November 18, 2007

Re: Froma Harrop's Genius Economic Cure-All

Monique Chartier

This and the absurd carbon tax are bad ideas - in fact, for the same reasons.

Firstly, no thought has been given to the millions of people of limited means who simply cannot pay such a premium on their gasoline. Are they supposed to stop working? And no, mass transit is not the answer. Beyond what is in place now, this is a non-starter. Not only have our elected officials made it clear that they prefer to spend the money elsewhere, it simply does not work in a country this big and sprawling, where a significant number of people have jobs at all hours and/or commute from one non-hub to another. (Which also makes car-pooling problematic.)

Secondly, gasoline is not just a propellant for commuters. It also moves food and goods around the country. Truck drivers are trying to make a living like the rest of us and cannot be expected to absorb the impact of this genius idea. Look for a corresponding jump in the price of everything moved by truck.

More importantly, what is the point? You are punishing me. You are hitting me with the tax stick. I want to make it stop. But as it is, I do only the driving needed to get to work and see family, I walk to do errands on the weekend and consume no more electricity at home and work than I absolutely need. What more can I do to avoid the tax stick? Band together with my neighbors and build a nuclear plant?

Oh, right, you want us to band together and lobby Washington.

And here is what would happen. The United States Congress would convene a well-intentioned study commission, comprised of scientists, environmentalists, respected former politicians, retired members of the military and ordinary citizens. The commission would take testimony and make pertinent inquiries on its own. After some honest contention and debate between members of the commission, it would eventually agree on a thoughtful, well-researched report presenting several alternative solutions. Being optimistic, let us assume that some solutions would be feasible. Being realistic, we must also assume that they would be costly and not instantaneous fixes.

The commission would then present its findings to Congress. (Add five days here for certain members of Congress to make florid, look-at-me speeches parsing the report and praising the study commission.) By then, lots of people would be even poorer, the country might well be headed into a recession and Washington would have spent all of the new gas taxes, either on pork or on basic budget items because of a significant drop in revenue due to the aforementioned inflation.

Energy is a darned important matter. To state this as offensively as possible, I have no more desire than anyone else to continue enriching the incubator of the 9/11 attackers. But it is difficult to see the value in a solution which amounts to simply increasing the amount of money sent to the nation's capitol, to be dispensed under the auspices of officials who do not have an unbroken track record of acting for the public good.

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The atmosphere is currently being used as a free dumping ground for carbon dioxide. That's obviously going to have to stop in order to avoid the worst consequences of climate change; it's already too late to avoid serious consequences.

To stop the atmosphere from being used as a free dumping ground, the United States and other countries will inevitably "put a price on carbon." One possibility is a revenue-neutral carbon tax, with the tax revenues returned through lump-sum payments or offsetting tax deductions (with extra provisions to help low-income households and senior citizens who wouldn't benefit from a reduction in payroll or other taxes.) The other is the cap-and-trade program currently being hyped by large polluting corporations that would provide huge windfalls to polluters. For more information on carbon taxes, see For more information on the windfalls, see

Posted by: Dan at November 18, 2007 1:56 PM

So the liberal mantra is now "We Doomed! The only things that will save us are oppressive taxes and socialism!"

Yeah, okay. But what SCIENTIFIC impact will taxes and anti-capitalist behavior have? It seems like what we're getting from the enviro-wackos is

Step 1. Get the underwear.

Step 2.

Step 3. PROFITS!

But what's Step 2.*?

*With apologies to those of you that don't get the South Park reference.

Posted by: Greg at November 18, 2007 2:40 PM

You can peddle your leftist La-La all day but there's 3 billion people in Asia who don't care. Including 1.3 billion in the world's biggest polluter-Progressive China. Where guns and God are illegal but abortion is mandatory.

Posted by: Mike at November 18, 2007 8:44 PM

"The atmosphere is currently being used as a free dumping ground for carbon dioxide."

Actually, the above statement is quite misleading.

"free dumping ground" implies that man is responsible for a significant percentage of greenhouse gases generated on Earth. In fact, we are responsible for less than 6% (six percent). Mother Nature generates the rest - 94%. Link below.

Setting aside for the moment the dubious proposition that man is causing global warming and turn back specifically to the taxing of gasoline and carbon, Dan, tell us, in a couple of sentences (or longer, if you like) how the taxing of carbon will lead to its reduction.

The carbon tax has been enacted. Now I have to pay more for gasoline and electricity. What is the mechanism by which this will reduce the generation of carbon?

Posted by: Monique at November 19, 2007 8:16 AM
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