Global Warming

The Case for a Carbon Tax

Americans are paying less than the full cost of their energy use.

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Desperate to do something about the nation's gargantuan deficits but depressed about the possibility of raising income taxes, some in Washington think they have found the pefect fix: a carbon tax. They are pursuing the right answer to the wrong question.

Washington is not swimming in red ink because it is low on funds. As The Wall Street Journal pointed out a few days ago, "individual income tax payments are now up $233 billion over the last two years, or 26 percent," and overall tax revenue is at an almost historic high. Washington's problem is spending.

Still: Even Grover Norquist—the Carrie Nation of taxation (she described herself as "a bulldog running along at the feet of Jesus, barking at what He doesn't like")—says a carbon tax offset by tax cuts elsewhere would not violate anti-tax pledges. In political circles, this is called giving people cover.

But why institute a carbon tax, if not to raise revenue? In brief: Because it would reduce harm in the future and compensate for harm in the past.

You don't have to take anything Al Gore says as gospel to recognize that today's climate-change skeptics resemble the anti-anti-communists of decades past, who displayed what Alexander Solzhenitsyn correctly described as "a desire not to know." American leftists infatuated with the fantasy of egalitarian utopia did not want to believe those on the right who exposed the savage reality of Communist totalitarianism. Climate-change skeptics today do not want to believe climate-change alarmists, who propose big-government solutions. So the doubters refuse to concede the problem.

But intellectually honest skeptics cannot ignore facts they do not like. Hence more and more former deniers are concluding as physicist Richard Muller has: "Three years ago I identified problems in previous climate studies that, in my mind, threw doubt on the very existence of global warming," he wrote in The New York Times this summer. "Last year, following an intensive research effort involving a dozen scientists, I concluded that global warming was real and that the prior estimates of the rate of warming were correct. I'm now going a step further: Humans are almost entirely the cause." Tellingly, climate-change conversions all seem to go in one direction. If evidence were mounting that global warming is fake, then some believers would become debunkers.

It is an ill wind that blows no man any good, and global warming will have salutary effects for some parts of the planet. For example, it could increase agricultural yields and lead to milder winters. But even those who say the overall harm from climate change is overstated concede it exists.

How much harm does climate change do? Estimates vary wildly. But even those who are ideologically indisposed to environmental alarmism consider a social cost of $25 per ton of carbon-dioxide emissions defensible. Economists call social costs not reflected in the price of goods negative externalities, and have different notions about how to address them. The Coase Theorem assigns property rights to everyone involved, which would seem like a daunting task on the global scale. The Pigovian approach taxes producers to make them internalize the costs.

Both approaches recognize inflicting harm on others without consent or compensation is wrong. Earlier this year, Reason's Ronald Bailey quoted law professor Jonathan Adler on that very point: "It is a well recognized principle of common law that if company A is flooding the land of person B, it is irrelevant whether company A generates lots of economic prosperity…A's action would still violate B's property rights, and B would be entitled to relief of some sort. By the same token, if the land of a farmer in Bangladesh is flooded, due in measurable and provable part to human-induced climate change, why would he be any less entitled to redress…? Property rights should not be sacrificed as part of some utilitarian calculus."

There is another free-market reason to support a carbon tax: It would level the energy playing field. Washington should not be lavishing taxpayer subsidies on either renewable or fossil fuels; it should let market forces dictate which energy sources prevail. But doing so requires that prices reflect actual costs. A carbon tax applied to energy producers, who then pass it on to consumers, would help ensure they do.

Opponents will raise any number of objections. For instance, China's CO2 emissions have begun to outpace U.S. emissions. True. But while aggregate U.S. emissions have returned to 1990 levels thanks to the natural-gas boom, most of the CO2 now in the atmosphere was emitted here, and Americans are still the largest emitters by far on a per-capita basis. Also, the optimal level of a carbon tax isn't perfectly clear. Taxing carbon with an income-tax offset won't compensate the pearl divers of the Tuamotu Islands for rising sea levels. And so on.

But none of those objections is fatal, and the bottom line remains the same: Americans are paying less than the full cost of their energy use, and foisting the difference onto the rest of the world. That's mighty convenient. It just isn't right.

NEXT: It's November 19, and President Obama Still Hasn't Responded to Legal Pot in Colorado and Washington

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  1. “Washington should not be lavishing taxpayer subsidies on either renewable or fossil fuels”

    I see no friendliness or subsidies going towards “fossil fuels”…. Unless you consider a meager tax deduction for the “small business” drilling firms a “subsidy”.

    Where do beltway cosmopolitans come up with this crap?

