerned that a carbon tax pinches the budgets of poor households, we should provide relief through other channels, not give them a pass on the need to conserve energy and reduce pollution.

We should protect the planet because we love it

A third objection voiced by some progressives is that we should protect the planet because we love it, not for purely economic motives. Ethical objections to economic incentives are not limited to carbon taxes; they apply to all efforts to put a price on pollution, whether through taxes, marketable pollution permits, carbon offsets, or other mechanisms.

Harvard philosopher Michael Sandel, author of What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits of Marketshas expressed this view with particular force. All policies that rely on economic incentives, he says, pose the danger that those who pay a pollution tax, buy a carbon offset, or trade pollution permits are likely to consider themselves absolved of any further responsibility for climate change. Such incentives become “a painless mechanism to buy our way out of the more fundamental changes in habits, attitudes, and ways of life that may be required to address the climate problem.”

He applies his moral reasoning not just to individuals, but also to nations. Suppose that some wealthy county imposes a carbon tax or cap-and-trade mechanism. “Letting rich countries buy their way out of meaningful changes in their own wasteful behavior,” he says, “reinforces a bad attitude—that nature is a dumping ground for those who can afford it.” Whatever the efficiency of market-based mechanisms for combatting pollution, they “make it harder to cultivate the habits of self-restraint and shared sacrifice that a responsible environmental ethic requires.”

The best response to this ethical argument, in my view, is one made by Gernot Wagner in his book But Will the Planet Notice, cited at the beginning of this post. Here is what he writes in response to Sandel:

By all means, make the moral case. Teach it in philosophy classes and preach it from the pulpits, but let’s not wait for it to have an impact while the planet burns.

By all means, declutter your life. . . Downsize your apartment. Carry around a canvas bag. Bike. . . But everyone else won’t catch up to your good deeds voluntarily—not in time, and not with sufficiently strong action.

That’s where economics enters the room There’s simply no way to go about tackling this problem other than taking seriously the incentives all of us face. Getting several billion of us to behave differently—to behave morally—means guiding market forces in the right direction, making it in our interest to do the right thing. It’s the only way to make the planet notice.

The bottom line

The good news is that, despite initial skepticism, progressives are increasingly supportive of carbon taxes and other market-based environmental policies. Ironically, it is now conservatives who are more likely to reject them.

That is not to say that progressives have come around all the way. One sign of the sometimes half-hearted acceptance of market-based policies is an insistence on a belt-and-suspenders approach: Carbon taxes, marketable permits, or carbon offsets are acceptable as a supplement to existing command-and-control regulations, but not as a replacement for them. For example, a position statement from the Sierra Club reads as follows:

The Sierra Club advocates the establishment of pollution taxes which would make it less expensive for a polluter to adopt alternative processes or invest in additional equipment to curtail releases to the environment than it would be for him to continue as before. Such taxes would supplement, and not replace, standards on maximum permissible emissions.

That attitude poses a significant barrier to the kind of coalition-building that will be necessary if progressive and conservative advocates of carbon taxes are ever to agree on mutually acceptable legislation. Conservative advocates of market-based environmental policy like it, in large part, because it would replace the mish-mash of grossly inefficient taxes and regulations that they see as shackles to business. To many of them, adding a carbon tax on top of CAFE standards, clean energy mandates, ethanol subsidies, and the rest would make matters worse—not only worse for the business environment, but worse for the physical environment.

In a rational world, there would be room for a win-win compromise. Conservatives could make concessions to progressives on the need to protect the poor, for example, by using part of the revenue from carbon taxes to lower payroll taxes. Progressives, in turn, could offer conservatives some relief from the red tape of overlapping mandates, subsidies, and performance standards. In exchange they would get market-based policies that have lower compliance costs, but are equally or more effective in cutting pollution. Whether such a rational compromise is possible in today’s politically polarized America is, of course, another question.

This is the second part of a series. The first part, “Why Conservatives Should Love a Carbon Tax—and Why Some Do,” appeared last week. The third part, “Why Libertarians Should Support a Carbon Tax—Even if they Can’t Love It,” will come soon.

JC comment:  this is a guest post by Ed Dolan, that was originally published at economonitor.

320 responses to “Why progressives should love a carbon tax

  1. catweazle666

    I find it astonishing that there are people out there who believe that we puny humans can in some way perceptibly damage the planet and create some condition from which it will require “saving”, and the concept that this can be somehow alleviated by taxing the use of the resource that gave us the Industrial Revolution and the myriad benefits that have sprung from it insane – most especially as it will be the poorest and most vulnerable members of the population who are hardest hit. Take Al Gore, does anyone believe a higher carbon tax will reduce his use of his Gulfstream? No, I thought not. But those pensioners who have to choose between heating their homes and eating, it will certainly reduce theirs, they will die.

    There are real problems with real pollutants such as xenoestrogens that are completely ignored while this carbon dioxide fantasy absorbs truly shocking quantities of resources, and many of the so-called mitigations such as biofuels have the opposite effect altogether. As for the pellet wood power station feed, that is insanity of the highest order, as is rapidly becoming clear.

    We can no more affect the climate via taxation than we can change the time the sun rises and sets, or reverse the motion of stars in their orbits, and to believe so is utter insanity.

    • Peter Lang

      catweazle666,

      +1

      I agree with much of your comment.

      If we want to reduce global GHG emissions the only way it can be achieve in practice, IMO, is with economically rational policies. Increasing the cost of energy is not rational and won’t be acceptable. Surely that should be evident by now after 20 years of failed UN climate change negotiations trying to push policies on us that would increase the cost of energy.

      I’d also point to this excellent report again:
      Humanity Unbound: How Fossil Fuels Saved Humanity from Nature and Nature from Humanity
      http://www.cato.org/publications/policy-analysis/humanity-unbound-how-fossil-fuels-saved-humanity-nature-nature-humanity

      The take away messages are:

      1. Abundant energy is essential for human wellbeing
      2. Energy use is increasing and will continue to (probably forever)
      3. Cheap, reliable energy is necessary and good for humanity and the environment
      4. If we want to decarbonise the global economy we need a cheaper source of energy than fossil fuels. We could have that but the ‘Progressives’ are blocking progress.

      These two comments explain how I suggest we could decarbonise the global economy in a ‘No regrets’ way:

      1. How to Decarbonise the global economy: http://judithcurry.com/2013/04/19/open-thread-weekend-14/#comment-313509

      2. Alternative to carbon pricing – Reduce existing market distortions: http://judithcurry.com/2013/04/19/open-thread-weekend-14/#comment-313514

    • Nice post which I will finish reading as soon as I post this. Your comment above “Comparing 10 percent of 80 percent to 20 percent of 20 percent makes it clear that lower-income families, despite their greater relative expenditures, consume only about a third of all energy. The much smaller number of households that fall below the federal poverty line probably consume only about 15 percent of all energy” surely must refer to totals of residential energy consumption, not overall energy consumption. So the poor would consume 15% of the roughly 30% of energy used by households–or do you disagree?

      • Yes, the numbers do refer to residential energy consumption. However, keep in mind that much embedded energy consumption–used to build houses, transport goods in international trade, grow crops, and so on–is “consumed” roughly in proportion to income, as well, so I do not think the picture for energy consumption as a whole would be substantially different.

      • Tom Fuller | July 9, 2013 at 12:36 am |

        As people around the world are discovering, from Toronto today to Calgary three weeks ago, Arizona two weeks ago, New York last fall, the UK, much of Europe, and on and on, the line between comfortable economic status and ruinous poverty may be one single extreme weather event that wipes out their shelter. And for those so ruined, for all the poorest, efficient residential energy would be a balm, a saving that if they could afford the capital investment, would reduce their long term expenses by reducing waste.

        What are the percentages you’re discussing of sources of waste and overuse of fuel among demographic segments? Does the poverty trap make the poorest waste most that could have been saved? Does the elimination of other options by the subsidy of ‘cheap energy’ — which never does anything but lead to the most expensive overall basket of goods — trap the poorest more?

        The solution is to stop the ‘cheap energy’ madness of the past century, and invest instead in Capitalism.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        That article is incredibly wrong. Promoting it is spreading misinformation, and it strongly suggests the promoter has no idea what they’re talking about.

        The only thing worse than the total inaccuracies of that article is the author’s attitude. How can someone claim a person’s comment is “simply not true” then completely make things up?

      • I’d feel sorry for Phil, but I won’t.
        ==========

    • catweazle666,

      +1 and a lot more

    • Brandon Shollenberger | July 9, 2013 at 8:57 pm |

      Argument by assertion is as useless as kim. Which is extremely useless. It provides neither evidence nor inference, thus neither adequately explains nor educates as to method of reasoning.

      Handwaved argument by assertion is doubly kim.

      Imagine being twice as useless as kim.

      Details. Specifics. Evidence. The author of the article provides these.

      And right or wrong, the argument shows a Risk of damage, and that Risk results in private costs without compensation or consent as the result of the lucrative actions of a few.

      We do not need to “affect the climate via taxation.” We can compensate the Risk by privatization.

      • Brandy doesn’t make any sense!

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        Bart R, in a fitting move, you misrepresent my remarks. One doesn’t have to provide evidence when stating their position to avoid a logical fallacy. It is perfectly appropriate to simply state one’s position. That’s what I did.

        It would have been appropriate for you to say I provided no evidence for my position. Instead, you chose to overreach and insult based upon exaggerating that reasonable criticism. You also failed to point out the author of the piece used exactly the same tactic I used.

        This behavior shows I was likely right in not bothering to provide evidence for what I said. Your behavior now, and in the past, strongly suggests you’d refuse to have any reasonable discussion about that evidence anyway.

        In the future, you might want to try saying something like, “What makes you say that”? It’ll make you seem less biased and close-minded.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        To demonstrate what I said just above, let me quote the first two definitions for “argument by assertion” Google pulls up for me:

        Argument by assertion is the logical fallacy where someone tries to argue a point by merely asserting that it is true, regardless of contradiction.

        Proof by assertion, sometimes informally referred to as proof by repeated assertion, is an informal fallacy in which a proposition is repeatedly restated regardless of contradiction.

        We’ll note both of these say an argument by assertion is made “regardless of contradiction.” That’s because an assertion, in and of itself, it logically sound. It only becomes fallacious when an assertion is used as an argument. That’s why the phrase is argument by assertion. It’s when you use an assertion as an argument, not just when you make an assertion.

        A person who insults others without knowing such trivial aspects of what they say is, well… useless.

    • Just as astonishing is how a tax can affect climate?!!! What on earth ( excuse pun) has money or policy got to do with weather. Ridiculous,

    • Brandon Shollenberger

      Bart R, feel free to make a fool of yourself all you want. The fact you’re an idiot or a close-minded fool if available for anyone to see. I have no intention of making the obvious even more obvious than it already is.

  2. Peter Lang

    Carbon pricing – why it will not succeed

    Supporters of carbon pricing argue it is the cheapest way to reduce global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. However, their assumptions are unlikely to be achieved in practice, as it is unlikely such a program can be implemented and sustained for the considerable time required for it to work. With the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) representing a key difference between … , this article examines the underlying logic and argues that it can never succeed and should be repealed without delay.

    See the article here: http://tinyurl.com/ld46ld2

    • Peter Lang

      [repost to correct formatting]

      Carbon pricing – why it will not succeed

      No gain and lots of pain with the ETS

      Supporters of carbon pricing argue it is the cheapest way to reduce global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. However, their assumptions are unlikely to be achieved in practice, as it is unlikely such a program can be implemented and sustained for the considerable time required for it to work. With the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) representing a key difference between … , this article examines the underlying logic and argues that it can never succeed and should be repealed without delay.

      See the article here: http://tinyurl.com/ld46ld2

      • “Any country or region that attempts to run ahead and set an example – as the EU and Australia have done – will be economically disadvantaged hammered into a pulp.”
        Understatement from the article corrected.

    • British Columbia.

      • BC and rest of Canada are net exporter of Energy.
        Unlike other other Oil States, Canada doesn’t give it’s citizens
        government subsidized cheaper fuel prices, rather it’s gasoline
        prices are generally higher than US, and this true in 1970s
        as well as today [when Canada switched to metric system there
        was bump in gasoline prices- there prices were by liter instead
        Canadian gallon [which was 1/5 larger the US gallon] so gasoline
        signs of price per liter seems cheaper. Or at least that seemed to my impression at the time.
        BC has population of 4.4 million. Compare to California 38 million.
        And BC probably produces more hydro power than California.
        Or if California [423,970 square km] had 5 million people
        it too would an excessive amount of hydro power similar to BC [944,735 square km].
        Contrary what some might think Canada does not have very high taxes- it used to have higher taxes but it changed direction [over decade ago] and was somewhat aggressive lowering government spending and reducing it’s debt.
        Here is article on Canadian vs US taxes:
        http://www.investopedia.com/financial-edge/0411/do-canadians-really-pay-more-taxes-than-americans.aspx
        So it’s mixed bag- depending on income and circumstances. But it biggest difference [not mentioned in above article] is Canadians have less government debt, and having a high debt is similar to a tax.

        Problem with carbon tax in US is it’s purpose in current climate will be to increase taxes instead replace one type of tax for another.
        Same problem with consumer tax {carbon tax is simply narrower consumer tax] or flat tax.
        Problem with US is it’s huge government debt, with such a debt, politicians will be overly eager to add more tax burden [whether in form of carbon tax or ObamaCare] and lie to voters that it isn’t actually tax increase where in fact it is [as was finally make clearer for those lacking a clue with ObamaCare and supreme court].
        So if US government finally get around to being fiscally rational and takes steps the reduce the burden on US citizen by not being tens of trillions in debt.
        Then maybe some consumer or carbon tax can look at and it will not be another excuse not the deal with reckless governmental spending.

      • Ruled by fools, who have no concept of cost-benefit analysis.

    • Brian H | July 9, 2013 at 4:09 am |

      Ruled by fools, who have no concept of cost-benefit analysis.

      While I don’t dispute your claims, how are they special to this case — as where is there in the world no one can point at and say the same of — and how are they relevant?

      Cost-benefit analysis is dubious when applied to the question. No one’s done a very good job of overcoming the many obstacles to meaningful CBA on unnatural climate kinetics due anthropogenic forcings. The time scales are extremely long, meaning costs continue over incommensurable pricing periods. The area is global. The very idea that we have the right to impose our own CBA on others without their consent or input is tyrannical.

      In other words, it would take a great fool to assert a cost-benefit analysis.

  3. It’s carbon dioxide fer cryin’ out loud. So annoying.

    3rd post in the series could be: “Why Progressives Insist On Calling A Harmless Trace GAs Essential to Life a Stupid and Misleading Name”

  4. Peter Lang

    It is immoral to argue for a carbon tax. No one should want a carbon tax. It raises the cost of energy, therefore damages the economy and, therefore, reduces human wellbeing compared with what it would be without the carbon tax.

    • Peter Lang | July 8, 2013 at 8:15 am |

      British Columbia.

      • Steven Mosher

        +1

      • Rob Starkey

        LOL- and how much did the carbon tax in BC reduce CO2 emissions and what was the positive impact other than the increased revenue for the government? It is pretty tough to argue that the BC tax had a significant impact on per capita consumption as compared to other Canadian areas

      • Nice place to live or visit.

        Not much as an example carbon tax is effective.

      • Ruled by fools.

    • A carbon tax is no worse than any other tax. No need to exaggerate. No tax is benign, though some taxes are probably a neccessary evil

      • Actually, it’s more realistic to say all taxes are harmful, just to varying degrees. Direct or indirect, it doesn’t matter. The poor will always suffer disproportionately. And subsidizing poverty only distorts the system and reduces productivity, again reflecting more on the poor than the wealthy.

      • Peter Lang

        jacobress,

        CO2 taxes have some important differences from other taxes. For example, other taxes are applied to transactions that are already accounted for in the financial systems – e.e., taxes on income, goods and services, etc. But we have no GHG emissions accounting system suitable for taxation (at the levle of precision and accuracy needed). To implement and maintain CO2 emissions measurement, monitoring and reporting at the standard that will become required will incur very high compliance costs. So it’s nonsensical to talk about “revenue neutral” CO2 taxes. It’s not achievable.

        Refer to this to get some undersdtanding of the complexity of the EPA’s requirements: http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=13578
        As you read it think about what the cost to b usinesses of emissions monitoring and reporting would be. Also think about what the cost would become when it is extended to all GHG emissions sources with the level of accuracy and precision required for tax and trade of a commodity.

        See also: “The ultimate compliance cost for the ETS
        http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=13578

      • Peter Lang

        Sorry, I pasted the wrong link to the EPA emissions monitoring requirements; here is the link:
        http://www.epa.gov/airmarkets/business/ecmps/docs/ECMPSEMRI2009Q2.pdf

      • What’s worse, there is no credible measure of the harm, if any, done by CO2. There are no ACGW refugees. No one has been flooded out of their house by ACGW. OTOH, crops and other plants have benefited. I don’t care who says the benefits shouldn’t be counted in the value of CO2 – they are wrong.

    • I think a carbon tax is a) a perfectly sound approach to dealing with emissions and b) potentially the only mechanism that could be conceivably tailored to enlist support from conservatives. The key would be making the tax 100% revenue neutral, not by throwing pennies at the payroll tax, but using all revenues to lower it.

      • Peter Lang

        Tom Fuller,

        I hear your opinion, but strongly disagree. I explain why here:
        http://www.quadrant.org.au/blogs/doomed-planet/2013/07/no-gain-and-lots-of-pain-with-the-ets

      • “tailored to enlist support from conservatives”? In a pig’s eye. Putting glue on the gears of every energy-related transaction, for provably immeasurably small benefit, even granting the whole catalogue of AGW idiocy, will never persuade a conservative you are anything but a dangerous arrant fool.

      • No no no no no no no no no no … fer reasons of productivity,
        (serfs care fer that,) and fer reasons, as Jim Cripwell demands,
        ‘where’s the empirical evidence’ that good ol’ CO2, staff of life,
        plants luv it, is a cause of outa’ – control – warming – the –
        ocean’s – wil – boil – little childers will nevah – O -M -G?
        B -t-s

      • Tom Fuller

        I can sign you up then to my exciting new scheme designed to help both progressives and those in fuel poverty?

        http://judithcurry.com/2013/07/08/why-progressives-should-love-a-carbon-tax/#comment-341958
        tonyb

      • It can never be “revenue neutral”. The bureaucracy will be expanded exponentially to “administer” the tax and insufficient of the proceeds will be distributed back to the citizens to alleviate the financial burden.
        In Australia we are already suffering the effects of this ill considered burden … rising unemployment, significant contraction in manufacturing, unacceptable sovereign risk … are not indicators of a successful implementation unless you have set out to destroy your economy. In which case, in Australia, it has been a resounding success.

  5. Fred Stevens

    With a well designed carbon tax emissions would quickly be reduced.

    Similarly with a well designed death tax before long we’d soon be immortal.

  6. A $10 per tonne carbon tax (smallish) would raise $60 billion per year revenue in the US. I think the main benefit of this is as an insurance against climate and weather disasters, like paying drought-affected farmers, helping storm and flood victims of various kinds, and funding projects like building and relocating infrastructure for resilience, improving the water and energy infrastructure, helping in overseas disasters, etc. For comparison, this would cover twice the cost of Hurricane Sandy every year. I don’t think it will reduce usage significantly enough to help the planet, but the article shows an impressive negative correlation between usage and cost. I think the benefit is more in paying for resilience and damage recovery than in reducing the size of climate change.

    • You could play ‘Carbon Tax Lotto’? Like they did for the schools.

      • Tom | July 8, 2013 at 8:42 am |

        That’d be Ross McKitrick’s proposal. A carbon tax/subsidy based on the weather. It gets warmer, you pay more tax. A random cold spell, you get paid to burn carbon.

        Though at the time it came out, I referred to it as “C02 Roulette”.

      • Hell, let’s just throw another virgin in the volcano.

      • I have a better idea. Make sure all the code and meta-data are publicly available, then tax the climate models by how crappy they emulate features of the climate. The tax would be levied on everyone in the organization(s) that work on the model. That would be a huge step forward.

    • Peter Lang

      Jim D,

      Would a $10/tonne C tax cost more or less than the cost of compliance? How much more or less? How do you know? What would be the compliance cost per annum? What proportion of emissions would be included in the C tax scheme for that amount of compliance cost?

      Did you know that EPA estimated it’s cost for managing compliance for just the top,10,000 businesses responsible for emissions is $21 billion per year? That’s just for the EPA. What would be the cost for the actual business who have to measure, monitor, report emissions and defend themselves again the bureaucracy? What about all the other bureaucracies that would inevitably have a role to play in policing the C tax?

      Have you thought any of this through? Do you have any authoritative cost estimates for the compliance cost>

      Ed Dolan, do you have any authoritative estimates for the compliance cost?

      The ultimate compliance cost of the ETS
      http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=13578

      • Compliance could be 10% or about $6 billion per year at most. Imagine how much you can do with $6 billion to enforce the correct taxation rates in industries. It would pay for itself.

      • Peter Lang

        Jim D,

        Just making stuff up that suits you and pulling numbers out of the air without the slightest justification, or basis damages anyone’s credibility. The fact you do so has branded you as having no credibility. I probably won’t bother responding to your comment in future as I now realise you are prepared to just make stuff up, so nothing you say can be trusted.

