Politics

Did the Sun Come Up This Morning? Well, Jonathan Chait Has Written Another Provably False Thing About Libertarians

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You can see, but you can't unsee

Unfunny sock puppetteer, longtime John McCain fanboy and late-breaking Saddam Hussein restorationist Jonathan Chait (hey, you asked for synonyms, Koch-brain!) responds to some responses to his blog post about Reason, apparently one of his favorite activities. As reliably transpires when he makes an assumption about libertarianism, Reason, and all the other orphan-eating Balrogs in the Moria of his mind, Chait makes a here-let-me-Google-that-for-you category of error:

I don't think the Kochs care all that much if they're supporting writers who oppose pricing their carbon emissions due to skepticism with climate science or due to some other reason. I do think that if Reason started advocating a carbon pricing scheme that stood some plausible chance of legislative success, the Kochs—who boast about cutting off funding for work they disagree with—would probably respond.

Let's test that theory out, shall we? Here is a forum in the July 2008 issue of Reason, entitled "Carbon: Tax, Trade, or Deregulate?" It was an edited transcript from an October 2007 panel discussion that I moderated between three free-market thinkers who focus on environmental policy. The panelist holding down the "tax" argument was none other than Reason's longtime science correspondent, Ronald Bailey. A selection from Bailey's comments:

For consumers, for inventors, for innovators, a tax offers price stability in a way that the cap-and-trade markets don't. […]

Basically it would be a globally harmonized tax, but the money would be collected by each country and spent by the governments in each country.

In the ideal world, you would recycle that money by reducing other taxes, so the overall tax level in the country would not increase. What you would be doing is incentivizing people to conserve energy but also incentivizing people to innovate, to find new ways to produce energy that people would want using low-carbon technologies or carbon-sequestering technologies. […]

Government does not innovate. So by creating a carbon tax you would encourage private people to marshal the information in response. So carbon tax is a price, to figure out better ways to make energy, low-carbon energy. I don't know what those energies will be. I'm sure the government doesn't know either, and I don't want them wasting the money doing it. […]

I realize that [some people] believe that somehow the invisible hand will take care of a commons problem always, but commons problems are solved by creating property.

Keep in mind that Chait just last week described the person who made the above comments as condoning "the notion that corporations should be able to pollute the commons with harmful greenhouse gases at no cost whatsoever." This is what happens when you proceed from the false premise that the Kochs' giving is motivated primarily by a desire to avoid environmental regulation on their factories.

So did the Kochtopus indeed "respond" to Bailey's hereticism, as predicted? Well, I've only been editor for three years, but my next phone call or e-mail from anyone named Koch will be the first of my tenure. David Koch is the only member of the Reason Foundation's Board of Trustees I have not met. Ron Bailey, I can testify, still has a job. Heck, we have even allowed fans of France's health care system to write now and then!

It's a shame Chait's interest in exposing the murky ties between deep-pocketed philanthropists and opinion magazines is not sufficient to motivate a Google search, since there's so much promising material to be mined, for instance, when cross-checking The New Republic and the Kaiser Family Foundation. Though I suppose it's more fun inventing phony pay-to-play theories about the magazine you don't understand than examining the real paid-propaganda record of the magazine you work for.

Joseph Nye pitches his next Libya story

To sum up: The New Republic's Jonathan Chait contends, falsely, that "the Kochs will happily put their money behind candidates and intellectuals who agree with their economic agenda but disagree with their social agenda. They will never put their money behind candidates or intellectuals of whom the reverse is true." When informed of his error, Chait contends, falsely, that Ron Bailey (typical of a Koch-whore!) thinks "corporations should be able to pollute the commons with harmful greenhouse gases at no cost whatsoever." When informed of his error, Chait contends, falsely, that Bailey (typical of a Koch-whore!) is a "fierce foe of any carbon rationing policy" who opposes "any plan to price carbon emissions."

Given this track record, I am more than confident that Chait will respond to this latest corrective not with the journalistic impulse of agonizing over how he could have ever written a single word that isn't true, but rather with the hack's reflex of commenting on the tone and even imagined mental background of the rebuttal. What a way to go through life.

UPDATE: Sure enough, Chait has responded without one word about his serial errors of fact, other than insisting that a carbon tax does not qualify as "a carbon pricing scheme that stood some plausible chance of legislative success." An "A" for effort, surely.