    1. They hear it from all the lefties they hang out with at the cocktail parties, and so they assume it must be true.

      1. Poe’s law is in effect, ladies and gents.

        1. Seriously, I don’t know why anyone would want to come here to read that we should be paying more taxes when we can get that from Krugman’s shitty blog and about a hundred other places in the media.

          Here’s my pithy response to Hinkle: “Fuck you, cut spending.”

          1. Because claiming you’re a parody TOTALLY means he wants a carbon tax. Do you always burn straw-men like that?

            1. Hinkle made it very clear he wants a carbon tax and why. He believes its a form of a VAT somehow…and that its the only way to “level the playing field” and to “stop” global warming.

    2. Oil producers get the same tax deduction any manufacturer does.

      Hostess and Skyrim got the same subsidies….as did Solyndra.

      1. Answer, get rid of all subsidies.

  2. An eminently sensible editorial. Unfortunately, the peanut gallery will immediately commence demanding why Reason carries Hinkle in 3…2…1…

    1. Why do they? He didn’t mention peanuts even ONCE.

    2. A. Barton Hinkleheimerschmidt,
      His name is my name to,
      And whenver we go out,
      The people always shout,
      There goes A. Barton Hinkleheimerschmidt,
      LA-LA-LA-LA-LA-LA-LA-LA-LA!

    3. Peanut galleries are also known to press unwarranted praise on misinformed writers, denounce their would-be critics, then click, troll-like, on the Daily Kos tab.

  3. There is no legitimate case for taxing energy.

    Subsidies are wrong. The Carbon Tax is wrong.

    1. 1. You get more of what you subsidize, and less of what you tax.

      2. Taxing energy use encourages efficiency.

      3. Efficiency is a self-evident good.

      That’s the theory, anyway. It’s not a stupid idea, but the implementation will almost certainly be stupid.

      1. I’ll speak slowly for you: There is no legitimate reason for the goverment to worry about people using energy efficiently. That is not the purpose of government.

        1. It absolutely is the business of government since energy as it is currently produced and consumed is a finite resource and energy in general is a society-wide concern. It is simply not an option for inhabitants of the first world to forgo energy, and it is simply a fact that most of us do not appreciate or pay for the true cost of it.

          1. T o n y| 11.19.12 @ 1:15PM |#
            “It absolutely is the business of government since energy as it is currently produced and consumed is a finite resource and energy in general is a society-wide concern.”

            None of which, shithead, even hints at why the government should be concerned.
            More of your bullshit.

            1. In practice, government just wastes energy … immense quantities of energy.

              The US military is the largest consumer of energy on the planet, but delivers nothing of value.

              Eliminating government would go a long way in improving energy efficiency.

          2. If I can afford energy, who are you to tell me I cannot buy/utilize it? Because you can get the men with guns to say “hey, that lightbulb is unlawful!!”?

            Fuck off, slaver.

            1. You can afford energy as it is currently produced only because a large part of its costs are subsidized or externalized. That’s the whole point.

              1. a large part of its costs are subsidized or externalized

                Except part of it is “subsidized” by forcing electricity companies to buy it, forcing prices upward. So much for helping us afford it.

          3. Is there something out there, Tony, that is an infinite resource?

              1. There is no peak retard. Every time we think we’ve seen the bottom, Tony outdoes himself.

            1. The stupidity contained within the pile of shit lying between Chony Krugnuts’ ears is almost as vast as the universe itself, so it’s practically infinite (albeit not much of a “resource”).

            2. Tony’s bullshit is apparently and infinite resource.

            3. There are energy sources that are practically infinite: the sun and wind.

              1. T o n y| 11.19.12 @ 3:56PM |#
                “There are energy sources that are practically infinite: the sun and wind.”

                Even allowing the abysmal ignorance of this slimy turd, this approaches unbelievable.
                Shithead, WIH do you think fossil fuels come from if no the sun?

              2. I stunningly agree with part of what you’re saying here, even though you’re still wrong on many points.

                First, the sun and the wind are not practically infinite. The sun only bathes the earth with so much energy over any given time; if you’re consuming it faster than it’s applied, you’re running at a net loss of energy. Same with wind power: there’s only so much kinetic energy in the atmosphere at any given time. If you need more than that, you’re got to come up with the power somewhere else. It’s like saying that a stream, given infinite time, can supply infinite energy. Yeah, maybe enough to run a few light bulbs for an infinite amount of time.

                It is sad, however, how, as climate science becomes more and more certain over climate change and man’s contribution to it, our governments, who assume a monopoly of making sure we have clean air and water, have totally abdicated this responsibility that they assume for themselves and no one else. And why? Because the economy sucks, so no one wants to hear it. Even when statists are right, they’re still impotent to actually solve their problems. Government is, once again, a solution that really isn’t a solution.