      • For comparison, the IRS budget is $12 billion, so $6 billion just for a carbon tax is already pushing it to an extreme. Also if you think companies will go bankrupt just figuring out how much CO2 they are releasing, those companies would be somewhat weak specimens to start with. Compliance is a non-issue, and $10 a tonne is just a low level anyway (10 cents per gallon).

      • Peter Lang

        Jim D,

        That is not how you estimate. You have not a clued what you are doing. Give up.

    • pottereaton

      Jim D: you are talking about giving the government reams of play money, a blank check for $60 billion per year. Bad idea. Have you not seen all the ridiculous things that government can do with excess revenue? Better to set aside the money to cover the cost of natural disasters based on projections.

      The assumption that we must reduce “the size of climate change” is one of those pie-in-the-sky assertions that environmentalists and climate change fanatics frequently make without ever feeling the need to specify what kind of change they are referring to. What climate change are we talking about here? Do you have some prophetic powers that the rest of us lack that allow you to see where the climate is going? Forgive me if I’m skeptical.

      If you are going to tax people heavily, you need to be more specific, more targeted in your language. People need to know where their money will be spent. A carbon tax is an idea whose time has gone, or it is at least until we can prove there is a causal link between CO2 emissions and any rise in temperature, which as you know, has conspicuously ceased in the past 16 years.

      • The spending areas can be very clearly delineated, and the rest can be used for emergency funds and to invest in equally well defined projects, which help the private sector in research, development, production and construction. The right parts of the private sector would benefit from this.

  7. Peter Lang

    Compliance cost of carbon pricing?

    What would be the compliance cost of your of the carbon tax scheme? This is an issue that seems to be largely ignored in the economic analyses to date (e.g, Nordhaus, Tol, Garnaut). I doubt the compliance cost would be trivial.

    I suspect the compliance cost for any carbon pricing scheme will become substantial over time. I expect it would increase as more and more, and smaller and smaller, emissions sources are required to be included.

    I expect the compliance cost would relate more to the size of the emission sources and the complexity of measuring emissions from those sources, rather than the quantity of total emissions covered. (For example, it is cheaper per tonne to measure emissions from a large power station than from a paint factory or a farm (see comment below regarding compliance issues for a paint factory). So, the compliance cost per tone would increase as the participation rate increases.

    I also expect that, over time, any carbon pricing scheme would tend towards requiring more and more participation; i.e. more countries included, more emissions sources included, more of the twenty-three Kyoto greenhouse gases included and lower threshold for inclusion. Any carbon pricing scheme will tend towards requiring every GHG emissions source in every country be included and the emissions measurements must be as precise and accurate as they are for trade, including international trade, in any other commodity we trade. At the limit, the emissions from every cow, sheep and goat in every country (e.g. including Eretria, Ethiopia, Mogadishu and Somalia) will have to be measured and reported.

    The ultimate compliance cost of the ETShttp://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=13578 suggests some of the cost items that need to be estimated.

    Contributors to compliance cost

    Question: what would be the compliance cost for carbon pricing once it is fully implemented and running at the level of financial integrity that will be expected?

    For example, what would be the annual cost for a country (e.g. Australia) for:

    – Bureaucracies (e.g. for Australia these bureaucracies would have a role: Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency (DCCEE), Treasury, Australian Taxation Office (ATO), Australian Federal Police, state police forces, state bureaucracies, Attorneys’ General Departments, Federal Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism, Bureau of Energy and Resources Economics (BREE), the equivalent state departments of energy, resources, agriculture, forestry, environment, Prime Minister and Cabinet, State departments of Premier and Cabinet, the law courts, High Court, jails, any others I haven’t thought of?

    – The businesses that have to report their emissions – what is the cost to implement and maintain the monitoring equipment and to report? See the EPA monitoring requirements: http://www.epa.gov/airmarkets/business/ecmps/docs/ECMPSEMRI2009Q2.pdf and http://www.epa.gov/airmarkt/emissions/docs/plain_english_guide_par75_final_rule.pdf

    – What is the cost to update and replace equipment, reporting systems and legacy data each time the rules change (as they do every few years; see history of past changes in US EPA’s monitoring requirements: http://www.epa.gov/airmarkt/emissions/docs/plain_english_guide_par75_final_rule.pdf , Section 1.2)?

    – Farmers and all the upstream and downstream industries (farming will be included eventually)

    – Accountants, lawyers, law courts?

    – Firms that use the data, analyse it and report? What is the cost for them to have to maintain and continually update their systems and legacy data?

    – Cost of monitoring the compliance of international carbon credit schemes?

    A real world example of the compliance cost of carbon pricing:

    Comment by an engineer, Graeme No.3: http://forum.onlineopinion.com.au/thread.asp?article=13578#235297

    I’ve retired from all that estimation but was involved when it started in NSW when I worked for a paint Company making some resins. The short answer is that we didn’t know what specific fuel types or amounts were combusted in our after burner (to reduce all emissions to CO2 and some nitrogen oxides).

    Firstly, a portion of the resin ingredients were chemically changed during reaction, and a mixture of the reactants and the changed substances went straight to the oil fired after burner. It was a complex and variable mixture, and analysing each reaction would have been a nightmare of complexity.

    Also into the afterburner went volatiles from the paint production. As there were over 6,000 products and hundreds of volatile ingredients it was impossible to calculate emissions.

    The 4 “methods” put forward by the public servants ranged from idiotic to bizarre. (No-one in the paint industry could supply the answer, but were threatened with fines if they didn’t).

    I moved on, thankfully, and my successor was a practical (unscrupulous) fellow who responded by generating a vast spread sheet of over 600MB. 16 pages of calculations, I’ve forgotten how many pages of information on composition, tonnage produced, batch sizes and frequency of manufacture. All in 10 point Arial font with no graphics. Factors were assumed and buried in obscure corners with no explanations.

    One resin might be spread over 200 products. And with 6000 rows and 120 columns on a page, try following through that, esp. with references from page to page to another page. It looked impressive, but trying to check it was nigh on impossible, but the public servants were pleased and even recommended that other paint companies consult him! His view was that he retired in 5 years and they wouldn’t figure it out in that time.His comment was “Brains baffle b*llsh*t”.

    This I add happened more than 5 years ago.

    Graeme No.3 posted four other interesting comments on the subject and finally this one: http://forum.onlineopinion.com.au/thread.asp?article=13578#235415

    curious how the old memories come back.

    At the time it seemed a clash of cultures; there wanted something and couldn’t see why it wasn’t supplied a.s.a.p. The public servants weren’t interested in our difficulties, they expected us to drop everything and comply with their demands. Almost feudal, like a Baron addressing serfs.

    The original demand came with a deadline, and threatened us with fines and/or imprisonment if we didn’t supply the information on time and guarantee its accuracy.

    I don’t think that the question of the costs of compliance ever crossed the minds of this government or its advisors. For over 50 years the amount of paperwork they’ve demanded from industry has grown and grown. Each Department assumes their demands are reasonable and not much work (forgetting that collecting data takes far more time than filing it) and not allowing for other departments demands.

    The howl from industry has been loud and clear for years, yet ignored. The burden is becoming too great, and will be resolved by either of two methods – that of the Israelites departing Egypt, or the French peasants revolting. For companies the first is in vogue.

    That we might have other priorities wasn’t considered, but even then the firm was trimming staff. We were down about 40 from 4 years before, and had about 170-180 working there.

    I lost contact but I know that there are now less than 50 there. Drastic cuts have been made because they are struggling to compete with overseas competitors, yet they were exporting quite large volumes when I was there.

    These comments illustrate some of the real compliance costs of carbon pricing. It’s important to recognise that once carbon pricing is begun the participation rate will increase over time to include smaller and smaller emissions sources. Eventually, when full international carbon pricing is in pace, most emissions source in every country will have to be measured And they measurements will be required to be precise and accurate.

    My Question: What will be the compliance cost for carbon pricing once it is implemented to the standard that will eventually be required?

  8. “Critics of a carbon tax frequently object that any policy that raises the cost of energy would disproportionately hurt the poor.”

    Any policy that increases the cost of energy, including in particular decarbonization, will hurt the poor more than the wealthy. Progressives may say they care about the poor, but their policies are all described to make the poor more dependent on government. Not as an accidental effect, but as the intent of the policy.

    Climate policy is no different. Ignore what progressives say, and watch what they do.

    • Pissant Progressive

      The arguments put forth by Dolan as to why concern for the poor shouldn’t worry a progressive are some of the weakest I’ve seen here:

      The main reason is that policies to keep energy prices low are a poorly targeted way to help the poor. Just do the math. ….That would mean that for every dollar by which national consumer energy costs decrease, the poor gain only 15 cents.

      Nobody really argues this. The real argument is that a carbon tax hurts the poor disproportionately on an individual or group basis because they spend a greater percentage of their income on energy. That’s all.

      The rest of the arguments are about how to offset that problem. The mechanisms are complex and require extra bureaucracy. What about a personal exemption just like with income taxes?

      • Pissant Progressive | July 8, 2013 at 10:45 am |

        “..they spend a greater percentage of their income on energy.”

        Cite, please? Evidence? Analysis? Proof?

        In the case of British Columbia, the opposite of your claims are reported. Of course, in British Columbia the carbon tax is revenue neutral. The income flows per capita raising the income level of all, though as a percentage of their income affecting the poor most. Which is a double dividend, because the poor also apparently spend least on energy.

    • GaryM | July 8, 2013 at 10:05 am |

      British Columbia.

      • The BC green-besotted progressives don’t even know what the effect of their tax is on their economy, 5 years after its enactment. But they know enough that they have frozen it to see just how much damage they have done so far.

        “However, the Liberals have lately been wary about whether the tax puts B.C’s economy at a disadvantage. That concern prompted the announcement of a review of the tax in 2012. Kevin Falcon, the finance minister of the day, said the province was committed to the tax, but wanted to know if it was affecting economic competitiveness, especially in the agricultural sector. Earlier this year, the Liberals announced a five-year freeze on hikes in the carbon tax to allow other jurisdictions to catch up.”

        “Catch up” is progressive speak for “enact the same stupid policy we have.”

        http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/bc-to-promote-carbon-taxes/article12768202/

        Oh, and then there is this for the Ross MCKitrick’s of the world:

        “The legislation that established the carbon tax under the Liberal government mandates all revenue must go to corporate and personal income tax cuts and a low-income tax credit.

        NDP Leader Adrian Dix, on the other hand, is promising to put the money towards ‘environmental initiatives, green initiatives such as transit.’”

        Stupid is as stupid does.

    • If the conservatives really cared about the poor, they would support a carbon tax as a payroll tax deduction. For those outside the states, this is like using the carbon tax to reduce the costs for health insurance and social security benefits (national retirement and unemployment payments). Perhaps this is the common ground needed to get conservatives to support it, but I doubt it because I think they are just using the poor as an excuse not to support something they wouldn’t support even if it very directly helped the poor. They need to look inside themselves a bit on this issue of the poor, and I think it will be ugly in many cases.

    • GaryM | July 8, 2013 at 1:47 pm |

      Wow. A man who truly is not afraid to demonstrate he knows nothing of what he speaks is .. GaryM.

      The BC government is one of the most conservative in the world. It’s cut taxes more than any government in existence. It is so non-left, non-green, non-progressive that it is actually successful at keeping the former basketcase economy of a region with the same population as South Carolina improving even while most of the rest of the world faced downturn, and it did it while coping with substantial losses in two of its major economic drivers, timber and fisheries.

      There have been multiple studies on the BC carbon tax and the BC economy by interested parties on all sides. The agreement is pretty good: the revenue neutral carbon tax has been good for the BC economy, and CO2E is down on the order of 8%-16% because of it within the range of published scholarly estimates, industry estimates, and government estimates.

      Kevin Falcon was minister for like six months, and appears to have had nothing to do with the carbon tax other than to make speeches to appease opponents of it, while not materially altering the carbon tax which was due to freeze at the point he made the announcement since its inception many years earlier.

      And NDP leader Adrian Dix? Who cares what a socialist has to say, especially one who lost that election in what reporters in the place called a stunning defeat?

      That’s right, the government that imposed the BC carbon tax has gone through two elections, increasing its majority in each one, since.

      Voters like the carbon tax. Why shouldn’t they? It pays them dividends.

    • GaryM | July 10, 2013 at 4:19 pm |

      http://www.texasgop.org/gop-principles

      Care to check point by point on actual outcomes which of these two is more effectively conservative?

      Go ahead. Tell me how much government revenue was collected and spent in Texas in each of the past twenty years, and compare it with BC. (That’d let you see before and after socialism in BC.)

      Go ahead, compare the BC surpluses and deficits and debt to Texas, or any other so-called conservative government in the USA, of any size.

      Texas. Talks the talk. Only. BC has walked the walk.

      “fully on board with socialized medicine”?!

      Medicine’s socialization in Canada is a federal jurisdiction, not provincial. Oddly, the party in control at the federal level is the Conservative Party of Canada. This is why sticking one’s nose into the affairs of other states is particularly silly: if you don’t live under the rules, you’re hardly likely to take proper care to understand them.

      And your begging the question arguments.. just too weird to bother disentangling. Fact is, BC’s taxes are under direct control of its people. When they get a tax they don’t like, they hold a referendum and ditch it. As they’ve done since the Carbon Tax on something they call their “HST”, but not with the Carbon Tax. What is more conservative than direct democracy on tax issues? Texas can’t pull that off.

  9. “market-based environmental policy ”

    Calling a carbon tax a “market-based environmental policy” is an oxymoron.

    A tax is the opposite of “market-based”.
    Using such obfuscation of terms stinks as a selling strategy.

    • Jacob | July 8, 2013 at 10:20 am |

      What, you think government should borrow instead of tax? Sell royalties? Aren’t government royalties taxes? Charge fees for every service? Aren’t government fees taxes? Print money without end? Perhaps you think the Market would endure without fiat currency, or with infinite inflation, or with ever-growing cost of borrowing as governments outgrow their national pace of Market expansion?

      Or you think Markets would endure without government at all?

      I know I hope for the day we advance enough that Markets truly can operate without government. But I recognize that day is not yet here, and though every experiment in laissez-faire brings us closer, and every lesson we learn from failed deregulations moves us forward, we have a long road before the day of zero government, and right now we see countless examples of inept government interference being the alternative to Market failure due organized, deliberate lack of fair play by some participants.

      Until the day the Market’s ready for zero government, tax is an inevitable component of market reality. And why shouldn’t it be? Tax, in the best of all possible worlds where tax still exists, is a necessary evil that delivers a service of value the taxpayer benefits from. Shouldn’t people pay for the utility they obtain, under Capitalism?

      And as an alternative to current other worse forms of taxation, a carbon tax is less distortionate by far on the Market, on labor, on money supply, on profit and corporate income, and far more precise an implement of fiscal policy.

      • You can argue that, as taxes go, a carbon tax is not worse than other taxes. That would be correct.
        I would also support swapping a carbon tax for any other existing tax.
        But that is not how it is done. Eg. Australia. They imposed a carbon tax on top of all other taxes. That’s what makes the carbon tax attractive to piliticians.

  10. Oh well…

    we know it all too.

  11. Progressives should love a carbon tax.
    I do know some people like that and some of them are even friends.

    • Herman Alexander Pope | July 8, 2013 at 10:31 am |

      Ed Dolan’s explained why conservatives and progressives should love a carbon tax, but don’t.

      He’s left out those non-aligned people who see conservative and progressive as next-to meaningless terms, but I’m sure he could extend his analysis to explain why even smart people should love a carbon tax, if they don’t already.

      Which is a stretch. Smart people generally already figured that out.

    • timg56 | July 8, 2013 at 2:58 pm |

      Pfft. You assume I agree with me. Which is a reach.

      I’m not sure of a carbon tax.

      Privatization by CO2E fee-and-dividend, or revenue-neutral tax, that I’m in favor of if moderated by the law of supply and demand. If none of the money goes to the general revenues — or other revenues — of government, I see the point of this exercise in restoring the democracy of the purchase decision at the individual level.

      The exact method? That’d be up to each jurisdiction by its laws and customs and what’s right, nation by nation, state by state.

      A carbon tax, if it should happen at all, ought happen afterwards, once we see what the Market really thinks is the right price.

      In general, I avoid agreeing with people who agree with me. What good are they to me? Can they challenge my preconceptions? Can they effectively check my arguments for error without confirmation bias?

  12. The fact is: people who love taxes in general (generic taxes) love carbon taxes too. (Call them “progressive, “smart” or whatever).
    People who hate taxes, tend not to fall in love with the carbon tax either.

    • People who hate seeing their money wasted tend not to fall in love with the carbon tax.

  13. As Progressive lose more and more credibility in this arena, they are more willing to compromise hence more of them are saying the carbon tax is a good idea. I remember walking out of a shop in the Grand Bazaar in Instanbul when an employee in that shop ran after me asking me “How much would you be willing to pay.” The warmists are in the bargaining phase of the 5 stages of Grief (Elizabeth Kubler-Ross).

  14. There is no Pro vs. Con to a “Carbon Tax.” It makes no more sense than adding a special tax to your hotel bill or movie ticket because the facilities have air conditioning. Imposing a Carbon Tax is just another way for the government to bleed money from every transaction, from purchasing toilet paper to buying a bag of fertilizer to home-grow tomatoes. The ever growing cost to feed government incompetence creates only one growth sector: the underground economy, which is rampant among the communists of the European Union.

  15. It is hard for me to understand how grown people knowledgeably leave out or dismiss one elephant in their argument room after another.

    Duke Energy’s Rogers misses the point that there is LESS energy being used now and that profits and the related dividends are down. For Duke Energy, taxing coal will provide a competitive advantage as they have moved to natural gas. A carbon tax would be regressive as power plants have large capital costs that have to be amortized which are already in their cost structure. Bond holders would be miffed if their coupons became worthless.

    Painfully obvious and missing from the conversation is Peter Lang’s nuclear option. No carbon tax needed.

    Litman’s graph does not include countries like Iran, Venezuela, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, etc who retail gasoline in their countries for $0.27/gallon.

    ” If we are concerned that a carbon tax pinches the budgets of poor households, we should provide relief through other channels, not give them a pass on the need to conserve energy and reduce pollution.” If we were concerned…but we aren’t. Another bureaucracy created to decide who are the deserving poor and the underserving poor.

    Harvard philosopher Michael Sandel, says there is a moral imperative to not pollute our beloved Earth. When I go to the US Post Office I see an ever changing kaleidoscope of people’s photos who don’t seem to respond to moral imperatives. I don’t think there will be a lot of travelers on the moral high road.

    Current low cost large scale electrical energy: coal, gas, nuclear.

    Aside from a solar cell recharged battery operated flashing red light on a Starboard floating remote channel buoy, it’s hard to figure other uses for such renewable energy.

  16. This seems to me to be a slightly misleading article. He purports to be making one argument – that progressives should not object to a carbon tax (which in itself is a bit odd because ISTM that most progressives don’t object to carbon taxes anyway) when he is really making another – that implementing a carbon tax would render any other kind of government actions unnecessary and if progressives disagree then they should accept giving up such actions in any case as the price of getting a carbon tax.
    Now speaking as someone who would probably qualify as a “progressive” and is not opposed to carbon taxes I don’t buy either of those assertions. I don’t deny the possibility that a carbon tax might make possible some simplification of existing taxes and regulations, but I find the notion that a carbon tax will in and of itself be sufficient to reduce emissions to the necessary extent somewhat fanciful.

    I’ve no problem at all with finding common ground with Conservatives who agree there is a problem to be addressed and finding mutually acceptable solution, but they have to be ones which will actually work. And I don’t actually how Conservatives are being asked to make any meaningful compromises here. Unless of course (which is true in many cases) they don’t accept the need for any action at all to reduce emissions, but in that case I don’t see that there is any meaningful compromise to be made. Sometimes in political battles one side prevails and the other loses.

    • Peter Lang

      Andrew Adams,

      I’ve no problem at all with finding common ground with Conservatives who agree there is a problem to be addressed and finding mutually acceptable solution, but they have to be ones which will actually work.

      I believe I have offered genuine solutions that should be accepted and supported by rational people of all ideological persuasions. I’d be very interested to hear your responses to these two comments where I laid out the suggested ‘No Regrets’ policy approach to making significant inroads to decarbonising the global economy over the next 40 to 50 years. No global agreements are necessary. No carbon pricing schemes are necessary.

      http://judithcurry.com/2013/04/19/open-thread-weekend-14/#comment-313509

      http://judithcurry.com/2013/04/19/open-thread-weekend-14/#comment-313514

      • Peter,

        I have no problem in pursuing the kind of technological solutions you refer to in your comments and I’m sure there would be common ground there. I will have to do more reading to make a judgement about how feasible they are and what their true potential is to replace existing fossil fuel energy sources, but in principle they sound good. I’m not sure that the obstacles to increased use of nuclear power generation are simply excessive regulations (or for that that the regulations which do exist are totally unnecessary). After all it is established UK government policy to build new nuclear power station but they seem to be having an awful lot of trouble finding someone to build them without requiring large amounts of government subsidy, and there is also the question of the impending £100bn bill for decomissioning our current ageing facilities. Still, having said that, I completely agree that we should at least be seriously considering these options.
        What I’m not convinced of is that pursuing such options means that other measures are unnecessary, undesirable or indeed unachievable. I’m not a believer in “magic bullets”, I think that achieving the kind of reductions in emissions that many of us consider necessary will require a wide range of measures, including international agreement.