          4. People with money buy energy. People without money don’t buy energy. Problem solved.

          5. It absolutely is the business of government

            Says the guy who thinks contraception should be mandatory.

            Yes Tony we know you are a Fascist and think the government should have to power to do anything to anybody for any reason.

      2. Sure. Well, let me know when the government comes up with a better than market solution to this or anything else.

  4. Richard Muller was never a ‘denier’.

    And even we deniers are not denying ‘climate change’. Of course, climate has always changed and always will change, regardless of the puny efforts of man.

    A ‘carbon tax’? You mean a tax on CO2, a notorious plant food, and a by-product of living, breathing creatures.

    Get a life, Barton…

    1. Exactly. Most of *infamous* molecular gases “spewing” out of smokestacks is CO2 and water vapor

      1. By exactly the same reasoning (“CO2 is plant food”), it is impossible for you to be harmed by drinking too much water.

        1. Fertilizer is plant food, therefore bathing in pig shit should be A-OK.

          1. I don’t mind trolls so much – but ignorant trolls, that is something else.

        2. By exactly the same reasoning (“CO2 is plant food”), it is impossible for you to be harmed by drinking too much water.

          By the reasoning of this article, if enough global drinking alarmists decided that dihydrogen monoxide posed an existential threat to life, then a “water tax” to reduce people’s use of it would be sensible policy that saves lives.

        3. Atmospheric CO2: 395ppm (or, to help you out – 395 part per million). Gulp, gulp, gulp…

        4. At 395ppm we ain’t exactly drowning in the stuff – gulp, gulp, gulp

          1. Without taking a position on this neverending debate, the absolute concentration of a substance is a meaningless number without context.

            I can’t taste 395ppm of salt in a glass of water, but 395ppm of polonium in the same water would put me well past dead.

            1. How many people have been killed by atmospheric carbon dioxide again?

              1. How many people have been killed by smog, polluted water, and many other forms of pollution I can only guess. For me the question isn’t if humans are screwing up the environment, I know we are but that doesn’t mean that the government should screw with everyone because of it.

                1. But by switching some of our taxes from labor to carbon, we are reducing the labor taxes, IMO a good trade off.

                  No matter what the government is gong to be taking the taxes

  5. Somebody should push that dude off the railing and take over.

    1. I would volunteer – but I don’t think I could get south of the Equator before he sailed off.

  6. Energy taxes are regressive, since poor people spend a lot of their budget on transportation, food, and climate control. You can’t offset a regressive sales tax with adjustments to a progressive incone tax.

    1. You can with a negative income tax, like the earned income tax credit.

      1. Payable to whom?

        1. Poor people impacted by higher energy prices.

          1. The Derider| 11.19.12 @ 1:05PM |#
            “Poor people impacted by higher energy prices.”

            One government program to mitigate the other! What a concept!
            Deidiot strikes again.

            1. Rob collective Peter, to pay selected Paul?

              1. Rob collective Peter, to pay selected Paul?

                Agreed, but with 30% sticking to government employees and/or politicians hands legally and illegally while on its way to the selected Pauls; Pauls selected by who else, the government employees and/or politicians that did the selecting.

            2. It truly is remarkable, isn’t it?

              “We must pass a tax, then exempt certain people from the tax because they can’t afford the tax”

              “Why couldn’t we just not pass the tax in the first place, and then those people wouldn’t be affected at all?”

              “… These go to 11!”

          2. My point exactly. So you’re going to subsidize energy usage amongst some.

            And here I thought the whole point was to make whole those harmed by global warming/climate change, including, say, enormous agribusinesses whose farms may be adversely affected.

          3. Or, you know, don’t tax them to begin with.

            I do, however, find your solution, of making an overly complex system even more overly complex, to be brilliant.

  7. “It is a well recognized principle of common law that if company A is flooding the land of person B, it is irrelevant whether company A generates lots of economic prosperity?A’s action would still violate B’s property rights, and B would be entitled to relief of some sort. By the same token, if the land of a farmer in Bangladesh is flooded, due in measurable and provable part to human-induced climate change, why would he be any less entitled to redress??

    The question is can the farmer in Bangladesh prove that the flooding he is experiencing is due to man-made global warming? Or is it natural global warming? It is easily proven that A flooded B, not so much with a global phenomenon that isn’t totally understood.

    1. A butterfly flaps its wings in Wyoming and a poor Bangladeshi fisherman gets flooded out. The truth is so obvious that a proof isn’t necessary.