  17. Willis Eschenbach

    Ed says he’s dealing with objections to an energy tax;

    A carbon tax would hurt the poor

    Critics of a carbon tax frequently object that any policy that raises the cost of energy would disproportionately hurt the poor. They base the claim on data that indicate that lower income families spend a higher percentage of their budget on transportation, home heating, and electric utilities than do the more affluent. However, even if we accept the truth of that claim, it does not constitute a valid objection to a carbon tax.

    The main reason is that policies to keep energy prices low are a poorly targeted way to help the poor.

    This argument is totally backwards. He is saying that it’s OK if energy taxes hurt the poor, because cheap energy is a “poorly targeted” way to help the poor … say what?

    That makes no sense at all.

    Ed, it’s not OK to hurt the poor simply because lowering energy prices is “poorly targeted”. Even if it’s a “poorly targeted way to help them”, THAT DOESN’T JUSTIFY HARMING THEM.

    Lowering energy prices helps everything and everyone in the economy, not just the poor, so of course it is a “poorly targeted way to help the poor” … so what?

    This is just more “progressive” nonsense from another idiot savant who is among the wealthiest 1% of the planet. I gotta admit, Judith, your constant parade of wealthy folks advocating increasing energy prices for the poor has been depressing enough.

    But to have one such 1%er justifying such increases on the basis that price decreases are a “poorly targeted way to help the poor”?

    I’m sorry, but that’s beyond the pale. That’s taking uncaring insouciance to a new level of destructivity. That’s John Kerry level of uncaring, sitting in one of his many multi-million dollar houses or on his million dollar tax-dodging yacht telling people to suck it up and cut their energy usage.

    Judith, the quality of your guest posters is slipping badly. Kick Ed to the curb, his uncaring acceptance of the damage his policies are causing is staining your own reputation.

    w.

    • + 99

    • Kent Draper

      Let me get this straight, a tax that even if implemented won’t fix the supposed problem is somehow a good thing????
      I have a better idea, if you believe there’s a problem, pay the government more money at tax time. There’s a place on the 1040 where you can donate extra. ALL the progressives will send most of what they have and the supposed problem will be fixed.
      The simple truth is that the progressives don’t want to give their money or they would have already, they want to give YOUR money. Whether you want to or not.

    • Steven Mosher

      “This argument is totally backwards. He is saying that it’s OK if energy taxes hurt the poor, because cheap energy is a “poorly targeted” way to help the poor … say what?

      That makes no sense at all.”

      ##################

      actually it does make sense. you might not agree with it but it does make sense. here is how.

      1. he is saying the Objection that higher energy will hurt the poor is not
      valid.
      2. He’s arguing that if you want to help the poor that cheaper energy is
      not a very effective tool.

      That makes perfect sense. It makes perfect sense because higher energy prices dont have to hurt the poor necessarily, especially if you couple it with programs that really help the poor. Put another way, if I asked you how to help the poor, lowering the price of gas or electricity would be at the bottom of the list. Or ask it this way. Gas is 4 bucks a gallon in california. 72 cents of that is tax. If the typical person drives 10K miles per year, at 20 mpg thats 500 gallons per year, 2K in total and less than 500 dollars in tax.
      The poverty level is 23K. Does anyone think that dropping the gas tax will bring people out of poverty?

      One issue is that the poor live in areas that are not very walkable, that is the poor are relegated to living in areas where they need to rely more on driving. This is because of high rent in walkable areas.

      http://citytank.org/2013/03/08/driven-into-poverty-walkable-urbanism-and-the-suburbanization-of-poverty/

      If one wants to address the issue of poverty focusing on fuel costs is a weak response. If you wanted to alliviate poverty by lower costs of particular things it would make more sense to lower the cost of
      child care as that represents a huge portion of the poors budget.
      Next would be housing. for tables see here

      http://www.epi.org/publication/bp165/

      23K

      • Steven “Straw Man” Mosher strikes again.

        Why counter an actual argument when you can fashion your own substitute with built in flaws and then argue against that?

        “… it’s OK if energy taxes hurt the poor, because cheap energy is a “poorly targeted” way to help the poor…”

        becomes:

        Reduction of a current .72c/gallon tax in California would only save a poverty level family $500.00 per year.

        Leave out for now the delusion that poor folks’ cars get 20 mph in the city. And forget the unmitigated progressive delusion that $500.00/year to a family living in poverty is not all that important.

        The bait and switch here has nothing to do with the existing sales tax added to gasoline by greedy progressive governments already.

        The issue is the brand spanking new, economy decarbonizing, carbon tax that progressives are trying so hard to enact. A tax whose express purpose is to make gasoline so expensive people stop using it.

        Cheap energy as in energy cheap enough that people can afford to use it (not as redefined by Steven “Humpty Dumpty” Mosher as gas that is .72c/gallon cheaper), is the BEST way to help poor people, including the billions in Africa and Asia who live on less than $500.00/year total.

        Progressives talk about caring for the poor in the abstract all the time. But in reality, they don’t give a rat’s a** what happens to the actual victims of their delusional utopianism (aka the excuse they use in their lust for power).

      • A progressive’s dream would be to use a carbon tax to reduce the payroll tax. What do you think about that idea if you care about the poor? I am not saying that would be my only way of spending the revenue, but it alleviates impacts on the poor, and maybe even reverses them into a net benefit.

      • they care about the poor so much they want to give them state healthcare…oh wait

      • Chief Hydrologist

        “There is no reason why in a society which has reached the general level of wealth which ours has the first kind of security should not be guaranteed to all without endangering general freedom. …. There can be no doubt that some minimum of food, shelter, and clothing, sufficient to preserve health and the capacity to work, can be assured to everybody. … Nor is there any reason why the state should not assist the individual in providing for those common hazards of life against which, because of their uncertainty, few individuals can make adequate provision.

        Where, as in the case of sickness and accident, neither the desire to avoid such calamities nor the efforts to overcome their consequences are as a rule weakened by the provision of assistance – where, in short, we deal with genuinely insurable risks – the case for the state’s helping to organize a comprehensive system of social insurance is very strong. There are many points of detail where those wishing to preserve the competitive system and those wishing to super-cede it by something different will disagree on the details of such schemes; and it is possible under the name of social insurance to introduce measures which tend to make competition more or less ineffective. But there is no incompatability in principle between the state’s providing greater security in this way and the preservation of individual freedom.

        To the same category belongs also the increase of security through the state’s rendering assistance to the victims of such ‘acts of God’ as earthquakes and floods. Wherever communal action can mitigate disasters against which the individual can neither attempt to guard himself nor make provision for the consequences, such communal action should undoubtedly be taken.” F.A. Hayek – The Road to Serfdom pp 148-149

        The devil is in the detail.

      • Hayek is excellent when it comes to explaining why a free market is a politically superior system. When it comes to actual nut and bolt economics, not so much. Not to mention, he was writing this at the very beginning of the growth of the welfare state, and so had no experience with the debilitating effect of government guarantees of income and benefits for healthy, capable adults

        In short, he was badly wrong in his musings on what “social insurance” would look like. The term implies programs like welfare for those incapable of supporting themselves, unemployment insurance for those temporarily out of work. He did not foresee the fact that progressive politicians would learn that they could obtain and keep power by promising ever more permanent benefits to even the most able of society.

      • Somehow related:

        What Hayek did not accept, yet is a major finding of contemporary behavioral economics, is that individuals can internalize social norms that bid them to behave in altruistic and virtuous ways even when these are personally costly. For a theory of social norms, which cannot be explained as the Nash equilibria of games played by rational self-regarding agents (Gintis 2009a), we must turn to sociological action theory.

        http://www.umass.edu/preferen/gintis/BehavioralHayek.pdf

      • David Springer

        Energy price goes into the cost of everything. You and Dolan are uninformed dumbasses who couldn’t figure your ways out of a paper bag. There’s no love lost between Eschenbach and me but in this case he’s right and you, as usual, are a tool.

      • Chief Hydrologist

        Hayek leaves a considerable legacy of nuts and bolts economic theory – which I shan’t go into. This is quite different to adding to theories of democracy and freedom that was his abiding message.

        There are all sorts of ways in which social insurance manifests – and this evolves from the messy realms of democracy. Your problem is that you need to frame a positive agenda and not just bitch about socialists – which very quickly devolves into tedious twaddle.

      • This History of Economic Progress in Four Minutes:

        We tend to forget about Hoover’s 1931’s blunder.

      • The poor in the US are already living for free to a large extent. But they don’t have so much money that higher energy prices won’t hurt them. How much more money should the middle class give to the poor? Shouldn’t welfare be structured so there is a constant incentive to work? Why should it take several small armies to administer the dozen different welfare/social programs? If the middle class is expected to pay more and more, shouldn’t they a say how their hard-earned money is spent and given away?

      • Why I love Gary:

        “…and so had no experience with the debilitating effect of government guarantees of income and benefits for healthy, capable adults”

        Calls himself a “skeptic” – yet accepts, with complete confidence, a description of macro-level societal dynamics with no real evidence of effect, let alone cause-an-effect.

        Our government guarantees of income and benefits – as a part of his much hated “welfare state” – have occurred concurrently with the greatest rise in the general standard of living ever seen in the history of the planet – and that rise has been most concentrated in those countries that have the most extensive welfare state.

        It is quite amazing what some people consider skepticism.

      • Steven –
        “One issue is that the poor live in areas that are not very walkable, that is the poor are relegated to living in areas where they need to rely more on driving. This is because of high rent in walkable areas.”

        Once again, you focus on maximizing human capital – which I applaud. It is unfortunate that tribalists on both sides of this debate cynically exploit concern about “the poor” or “the elderly” to score points in the climate wars.

        In fact, folks on both sides of this debate care about ‘the poor” or “the elderly.” When you see someone from one side claiming that the other side doesn’t care, what you are looking at is a tribalist, so blinded by their partisan fervor that they’re wiling to take their eye off the ball to play the man.

      • Chief Hydrologist

        This is where I say that the sides aren’t equivalent. One side is about free markets and economic growth – rational economic management – and moderately sized governments

        The other is about an obsession with carbon dioxide, the end of growth, economic degrowth, limits to growth, the failure of growth to promote happiness, dehumanization in the military/industrial complex, transformational moments to create new forms of just and redistributive societies, socialist revolution, whatever. Whatever the goals de jour are – collateral damage is less to be feared than not achieving the goals.

        Saying the same thing over and over again Joshua must be a sign of monomania Joshua.

        Now this is where you call me unintentionally ironic.

      • Progressivism still has some work to do in America. Its work will be complete when health care is free for all, education is universally good enough to give everyone, regardless of where they live, equal opportunities for advancement, and the standard of living of the poorest 10% is better. Some European countries are more advanced in these areas, so it is not impossible to ask for.

      • RE: childcare vs energy prices Those are true on the micro scale (indv agents). At a macro scale, you see heavy hits to Output and Employment based on the cost of energy.
        For example, you can tell me what happend in 1979. Cost of energy. Can you list a year of economic-infamy asscoiated with raised childcare, healthcare costs? The production of those services reside ina different decision making world: granularized to each households preferences, lifestyle, values etc..
        What we are discussing here is a Federal (and ultimately International) tax regime. It’s designed to solve a macro problem. I’ll propose this is going to be a rather blunt instrument, not well-suited to personal tradeoffs. If the outcome is lowered output on the macro scale, and some type of grab-bag of economic offsets, the policy is a loser.

    • “Progressive” is a self-adultory, self-serving description. If you disagree, you are automatically a “regressive”. Just propaganda

      When I am faced with a choice between status-quo survival and someone else’s variant of moral vanity, I always wonder why my choice seems to surprise them

      • Indeed, and not being a “conservative” means you’re against thermodynamics.

      • What’s in a name? … Lot’s of connotations…
        Progressives aren’t progressive, they’re back ter the golden
        age romantics. Progressives aren’t liberals in the original
        ‘liberal’ sense of liberty, they’ve taken over the term ter mean
        advocates of centralist big government. There’s another term
        fer that.
        Beth the serf.

    • I think you are missing the main point of the argument. All “progressive” versions of the carbon tax that I have seen include mechanisms that would fully compensate low income households for the effects of the tax (rebates, lower payroll tax, home heating aid, etc.) I am in no way saying it is “OK to hurt the poor.” I am saying, if you are concerned about the effects of carbon taxes on the poor, do something about it, don’t just whine “Oh dear, it would hurt the poor.”

      Compare it to subsidies for bread, a policy that is bankrupting the Egyptian government. Yes, ending bread subsidies would hurt the Egyptian poor, unless an end for such policies were accompanied by other policies to help them, say, something like the Brazilian bolsa familia. I would say bread subsidies are a bad way to help the poor, but that does not mean I want to hurt the Egyptian poor.

      • barn E. rubble

        RE: “All “progressive” versions of the carbon tax that I have seen include mechanisms that would fully compensate low income households for the effects of the tax (rebates, lower payroll tax, home heating aid, etc.)”

        Of course they do. And where, pray tell, might the money for ‘mechanisms that would fully compensate low income households’ be coming from? Revenues from the Carbon Tax? The same Carbon Tax claiming to be ‘revenue neutral’? Obviously we’re not just looking at an (ever-increasing) energy tax but additional taxes to pay for such ‘progressive’ mechanisms.

        I’m thinking the best thing about being a progressive/socialist is never having to say, “Here’s where it worked.”

      • Willis Eschenbach

        Ed Dolan | July 9, 2013 at 10:06 am |

        I think you are missing the main point of the argument. All “progressive” versions of the carbon tax that I have seen include mechanisms that would fully compensate low income households for the effects of the tax (rebates, lower payroll tax, home heating aid, etc.) I am in no way saying it is “OK to hurt the poor.” I am saying, if you are concerned about the effects of carbon taxes on the poor, do something about it, don’t just whine “Oh dear, it would hurt the poor.”

        “Fully compensate low income households”? You taking up a day job as a comedian? You really should get out more, Mr. Ed. Energy taxes hit everyone, including the old lady who lives in an upstairs apartment on a pension and doesn’t speak English, and the families who live literally in their cars. Your idea that wealth redistribution will solve all the problems and “fully compensate” the old lady and the homeless families is a sick joke. Such programs are hugely inefficient, up to the ears with paperwork, and often don’t reach more than a small percentage of those they are designed to help. So your magic shibboleth of “Wealth redistribution will solve it all” is, as usual, total BS. What about the slightly less poor folks, who make a few dollars too much to qualify for your wonderful redistribution? And all your warm, reassuring words that you’re not trying to hurt them, will that keep them from fuel poverty?

        So yes, you are indeed saying it is “OK to hurt the poor”, that is your message. For example, your recommended policies (increase the cost of energy to the poor” have recently been adopted by the World Bank. You must be overjoyed that the poor of India won’t have access to cheap coal energy … but where is your whiz-bang program to “fully compensate” the Indian households for what your ideas have taken from them?

        So stand up like a man and own your monstrosity, Ed. You are working as hard as you can to hurt the poor, and while your hand-washing denials of that obvious fact might make you feel all clean, they don’t make the old lady and the family living in their car and the Indian peasant feel any way but cold and broke. That’s your doing, Ed … and I’m sure that now you’ll come up with fifty ways to deny the obvious truth.

        But I’m not worried, karma takes care of that. Late at night when you’re lying in bed, it will come back to you. When you’re resting nice and warm, one of the global 1% of the richest of the rich, you won’t be able to stop thinking of those sleeping under the freeway whom you are blithely harming, and then denying you have harmed,

        w.

        PS—you say:

        I am saying, if you are concerned about the effects of carbon taxes on the poor, do something about it, don’t just whine “Oh dear, it would hurt the poor.”

        I am doing something about it, Ed. I’m doing all I can to help well-meaning but obviously gormless folks like yourself from imposing worthless carbon taxes that MIGHT reduce the temperature by 0.01°C in a century, but are hurting the poor and damaging the economy along the way as we speak.

        Seriously, Ed. You are saying it’s OK to hurt the poor, if we give them band-aids, in order to achieve … what? You gave your whole rap about the tax, and you never did get around to telling us what it will accomplish. You claim we should do it, presumably to lower the temperature, but you didn’t have the stones to mention what temperature benefits we’d get that are worth screwing the poor for …

        So speak up there, Ed, I can’t hear you—how many degrees cooling can we expect if we sign on to your brilliant plan to shaft the Indian peasants?

      • “All ‘progressive’ versions of the carbon tax that I have seen include mechanisms that would fully compensate low income households for the effects of the tax (rebates, lower payroll tax, home heating aid, etc.)”

        Yes, all progressives long for even more government so they can redistribute wealth as they see fit. Take money from poor people in the form of massive energy taxes, then write them a check for some amount to be determined (by the progressives of course) later. That way they will feel ever more dependent on (progressive) government, and all paid with their own money.

        Charles Ponzi would blush at the audacity of it all.

      • > Yes, all progressives long for even more government so they can redistribute wealth as they see fit.

        Indeed, see Teodorin Obiang:

        So his daddy is president for life of Equatorial Guinea, a West African nation that has exported billions of dollars of oil since the 1990s and yet has a truly appalling human rights record. The vast majority of its people are living in really miserable poverty despite an income per capita that’s on a par with that of Portugal. So Obiang junior, well, he buys himself a $30 million mansion in Malibu, California. I’ve been up to its front gates. I can tell you it’s a magnificent spread. He bought an €18 million art collection that used to belong to fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent, a stack of fabulous sports cars, some costing a million dollars apiece — oh, and a Gulfstream jet, too. Now get this: Until recently, he was earning an official monthly salary of less than 7,000 dollars.

        Question: how Obiang’s “progressive” (acccording to GaryM’s definition) streaks happen?

        Answer:

        Well, he didn’t end up with high-end art and luxury houses without help. He did business with global banks. A bank in Paris held accounts of companies controlled by him, one of which was used to buy the art, and American banks, well, they funneled 73 million dollars into the States, some of which was used to buy that California mansion. And he didn’t do all of this in his own name either. He used shell companies. He used one to buy the property, and another, which was in somebody else’s name, to pay the huge bills it cost to run the place.

        More stories like this one over there:

        http://www.ted.com/talks/charmian_gooch_meet_global_corruption_s_hidden_players.html

        Yes, but the poor.

      • “Question: how Obiang’s ‘progressive’ (acccording to GaryM’s definition) streaks happen?”

        Funny, I missed the part of my comment where I made a reference to Equatorial Guinea.

        But African kleptocracies are just the end state of progressivism, totally centralized control in one person, or a small group of people. Most African nations have never gone through the “third way,” western style progressivism because it wasn’t necessary.

        Western progressives have to deal with those annoying voters for a while because they find themselves living in democracies. They tried the revolution route in the 60s, and the massive western middle class yawned. So now they are taking their time, working “from within,” to achieve the same result.

        But don’t worry, if they have their way, they will get there. Germany, Italy and Japan were all functioning states whose governments controlled their economies – in thew 1930s. Of course, their experiences have all too much in common with Guinea. So you probably don’t want to think about it too hard.

      • How true. And please tell us again that Nazis were simply the logical conclusion of socialism, GaryM.

        ***

        Oh, and since improving the POOR ((tm) — Willis) is so important to you, here’s a report that shows the Gini coefficients in OECD’s countries, mid 2000s:

        http://www.mzv.sk/App/wcm/media.nsf/vw_ByID/ID_CBD2FABFAB495B52C1257648003959F2_SK/$File/Growing%20Unequal.pdf

        It’s on p. 25. Figure 1.1. There’s also Figure 1.2, where we can see the Trends in income inequality.

        I’m sure this can be correlated with oil prices, right?

        Lest we forget the main message:

        TAXES HURT THE POOR.

        And that’s the memo.

        Yup.

      • “How true. And please tell us again that Nazis were simply the logical conclusion of socialism, GaryM.”

        The clue is in what Nazi stood for. Google it and get back to me.

      • Right on, GaryM.

        I also searched for a definition of God, and found out that he’s perfect. Which means he has all the perfect attributes, including existence.

        Therefore God exists. QED — I just Googled it.

        ***

        Oh, and did you know that the Republican party had a “Democratic” in its name:

        The Democratic-Republican Party was the political party organized by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison in 1791-93. It stood in opposition to the Federalist Party and controlled the Presidency and Congress, and most states, from 1801 to 1824, during the First Party System. It split after the 1824 presidential election into two parties: the Democratic Party and the short-lived National Republican Party (later succeeded by the Whig Party, many of whose adherents eventually founded the modern Republican Party).

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democratic-Republican_Party

        Now, does that mean that the Republicans are basically whigs?

        Gotta love these semantical arguments.

      • Chief Hydrologist

        ‘We should remember, however, that when the ideals which I have been trying to restate first began to spread through the Western world, the party which represented them had a generally recognized name. It was the ideals of the English Whigs that inspired what later came to be known as the liberal movement in the whole of Europe[15] and that provided the conceptions that the American colonists carried with them and which guided them in their struggle for independence and in the establishment of their constitution.[16] Indeed, until the character of this tradition was altered by the accretions due to the French Revolution, with its totalitarian democracy and socialist leanings, “Whig” was the name by which the party of liberty was generally known.