    2. We both know how this calculus will go. Amazingly, all of the objects of the Left’s Two Minutes Hates will be found to be carbon criminals and all of their mascots will be discovered to be the aggrieved parties.

    3. By the same token, if the land of a farmer in Bangladesh is flooded, due in measurable and provable part to human-induced climate change, why would he be any less entitled to redress.

      This elides the issue of causation, which is critical of course to any restitution case.

      Even if we assume that the flooding would not have occurred “but-for” combustion of fossil fuels, that doesn’t get you home. You still have to show that the fossil fuel combustion of the folks who are being asked to write the checks was the “proximate” cause of the flooding.

      There are a lot of different formulations of proximate cause, but they often boil down to foreseeability: “Was bad result B a foreseeable outcome of my action A?” If the answer is no, then no liability.

      Good luck with proximate cause, Bangladeshi plaintiff!

      I see no basis for joint and several liability here, either, so our Bangladeshi will need to apportion his damage among the defendants, rather than just sending the entire bill to the US.

      1. Derider gave up the plan already, RC. It doesn’t have anything to do with compensating the truly harmed. It’s all just another redistributionist scheme.

  8. Look out! Bart’s Chapmanning!

  9. Is Hinkle becoming the new Chapman?

    I don’t even bother with Chapman anymore as he is a proven shill-in-waiting for progressives.

  10. Man and Woman He made them, to float upon the waters…and the LORD looked upon the sideboob which was wrought, and saw that it was good.

    1. Kind of makes you believe in the Creator all over again, as you behold one of his finest creations.

    2. Forever and ever, amen.

  11. A carbon tax? I don’t pay enough to heat my house already?

    1. No, because you don’t pay the cost of the pollution heating your home creates.

      1. You haven’t the slightest idea if his furnace is causing harm, what the degree of it is or whom is being harmed.

        1. His furnace releases greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. It’s causing harm.

          If his furnace were releasing arsenic into the water table, would you still defend his right to pollute?

          1. I am not putting arsenic in the water, I am trying to not die.

          2. It’s causing harm.

            To who and in what quantities? There’s no way to tell that a specific amount of gasses harmed specific people in specific amounts. It’s just used as an excuse.

            If his furnace were releasing arsenic into the water table, would you still defend his right to pollute?

            Except we can tell who is harmed by the arsenic, and how much. Really, do you not use your brain at all?

          3. You beg the question. If Tim’s furnace is releasing CO2 and my furnace is releasing CO2 and your furnace is releasing CO2, are we all not victims as well as perpetrators in this?

            And for those in, say, South Florida, where furnaces are unknown, are they not solely victims? But lo! They are perps, too, due to their higher A/C use? Are they net perps or victims? Do we send them a check or a bill at the end of the year?

            Because, as a victim of everyone’s furnace and A/C, I want a check from the government.

            1. I live in Vermont, temps can bottom out well below zero. Heat is necessary to live.
              Meanwhile those lazy fucks in Florida can get along just fine without AC. They are the real criminals.

              1. Funny how soon we get to a Hobbesian War of All Against All through a surfeit of law as opposed to a lack of same.

          4. The Derider| 11.19.12 @ 1:05PM |#
            “His furnace releases greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. It’s causing harm.”

            Yes brother, TELL it! Yes, the coming of the RAPTURE!
            Stuff you religion up your ass.

      2. One of the main flaws in these arguments about externalities is the presumption of omniscience. There is no person or government who can trace the trillions of chains of cause and effect that occur every second, assign a price to these causes and effects (the fatal conceit raises its ugly head) and decide who is a net beneficiary and who is a net victim.

      3. Re: The Dehydrated,

        No, because you don’t pay the cost of the pollution heating your home creates.

        What cost would that be, Joe?

        1. He doesn’t have a fucking clue. In addition, it would seem that we are all both perpetrators AND victims in this game of climatic three-card monty, spewing vile CO2 (the same stuff we exhale) into the environment (BAD!), but then turning right around and living with the effects.

          1. This is similar to the extortion levied against the tobacco companies. After identifying some criminal against society, we have some bullshit redress through taxation that has nothing to do with those supposedly injured but goes directly into government coffers instead. All carbon taxes act in this way, where the government collects the “settlement” of wrong in the name of the supposed claimants.

            Believe me, we ain’t gonna be bailing out any Bangledeshi farmers with carbon tax money but enriching politicians and other looters.

  12. The only thing worthwhile about this article is the thumbnail posted on HnR.

  13. Washington is not swimming in red ink because it is low on funds … Washington’s problem is spending.

    Repeat after me: “The US has a revenue problem, not a spending problem.”

    Keep repeating that until you believe it, then you’ll understand Washington thinking.