        The name died in the country of its birth partly because for a time the principles for which it stood were no longer distinctive of a particular party, and partly because the men who bore the name did not remain true to those principles. The Whig parties of the nineteenth century, in both Britain and the United States, finally brought discredit to the name among the radicals. But it is still true that, since liberalism took the place of Whiggism only after the movement for liberty had absorbed the crude and militant rationalism of the French Revolution, and since our task must largely be to free that tradition from the overrationalistic, nationalistic, and socialistic influences which have intruded into it, Whiggism is historically the correct name for the ideas in which I believe. The more I learn about the evolution of ideas, the more I have become aware that I am simply an unrepentant Old Whig – with the stress on the “old.”‘ F.A. Hayek – Why I am not a conservative

      • “National socialism” was just that, a form of socialism, in which the state ran the economy through ministries and regulations. You know, state run capitalism, the “third way.”

        Just ask the guy who created fascism, Benito Mussolini.

        ” A party governing a nation ‘totalitarianly’ is a new departure in history. There are no points of reference nor of comparison. From beneath the ruins of liberal, socialist, and democratic doctrines, Fascism extracts those elements which are still vital. It preserves what may be described as “the acquired facts” of history; it rejects all else. That is to say, it rejects the idea of a doctrine suited to all times and to all people. Granted that the XIXth century was the century of socialism, liberalism, democracy, this does not mean that the XXth century must also be the century of socialism, liberalism, democracy. Political doctrines pass; nations remain. We are free to believe that this is the century of authority, a century tending to the ” right “, a Fascist century. If the XIXth century was the century of the individual (liberalism implies individualism) we are free to believe that this is the “collective” century, and therefore the century of the State. It is quite logical for a new doctrine to make use of the still vital elements of other doctrines. No doctrine was ever born quite new and bright and unheard of. No doctrine can boast absolute originality.”

        http://ia700407.us.archive.org/7/items/DoctrineOfFascism/doc.pdf

        The “liberalism” he is referring to is classical liberalism, which is now called conservatism. It is hard to find a better description of the “third way,” “state directed capitalism” that is all the vogue among progressives today.

        The centrality of the state. The elevation of “the collective” over the individual. The appeal to “authority” (“the century of authority” no less). The borrowing from both socialism and conservatism. And oh yeah, the disdain for democracy. Look no further than a U.S. president who decides on his owns what laws passed by the Congress actually have the force of law, and who rules by presidential diktat, aka executive order..

        Fascism is just a watered down form of socialism. Which is not surprising, since Mussolini started out as a true believing, fire breathing socialist. One small step for a man, one giant leap backward for mankind.

      • Willis Eschenbach @ July 9, 2013 at 12:44 pm

        +1000

      • Gary M recognises the connect betw socialism anf fascism. I came
        across this in me serf student days, includes surveys of Fascist / National Socialist movements betw WW1 and WW2 and comments
        of their leaders, good primary evidence. Bts

        http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2018592.Varieties_Of_Fascism

  18. The fix by the secular, socialists of the Left for everything evil in the world is nothing more than another ‘sin tax’ on Americans. A tobacco-tax on oil, coal, gas, whatever… that is what’s really happening when we are being harangued about climate change: we’re simply being told another tax must be paid for the government’s permission to do business. And, that is the very sort of liberal fascism that the Founders sought to prevent.

  19. Willis Eschenbach

    I have another problem, which is with the simplistic chart shown in support of the carbon-based energy tax.

    In the upper left are three very large and one good-sized countries, namely the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

    On the lower right are a bunch of small European countries.

    I mean seriously, folks … totally apart from fuel prices, the citizens of which country are likely to drive more—Iceland or Canada? Switzerland or Australia?

    For those who prefer analysis to cartoons like that chart, there’s an interesting look at US gas prices vs miles driven here which tells a complex and interesting story.

    That chart used by Mr. Ed in the head post is pseudoscience at its worst, being used in defense of harming the poor. Progressives should HATE energy taxes, they are the most regressive taxes on the planet. Warren Buffett doesn’t care if gas prices go up. The single mom with three kids barely scraping by does care, it means she and the kids will do without something. How can any honest progressive support that?

    w.

    • Countries that drive less are also poorer, that being the cause of fewer miles driven. So, maybe there is a correlation between having high gas prices and being poor.

      But then, making us poor is the whole point of the energy tax. It reduces “over-consumption”.

    • Willis-
      I had the same reaction to the alleged elasticity curve for gasoline. I do not think it is measuring what they claim.

      If you throw out the points for Canada, U.S. and Australia, the three biggest countries by area, and the data point for New Zealand, then you are left with a cluster of data points that give a per capita usage that is flat with increasing gasoline price. That is, a sensitivity that is basically zero.

      U.S. gasoline prices in 1999 were about $1/gallon, and daily per capita use was 1.7 gallons. By 2008, just before the recession hit, prices increased 300% to $3/gallon and use dropped 5% to 1.62 gallons per capita per day. This gives an elasticity sensitivity of -0.05/3 = -0.016.

      This is more than a factor of ten smaller than the values claimed in the article.

      And the handy example of a $1/gallon carbon tax on gasoline works out to about $100/ton CO2, which is at least a factor of ten larger than the net present value of the alleged future damage caused by CO2.

    • Interesting chart from NYT, thanks for the link. Yes, the chart is “cartoon like” in the sense that it is given in the spirit of “a picture is worth 1000 words” for people who don’t want to plow through the literature on price elasticity of demand that I linked to. However, if you do plow through it, you will find that when you do the econometrics, correcting for things like population density (as you mention) or the business cycle (which affects gas prices via demand, rather than supply), you still get the strong negative relationship between fuel use and fuel price.

    • Indeed, Willis, we should leave all this to shell companies:

      A recent study by the World Bank looked at 200 cases of corruption. It found that over 70 percent of those cases had used anonymous shell companies, totaling almost 56 billion dollars. Now many of these companies were in America or the United Kingdom, its overseas territories and Crown dependencies, and so it’s not just an offshore problem, it’s an on-shore one too. You see, shell companies, they’re central to the secret deals which may benefit wealthy elites rather than ordinary citizens.

      http://www.ted.com/talks/charmian_gooch_meet_global_corruption_s_hidden_players.html

    • tempterrain

      ” Progressives should HATE energy taxes, they are the most regressive taxes on the planet.”

      Energy Taxes? If you’d like to check, I think the taxes under discussion are carbon (or CO2 emission from fossil fuel combustion – to be more precise) taxes.

      The most regressive? Yes the problem is that they are regressive. Not sure about most though.

      HATE? Not love – that’s for sure. But they and/or some form of cap and trade scheme are probably necessary. It wouldn’t make any sense to use political discomfort as a justification for an attack on scientific findings.

      • Willis Eschenbach

        tempterrain | July 9, 2013 at 2:07 pm

        … Energy Taxes? If you’d like to check, I think the taxes under discussion are carbon (or CO2 emission from fossil fuel combustion – to be more precise) taxes.

        Thanks, tempterrain. You’re proposing taxing fossil fuels … but you claim you’re not taxing energy? How does that work?

        Or perhaps you’re saying that since you’re basing the tax on the carbon content of the fuels, you’re not taxing energy. But in general, the energy in a fuel is roughly proportional to the carbon content. So if you base the tax on the carbon content, in fact you are basing the tax on the energy content of the fuel.

        The most regressive? Yes the problem is that they are regressive. Not sure about most though.

        The difficulty with energy taxes is that there is no bottom line below which you don’t have to pay them. With income taxes, for example, if you make less than a certain amount, you pay no tax.

        But since energy is included in everything we buy, an energy tax raises the cost of living for everyone, all the way down to homeless people sleeping in their cars.

        In addition, an energy tax preferentially attacks the working poor. Not only are they spending a larger percentage of their wages on energy, if they commute to work they simply cannot reduce their miles driven. So unlike the wealthy, who can cut out a few optional trips to the golf course two counties over, the poor wage-earner bears the brunt of the tax.

        It is for that combination of reasons that I call it the most regressive tax I know of.

        Finally, as to whether a carbon-based energy tax is “probably necessary”, you might enjoy my new post called Pump Price, Miles Driven, and Energy Taxes.

        All the best,

        w.

      • tempterrain

        Willis,

        You’re proposing taxing fossil fuels … but you claim you’re not taxing energy? How does that work?

        You haven’t heard of solar, wind, geothermal and hydro energy? Then there’s nuclear energy too. They aren’t 100% ‘carbon free’, for instance concrete used in any construction would have to be included in the carbon budget, but that’s not the same as tax on energy per se.

        I’m surprised anyone, over the age of 5, would have to ask. :-)

      • Willis Eschenbach

        tempterrain | July 10, 2013 at 4:40 am |

        Willis,

        You’re proposing taxing fossil fuels … but you claim you’re not taxing energy? How does that work?

        You haven’t heard of solar, wind, geothermal and hydro energy? Then there’s nuclear energy too. They aren’t 100% ‘carbon free’, for instance concrete used in any construction would have to be included in the carbon budget, but that’s not the same as tax on energy per se.

        I’m surprised anyone, over the age of 5, would have to ask. :-)

        Jeez, miss the point much? You’re talking about putting a tax on fossil fuels (an energy source), with the size of the tax proportional to the energy content of the fuels, but you claim you’re not taxing energy??

        And when I ask about it, you wonder if I’ve heard of solar? What does solar have to do with whether a tax on fossil fuels proportional to the energy they contain is an energy tax?

        w.

      • tempterrain

        What does solar have to do with whether a tax on fossil fuels proportional to the energy they contain is an energy tax?

        I can’t believe I’m having to spell this out! But an energy tax would be , well, a tax on energy (per se) which would include all forms of energy irrespective of how it was generated.

        The tax isn’t a tax on fossil fuel combustion either. If the CO2 emissions are captured and stored there will be no tax to pay.

  20. Willis Eschenbach

    Oh, yeah, and Mr. Ed starts with this nonsense:

    Progressives should love a carbon tax. Most progressives love the environment and believe that carbon emissions cause environmental harm.

    Energy taxes impoverish both poor individuals and poor countries. This is exceedingly destructive to the environment. See my post on How the Environment Organizations are Destroying the Environment.

    In addition, CO2 is greening the deserts and the planet … does that count for noting with environmentalists?

    w.

  21. Mike Jonas

    Correction : it’s “carbon dioxide” not “carbon”, and it’s “regressive” not “progressive”.

  22. Does the Left really believe in sustainability? How about a sustainable economy where the productive do not have to apologize for succeeding at providing value to society?

    • You hit the nail on the head. Society gladly takes all of the benefits of our industrialists, entrepreneurs, and innovators. They reap the benefits of their ideas, and then turn on those who increased the quality of life for all. They who contribute little to nothing of value try and suck the life out those who contributed most. Instead of lifting them up, they destroy the very thing that improved their own lives. In the end society is devastated (see communism) and we start the long road over again. It is all the same whether climate change or any other equalizing social movement. Politics, simply politics.

      • True, true — Free market capitalism is far more than economic theory. It is the engine of social mobility… It is what allowed entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley to change the way the world sells products and searches for information. It’s what transformed America from a rugged frontier to the greatest economic power in history — a nation that gave the world the steamboat and the airplane, the computer and the CAT scan, the Internet and the iPod… Ultimately, the best evidence for free market capitalism is its performance compared to other economic systems. Free markets allowed Japan, an island with few natural resources, to recover from war and grow into the world’s second-largest economy. Free markets allowed South Korea to make itself into one of the most technologically advanced societies in the world. Free markets turned small areas like Singapore and Hong Kong and Taiwan into global economic players… Meanwhile, nations that have pursued other models have experienced devastating results. Soviet communism starved millions, bankrupted an empire, and collapsed as decisively as the Berlin Wall. Cuba, once known for its vast fields of cane, is now forced to ration sugar. And while Iran sits atop giant oil reserves, its people cannot put enough gas… in their cars. ~George Bush

      • > Iran sits atop giant oil reserves, its people cannot put enough gas… in their cars.

        True enough.

        That’s quite different now that we launched Occupy Irak:

        China already buys nearly half the oil that Iraq produces, nearly 1.5 million barrels a day, and is angling for an even bigger share, bidding for a stake now owned by Exxon Mobil in one of Iraq’s largest oil fields.

        http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/03/world/middleeast/china-reaps-biggest-benefits-of-iraq-oil-boom.html

      • tempterrain

        Wagathon,

        All modern economies, including the USA, are neither totally free market capitalist nor totally socialist. They are a mixture of both. Capitalists,or “our industrialists, entrepreneurs, and innovators” rely on socialism to provide an educated workforce and, in most countries, a healthy workforce. Capitalists also requires the State to fund fundamental research without which inventions like the iPod would not be possible. Incidentally, iPods and iPads and iPhones don’t contain anything absolutely new. They all draw on inventions which were largely funded by government money.

        Its not a question of choosing one or the other -socialism or capitalism-, but rather what the mix should be. And, a question that’s best answered democratically of course.

  23. Willis Eschenbach

    Steven Mosher | July 8, 2013 at 4:16 pm | Reply

    “This argument is totally backwards. He is saying that it’s OK if energy taxes hurt the poor, because cheap energy is a “poorly targeted” way to help the poor … say what?

    That makes no sense at all.”

    ##################

    actually it does make sense. you might not agree with it but it does make sense. here is how.

    1. he is saying the Objection that higher energy will hurt the poor is not valid.
    2. He’s arguing that if you want to help the poor that cheaper energy is not a very effective tool.

    Gotta watch the pea under the shell carefully, Steven. He separates the two arguments completely, saying:

    Critics of a carbon tax frequently object that any policy that raises the cost of energy would disproportionately hurt the poor. They base the claim on data that indicate that lower income families spend a higher percentage of their budget on transportation, home heating, and electric utilities than do the more affluent. However, even if we accept the truth of that claim, it does not constitute a valid objection to a carbon tax.

    The main reason is that policies to keep energy prices low are a poorly targeted way to help the poor.

    I’m not clear what he means by “even if we accept” the claim that higher energy costs are a regressive tax, since that is well established. But please note, he does NOT make the counter-argument, that higher energy costs won’t hurt the poor the most. He is NOT saying anywhere I can see that “the Objection that higher energy will hurt the poor is not valid” as you claim. He makes no argument higher energy won’t hurt the poor the most, anywhere I can find.

    Instead, he’s willing to accept it as true, but instead argues it’s not a valid objection. And why is the fact an energy tax is a mercilessly regressive tax a valid objections?

    Because lowering energy costs is a “poorly targeted” way to help the poor. Well, duh. Lowering energy costs helps the farmer and the housewife and the businessman as well as the poor, so it must just be some crappy scattergun approach, it’s definitely “poorly targeted” if it helps all those different people and not just the poor … but so what? Seriously, how does that make a wildly regressive tax OK?

    Steven, the fact that cheap energy helps housewives and farmers and not just poor people alone, so it is indeed “poorly targeted” is NO JUSTIFICATION FOR ACTIVELY IMPOVERISHING THE POOR.

    W.

    • And why isn’t the fact an energy tax is a mercilessly regressive tax a valid objection?

      For the reason he states clearly in the article – that it is possible to enact other policies which would counteract the negative effects of a carbon tax on the poor. In fact he gives examples. I wouldn’t say that makes the objection invalid as such, after all just because such things can be done it doesn’t mean they will be done, but it’s a perfectly valid counter argument.

    • Steven Mosher

      Willis what you see as hiding the pea, what you see as two separate arguments I see as one argument. you see his argument DOES MAKE SENSE, you might not like his lack of absolute clarity, but your claim, your assertion that it “makes no sense” is false, since I obviously made sense of it. To repeat: you asserted it made no sense. I made sense of it. In fact the mere fact that we can argue about it entails that it makes sense. It might be a bad argument, or poorly expressed, or uncertain, but it clearly makes sense, since I made sense of it.

      Finally, you really havent addressed the issue as I laid it out. we are talking about the poor. not farmers, not housewives. If you want to help the poor, cheap energy is the most inneffective lever you could pull. Pull the child care cost lever. Pull the housing cost lever.

      The simple fact is that “we will hurt the poor” pretends that your real concern is for the poor. Its not.

    • > NO JUSTIFICATION FOR ACTIVELY IMPOVERISHING THE POOR.

      Indeed, we should let the West help the POOR helf himself, like this:

      And how about the oil, gas and mining companies? Okay, maybe it’s a bit of a cliché to talk about them. Corruption in that sector, no surprise. There’s corruption everywhere, so why focus on that sector? Well, because there’s a lot at stake. In 2011, natural resource exports outweighed aid flows by almost 19 to one in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Nineteen to one. Now that’s a hell of a lot of schools and universities and hospitals and business startups, many of which haven’t materialized and never will because some of that money has simply been stolen away.

      http://www.ted.com/talks/charmian_gooch_meet_global_corruption_s_hidden_players.html

      That 19:1 ratio shows how much we care for the POOR.

  24. Willis Eschenbach

    Grrr … typos. Should be:

    And why isn’t the fact an energy tax is a mercilessly regressive tax a valid objections?

    w.

  25. “Gernot Wagner, an economist at the Environmental Defense Fund, argues that it makes eminent sense to tax what you want less of in his excellent book …”
    ______

    Then I say tax the hell out of

    Wagathon

    Chief Hydrologist

    Peter Lang

    GaryM

    I’m sure if I gave it more thought I could add others to the list. Any suggestions?

  26. Chief Hydrologist

    The focus on the energy sector is misguided. In a narrow technical sense – mitigation with a multi-gas strategy that includes black carbon, sulphides, nitrous oxide, tropospheric ozone, methane and CFC’s is the most cost effective way to proceed. Indeed – even if we were to magically substitute carbon free energy for fossil fuels – much of the forcing issue would remain. Along with underdevelopment, health impacts, ecosystem decline and soils degradation.

    Many of the solutions of the multi-gas problem – as well as for sequestration of carbon – is in the agricultural sector.

    On the GHG mitigation front, substantial technical potential exists in the agriculture sector with a broad set of practices (Caldeira et al., 2004; Smith et al., 2008), and 70 percent of this potential could be realized in developing countries (FAO 2009). This potential varies significantly by country, and a distinction needs to be made between technical potential and what is economically and socially viable in the context of a developing country’s agricultural development strategy. Even so, a number of mitigation practices may be attractive to farmers if climate finance were made available. For example, greater efficiency in agricultural production and the processing chain, leading to fewer emissions per unit of product could be viewed favorably. Another option for which there is increasing funding is to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, which is often linked to agricultural drivers. Reducing emissions of methane and nitrous oxide can be obtained through improved animal production, improved management of livestock waste, more efficient management of irrigation water on rice paddies and improved nutrient management. Carbon can be sequestered through conservation farming practices, improved forest management, forestation and reforestation, agroforestry, improved grasslands management and restoration of degraded land.’ http://www.fao.org/docrep/016/ap401e/ap401e.pdf

    A good part of the broad solution is to manage population through tried and true methods of economic development, free trade, health and education services and provision of safe water and sanitation. It seems astonishing that there is so much preening about MDG commitments and so little movement by most western countries.

  27. Willis Eschenbach

    Steven Mosher | July 8, 2013 at 6:55 pm | Reply

    Willis what you see as hiding the pea, what you see as two separate arguments I see as one argument. you see his argument DOES MAKE SENSE, you might not like his lack of absolute clarity, but your claim, your assertion that it “makes no sense” is false, since I obviously made sense of it. To repeat: you asserted it made no sense. I made sense of it.

    I fear what you made sense out of was your INTERPRETATION of what he said, which was not what he said. In addition to not understanding that he agrees that it is a regressive tax that hits the poor worst, you claim that he says the tax is not a “very effective tool”.

    He didn’t say that it was not effective. And indeed since he agrees that it is a regressive tax, reducing it would be effective … instead, he argues that it is not “well targeted”, meaning it helps others than just the poor.

    So his position is:

    1. Energy taxes hurt the poor.

    2. They are not a well-targeted way to help the poor, and therefore,

    3. It’s OK to impose them.

    If you can make sense out of that, then I fear I can’t help you …

    w.

    • Steven Mosher

      “I fear what you made sense out of was your INTERPRETATION of what he said, which was not what he said.”
      #####################################

      We have a choice.
      1. your interpretation of what he said, which you claim makes no sense
      2. my interpretation of what he said, which makes sense of him.

      in your interpretation you get to dismiss him by acclaimation. lets try that with you. your interpretation of him makes no sense because you only make a claim that it makes no sense you do not DEMONSTRATE that it makes no sense. You argue by assertion. You think that what he said makes no sense, but I show you how it does make sense. As always with language and unnderstanding we can work toward making sense of each other or away from making sense of each other. Meaning, what we intend to say, is never “in the words”. Meaning comes to be through the interaction, through the dialogue, through the conversation. When you say ‘ YOU MAKE NO SENSE” you end the conversation. If you think he made no sense you should be skeptical of your own ability to understand.

      ###############

      In addition to not understanding that he agrees that it is a regressive tax that hits the poor worst, you claim that he says the tax is not a “very effective tool”.

      He didn’t say that it was not effective.

      ############

      Sure he did. I showed you where.

  28. Beware of people in western democracies who talk about carbon as a pollutant. Is diamobd a pollutant? yet it is carbon. The food that we and our animals eat is mostly carbon. Is our food a pollutant? In fact there would be no life on earth without carbon. Only one form of carbon is a pollutant – soot and that is a problem in China and SE Asia. We already have effective laws in the Western de\mocracies against soot.

    What these people are doing is pure spin. They are trying to make carbon and carbon dioxide synonimous.in the public mind. They know that carbon dioxide (CO2) is tasteless, odourless, non-toxic invisible gas that we all exhale with every breath. It won’t work because we are not fools..