  14. What a shockingly cogent article.

    Americans are paying less than the full cost of their energy use, and foisting the difference onto the rest of the world.

    Very well and succinctly put. A perfectly reasonable description of reality to which “skeptics” respond “lalala I can’t hear you.” And apparently we must not make any new policy until the last “skeptic” holdout is convinced. Teach the controversy and all that.

    Any discussion of climate change that references a controversy about the basic scientific facts is intellectually dishonest in the worst way. Thanks for not doing that here.

    1. Any discussion of climate change that references a controversy about the basic scientific facts is intellectually dishonest in the worst way.

      Uh-huh. “The science is settled. Top. Men. Agree. It is intellectually dishonest to point out that the scientific records show that the earth hasn’t been cooling for about 15 years now.”

      1. Above should read “hasn’t been warming” to be on topic, though the observed “no change” means neither warming nor cooling.

      2. This is the 332nd consecutive month with above-average temperatures. There hasn’t been a colder-than-average month in 28 years. The science is very much settled on the basic facts about which you want to “teach the controversy.” You’re just as wrong as creationists using various sciency-sounding arguments to promote bullshit, only with even more of a moral problem, since we’re not just talking about making children ignorant, we’re talking about ignoring an environmental crisis.

        1. You forgot that itty-bitty detail about the Earth not warming at all for 15 years. And how we’re still not sure of the nature of global-warming mechanisms, and can’t even predict climate change a few months into the future, let alone years. Not exactly “settled”.

        2. This is the 332nd consecutive month with above-average temperatures. There hasn’t been a colder-than-average month in 28 years.

          Average of what time period? The time since the Little Ice Age?

        3. Tony knows the average temperature of everywhere on the planet for the past billion years?

    2. T o n y mind telling me where the money for that carbon tax will go? Something tells me the funds wont be used in anything having to do with environmental preservation.

      Mandate that the funds can’t be used on welfare pet projects and the dems will cease to support it.

      To act like they want to implement this sorely out of concern for the environment is disingenuous at best.

      1. Even if the tax revenue were thrown into the ocean, the effect of the tax would reduce carbon emissions, and therefore the impact of climate change.

        1. Taking money from people by force also causes harm. How do you know that the money you are extracting is not causing more harm, on net, than the supposed harm caused by the CO2?

          1. How do you know

            He is immensely ignorant.

        2. The Derider| 11.19.12 @ 1:07PM |#
          “Even if the tax revenue were thrown into the ocean, the effect of the tax would reduce carbon emissions, and therefore the impact of climate change.”

          Stuff your religion up your ass.

          1. Greenhouse Jesus says that impoverishment is the only way to salvation!

            1. Imagine, you in your hovel, a Bible on the table…you own turnip!

    3. Everyone benefits from the availability of energy in various forms. A carbon tax will make everything cost more and hurt the poor the most because they spend the largest portion of their income on basic necessities, like heat and gas and food.

      1. Not to mention that, where I live, I get a portion of my electrons from nuclear power, which as zero carbon emissions. Do I get a subsidy now?

        1. Yes, so do I, as I am drawing from the large cluster of nukes that ComEd (er, Exelon) built – when you could still do that.

    4. Replace “Americans” with “Chinese” or “Indians”. Externalities are bilateral and unless these two countries curb their emissions, it won’t matter how much the US decreases theirs.

      1. By the way the US has reduced its total CO2 emissions to 1992 levels, ie they are at 20 year lows and are dropping. Thanks in large part to the evil fracking and due in virtually no part to government intervention.

  15. “But why institute a carbon tax, if not to raise revenue? In brief: Because it would reduce harm in the future and compensate for harm in the past.”

    1.21 GIGAWATTS!

    1. The 2025 remake of BTTF will include hairshirting by Doc Brown over the carbon footprint of his time machine, which will be the stated reason he destroys it for the betterment of mankind.

      Also, George McFly will be expelled from school for assaulting Biff and resort to turning tricks on the outskirts of Hill Valley, resulting in a separate subplot where Marty has to fix the even worse damage he has caused.

    2. Because it would reduce harm in the future and compensate for harm in the past.

      Reduce future harm? Maybe, maybe not.

      Compensate for harm in the past? Who is going to sequester the revenue, and adjudicate and administer claims for restitution?

      1. No, no, RC. The way this works is the people who complain the loudest get the money. There’s no “accounting” or worrying about actually compensating people who have allegedy suffered harm. The SOP is the compainers shake you down, use most of your settlement to finance new action against other shakedownees, and take a sweet cut for themselves to finance their 1% lifestyle.