    They are so certain that we are heading towards catastrophe, that they ignore the fact that the worlld’s average temperature has not increased in the last 14 years, and no one knows if and when it will increase again. Why do we give these spin doctors the time of day?

  29.  

    There are choices and socialism is the most gutless. No one can work in a free enterprise economy without being caring of others, being optimistic about life and giving totally of oneself: the capitalist must actually provide something of value to someone else or the capitalist does not eat (e.g. see the video, Jiro Dreams of Sushi).

     

  30. Joseph O'Sullivan

    I’ll chime in and play devil’s advocate by giving some rationals for what the people in the environmentalist community are thinking.

    Environmentalists doubt that market
    based incentives really work.

    Anything from the polluters and their current allies is looked upon with suspicion because they have a known history as bad actors. The environmentalist community resisted cap-and-trade regulations in court up to the Supreme Court (See NRDC v Chevron), but it turned out that cap-and-trade in this instance worked. Air pollution was reduced at an acceptable cost.

    A carbon tax would hurt the poor

    A common criticism of the environmentalists is that they are anti-people. This argument is taken to absurd lengths to say environmentalists are genocidal and racist. Take for instance the Sierra Club’s fiasco with anti-immigrant people trying to stage a coup de eta by replacing the leadership and changing the Sierra Club’s goal to stop immigration into the US. The major environmental groups now are very careful to not do anything that might reinforce the false anti-humanity accusations.

    We should protect the planet because we love it

    This is an ethics based argument. It does not work for everybody, but it does for the environmentalists’ base. Environmentalists are like any other political group that have to pay close attention to their constituents.

  31. David Springer

    I suggest Dolan, Mosher, and all the other tools here who’ve probably never seen or followed CPI buy themselves a clue.

    Mosher babbles about the price of gas and poor people driving in the city.

    OMG the ignorance. It burns.

    Figure out how this regressive tax effects CPI, bozos.

    http://www.bls.gov/ro3/cpiwb.htm

  32. “There are many proposals for combining a carbon tax with targeted mechanisms for offsetting its impact on the poor. One way to do so would be to refund part of the tax directly to low-income households, either through a special rebate or by expanding some existing program like the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. As long as the rebate came in a lump sum, rather than in proportion to energy use, it would offset the distributional effect of the tax without reducing its incentive to conserve.”
    ______

    The poor could just spend the lump sum on energy.

    Nah, that would be stupid.

  33. The third part, “Why Libertarians Should Support a Carbon Tax—Even if they Can’t Love It,” will come soon.
    ______

    That will be a tough sell, but do Libertarians account for enough votes to influence policy?

    • Dr. Strangeclimate – How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Carbon Tax.

      Starring Peter Sellers as James “Death Trains” Hansen, and Michael “Hide the Decline” Mann. Sterling Haden as Al “They’re poisoning my vital gases” Gore. And Slim Pickens as Steven “Ride the Last Climate Model to My Death” Mosher.

  34. Well worth watching for anyone persuaded one way or another:

    Michael Shermer’s term, “agenticity” is important to those who feel there is a religious element to “the other tribe’s” viewpoint. Especially if they first evaluate their own self-deception.

    • Chief Hydrologist

      The monkeys were pretty mean – but very funny.

      The religious aspect comes from the millennialist character of much of AGW. Along with a magical solution to appease the God of science – punitive carbon taxes.

      It has nothing to do with the false patterns of either side – narratives superficially in the objective idiom of science. One is millennialist – one isn’t.

  35. Yep, the argument about the poor in the head post is nonsense. People have focused on the price of petrol (gas) and having among my family and friends people who are poor (mostly aged pensioners or the unemployed), being frugal about using the car – if they are lucky enough to have one – is a very real concern.

    But the real issue is that every single thing you buy will be affected, including all forms of domestic energy, and the energy component of the costs of manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers and service providers. And, reducing payroll tax or any direct tax is no help at all to people like age pensioners or anyone else on a fixed income.

    Setting up a whole bunch of schemes to “compensate” the poor is just a breeding ground for bureaucrats, and will in any event never capture all the people who are being penalised – it’s just a recipe for inefficient churning of money with significant amounts being skimmed off the top while still missing many targets. Letting people maintain their standard of living in the first place is far cheaper and more effective.

    All energy taxes (of which we have more than enough already) are regressive. But what makes CO2 taxes really offensive is that part of the revenue is typically diverted to people whose role it is to make it even more expensive, such as via subsidies to “renewables” providers. So, they take money from the poor by making energy more expensive, and give it to people who will make it even more expensive – and these people are not poor at all.

    The New Progressivism is really just elitism, and it’s one ugly baby.

    • Peter Lang

      + 1000

    • Johanna

      Perhaps you would like to sign up to my ‘swap your energy bills with a buddy’ scheme? it is primarily aimed at ‘progressive’ Americans who seem to want to increase their energy bills to the levels we ‘enjoy’ in Britain and Europe. The scheme covers fuel costs for vehicles and energy costs for homes and businesses.

      The scheme has great benefits for Brits who would find their bills halved and also progressive Americans who would find them doubled.

      By signing up you agree that 10% of your savings will be rebated to those households in fuel poverty in the UK who as yet are unaware of the benefits of this exciting scheme.

      Disclaimer; The ‘swap your energy bills with a buddy’ scheme accepts no liability for additional inflation and loss of competitiveness in the countries of progressive participants.

      ‘Syebwab’ expressly refuses to enter into correspondence with participants who expect other taxes to fall as carbon taxes rise. Caveat emptor.

      Tonyb (scheme coordinator)

      • Dear Mr Tonyb,
        Scheme Co-Ordinator,
        syebwab

        I would be interested in setting up an Australian branch of syebwab. While our energy prices have not quite reached the stratospheric levels experienced in the UK and Europe, our local politicians are working hard on catching up.

        Also, our economy has been doing quite well till recently, but again with a lot of effort they have managed to slow down the mining boom that has underpinned it. This required co-ordinated measures such as ever rising energy taxes, a special tax just for miners, and ever increasing “green tape” which halts the approval process every time an environmental group hauls out The Big Book of Objections to Everything and randomly selects an item.

        Thus, with the rapid convergence of our respective situations, I feel that syebwab is an idea whose time has come here as well.

        I remain, sir, your humble and obedient servant,

        johanna

    • johanna | July 9, 2013 at 2:56 am |

      Are you suggesting that not being frugal is what we desire of populations?

      That people not making the decision not to waste is what we’re after?

      That unconcern with efficiency, that a society of airheads, is what you’re after?

      We’re reaping that, in plenty. The ‘energy taxes’ you complain of have fallen as a proportion of the total price of fuels in the past 30 years, more than any other tax decrease.

      A fee and dividend system compensates everyone equally for the increased cost of Risk, for the loss of their scarce resources.

      Naturally, progressives like yourself will take some convincing to buy into Capitalism. The idea of a fair and balanced market won’t make a dent for you. The alarmist defense of the ‘poor’ relatives who will have to ‘be frugal’ that appeals so your progressive tribe must be very compelling to you, even though it has its facts and conclusions turned upside down.

      Try Capitalism. It works.

      • Bart the comedian.

      • @ BartR:

        “Are you suggesting that not being frugal is what we desire of populations?”

        Who is “we”, Bart? Please don’t include me in your supercilious declaration of what you desire. I don’t desire that people be frugal, or not be frugal. What I desire is that they have the choice.

        Besides, not taking the kids to the beach on a hot day because the petrol tank is nearly empty and there is no money to refill it is way beyond frugality as a positive virtue, IMO. And that’s the reality of life for poor families of my acquaintance.

        ” The ‘energy taxes’ you complain of have fallen as a proportion of the total price of fuels in the past 30 years, more than any other tax decrease.”

        Well, that may or may not be true where you live, but it is certainly false in Australia, the UK and Europe. Hence Tonyb’s excellent suggestion above. If you are American, I take it you will be signing up?

      • Bart defines a free market as a market that does whatever the government tells it to.

    • johanna | July 9, 2013 at 9:26 pm |

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fuel_taxes_in_Australia

      Australian fuel taxes lower by 22% since 2001?

      Grants and incentive schemes (subsidies)?

      According to Wikipedia, you’re arguing contrary to fact.

      http://fueltaxinquiry.treasury.gov.au/content/backgnd/002.asp

      According to your government’s own graph, the total revenue from fuel has increased less than a quarter as a percentage of revenue since 1975. Has the price of fuel less than tripled compared to other goods in Australia in the past four decades? The relative percentage of sales of fuel?

      No. Australia, like the rest of the world, remains under the shared delusion that making fossil fuel cheaper results in benefits. The benefits are real, but they are not what you claim. The benefit is to fuel sellers, and the politicians whose campaigns they fund, and no one else.

      • Bart, you said:
        “According to your government’s own graph, the total revenue from fuel has increased less than a quarter as a percentage of revenue since 1975. Has the price of fuel less than tripled compared to other goods in Australia in the past four decades? The relative percentage of sales of fuel?”

        Bart, read what I wrote. I was talking about ENERGY taxes, not just fuel taxes. And I was discussing real costs to the punters, not the percentage of government revenue. All that graph reflects is a range of other taxes (especially the 10% GST, which is levied on top of fuel taxes) which have contributed to government revenue since 2001.

        For example,electricity prices have risen around 40% in our largest State, NSW, in the last five years. Now tell me that that doesn’t leave a poor person with less money in their pocket to buy petrol or anything else.

        Your abysmal understanding of basic economics, as jim2 pointed out so succinctly, never deters you from making further wild statements, does it?

      • I’m not going to engage in this debate at the moment, but will post the following extract from the chief economist of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry FYI:

        The recent attraction of an ETS seems to be based on the present low price of overseas emissions permits but that is a poor policy rationale and based on short-term thinking. Business does not see today’s price as any guide for the future. We know from experience ETS prices are notoriously volatile and have traded well above the existing level not so long ago.

        With the Australian carbon price scheduled to be linked to Europe, domestic energy users will have to focus on the politicians in Brussels as well as Canberra.

        Right now the EU is hatching a plan referred to as “backloading” to postpone the allocation of permits to raise the carbon price closer to the €30 ($42) the central planners intended. Needless to say, this has raised serious opposition and uncertainty among our business counterparts in Europe.

        Those who portray the ETS as a market mechanism should take a closer look. In practice it is no more than an artificial construct of government, which sets all the rules about permit allocation and coverage and can change them at any time. It raises the question: what part of the European economic model, with all its rigidities and regulation, has been so successful that it should be copied in Australia?

        With carbon pricing now woven into the fabric of the federal budget, an early move to an ETS or a lower fixed carbon tax will have a revenue impact. This shortfall needs to be funded by spending cuts or additional imposts. The former is our preference, but the path favoured by the government could well be the latter.

        Accordingly, there is business concern that the scope of the carbon pricing scheme could be broadened with more sectors drawn into the net to make up the loss of revenue.

        That would leave even more industries exposed to an artificial cost burden, further undermining their international competitiveness and productivity.

        http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/opinion/no-to-carbon-tax-or-ets/story-e6frgd0x-1226677324078

      • Faustino,

        + 1000.5

    • jim2 | July 9, 2013 at 9:35 pm |

      Bart defines a free market as a market that does whatever the government tells it to

      Dude, I’m proposing an end to government subsidies and privatization of a resource to take its management out of government hands and give it back to its owners.

      What part of that corresponds with what you say?

      • This is one thing you actually proposed, Bart:
        “In the case of British Columbia, the opposite of your claims are reported. Of course, in British Columbia the carbon tax is revenue neutral. The income flows per capita raising the income level of all, though as a percentage of their income affecting the poor most. Which is a double dividend, because the poor also apparently spend least on energy.”

        A carbon tax is imposed by the government. It is in fact the government attempting to take control of the free market. It has zero to do with capitalism. Although, I do know you know that. You are simply being a disingenuous lefty. Par for the course.

    • jim2 | July 10, 2013 at 11:26 pm |

      Try to keep up.

      Government “imposes” standards of weights and measures. Want to sell meat? Well, you sell that by the pound, and your pound of flesh better be the same size as everyone else’s. Want to sell cloth? Well, your yard of fabric better be the same length as everyone else’s. The government polices the scales and yardsticks.

      It is in fact the government attempting to take control of the free market.

      Do you see the difference?

      CO2E emitters use the services of a nations’ resources to recycle CO2 out of the air. This is no different from using land or minerals. Land and mineral wealth have been privatized, and capitalism for the most part allocates rewards to owners from demand by buyers. Privatize the capacity of the air to recycle CO2E for lucrative transactions, and pay the owners of the air, and you enlarge the Market to encompass this resource.

    • johanna | July 10, 2013 at 10:47 pm |

      Energy taxes? Why do people insist on smudging these distinctions?

      I’m opposed to taxes in general.

      To the extent taxes can be practically reduced by reduction in government spending that still achieves the MINIMUM required of government (as I am a monarchist), I want to see that reduction.

      I don’t see any reason to favor energy in any form, or ask that all other goods in the Market shoulder the share of the tax burden of the energy sectors. I don’t see the “cheap energy” argument as more persuasive than the anti-subsidy argument, and as a monarchist, I object to taxation to pay subsidies such as the fossil industries enjoy.

      The fact is, I don’t know the idiomatic Australian cases. I don’t care to know them. I don’t want to stick my fingers in Australian political pies. That’s all your business.

      The fact that you patently mix up your own business so much that there’s no making sense of it, purposefully obscuring what really ought be simple, is all the more reason I don’t want to, and don’t need to, know about Australian taxes as you tell them.

      I do care about the appearance that Australia is manipulating markets in international trade goods, but that’s a discussion for another day.

      • Screwy autocorrect.

        I am no means, type or variant of “monarchist”.

        WordPress ought add M_I_NARCHIST to its vocabulary.

  36. The real problem that a progressive might have with the carbon tax is that it might give the “wrong” answer. An economically rational carbon tax is supposed to be set at the level of marginal benefit from reducing a unit of emissions. That’s the whole ‘internalize the externalities” argument. Then the magic of the market will correctly sort out the tradeoffs between the benefits of emission reduction and the benefits of burning the carbon.

    But what if it turns out that when faced with the correctly priced “external” impact via the carbon tax that private actors still choose to burn almost as much CO2 as before? Oops. You would then have an economic proof that the calculated harms of CO2 emission are not sufficient to justify cutting back. No green is ever going to accept that verdict–they’ll just keep trying to claim that the tax should be still higher while undermining the efficiency advantages of the tax by proposing additional regulatory measures to drive up the cost of fossil-fuel combustion. Hence no green can truly accept the principle of using a carbon tax to force internalization of externalities because they already know what tradeoff they want us all to make; the “market-based” determination of CO2 emissions is an anathema to them.

    • That is true. Branding a carbon tax as a “market-based” “solution” is disingenuous. They’re not great fans of “market-based” solutions, but they think that this branding might be a selling point with conservatives, which are too foolish to fully understand the scheme.

      The carbon tax is designed to increase every year, until the goal is acheived.

      A correct name for the scheme would be: emission reduction, whatever it takes. Or: emission reduction by imposed poverty.

      • Chief Hydrologist

        The obvious corollary is that if it ever did work – remote though that prospect might be – revenue would dry up leaving higher energy prices and no compensation.

      • Peter Lang

        Jacobress,

        No. That is not how a carbon tax works in the conventional meaning of it. For over 20 years we’ve been debating whether it is better to tax or trade CO2 emissions. In virtually all cases the tax is on CO2 emissions (or all GHG emissions), not on the fuel at source. I recognise Ross McKitrick is proposing taxing the fuel at the well head, but that is not the standard meaning of carbon tax.

      • Chief Hydrologist

        The BC tax was designed to increase over time on sales of fossil fuels – whereas Australia’s emission tax was intended to morph into a cap and trade on emissions the price of which was also intended to increase over time.

        It makes little practical difference either way.

        “What I’ve said is that we would put a cap and trade system in place that is as aggressive, if not more aggressive, than anybody else’s out there.

        I was the first to call for a 100% auction on the cap and trade system, which means that every unit of carbon or greenhouse gases emitted would be charged to the polluter. That will create a market in which whatever technologies are out there that are being presented, whatever power plants that are being built, that they would have to meet the rigors of that market and the ratcheted down caps that are being placed, imposed every year.

        So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can; it’s just that it will bankrupt them because they’re going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s being emitted.

        That will also generate billions of dollars that we can invest in solar, wind, biodiesel and other alternative energy approaches.’

        Barack Obama

      • Calculating emissions according to the fuel consumed is the only practical way of monitoring emissions.
        I don’t know the details of how emissions are calculated in Australia or Europe, but I guess, the only possible way is deducing emissions from the amount of fuel burned.
        And that is easy.

      • Chief:

        If a correctly calibrated tax did successfully reduce emissions, that would probably be because it turned out to be fairly cheap for private actors to do so. So the burden on the economy wouldn’t be that heavy. People would be burning a lot less fossil fuel, so the tax revenue they were generating would be small and not much of a bite on consumption and investment. The reduction in demand would also exert some downward pressure on the pre-tax price of fossil fuel (magnitude of this effect inversely proportional to the supply elasticity) so people whose situation required them to stay carbon-intensive would only be hurt a moderate amount.

  37. Plus, the cost of energy does not just affect the cost of a gallon of gas – it has a ripple effect throughout the economy since pretty much everything you own or eat, plus your medical care will be affected by a carbon tax. It’s simplistic to focus on a single variable in a complex system and claim that you understand how to fix the problem. Kind of like saying if we control co2 we can control climate.

    • That was suppossed to be a reply to mosher re why additional tax on a gallon of gas would not adversly affect the poor.

  38. Please visit

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/07/08/professor-critical-of-agw-theory-being-disenfranchised-exiled-from-academia-in-australia/#more-89542

    If this is even 10% true, it might explain why our hostess persists in giving us these sorts of ridiculous threads to discuss – carbon tax nonsense. But if Judith genuflects to the CAGW mafia, then she will not get treated like Murry Salby.

    • If 10% true, it is more than a little scary. Hopefully, Salby has or can find the resources to sue, and/or there is another climategate epiphany australian style.

      • Salby went to a land down under and did chunder.

        Who knows the behind the scenes, but the research on anthropogenic CO2 he is presenting via YouTube and press conferences is quite weak.

        The denialists will use him as a martyr. The scientific establishment will pile on until he is a non-entity and then safely ignored. It doesn’t matter if you have a name such as Linus Pauling, once the research starts slipping you have to pack it in. Science is brutal that way.

        Yet it is fascinating how well-cited scientists such as Cla*s Johnson and Murry Salby take on these quests based on a shaky foundation and expect to succeed.

      • WHT, you write “press conferences is quite weak.”

        I though someone would bring up this excuse. The validity of the science presented by Murry Salby NEVER ought ot be an issue. When Wegener suggested continents moved, his evidence was weak; when Prout proposed his hypothesis, his evidence was also weak. Many of the great ideas of science were based, initially, on weak evidence. That is not the issue.

        The issue is, should scientists be allowed to present their ideas, based on whatever evidence, without being persecuted. If someone in the scientific/political establishemnent is persecuting individuals because they have weak evidence that CAGW is wrong, then something is rotten in the State of Denmark

      • Cripwell, The problem is that Salby had no empirical basis, only a badly flawed theory that he was trying to justify.

        I on the other hand work from measurements and apply real physical processes to verify that the excess atmospheric CO2 is from human origination and the combustion of fossil fuels.

      • WHT, you write “Cripwell, The problem is that Salby had no empirical basis, only a badly flawed theory that he was trying to justify.”

        Let me repeat what I wrote before. So what? By all means discuss the science and show Prof. Salby where he is wrong. But this is no reason to persecute him. Surely the scientific apporach should be to discuss the science and show him were he is wrong.
        But this really is a case of pot and kettle. The warmists have zero empirical data to support the hypothesis of CAGW, but this does not stop them. When I point this out, I am reviled on Climate Etc. Surely, by your logic, you should be applauding my attempts to show that there is no empirical data to support CAGW. But then, you are not a true scientist; just an advocate of the hoax of CAGW.

      • @ WHUT “I on the other hand work from measurements and apply real physical processes to verify that the excess atmospheric CO2 is from human origination and the combustion of fossil fuels”

        That’s the problem with so called climate “science” and what I alluded to in another post. You basically conclude that excess Co2 comes from humans and then build a model to verify your conclusions. I always thought that science was about testing a hypothesis. Salby claims that natural processes generate 150 gigtons of Co2 annually, while humans generate about 5 gigtons. According to http://notrickszone.com/2013/03/02/most-of-the-rise-in-co2-likely-comes-from-natural-sources/, the ration is about 210 to 8. How much CO2 do you say comes from natural sources vs. human?

      • ratio, not ration

      • Got that wrong. I dive head first into the data and try to make sense of it.

        Look at this post and scroll to the bottom where I correlate carbon emission residuals to CO2 residuals

        http://theoilconundrum.blogspot.com/2012/03/co2-outgassing-model.html

        It is a tour de force of data analysis that Salby can only dream about.

    • @WHT, and the evidence for AGW is so strong? In fact, there is no evidence of AGW other than what you can produce by manipulating data in convoluted models to support a desired outcome.

      • Salby is denying that the excess atmospheric CO2 that we measure comes from the combustion of fossil fuels.

        That places him in the most reactionary class of deniers, those that eliminate the premise of AGW to begin with.

      • WHT, you write “Salby is denying that the excess atmospheric CO2 that we measure comes from the combustion of fossil fuels.
        That places him in the most reactionary class of deniers, those that eliminate the premise of AGW to begin with.”

        So what? Just because somneone has a little bit of weak science to challenge the opinion of other scientists, is that a reason to persecute him? Surely, true scientists should applaud his attempt to challenge the accepted orthodoxy. That is what true science is about. “Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts” (Richard Feynman).

        Your prejudices are showing, WHT. You are one of the people I detest. You are not a true scientist. You are an advocate who tries to trample on the ideas of anyone who does not worship the hoax of CAGW.

      • Jim C. writes of the ever warm and cuddly WHT: “You are one of the people I detest.”

        While “detest” is a strong word, there’s very little to like about the man I agree. And he’s unlikeable in just the way so many alarmists are.

        There are a bunch of skeptics who hang out here I’d love to have a beer with…better make that a club soda these days….but very, very few alarmists. It has nothing to do with beliefs or biases or politics or worldview, it’s simply a matter of a certain yucky Michael Mannish personality so many or them share, that’s truly hard to take.

      • “Detest”

        That reflects more on you, Cripwell. You must hate it that someone makes the effort to pick up a pencil and paper and grind out an analysis, while you are left to doing needlepoint and lecturing people on your past glories.

      • WHT, you write “while you are left to doing needlepoint ”

        Please get your facts straight. I don’t do needlepoint. I only do counted cross stitch.

      • Excuse me, cross-stitch not needle-point

        If this doesn’t prove that we are in the midst of an absurdist clown show, I don’t know what will.

        Nerd entertainment to the max.

    • Chief Hydrologist

      http://s1114.photobucket.com/user/Chief_Hydrologist/media/Steinthorsdottir_CO2_stomata_2013_zps0180f088.png.html?sort=3&o=1

      http://academia.edu/2949675/Stomatal_proxy_record_of_CO2_concentrations_from_the_last_termination_suggests_an_important_role_for_CO2_at_climate_change_transitions

      ‘This interpretation of the stomatal proxy [CO2] record presented here thus establishes CO2 , released from the Southern Ocean, as the primary driver for AMOC-collapse at the GI-1/GS-1 transition and thus the main cause of tipping the Northern Hemisphere climate into the Younger Dryas (GS-1).’

      Interesting idea – but the bottom line is that C02 varies a lot more than thought.

  39. It seems that most of these discussions start out with the assumption that we need to do something to mitigate co2 despite no evidence that shows increased levels of co2 cause anything to happen in the real world. Another point that seems to be overlooked is that governments will actually use the aditional tax revenue for the purposes they state as if we can trust them to be fiscally responsible in any way. The most likely out come of any co2 tax will be to further damage the economy at all levels while giving more money to politicians to waste on other hair-brained programs that do more to help them get reelected than help their constituents. Progressives seem to think that giving more of other peoples money to politicians will ultimately result in some sort of utopian state.The closest thing to a utopian state that will come about is the one in which politicians live because their constituents are too stupid to understand politicians real motives.

  40. The economic literacy of readers increases tenfold when Ed Dolan posts.

    He is among those independent economic analysts who can discuss an approach to carbon taxes that is both socially responsible and business-friendly.

    The first step, however, is to understand the basic concept of ‘no free lunch’; and many ClimateEtc readers do not.

    They do not understand how a lack of environmental regulation and energy policy directly hurts jobs and economies, in addition to the environment and the health and welfare of people.

    More posts by Ed will help ClimateEtc move past stuck points (no it is not possible to put a number on the costs of carbon emissions but we know it is large) and discuss what good environmental, energy and tax policy might look like.

    • Martha, you write “The first step, however, is to understand the basic concept of ‘no free lunch’; and many ClimateEtc readers do not.”

      I suspect ALL readers of Climate Etc. understand the concept of “no free lunch”. This has absolutley nothing to do with the issue of CAGW. It applies universally, with the concept of “user pay”.

      However, those of us denizens of Climate Etc who dispute the validity of the hoax of CAGW, do not want to see this very valid concept, made an excuse to reduce the use of cheap fossil fuels. CO2 never was, is not now, and never will be, a pollutant. It is a fertilizer, a plant food. So we will oppose any effort to restrict the use of fossil fuels on this phoney basis of “no free lunch”..

    • It always amazes me that progressives seem to think that burning fossil fuels is purely detrimental (as in, “we know that the cost of carbon emmissions is high) and never acknowledge that without fossil fuels, there would be no effective sewage treatment and water purification plants, hospitals would be far less able to effectively treat patients, we would likely have no telecommunications, chemical plants, would experience food shortages, and the list goes on. In reality, “carbon costs” are grossly overstated while benefits are generally ignored. And, by the way, it’s Co2, not carbon.

    • Willis Eschenbach

      Martha | July 9, 2013 at 9:32 am | Reply

      The economic literacy of readers increases tenfold when Ed Dolan posts.

      And yet here you are …

      He is among those independent economic analysts who can discuss an approach to carbon taxes that is both socially responsible and business-friendly.

      The first step, however, is to understand the basic concept of ‘no free lunch’; and many ClimateEtc readers do not.

      They do not understand how a lack of environmental regulation and energy policy directly hurts jobs and economies, in addition to the environment and the health and welfare of people.

      Talk about economic illiteracy … historically, no country has been able to seriously improve the environment until they’ve adequately fed and clothed and housed their population and have a bit of slack in the budget. Why?

      Because environmental regulations cost money. They increase the costs of doing business. Don’t get me wrong, I’m an environmentalist … and you seem to be an environmentalist, just one who believes in fairies and unicorns and free lunches … helping the environment doesn’t make us money, it costs us money.

      More posts by Ed will help ClimateEtc move past stuck points (no it is not possible to put a number on the costs of carbon emissions but we know it is large) and discuss what good environmental, energy and tax policy might look like.

      You’re so impressive when you discuss math, Martha … for example, your focus on the “costs of carbon emissions” while resolutely ignoring the benefits of carbon emissions reveals that you don’t understand accounting. In the real world these types of investigations are called “cost/benefit” analyses … see the second word there?

      For example, the rise in CO2 is estimated to have increased the world plant production by something around 10%. That’s worth $300 billion a year, or about $30 per tonne of carbon emissions. Did you include that in your figures? … then we have the increase in the growing season length that is slated to occur IF CO2 runs the temperature. I don’t think CO2 runs much at all, but obviously you do, so … how much did you put in your cost/benefit analysis for the growing season increase, Martha? And did you include the reduction in heating costs for all the cold people on the planet? How much was that penciled in for? What about the reduction in ice closures for the northern ports? What was your value for that?

      Innumerate people are bad enough. But when they insist that their innumeracy has revealed to them the true path to salvation, they become hilarious.

      Right now you’re up to “pretty funny” on the hilarity meter …

      w.

      • > No country has been able to seriously improve the environment until they’ve adequately fed and clothed and housed their population and have a bit of slack in the budget.

        Indeed, this is one of the point of creating poverty, for Willis knows that poverty is mostly man-created.

        See how Etete got fed and clothed and housed:

        Subsidiaries of Shell and Eni paid the Nigerian government for the block [i.e. just a small 1 billion deal]. The Nigerian government transferred precisely the same amount, to the very dollar, to an account earmarked for a shell company whose hidden owner was Etete. Now, that’s not bad going for a convicted money launderer. And here’s the thing. After many months of digging around and reading through hundreds of pages of court documents, we found evidence that, in fact, Shell and Eni had known that the funds would be transferred to that shell company, and frankly, it’s hard to believe they didn’t know who they were really dealing with there.

        http://www.ted.com/talks/charmian_gooch_meet_global_corruption_s_hidden_players.html

        Hard to believe, Willis.

      • And, as I have pointed out in other posts, fossil fuels are the primary energy source that powers things like sewage treatment and water purification plants, hospitals, telecommunications, travel, etc. etc. etc. But I guess there is no net benefit to these things when compared to that mystical “social cost” of Co2.

        Pretty much everything we own, eat, or otherwise consume comes with some Co2 footprint, which is why a Co2 tax is such a bad idea. It will have an unanticipated ripple effect throughout the econmy. It’s not just the tax on a gallon of gas purchased by an individual, it’s the tax on the gallon of gas used by the farmers in tilling the soil, harvesting the crop, transporting it to food processing plants, then on to the market to be sold. Then there is home and business HVAC costs, along with virtually all mining and manufacturing costs – including those for those green technologies, solar and windmills. We need to get a grip on the realities of this kind of thinking.

    • Martha,

      Could you explain to the less enlightened of us exactly what and how we know the costs of carbon emissions are large?

      Perhaps you could preface your remarks with a definition of what carbon emissions are?

    • Fossil fuel use is enormously beneficial (for humanity and the environment): http://www.cato.org/publications/policy-analysis/humanity-unbound-how-fossil-fuels-saved-humanity-nature-nature-humanity

      Furthermore, as Richard Tol demonstrates (and Bjorn Lomborg’s testimony to Congress explains in simple terms http://www.lomborg.com/sites/default/files/Congress_testimony_April_2013_3.pdf), GHG emissions are projected to be net beneficial for most of this century (and that is using what I expect are high side figures for climate sensitivity and damage function).

  41. I say go with no taxes at all. Each year the government would set its budget and print the cash to pay for it. Presto, balanced.

    That anybody actually believes that is not already exactly what we are doing is a wonder of the human mind. Magic works on it.

    • Yes, and for a place like Egypt, I have no doubt that the civil unrest is tied to their recent transformation from a crude oil exporter to a net crude oil importer.

      And as the Ethiopians plan their Big Nile Dam, the future is looking dim. The downstreamers will not be happy with the outcome.

      Most oil companies worldwide are nationalized and they control the purse strings. Energy is money these days.

  42. “The good news is that, despite initial skepticism, progressives are increasingly supportive of carbon taxes and other market-based environmental policies.”

    Progressives have NEVER been against raising any kind of taxes- for any reason they can find. The limiting factor is dependent on finding a seemingly plausible excuse- so the only trace of skepticism is regarding whether media has drummed up enough fear of global warming so it can be used as effective political club.

    But considering the reality of 15+ years of no warming, all the media seeing the writing on the wall, and polls showing an ever smaller minority of public regarding “global warming is a serious issue.
    Add to this, Obama currently flailing on topic of global warming as a means to distract from more important and immediate matters.

    But 2014 coming up, so, keep on kidding yourself- because what the public
    must really want to do is to pay more taxes- particularly when persons are suppose to know what various departments are actually doing are constantly claiming they had no clue what the government agencies were doing.

    So, there must be no doubt, that the America public is extremely eager to toss more money at that.

  43. David Wojick

    Given that the vast majority of conservatives and libertarians believe that no serious action is needed this discussion, while academically interesting, is politically pointless.

    • David Wojick

      Polls suggest that among Republicans only about 20% favor serious government action, so for conservatives that is likely less than 10%, perhaps a lot less, and even less among libertarians. Nor are progressives and environmentalists the same although they are sometimes aligned. Moreover progressives, conservatives and libertarians together make up just a small percentage of the voters. I do not know that these groups have been polled.

    • > [W]hile academically interesting, [X] is politically pointless.

      The Iron Law strikes again.

      Another example of the Iron Law through history:

      This ‘telephone’ has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us.

      Western Union, vintage 1876.

  44. tempterrain

    “progressives have no generalized aversion to taxes”

    How true is this statement? Those who know a little bit of modern history will be aware that Margaret Thatcher was brought down largely because of her disastrous introduction of a poll tax. This was hated by progressives, caused rioting in the streets, but was generally approved of by conservatives.

    In most countries, progressives would oppose taxes on the essentials of life, such as basic foodstuffs. Those of a more non progressive nature would argue more for a flat rate tax with the same rate of tax being applied to bread as to, say, a Rolex watch. The highest and the lowest paid would pay the same percentage of their income in tax, if neo-liberals had their way. The claim to like the idea of simplicity.

    I would suggest the statement isn’t true. Both progressives and conservatives (or neo-liberals) have an aversion to some taxes. Just not the same ones.

    Electrical power, too, is an essential of life, and progressives had previously argued that it should be taxed at a low or even a zero rate. The carbon tax changes this somewhat. We don’t argue for the tax, (or a cap and trade scheme), simply because we like the idea of all new taxes. That’s just a nonsense. Its accepted reluctantly and on the basis of the scientific and economic case for its introduction.

    • These sound like good points, but are a bit of a dodge. It’s like saying liberals don’t love taxes because they would oppose a big one on abortions. So what. Yes, we can all carefully craft a tax that liberals would hate and one that conservatives would love, but that doesn’t change the point that liberals/progressives desire greater government spending and need the funds to do it.
      It is true that electrical power is an essential of life, it is not true that there is a scientific or economic case for a carbon tax or cap-n-trade. This is why we conservatives often assume the call for such a tax is an effort to bring in more money. There are solid, real world examples of countries rapidly moving away from coal and reducing emissions without either a carbon tax or cap-n-trade. France, Sweden, and now the US. The fact that liberals/progressives (employing unscientific scaremongering) hate the alternatives these countries used does not make either a “scientific” or “economic” case for a carbon tax – but it does make us chuckle at the audacity.
      It doesn’t matter if you are a supporter or nukes and natural gas, the two alternatives belie the central liberal/progressive arguments: We must tax carbon in order to have an alternative to coal (no, we don’t), and the coal industry is so ultra-powerful that it will kill anything that threatens it (no, it can’t.)
      Of course the most amazing part of this is that the “climate concerned” have been rejecting the obvious and waiting around for 20+ years for a carbon tax/cap-n-trade ostensibly because they think this is an “urgent” issue.

      • It is true that electrical power is an essential of life, it is not true that there is a scientific or economic case for a carbon tax or cap-n-trade.

        That’s simply untrue. You may not accept the case but that doesn’t mean it does not exist.

    • “progressives have no generalized aversion to taxes”

      How true is this statement?

      Well it’s a bit of an understatement.
      Progressives have very twisted and silly ideas, such as wealth is created
      by a government printing money and people don’t actually own
      anything- so all wealth belongs to the State.
      With such idiocy, their logic regarding taxation is almost a form of justice- after all it’s merely “getting back” what improperly taken from the government. So no person [if the person is not a government official] has any rights to property- all of it is suppose to be controlled and owned by the totalitarian State.
      But most defining aspect of progressive is they are confused and stupid
      due to constant lying they engage in- to themselves and others. Slogans
      and relying on authority such as Karl Marx or what some movie stars says
      are their guiding light.

      And Progressives is simply a new label, which fairly empty in any particular meaning, other than some liberals in America didn’t like to be called liberals anymore- as liberal had sort of become curse word due to all the failure wrought by “liberals” down thru the ages.
      So term progressive is sort of like Socialist- it’s defined by opposition to something [capitalism] rather than actually defined [somehow limit
      it's meaning to something]. For example, the occupy wall street:
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Occupy_Wall_Street
      Is a clear example of Progressives. [If a Progressives doesn't associate themselves with Occupy, they would be disqualified as being progressive]. And the Occupy were unable to say anything
      which a sane person would regard as “well thought out”,
      So, slogans are key to their doctrinal understanding and they behaved [not surprisingly} as preteen children in novel, “Lord of the Flies”.
      So essentially primitive people who lack anything which an anthropologist could describe as sophisticated culture which wear sneakers and hoodies, and a “leadership” [those "funded"] consisting entirely spoiled “rich white kids”.

      But general they are known as older people who “think” and behave as uneducated children- because these older people are generally the ones with some kind of megaphone or are decaying Member in the US Senate. Though it is widely considered adorable when the younger ones are spouting the elder’s nonsense.

      “Those who know a little bit of modern history will be aware that Margaret Thatcher was brought down largely because of her disastrous introduction of a poll tax. This was hated by progressives, caused rioting in the streets, but was generally approved of by conservatives.”

      I will grant that if something involves rioting and the British Labour Party would probably be very similar to Progressives.
      Of course these so called Progressives always disliked [violently hated] Margaret Thatcher, who was “longest-serving British Prime Minister of the 20th century and is the only woman to have held the office.”
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margaret_Thatcher#Fall_from_power
      In office: 4 May 1979 – 28 November 1990
      So Margaret Thatcher was quite popular and held her office for longer than US president are able to do according the US constitution- long terms and very short terms are rather common in parliamentary government, but way it generally works, it is Margaret Thatcher’s party
      is what forced her to resign. So “Progressives” or Labour party didn’t force her to resign. The Labour party were connected with the riots
      and government controlled press could be characterized as being similar to Progressives. But if Labour party were involved passing laws regarding taxes, the Progressives would not be rioting. So one could protests, but rioting is what “Progressives” regard a good thing- so
      it’s about as likely as the America Tea Party rioting. Large numbers of “Occupiers” will almost always have riots and raping, and etc.
      So similar to anti-war protests during Bush’s presidency- they are not really anti-war. It’s true there still some confused Progressives still protesting Obama’s wars. But the main point of anti-war protest mostly a big media event because deep desire to attack a leadership which isn’t considered “Progressive”.
      So it’s same old spinning/lying that is hallmark of “Progressives”.

  45. barn E. rubble

    RE: “There are solid, real world examples of countries rapidly moving away from coal and reducing emissions without either a carbon tax or cap-n-trade.”

    And it’s not all good news . . . As mentioned up thread, the best thing about being a progressive/socialist is never having to say, “Here’s where it worked.”

    Perhaps one of our progressive contributors can explain how Cap’n Trade lowers global emmissions?

    • good points. One of the most frustrating things about this “debate” is the pidgeonholing of skeptics and distractions from the true points. People say to me: oh, you’re just pro-nuke.
      Well, no, actually, I just point out that the history of nuclear power puts the lie to every “progressive” claim about our need for government “action”. Windmills and solar panels would do the same, if they worked. Here’s the short list of claims that nukes proved were untrue:
      We’re told we must add a price to carbon to make alternatives economic. Not true, there are green alternatives that don’t require the tax.
      We’re told that power companies must be forced to invest in alternatives, especially those with high up-front costs, because they won’t try something new. Not true, they built nukes afterall.
      We’re told “Fossil fuel interests” have prevented the introduction of alternatives, in particular by buying Republican politicians. Not true- nukes were replacing coal rapidly until Democrats killed them. Now gas is taking on that role and Democrats are trying to strangle it.

      The real question for progressives is: If you believe this to be an urgent issue, why do you insist on spending decades having the same debate over and over about policies that have been proven to be ineffective and unnecessary while ignoring the solutions that work and have bi-partisan support?
      The answer is kind of obvious to most of us, but I’d love to hear them articulated.

  46. As to the claim a carbon tax would hurt the poor, I think this is true. However, we know damn well that democrats wouldn’t allow this to go on very long so they’d just subsidize their energy costs (or increase the subsidies if they already exist).

    And why on Earth would people be calling for a tax on energy (how many of them are connected to wind and solar?) when cheap energy is the lifeblood of an economy and when we have millions of people out of work? Seriously, I sometimes think the people running our country have ill intent for it and are leveraging the environment to accomplish their goals.

    • Cosmic Ray,

      You just don’t understand the progressive brilliance of it all. Some of the most far left governments in the world, China, Russia and India, refuse to sell their own political futures (ie. risk revolution), by beggaring their own people to support the dreams of their western brethren of accumulating similar power in their own countries.

      It is merely an accident that the proposed decarbonization of the western economy, while having no effect on the climate, will centralize massive power over the energy economy in progressive governments.

      You just don’t understand that cheap energy is irrelevant to the welfare of the billions of poor in the world. What the poor need is for western progressives to gain more power, so they can redistribute (whatever little wealth is left after they gain power) as they see fit.

    • ­> [W]e know damn well that democrats wouldn’t allow this to go on very long so they’d just subsidize their energy costs (or increase the subsidies if they already exist).

      Indeed, we should not let such Dems get away with schemes like these:

      According to one analysis considering the impact of Reagan era tax reform on the oil and gas industry, “Effective tax rates on other industries average[d] about 28 percent under pre-1986 law, compared to rates on oil investments ranging from -6 percent to 24 percent under pre-1986 law.”25 Given the high profile of these two major tax expenditures, we felt on firm ground basing our analysis of oil and gas subsidies on this pair of long-lived government incentives. As one early researcher wrote, “Our findings reveal that several public policies significantly affected investment in crude petroleum reserves. … Our empirical estmates support the position that the special federal tax provisions… have induced the petroleum industry to maintain a larger investment in proved reserves than it would have in the absence of these policies.

      http://i.bnet.com/blogs/dbl_energy_subsidies_paper.pdf

      Our emphasis.

      “Tax provisions” would be more appropriate than “subsidies”.

      Maybe it’s just a vocabulary thing.

  47. OT but what do the denizens think about this?
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/07/08/professor-critical-of-agw-theory-being-disenfranchised-exiled-from-academia-in-australia/

    “Professor Murry Salby who is critical of AGW theory, is being disenfranchised, exiled, from academia in Australia”

    • I don’t know what a denizen is, but Salby’s whining sounds like a bunch of sour grapes.

      If he had some good research results, he could play it to his advantage, but as it is, with easily refuted findings, he is left to play the martyr card.

      • “I don’t know what a denizen is”..

        You don’t seem to be very observant. Don’t you see the link in the upper right on this page? I also observe that Salby has dozens of publications over several decades.

        Perhaps your inability to observe what is obvious is reflected in your comments.