      2. You want to have courts and juries decide whether a party was injured or not? What are you, some kind of heartless bastard? Just collect the tax! We’ll figure out how to spend it later…

  16. If A’s action causes damage to B’s property, then B is surely entitled to compensation. So how does a tax that gets paid to a government that then spends it on missiles, Medicare or housing subsidies make B whole?

    1. By reducing B’s tax burden. Did you miss the part about revenue neutrality?

      1. Ha-ha…as if.

        But whatever the mechanism, how are damages quantified?

        1. how are damages quantified?

          And are there positive externalities as well? Do these offset the negative. And how do you determine what they are?

          1. I’m thinking that we ought to find out those positive externalities and send the beneficiaries a bill.

      2. Right so the answer to ending the ever shifting shell game of subsidies, by which politicians leverage clout and money for their campaigns is to replace it with different shells. Not to mention that only by some sort of twisted logic would reducing private consumption by giving more money to the worlds largest polluter, the US government, make any fucking sense.

      3. Show me one revenue neutral tax that has ever been implemented and I’ll stop laughing for a minute.

    2. If you’re talking about Bangladesh, foreign aid.

      Also taxes would Reduce the harm in the first place.

      1. And the chances that said foreign aid will find its way into that farmer’s pocket are, let’s see….zero. That’s **if** the dollars ever make it out of the United States. More likely is that they will be spent here on things having exactly no relation to global warming, climate change or singin’ in the fucking rain.

        1. Even if this is true, the result of the tax will reduce carbon emissions, which will reduce the number of victims.

          1. No it won’t you fuck. Carbon does nit have a linear relationship to agw much less the harm caused by agw whatever that is. So it may and probably will do nothing but make us worse off.

            1. Scientists disagree with you.

              1. They also disagree with you. Sorry Derided, their work doesn’t magically stop being scientific just because they disagree with you.

              2. No they don’t. Even believers admit the relationship isn’t linear. And it is dependent on world output. So cutting us output does nothing if it rises elsewhere. Are you so stupid and uninformed you think it is a linear relationship? No you are just a miserable fuck who thinks we are that stupid. Appeal to authority elsewhere and at least understand the appeal. You are actually a more repulsive and dishonest human being than you used to be.

                1. “cutting us output does nothing if it rises elsewhere”

                  Exactly. I think that the most foolish thing about the whole discussion is that people think that it can be fixed without doing horrible things to lots of people (and even then it probably wouldn’t work). I think that AGW is very plausible. I’m sure human activity has some effect on the climate. But no matter what happens in the US and Europe, people are going to use as much fossil fuel as is practically available. If the developed world drastically reduced their CO2 output, then oil prices would drop and the rest of the world could afford to buy more. If this is a problem in need of a solution, the solution is in better dealing with the effects of rising sea level and hotter temperatures, not some fantasy that it is something that can be fixed.

                  1. Well, sure, changing the percentage of CO2 in the atmosphere from, say, 0.035% to 0.039% will have SOME effect. Whether that will be much compared to natural climate cycles is one question, along with “can anything the government do NOT fuck things up worse?”

                  2. Just tell Chang, Juan and Mubutu that they have to remain poor and deal with it.

                    1. I can live with that. 😉

                2. You are actually a more repulsive and dishonest human being than you used to be.

                  joe only wants a level playing field for all of us. Say, about 5’5″.

          2. You still cannot show that anyone is a victim, so you continue to beg the question.

            The entire thrust of the article was Coasian, which you now toss out, thus obliterating the basis of the would-be tax.

            1. It’s not coasian, because you can’t privatize the atmosphere.

              The article is arguing for a pigouvian tax.

              1. You don’t need to. The atmosphere is simply the vehicle for the supposed harm.

  17. To have an appropriate carbon tax, you would have to know the total cost of carbon with some certainty. That would require understanding not only knowing its effect on the climate but also knowing how that effect translates into ecnomic loss. In short, are fucking kidding me? A carbon tax absent dumb luck be mispriced and more than likely just make energy too expensive and us all poorer. It is one those ideas that sounds good if you are retarded and no just enough about markets to be dangerous. Is there any half baked idea that some reason staffer won’t buy as long as the right people believe it?

    1. So I pay more thie winter. I’m not rich so that money is cut from consumer spending. All the other me’s cut their spending and businesses shrink facing loss of demand.
      Meanwhile the money goes to Washington, where it is spent on free condoms for Ivy League students and solar power companies that kick back to democrats.
      Nothing gets to that poor Bangladeshi, unless maybe he gets hired at the condom factory.