      • Sure, Salby is significantly cited, but so is Clas Johnson. This doesn’t prohibit them from flipping out at some point in their career. Think of Linus Pauling, William Shockley, and both discoverers of the structure of DNA, Watson and Crick.

        There are thousands and thousands of scientists at nowhere near the level of those Nobel Prize winners, so you would expect a few to go off into some rabbit hole.
        Salby is one of those.

  48. Willis Eschenbach

    Ed Dolan | July 9, 2013 at 10:11 am

    Interesting chart from NYT, thanks for the link. Yes, the chart is “cartoon like” in the sense that it is given in the spirit of “a picture is worth 1000 words” for people who don’t want to plow through the literature on price elasticity of demand that I linked to. However, if you do plow through it, you will find that when you do the econometrics, correcting for things like population density (as you mention) or the business cycle (which affects gas prices via demand, rather than supply), you still get the strong negative relationship between fuel use and fuel price.

    Actually, the chart is “cartoon like” in the sense that it is like a cartoon—funny, and lacking in scientific value. You can get the same chart by graphing transportation fuel used per capita vs. country size … and I’m supposed to be impressed?

    And while you claim that if we “plow through” the literature on price elasticity we’ll find a “negative relationship between fuel use and fuel price”, I posted a chart of US fuel use vs. fuel price which shows no such thing … but of course you ignored that completely, and I understand your actions, after all my graph contained actual facts …

    You don’t seem to understand, Ed, that you’ve blown your credibility and that as a result your solemn sworn word that black is white is meaningless. At this point if you told me it was raining outside, I’d look out the window. I’ve presented a real chart, not a cartoon like you posted, that shows little relationship between fuel cost and fuel use. How about you start by commenting on the real chart, instead of defending your cartoon?

    w.

    • > How about you start by commenting on the real chart, instead of defending your cartoon?

      Willis is right, as always, to demand real charts.

      Here’s one correlating balanced budgets with corruption:

      http://www.brookings.edu/research/opinions/2010/04/19-corruption-kaufmann

      Since Willis likes real charts, I’m sure he’ll appreciate the “r = .52″.

      Yes, but the POOR.

      • “Here’s one correlating balanced budgets with corruption:”

        ?? An unbalanced budget IS corruption.

      • > An unbalanced budget IS corruption.

        Humpty Dumpty might agree.

        Here’s how Libor balanced its budget:

        Perhaps that budget balancing is the opposite of corruption, in which case libertarians should edit thy Wiki accordingly, in particular:

        The Libor scandal was a series of fraudulent actions connected to the Libor (London Interbank Offered Rate) and also the resulting investigation and reaction. The Libor is an average interest rate calculated through submissions of interest rates by major banks in London. The scandal arose when it was discovered that banks were falsely inflating or deflating their rates so as to profit from trades, or to give the impression that they were more creditworthy than they were.[3] Libor underpins approximately $350 trillion in derivatives. It is controlled by the British Bankers’ Association (BBA).[4]

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Libor_scandal

      • Chief Hydrologist

        The graph shows balanced budgets correlate with a lack of corruption.

        Do you know what LIBOR is?

      • My main point was that there are ways to balance one’s budget that might be obtain through corruption, Chief, which may defeat Punky’s non-punk aphorism. My subtext was that balancing budgets are not reserved to states. In fact, removing governments from right to run deficits has the power to destroy the economy as we know it: the banking system would never be able to cope with owning what they’re doing.

        Anyway. I also hesitated could also have pointed to this:

        > The Department of Defense is unable to account for the use of $8.7 billion of the $9.1 bilion it spent on reconstructing Irak.

        http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com/post/11783209419

        To speed things up, I might point to my whole collection about auditing:

        http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com/tagged/aboutauditing

        Thanks for your indirect concerns..

      • Chief Hydrologist

        Space cadets generally – and this was my point – have very little grounding in reality. Bizarre though it seems – there is for instance no distinction between modest budget deficits that are balanced over a relatively short period and humungous levels of destabilizing and unaffordable debt – the money having been shuffled off to Cayman Island banks. Interest rates adjustments and decreases in the worst types of taxes – payroll tax for instance – are better instruments btw than government spending.

        As for your site – giving it it’s due regard – I spend no time at all there.

      • One does not simply define an unbalanced budget as corruption.

        Eggs and chicks, while correlated, refer to different concepts.

    • willis,

      the chart you linked shows that people either drove less or stopped increasing their driving when prices got high (not implying causation just correlation). true they didn’t decrease but the events in the 70s and the events of the past few years look pretty similar on the chart, at least compared to the rest of the entries.

      so while your chart is more interesting than Ed’s, I don’t think it refutes his statement. at least not strongly. at best if the effect is causal it gives you some idea of the size.

  49. “One reason that some progressives are skeptical of a carbon tax is a simple doubt that people really respond to prices”

    Of course they don’t. Progressives well know that consumers aren’t constrained by fixed budgets, they can spend any amount of money they like on something , eg energy, without having to spend less on everything else. That’s what makes Progressives so damn modern.

  50. I get it, I get it. If you are conservative or lib, just love a carbon tax, and for all the flimsy reasons repeated over the last years. Your free market – the Posh Left has discovered the Market as an new and exciting Big Lever – just needs to be guided a little. In fact, a carbon market may have to be created against your will for your own good but it will then be guided by the those who really know, aka the New Class. If you doubt that they know, then clearly you are just Old Class or No Class. Don’t you understand about “our kids” and asthma and pollution and, um, stuff? It’s all from carbon, all that bad, um, stuff. And did we mention that stuff is worse than we thought? Didn’t you see the stock footage of collapsing glaciers and water lapping Pacific villages?

    Why, this is practical capitalism at its best. So far is a carbon market from moldy old socialism, it is loved by stock-jobbers, skimmers and shills the world over. Its early champions, Enron and Lehman Bros, may be unavailable for comment, but their spirit lives on. The sobering message for humanity: “Party like it’s 2007!”

    In the early 80s, a marketing exec was lamenting that he could not sell plain water at a premium. A decade later, people were walking about with blue-labelled plastic bottles – full of bought water. It was once doubted that one could have a market in thin air. Now we have a global market in a fraction of thin air.

    You can sell anything.

  51. Chief Hydrologist

    Hydrologists have been interested for some time in the potential for probabilistic forecasts based on decadal patterns of ocean circulation.

    Hence the potential for drought in the US over another decade or so and higher rainfalls in other regions. These patterns influence global rainfall variability and not merely the US.

    http://s1114.photobucket.com/user/Chief_Hydrologist/media/USdrought_zps2629bb8c.jpg.html?sort=3&o=39

    It is not much more difficult to extend the considerations to global surface temperature. Anastasios Tsonis, of the Atmospheric Sciences Group at University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, and colleagues used a mathematical network approach to analyse abrupt climate change on decadal timescales. Ocean and atmospheric indices – in this case the El Niño Southern Oscillation, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, the North Atlantic Oscillation and the North Pacific Oscillation – can be thought of as chaotic oscillators that capture the major modes of climate variability. Tsonis and colleagues calculated the ‘distance’ between the indices. It was found that they would synchronise at certain times and then shift into a new state.

    It is no coincidence that shifts in ocean and atmospheric indices occur at the same time as changes in the trajectory of global surface temperature. Our ‘interest is to understand – first the natural variability of climate – and then take it from there. So we were very excited when we realized a lot of changes in the past century from warmer to cooler and then back to warmer were all natural,’ Tsonis said.

    I have spent 30 years just diving into the data and identifying the patterns – and it just drives them crazy that there is someone like me who actually advances the science – no wait – I was channeling webby. What actually happens is that someone makes an imaginative leap and others recognize that this explains the data in some better way. The leap of intuition in this case can be traced back to Steve Mantua in 1996 in his PhD thesis on American fisheries and SST in the north Pacific. This changed everything in oceanography and hydrology. It is as important a discovery as the El Niño-Southern Oscillation by Sir Gilbert Walker early last century. It provided the foundation for developing ideas for how and why decadal patterns obvious in hydrological data – at the very least since the mid 1980’s – occur.

    The reality is that we are in a cool phase and the probability is that this will persist for another decade or three. It is far from certain moreover that the pattern of alternate warming and cooling will continue. Given the state of the Sun – it seems more likely to shift from cooler to yet cooler. There are hints of centennial to millennial variability in this system.

    More salt in the Law Dome ice core equals La Niña.

    http://s1114.photobucket.com/user/Chief_Hydrologist/media/Vance2012-AntarticaLawDomeicecoresaltcontent.jpg.html?sort=3&o=68

    More red shift in a South American Lake equals El Niño.

    http://s1114.photobucket.com/user/Chief_Hydrologist/media/ENSO11000.gif.html?sort=3&o=127

    Given the likely evolution of climate over the next decades at least – carbon taxes are a lost cause. It is an utter waste of time to continue to discuss such an utter irrelevancy. I keep suggesting that the space cadets move on to more practical and pragmatic ways to mitigate carbon dioxide – but this seems to run into religious sensibilities.

    • Yet again, Chief runs to the end of the thread. Beth to follow soon enough. Perhaps Big Dave too.

      And then we’ll have an Open Thread, with more of the same. God knows there’s a correlation:

      God’s Top 80’s songs as climateballers’ avatars.

    • Chief Hydrologist

      Cryptic, using an invented word that will never catch on, irrelevant, trivia. Address science and not nonsense wee willie. Oh that’s right – all you really got is tweets and twits.

      • Sure, Chief, the potential for probabilistic forecasts based on decadal patterns of ocean circulation is like music to the pissant progressives’ ears. It makes them love a carbon tax. Please continue.

  52. Chief Hydrologist

    I quote this from NASA quite a lot. It summarises a great deal of science around these decadal patterns. It bothers me that it fails to register with space cadets.

    Unlike El Niño and La Niña, which may occur every 3 to 7 years and last from 6 to 18 months, the PDO can remain in the same phase for 20 to 30 years. The shift in the PDO can have significant implications for global climate, affecting Pacific and Atlantic hurricane activity, droughts and flooding around the Pacific basin, the productivity of marine ecosystems, and global land temperature patterns. #8220;This multi-year Pacific Decadal Oscillation ‘cool’ trend can intensify La Niña or diminish El Niño impacts around the Pacific basin,” said Bill Patzert, an oceanographer and climatologist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. “The persistence of this large-scale pattern [in 2008] tells us there is much more than an isolated La Niña occurring in the Pacific Ocean.”

    Natural, large-scale climate patterns like the PDO and El Niño-La Niña are superimposed on global warming caused by increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases and landscape changes like deforestation. According to Josh Willis, JPL oceanographer and climate scientist, “These natural climate phenomena can sometimes hide global warming caused by human activities. Or they can have the opposite effect of accentuating it.”

  53. Here’s an idea for a new post.

    Why Malthusian Progressives Should Love Air Pollution

    “China smog cuts 5.5 years from average life expectancy”

    http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/eed7c0be-e7ca-11e2-9aad-00144feabdc0.html#axzz2YauhO4NN

    Think of the reduced carbon footprint. The easing of the strain on poor Gaia’s natural resources. We should emulate this unexpected benefit of “state directed capitalism” in the west at once.

    Where is Tom Friedman when you need him?

  54. “being a progressive/socialist” and
    “Perhaps one of our progressive contributors can explain how Cap’n Trade lowers global emmissions?” barn E rubble
    -The terms ‘progressive’ and ‘socialist’ are not interchangeable, or synonyms.
    I wonder if you want to throw ‘socialism’ accusations around because it sounds like an argument against the role of government when in fact, government already has a huge role in climate change, providing aid for victims of impacts, and resources for adaptation in vulnerable areas. Since government is already extensively involved and implicated, the question is about good vs bad policy – not no policy – and the point(s) of intervention that make humanitarian, economic, and political sense both domestically and internationally.
    -Sure. Basically, it sets pollution targets for industry and by doing so, industry engages in a process to reduce emissions to this set limit. A quota system makes it possible for polluters to buy unused quota and the market sets the price of quota through an auction system that makes selling unused quota (by being at or below regulatory targets) desirable and profitable.
    It’s a system that was already used very successfully in the U.S., to reduce acid rain.
    The U.S. is responsible for a lot of emissions. Even if no other country were to use Cap and Trade, a U.S. Cap and Trade policy would lower global emissions in the basic way I have explained if it’s well-designed. Do you want to know features of good design in the U.S.? Read Ed Dolan. It depends on what incentives are in place, what sectors, etc.
    As Dolan has argued elsewhere, a carbon tax is easier to implement at this point; but it is cap and trade that is better at controlling targets.

    • Progressivism is the means; socialism, in any of its myriad varieties, is the end. Progressives, ie. statists/elitists, have been around since long before modern political labels became fashionable. There is nothing new in the concept of one class of people taking power by right over another.

      Whether they claim their superiority by birth, ethnicity, color, or “merit,” elitists have been trying to control (not to mention buy, sell and often kill) their perceived inferiors since time immemorial.

      It is no accident that progressives gave us eugenics, Jim Crow, not to mention Prohibition. read a little bit of the wonderful history of Woodrow Wilson, Democrat, and essentially one of the founders of the progressive movement in America.

      “In 1912, ‘an unprecedented number’[172] of African Americans left the Republican Party to cast their vote for Wilson, a Democrat. They were encouraged by his promises of support for minorities. However, once in office, Wilson’s cabinet members expanded racially segregationist policies. Black leaders who had supported Wilson in the 1912 election were angered when Wilson placed segregationist white Southerners in charge of many executive departments,[172][177] and the administration acted to reduce the already-meager number of African-Americans in political-appointee positions.[170][177] Wilson’s cabinet officials, with the president’s blessing, proceeded to establish official segregation in most federal government offices – in some departments for the first time since 1863.”

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Woodrow_Wilson#African_Americans

      Those who are ignorant of history are doomed to repeat it. And never has a generation been as ignorant of history as today’s progressives.

      • Here’s a much more recent example showing the similarity to the practices of modern progressives, in this case our Progressive in Chief, and their ideological forebears in 1930s Germany, Italy and Japan.

        “In an initiative aimed at rooting out future leakers and other security violators, President Barack Obama has ordered federal employees to report suspicious actions of their colleagues based on behavioral profiling techniques that are not scientifically proven to work, according to experts and government documents.

        The techniques are a key pillar of the Insider Threat Program, an unprecedented government-wide crackdown under which millions of federal bureaucrats and contractors must watch out for “high-risk persons or behaviors” among co-workers. Those who fail to report them could face penalties, including criminal charges.”

        http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2013/07/09/196211/linchpin-for-obamas-plan-to-predict.html#.UdzesG20QXQ

        I think the East German Stasi at one point had approximately 5 percent of their population on the payroll in one way or another as informers on their fellow citizens. It is a brave new progressive world we are headed toward indeed.

      • Progressives, ie. statists/elitists, have been around since long before modern political labels became fashionable.

        Gotta admit – Gary calling other people elitist is quite a feat, even for him.

      • > Progressivism is the means; socialism, in any of its myriad varieties, is the end.

        Amen, GaryM:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Progressive_conservatism

      • I don’t think anyone could reasonably classify the segregationist policies that occurred under Wilson as “progressive”. They would certainly be abhorred by anyone now calling themselves a progressive, and to try to taint modern day progressives by associating them with such policies is silly. They are surely equally entitled to claim credit for the civil rights movement and desegregation, which were undoubteldy “progressive” causes. Best just to judge people on what they do now.

        GaryM has a better point WRT some of Obama’s policies – Obama and very many of his supporters would, after all, certainly be considered progressives. I’m certainly uncomfortable with his treatment of Bradley Manning (whatever one thinks of Manning’s actions) and his administrations attitude towards whistlebowers in general, as well as his use of drones, his failure to close Guantanamo Bay and other actions in the “war on terror”. Not that his administration is worse than the previous one in that respect, so I don’t think Conservatives have any moral highground here but of course many of us were hoping for Obama to be more differerent than he actually has been. I’m hardly a fan of Sarah Palin but her question to Obama supporters “How’s that hopey changey thing going for ya?” is grimly amusing in siome respects.

        I guess the question here is, if one accepts this assessment of Obama’s policies, to what extent his failings are due to the nature of “progressivism” itself, his own personal failings or the nature of the office he holds. Given that much of the opposision to the kinds of things I mentioned come from progressives themselves I wouldn’t put too much emphasis on the former (and of course I would say that anyway) but it certainly proves that a politician apparently having views and values (of whatever kind) which one shares having is no guarantee of how they will behave once in office.

        Finally on the “Insider Threat Program”, working in financial services in the UK I have a legal duty to look out for and report behaviour by colleagues which could indicate they are involved in market abuse, fraud, money laundering etc. and I don’t see it as having to spy on (or be spied on by) people. However, I do think there is a danger that the ITP could be too wide ranging and be abused by the government, and I can understand why governemnt employees might be worried by it. But describing it as equivalent to something out of East Germany is ludicrous and somwhat undermines any legitimate objection you might have.

      • “progressive conservatism” is just progressivism. The Republican Party in the US is led by progressives who love big government, but claim to be conservative to win primaries. European “conservative” parties are almost all peopled by progressives.

        The fact that you default progressives don’t even understand what the conservative alternative is, to your deeply held (but poorly understood) beliefs, is no surprise. But your inability to understand something does not mean it doesn’t exist. Otherwise we wouldn’t have a climate would we?

        You just keep regurgitating what you are told to believe. It’s what you are all good at. And it sure beats actually thinking, doesn’t it?

      • Yes, it’s probably fair to say that many European conservatives would, by US standards, be considered “progressive”. Quite often political labels have to be considered in the context of the political environment in which people are operating.

      • Andrew Adam,

        “They are surely equally entitled to claim credit for the civil rights movement and desegregation, which were undoubteldy “progressive” causes. ”

        Absolute nonsense.

        The conservatives in the Whig Party left that party because those statist/elitists who ran the Whigs were just as sure of the inferiority of African Americans as the Democrats.

        It was progressive Democrats who instituted Jim Crow. It was progressive Democrats, like George Wallace and Orvill Faubus who fought desegregation.

        Conservative Republicans under Eisenhower tried to enact civil rights legislation, but were opposed by progressive Democrats. Those same Democrats also tried to stop the 1964 civil rights acts under Johnson as well. Conservative Republicans voted in a higher percentage for those acts once they were passed, breaking a progressive filibuster.

        And forget the myth you have been taught that all the racist in the Democrat Party left in one fell swoop, to join the Republicans they had been fighting for decades. It never happened.

        Racism is just one form of elitism, which is the life’s blood of progessivism. It is why progressives, who run virtually all the public schools in this country, fight any attempts at reforming them that might actually, you know, educate the inner city children they claim to care about.

        And it makes perfect sense from a progressive point of view. The less educated people are, the less development and industry in their neighborhoods, the more dependent they are on government.

        I will say for the hundredth time, ignore what progressives say, and watch what they do.

        Planned Parenthood was formed by Margaret Sanger to increase abortions among Blacks to further her eugenicist/racist views. By some remarkable coincidence, Planned Parenthood still concentrates its services in African American communities. But now they kill black children in the womb for “women’s rights.”

        Most default progressives don’t necessarily share the extreme racism of the actual movement progressives. They really believe everything is “for the children” and for “social justice,” and “fairness.”

        Which is why you have been taught such a bastardized version of revisionist history. Modern progressive policies are every but as racist in their effect as the original progressives. They have just learned to “reframe” those policies. (Which is a tactic that is also utilized in the climate debate all the time, if you bother to notice.)

      • Now, that’s interesting.

        Communists are progressive.

        Nazis were progressive.

        Republicans are progressive.

        Conservative parties in Europe are all progressive.

        Progressives caused all what ailed, ail, and will ail us.

        Progressive, progressive, progressive.

      • Now you are talking, BS.

      • Only SOME Republicans are progressive. Though most of the leadership would qualify. Otherwise, yes, all those listed represent various forms of progressivism.

        Progressives are those who believe the state, under the control of an elite, should reform society to meet their superior vision. Preference for centralized control of the economy is probably the one element common to all progressives.

        Communists, fascists, Democrats, almost all “conservative” parties in Europe, and many Republican leaders, favor a government controlled healthcare economy; government control of the energy economy; redistributive taxes (beyond a safety net for those unable to care for themselves); and government control of education.

        And oh yeah, all of them think they should be the ones running the government and making those decision for everyone else. Marco Rubio, formerly a putative tea party style conservative, has said that he ran for political office “to solve the big problems” of society. There is no better definition of the progressive mind set. So watch for him, like Chris Christie, Mitt Romney, John McCain, both Bushes, and so many others to join the progressive band wagon to one degree or another.

        So yes, all of those listed are progressives.

        The reason this all sounds so foreign to so many of you is that you have no idea what actual conservative conservatives think. You have been taught nothing about conservative economic, social or foreign policy positions. You have been taught to avoid listening or reading to those who might inform you. And you have been taught not to engage in critical analysis of the group think dogma you have been fed since pre-school.

        It is no surprise that you have no idea how to distinguish between progressives and conservatives.

      • GaryM,

        Well obviously it’s pretty easy to blame the world’s ills on “progressives” if that term encompasses pretty much everyone except you and a bunch of equally far right loons.

      • While the Constitution is progressive with its talk of equality, taxation and the general welfare, I think the real conservative Republicans give away their true allegiance when they bring the Bible into science debates (Inhofe, Broun, Sensenbrenner, etc.).

      • Andrew Adams,

        You are indeed correct. It is easy. The vast majority of politicians, media talking heads, teachers and professors are progressives. And it’s not that unusual historically.

        But there are many more than a few genuine conservatives. You just find very few in politics, media, academia, or cultural centers like Hollywood or book publishing.

        If this were not the case, society would be even worse off than it is now. It was not fear of progressive voters that derailed Copenhagen. It is not because of progressives that Obama had to first pass Obamacare to destroy the healthcare industry, rather than just enact full blown socialized medicine.

        The only question is, can conservatives re-assert themselves in the academy, media and culture sufficiently to turn back the tidal wave of group think that has swept the west.

      • Jim D,

        The Constitution as enacted was the exact opposite of progressive. Its primary function was to prevent the centralization of power that is the core of progressivism. That is why Woodrow Wilson, the founder of modern U.S. progressivism, first started using the term “living constitution.” That is why Franklin Roosevelt threatened to pack the Supreme Court to blackmail the justices into ignoring the Constitution’s provisions preventing his progressive agenda. That is why progressive Supreme Court justices have to find new “rights” and new powers for government in the “penumbras and emanations” of the Constitution, rather than what it actually says.

        And the income tax had to be added as an amendment, because the founders knew what the power to tax would ultimately lead to.

      • GaryM, well, true there were some conservative aspects in the Constitution too, like the non-equality of slaves. But I maintain that glimpses of conservative minds are seen when they bow to the Bible in any context. I think they do this sincerely, not just to play to their most conservative constituents.

      • > But there are many more than a few genuine conservatives.

        There’s at least twice as much genuine conservatives than there are true Scotsmen.

  55. There is no actual data that shows that there is any good that can come from Lower CO2. That would harm every green thing that grows on earth and every living thing that depends on green things that grow. Like People.

    • Chief Hydrologist

      There is no actual data to suggest that changing the composition of the atmosphere is entirely without risk. Nor anything at all to suggest that plants have had any deficit of carbon dioxide. They are generally able to increase or decrease gas exchange readily. This also decreases water loss through transpiration in a high CO2 environment. Is this a good or a bad thing? Good for the individual plant – but there must be changes in the hydrological cycle over land. Is this part of the reason for the land/ocean warming difference?

  56. Pingback: Pump Price, Miles Driven, and Energy Taxes | Watts Up With That?

  57. lurker passing through, laughing

    Only a progressive would have the hubris to confuse their obsession with CO2 as a love for the planet. Only a progressive would think that they can tax the world into some sort of utopia.
    Thanks for a nice demonstration of why progressivism fails every time it is tried.

    • Only a ‘Progressive’ would think that blocking progress in every way possible is progress.

      • One day…

        1Th 5:3 For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.

        it will have gone as far as it will too.

    • One can only admire your amazing telepathic powers which enable us to understand what progressives really think.

  58. Willis Eschenbach

    Bart R | July 10, 2013 at 10:37 am

    … There have been multiple studies on the BC carbon tax and the BC economy by interested parties on all sides. The agreement is pretty good: the revenue neutral carbon tax has been good for the BC economy, and CO2E is down on the order of 8%-16% because of it within the range of published scholarly estimates, industry estimates, and government estimates.

    Whenever anyone says “there have been multiple studies” and then neither cites nor quotes any of the “multiple studies”, I just point and laugh and keep moving …

    w.

    PS—Anyone who seriously claims that a “revenue neutral carbon tax have been good for the economy”, or who believes there is such a thing as a “revenue neutral” tax, didn’t pay attention in economics class. Taxes are valuable and useful things. However, since an energy tax increases the costs for businesses and individuals alike, if all of the revenue is merely redistributed rather than paying for say roads, there is no way that they are “good for the economy”, because nothing of value is produced with the tax $, and there is always waste, overhead, loss, and fraud.

    w.

    • The thing of value to all is the reduction in emissions. As for waste fraud and abuse, go talk to those folks in Lac-Mégantic.

    • Willis Eschenbach | July 10, 2013 at 3:34 pm |

      You may not have been paying attention, but in the years since the BC Revenue Neutral Carbon Tax and Climate Etc. have existed, the former has been discussed at great length on the latter, and many times.

      The citations made to sustain the BC case are voluminous, and the case is patent, here.

      If you need more, and can’t be bothered to leaf through past topic threads, then you need but ask.

      http://lmgtfy.com/?q=bc+revenue+neutral+carbon+tax+benefits+study

      So, you can dispute the BC Ministry of Finance, which I expect is full of professional economists who paid attention in economics classes, and you can dispute the Wall Street Journal, and you can dispute the think-tanks, or take the political disputes between them as evidence of something other than political differences, but you can’t dispute the evidence for the benefits and harmlessness of a fee and dividend system for CO2E.

      All you can do is twist words and sulk.

      PS: NOT. AN. ENERGY. TAX.

  59. Willis Eschenbach

    I do love this quote about the BC carbon tax, from the BC Government:

    Myth: The carbon tax is just a tax grab.

    Fact: Every dollar raised by the carbon tax is returned to individuals and businesses through tax reductions. None of the carbon tax revenue is used to fund government spending.

    Since it was first introduced in 2008, the carbon tax has returned $500 million more to taxpayers in tax reductions than it has raised in revenue.

    So they’ve taken a bunch of money out of the pockets of some BC taxpayers, and put another $500 million into the pot that’s been taken from other taxpayers, and returned it to a somewhat overlapping set of taxpayers, but not in the amount that each one paid. Some pay no energy tax at all, and despite that they get money from their neighbors. Some pay energy tax to their neighbors, and despite paying the tax they get nothing back at all … and this is a good, fair, and just thing because it reduces global CO2 by a thousandth of a percent?

    You’ll have to explain the logic in that, Bart R. You are doing all of that for a change in temperature that is far, far too small to be measured. It reminds me of the old joke:

    What’s the difference between a rat running a maze, and a global warming alarmist running a maze?

    The rat stops running if you take out the cheese …

    So just where is the cheese in the BC energy maze, Bart? What is the benefit that justifies the tax? Nothing useful is being done with the tax, there’s no road fixed or bridges built with it, that’s guaranteed because it is “revenue neutral”. There’s no change to the temperature.

    So what’s the benefit that makes it worth the cost?

    w.

    • Behavior modification. The same benefit of tobacco and alcohol taxes. You pay, proportional to the damage you do to others and yourself. No free riders Willis.

    • Willis Eschenbach | July 10, 2013 at 3:55 pm |

      I’ll have to explain what?

      “So they’ve taken a bunch of money out of the pockets of some BC taxpayers..”

      See, this is an incredibly offensive characterization on all sides. The “they” in this case is the sellers of carbon. That’s the “they” who take the money. They take the money of the buyers, and it is given to the trustee of the owners to distribute the dividend to them of the sale of their scarce resource, the ability of the air to recycle carbon.

      That trustee, the government, distributes the fees collected to each owner. How is that wrong in your mind?

      There is no “energy tax”. Hydro electric resources are plentiful in BC, and produce no CO2E, so that energy — though it may have taxes on it somewhere along the line, I don’t know I’m not conversant with all of BC’s tax laws — is not charged a CO2E recycling fee under the BC Revenue Neutral Carbon Tax. Photovoltaic, while not an economically viable option in most of BC, also may be subject to taxes of some sort (again, I don’t know), but also doesn’t pay into this pool. Hydrogen? Same thing. Wind power? Same thing. NOT. AN. ENERGY. TAX.

      And since none of the revenues are kept in the general revenue of government and used by government, but returned directly to the pockets of the owners of the air through tax reductions, reducing tax churn, it’s hard to call it a “tax” either. How can a thing be both a tax and a tax reduction?

      Now, I too have an issue with the $500 million excess recycling of the BC carbon tax, as it appears the total excess pretty exactly equals the amount the BC government pays directly to corporations under the BC Revenue Neutral Carbon Tax.

      It appears that BC has created a loophole to provide stimulus grants to companies within its borders under the guise of dividends that ought go to people who breath, and thereby have a right to a share in the revenues of air. This anticompetitive trade practice by BC ought anger rivals and competitors for BC’s subsidized goods, who now must deal with dumping of that $500 million worth of stimulus spending. If these rivals themselves had not received many more times the stimulus themselves over the same period of time. End this subsidy, I say, on all sides. It ought never have happened.

      “Some pay no energy tax[sic] at all, and despite that they get money from their neighbors. Some pay energy tax[sic] to their neighbors, and despite paying the tax they get nothing back at all …”

      If they own a share in the air, that is if they breath and thereby have an equal claim to anyone else, then they are the owners. Owners receive dividends when their resources earn revenue. If they use up the scarce resource, that is if their lucrative actions above their natural due emit CO2E, then the buyers have bought it. They ‘get back’ whatever it was that prompted them to make the purchase decision.

      Doubting the personal, individual buyers in the Market is anti-democratic. Do you seek to substitute your own judgement of what price is worth it for their purchase? Are you smarter than the entire Market?

      And this ludicrous thousandths of a percent crap.. human activity has raised CO2 levels from 280 ppmv to 400 ppmv in a quarter millennium, most of that in the past half century. 400/280 represents a 43% rise. That’s the rise that proves the scarcity of the air’s ability to recycle CO2.

      This is not about behavior modification as Eli Rabett asserts. Well, it may be, but who cares? All prices modify behavior in the Market. Intelligent, free-willed, individuals by the law of supply and demand modify their behavior to make the best deal for themselves — the democracy of the Market — and that results in the optimum allocation of scarce resources.

      So the level of the fee on CO2E ought be, not as is done in BC, set by the level of diminishing return to owners.

      So while BC is proof of concept that a fee and dividend system could work, and will benefit any nation, it is not itself a fee and dividend system, and isn’t the way I’d have done it.

  60. I am impressed with the tall stands of stereotypes that are the pillars of this article. I’d have bet against anyone getting such rubbish published.

  61. Why “progressives” should love oil …

    “We all know oil production in Texas has soared in recent years. But putting the rise in graphic form shows just how phenomenal the energy turnaround has been: The surge looks exponential.

    In March, Texas oil production reached its highest level since 1984. That month, the Lone Star State pumped more than 74 million barrels of crude from the ground, which means if Texas were a country, it would be one of the 15 largest oil producers in the world.

    Saudi Texas: Oil’s new reign in Texas draws comparisons to the Kingdom

    Texas’ oil output has doubled in less than three years, putting it in the ranks of OPEC heavy-hitters like Venezuela, Kuwait and Nigeria.”
    http://fuelfix.com/blog/2013/07/10/texas-oil-surges-to-highest-level-since-1984/?cmpid=hpts

  62. Pingback: Repeat After Me: Cost-Effectiveness | The Antiplanner

  63. Of course, conservatives by a vote of 2-1 also prefer carbon taxes. And why the bunnies ask, as R Street (a think tank that grew out of Heartland) puts it

    ———————-
    To conservatives like us, complicated new regulation is our worst nightmare. There is a conservative approach to dealing with climate change — one that can actually achieve conservative goals: the government-shrinking carbon tax.

    • Let’s take a look at one of the denizens of “R Street”.

      Joel Nitzkin, Senior Fellow

      Dr. Joel L. Nitzkin is a senior fellow at R Street. He is a public health physician, board certified in preventive medicine, with a master’s degree in public health and a doctorate in public administration.

      http://www.rstreet.org/about/staff/

      He is also associated with the American Society for Public Administration.
      http://investing.businessweek.com/research/stocks/private/person.asp?personId=225318963&privcapId=61406758&previousCapId=61406758&previousTitle=TurningPointGlobal%20Solutions,%20LLC

      And what might they care about?
      Raise the Minimum Wage
      For the past 3 years, planning for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has been largely behind the scenes.
      The War Against Women
      Cuts to Head Start

      http://aspanational.wordpress.com/

      In short, the usual laundry list of liberal issues. I am thinking R Street are about as conservative as Karl Marx. Kind of like Bart – a capitalist LOL!

      • R Street is an outgrowth of Heartland a well known progressive organization. Eli Lehrer, the president, took his insurance lobbying practice with him when he left Heartland about a year ago.

        There are very few things that Eli and Eli would agree on other than the challenges of a rapidly changing climate and the needs to confront them.

        Dr. Nitzkin appears to be a well qualified public health doctor, yet you have a problem with him?

      • R Street did spin off of Heartland, but mainly because Heartland made the insurance companies mad with the the Kaczynsk bill board. Insurance companies are mostly in the ACGW camp and these people cater to them. I don’t see that R Street as an organization is all that conservative or libertarian.

    • You might mention that to the other Eli. He would demur, thinking of himself and R Street as real libertarian. However you do raise an interesting point. Heartland was and remains in thrall to the Tobacco Industry. Lehrer even wrote some Joe Camel is your friend stuff when there. He appears to have gotten religion on that issue too.

      You and Judy might ponder why insurance is worried about climate change tho.

      • Since climate scientists can’t figure out the climate system, I have no doubt insurance companies can’t do it either.

      • Heh, their only worry is to justify weighting house odds higher, and how better than in a panic?
        ==========

  64. “GaryM | July 10, 2013 at 5:54 pm |

    Andrew Adams,

    You are indeed correct. It is easy. The vast majority of politicians, media talking heads, teachers and professors are progressives. And it’s not that unusual historically.”

    Correct, what Hitler said had many people support it [including those outside of Germany].
    And what Hitler said was pure idiocy. And anyone with lick of sense
    knew it, but it was largely an explanation [story] for why Germany was failing to attain it’s “rightful amount of progress”.
    Instead due to evils of the governing [which lead to disaster of war] it’s something wrong with the people it’s governing that must be fixed.
    Or not the actual politicians but things like “Big Oil” causing politicians [victims] to do horrible things.
    And so this is like the idea that people are drinking too much soda for their own good.
    Or people should not drink alcohol as leads to harm to society [not harmed
    by the obvious idiots governing [who probably constantly drunk or stoned on some kind of drugs most of the time].
    With progressism, it’s assumed the leadership is perfect [or a lot better] and it’s the ones who are governed who are to blamed. [which is more or less completely backwards- rather, leadership has been and is mostly attempts of leadership to pretend they decent human beings- not immoral power crazed creatures they commonly are.]

    “But there are many more than a few genuine conservatives. You just find very few in politics, media, academia, or cultural centers like Hollywood or book publishing.”
    It’s not as though conservatives have holy armor which protects them from power corrupting them. Nixon with his price controls, way obviously very progressive, more so, than Obama yet attempted.
    Basically one should not trust any group of politicans, which means you should limit the amount of power granted to them.
    So, just say no, to the Nanny State.

    “If this were not the case, society would be even worse off than it is now.”
    The only advantage regarding conservative, is the conservative voters
    are critical of conservative leadership. Their supporter aren’t lapdogs
    of the chosen one. So don’t there is much credit due to conservative politicians.
    They will not be supported if they merely repeating talking points, they have give convincing policy speeches. It’s their audience which defines them. And in many ways conservative politicians fail their supporters- as they are politicians. And one should not expect much from any politician.
    If they manage to do less harm, they are a great success.

    “It was not fear of progressive voters that derailed Copenhagen. It is not because of progressives that Obama had to first pass Obamacare to destroy the healthcare industry, rather than just enact full blown socialized medicine.”
    Reality was what derailed Copenhagen. And reality is what stopped government from destroying the best healthcare system on the planet.
    Not that US healthcare system couldn’t be improved, and this could done
    by removing the government controls which are have been worsening it.
    As we “finding out” Obamacare is increasing the cost of healthcare for
    Americans, it’s not “providing health care for the uninsured- other forcing people to pay for something they do not want to pay for [which people who need such a thing, don’t need have government force them to buy, and we finding out that a much simpler management than single payer, Obamacare can’t manage it. It’s beyond government skill to manage it well. Or the private sector management has had far more skill
    than what government employees are capable of.
    Again, it was reality which stopped Dems from being even more bonkers.

    The only question is, can conservatives re-assert themselves in the academy, media and culture sufficiently to turn back the tidal wave of group think that has swept the west.

  65. CO2 is a “trace gas” in air, insignificant by definition. It absorbs 1/7th as much IR, heat energy, from sunlight as water vapor which has 188
    times as many molecules capturing 1200 times as much heat making 99.9% of all “global warming.” CO2 does only 0.1% of it. For this we should destroy our economy?

    Carbon combustion generates 80% of our energy. Control and taxing of
    carbon would give the elected ruling class more power and money than
    anything since the Magna Carta of 1215 AD.

    See The Two Minute Conservative via Google or: http://adrianvance.blogspot.com and when you speak ladies will swoon and liberal gentlemen will weep.

    • Adrian Vance | July 26, 2013 at 11:20 am |

      CO2 in air, and water, is the source of all carbon in every living thing on the planet. If it is trace, then we are insignificant.

      CO2 has 1/7th the impact as water vapor (on whatever basis you measure), but water vapor responds to CO2 level, and CO2 level has risen 43% over a quarter millennium due the wonders of compound cumulative marginal excess emission, in the same way a deficit might rise were a debt to be underserviced year by year for centuries by a mere penny a payment cycle.

      And what do you mean by “destroy our economy”? British Columbia reduced its per capita CO2E emissions by 19% in just half a decade while growing its economy with its carbon pricing scheme. And that carbon pricing scheme isn’t even all that finely tuned or intensive. With more intensive carbon pricing, the economy would arguably do far better.

      Who argues this? Well, among many others, Dr. Ross McKitrick.

      Placing a fee on carbon emission and returning the revenue entirely to the owners per capita by the law of supply and demand would take more power from the ‘elected ruling classes’ (where do people come up with this crap?) than any measure since the enactment of the US Constitution, putting the reins of that power into the hands of every individual buyer and seller negotiating in the free market, a democracy of price setting well-ordered by standards of weights and measures imposed on the scarce CO2 recycling resource.

      Do you think the government exceeds good sense by regulating currency, weight scales, yardsticks and CO2E inventories so buyers know what they’re getting and sellers get a fair return from their sales agents?

      Which is it you’re against: Capitalism, or democracy?

      Because you’re surely not claiming to be conservative, if you’re against privatization of this trace resource.

      • Sir: You waste elegant words on stupid ideas. To wit:

        CO2 is 1/7th the absorber of IR from sunlight per physical analysis of the absorption charts published by the American Meteorological Society. Go to their website, or mine, and input “global warming” to the search routine and you will learn.

        Cutting our energy by 80% would destroy the economy. You cannot replace with it with bird chopping windmills that work intermittently or solar panels that only function six hours a day for a few years at 20 times the cost per kilowatt or run cars and trucks on ethanol. Brazil is giving up on that.

        See my US Patent 7,855,061 for a viable alternative if you nutburgers prevail as with it, and other patents pending, I create a carbon economy from all the captured CO2 and become a billionaire, but am honest enough to say this is all BS.

        Now top that with all your elegantly expressed nonsense.

        Adrian Vance

        http://adrianvance.blogspot.com

    • Adrian Vance | July 26, 2013 at 3:26 pm |

      If I choose to spend my words on your ideas, it’s for me to decide whether I deem it a waste. They’re mine. The free market in action.

      You equate energy with fossil fuel.

      This is clearly a false equation.

      That is a sophism, an elegant word for lie.

      It can’t be a mistake; no one could miss that energy comes also from hydro dams and nuclear reactors and concentrated solar thermal and concentrated solar photovoltaic and flat panel thermal and flat panel photovoltaic and wind and geothermal and tide, and no one can mistake that Moore’s law has a power correlative, that the energy needed for the same computation or telecommunication falls by half every two years.

      You’re clearly selling oil of some sort, be it snake or bunker crude or tarsand derivative, or possibly coal. Either way, natural gas when produced and burned cleanly is much less carbon intensive as an energy source than other fossil factors, and nothing stops economical measures of sequestration from being employed to meet your 80% reduction target, none of which is economy destroying.

      You may mean economy disrupting. Well, disruption of the market with innovation is the American way. We see that as the most acceptable form of progress: even if we’re not liberals or other left-wingers, we still all like smarter phones with more apps and better features.

      Speaking of: were your argument to have succeeded four short decades ago in the mobile bandwidth arena, we would not have seen the rise of the multitrillion dollar cell phone industry. The analogy applies to CO2E.

      Privatize it, and watch the economy boom.

      • My responses are here reversed as I read your second first:

        Carbon combustion produces 80% of all our energy and 100% of that making wheels go round; even those on “electric” cars.

        “Moore’s law has a power correlative?” What kind of gibberish is that? Did you go to school in California?

        Natural gas produces just as much CO2 for the energy produced a coal or petroleum. It is the burning of carbon that makes it. You cannot violate the physical realities of the system.

        What the Hell is “CO2E?”

        Ironic you should mention the US Navy as they are considering my butanol patent for an installation on Hawaii. I will have to go there to get it up and running of course…

    • I stand corrected.

      You’re not a fossil nut.

      You’re just a carbon nut.

      Butanol from algae.

      Yeah. That’ll be feasible.

      Here’s a hint: corn had the backing of the world’s most powerful lobbying organization to persuade governments to subsidize their little fraud.

      Algae doesn’t have anything like the backroom appeal, even to the slimiest political operative.

      Good luck with that scam.. and challenging the US Navy’s version.

      • Again you are in the weeds, sir.

        Butanol has been prepared from many things with very adaptable bacteria and I think we can modify a strain to give us a very high yield. The point of the patent you read part of is that it uses sequestered CO2 instead of turning into garbage more expensive than plutonium, considering quantities.