    2. Exactly my point above. The amount of the tax is a complete SWAG itself, and it gets even murkier on the damages side. It would almost certainly turn into a political wrestle royal, with every moocher group imaginable thumping the tub to show how grievously it’s been harmed by “climate change.”

    3. Hinkle doesn’t work for Reason.

  18. First of all: No alt-text on that picture is a crime against humanity.

    There is another free-market reason to support a carbon tax: It would level the energy playing field. Washington should not be lavishing taxpayer subsidies on either renewable or fossil fuels; it should let market forces dictate which energy sources prevail.

    What a stupid paragraph. Government subsidies and regulation create an unlevel playing field so we have to even it out with more regulation and a tax? THAT IS NOT FREE MARKET! You can’t say let free market forces decide and use it to justify a market intervention. That’s pure, fallacious cognitive dissonance.

    1. And how do we subsidize fossil fuels? If the answer by building roads, you are an ass clown who can be safely ignored.

      1. If the answer by building roads

        I had the terrible realization that progressives believe this.

    2. And how do we subsidize fossil fuels? If the answer by building roads, you are an ass clown who can be safely ignored.

      1. Exactly. I’ve wasted too much breath trying to explain to people that tax exemptions and depreciation that every company in the US gets are not subsidies. The response is always either disbelief that that’s all they get or silly attempts to equate the two.

    3. ^^Thank you

    4. Pollution is a market failure, an uncontained externality. Shit, even Hayek knew this was true.

      1. Property damage isn’t a market failure, you imbecile.

      2. CO2 is not pollution, though.

    5. Where is a non-alt-text of that picture? And what is that picture from and the connection between that picture and this article?

  19. I don’t think a revenue-neutral carbon tax is such a bad idea. If you ditched other corporate taxes in favor of a carbon tax, at least the change would try to address what many consider to be a serious externality.
    It certainly makes more sense than cap-and-trade. Or the corporate income tax, for that matter.

    1. Of course, I think some libertarians (I’ll keep my scare quotes in reserve) take a cavalier view of pollution, which seems to me to be a serious violation of property rights and one which is very problematic to address merely through tort law.

      1. The lolbertarian solution to pollution is to privatize everything. Whether this works or not, I do not know.

        1. You can’t privatize the atmosphere.

          1. Psh! O ye of little ingenuity.

          2. If you can’t privatize it, how can you socialize it, and more importantly, how can you price it?

  20. Since the tax benefits will travel back in time, why haven’t we seen an improvement in our GDP numbers for 1977 yet? How many years will we have to pay the tax before hurricane Sandy is erased from history?

  21. There is another free-market reason to support a carbon tax: It would level the energy playing field. Washington should not be lavishing taxpayer subsidies on either renewable or fossil fuels; it should let market forces dictate which energy sources prevail. But doing so requires that prices reflect actual costs. A carbon tax applied to energy producers, who then pass it on to consumers, would help ensure they do.

    There is another free-market reason to socially engineer the population through taxation while disparately impacting the poor.

    GOOD THINKING, HINKY

  22. Climate change is real, wether we caused it is completely debatable. Earth is over 3 billion years old and they are basing the models on a couple thousands of years worth of data, not exactly comprehensive.

    Carbon taxes are absolutely a transfer of wealth policy. As mentioned in the article, it would have to be a global tax to be “fair.”

    All companies strive for effeciency to maximize profits. Apparently we are to believe evil corporations hate the earth, and the poor, and brown people, etc. etc. etc.

    Strictly speaking from a libertarian view point the biggest issue in this discussion is who will be the arbiter. Liberty, property, and all other issues will follow from this discussion. Who gets to decide and what will be the measure? No one will like any of the answers…bet on it.

    1. Apparently we are to believe evil corporations hate the earth, and the poor, and brown people, etc. etc. etc.

      I don’t think that corporate executives hate them per se. Their attitude is more callous.

      1. Its not brown ppl, its citizens of dictatorships.

        If all the wealth in free countries was instantly transfered to nations without liberty then the world would instantly be ready for 1 world govt and a real 1984 totalitarian police state.

        morals are a luxury only the non-destitute can afford. without morals, there can be no liberty, even IF there was an absence of a a police state.

        slavery thru economic means is just as effective as thru political means. The fact wealth is enjoyed by freer nations is not an accident either. neither is the attempt to redistribute, at international level, a misguided accident: its fully intentional and calculated.

        Besides all the carbon tax talk, Obama gave $800 billion to Africa. Bill Clinton gave $800 billion too. WTF do these guys think they are doing with OUR tax money?

    2. they are basing the models on a couple thousands of years worth of data

      Err, yes and no. The “data” for any period of time before the space era is an estimate. One that in certain cases is little better than a guess – becoming more and more so the further back in time one wishes to estimate. No one knows what global temperatures were when Jesus was preaching to the meek because no technology existed to accurately record the information, let alone to coordinate it across the entire planet. Chopping into trees and presuming that divergence didn’t exist prior to the 1980’s is not just an exercise in question begging, but also a very imprecise way of estimating when we are contemplating making fundamental changes to the lives of every person living on planet earth based upon fractions of a degree centigrade in global temperature.

  23. Taxing carbon with an income-tax offset won’t compensate the pearl divers of the Tuamotu Islands for rising sea levels.

    Surely the carbon taxers will provide lawyers for such unfortunates.

    1. Carbon taxes will not compensate everyone harmed by climate change.

      Therefore we should do nothing, ensuring far more people are harmed by climate change.

      Do I have the argument right?

      1. Do I have the argument right? No.

        The argument is:

        1 – Is there climate change
        2 – What is causing it
        3 – Is it damaging, and to whom
        4 – If it is damaging, to what extent. And how do you determine the amount.
        5 – Do others benefit
        6 – Should the ones who benefit pay the ones who are harmed
        7 – see 4

        It is much more complicated than you make it out to be.

        1. Sure it is. And Joe knows that. But he is dishonest hack and acts like he doesn’t.

        2. 1. Yes
          2. Greenhouse gas emissions
          3-6. Precautionary principle.

          1. The precautionary principle is bassackwards. If you can’t prove your claim of damage, there’s no valid basis for making someone else pay for it.

          2. Bonus smackdown: One of Bailey’s articles is cited by Wikipedia in the Criticism section of it’s PP page.

          3. Precautionary Principal?

            Are you being serious or sarcastic? I honestly can’t tell because the concept is so idiotic and nonsensical.

            Lets see, if there is any possibility that the action could result in harm then we must prevent the action?

            Um ok, there is a possibility that instituting a carbon tax could result in harm ergo we should not institute one. Oh wait but there is a possibility that not instituting one could cause harm too, so maybe we need to institute one. wait but then we’d be violating the principal by instituting a universal market distorting tax that could lead to economic devastation so we better not do it…

            repeat ad infinitum.

            The problem with the precautionary principal is that it can be used equally well on both sides of any issue thereby negating it as a useful concept.

            1. If you look at the Wikipedia link, Ras, you’ll see the most basic form of the argument you make: that The Precautionary Principle precludes itself.

          4. 1. hard to say. Is a 1 to 2 degree change over a 200 year period really climate change? One should note that the last interglacial period ended in only a 50 year period. Now that is climate change…not some 1 to 2 degree bullshit.

            2. No.

            3. None. CO2 could warm the earth say 1 degree but when ocean temperature oscillations can swing temperatures far above and below that does it really matter?

            4. see 4

            5. Not really.

            6. see 6

      2. No. Carbon taxes can never properly priced since the cost of carbon is basically unknowable. That is the argument and you know it. Stop being a dishonest prick Joe.

      3. That’s probably *some* argument you have right. How about this:

        Carbon taxes will “compensate” lots of people not harmed by climate change.

        Therefore we should enact carbon taxes.

        Do I have the argument right?

        1. Certainly, the goal of “carbon taxes” is to slow or destroy econmic growth. The US has too much good stuff, so we need to be dragged down to join everyone else, so it is “fair”.

      4. Because without government force “nothing” happens. There are no free, non-coercive solutions to any problems. We’d all be sitting naked, eating our own shit if it were not for the benevolent despots to tell us not to piss in our own cornflakes.

      5. Carbon taxes will not compensate everyone anyone harmed presume theoretically harmed by climate change.

        FIFY

  24. If we don’t have a carbon tax then how will we pay for Climate Change conferences with conferees flying first class and being held at tourist mecca’s with five star hotels?

    1. I like this. When the UN and IPCC are putting what used to be their entire travel and conference budget in a mitigation fund, and having any group conferences on Skype, I’ll reconsider a carbon tax.

  25. None of the alarmist’s predictions have come true, so I logically conclude that they are full of shit. Carbon tax? No, fuck you, cut spending.

  26. The US is now at about 1990 levels of CO2 emissions and they are dropping.

    A carbon tax will only move US production to China where CO2 emissions are rising.

  27. Good article, the bottom line is well stated and certainly accurate. But I am unconvinced that “none of those objections is fatal.” Arguing that people should be compensated for the injuries sustained, then proposing a method where you acknowledge (but don’t answer) the problem that people will not be compensated for their injuries, seems pretty fatal to me.

    Please explain how taxing carbon will compensate people around the world that are affected by climate change.

    1. Please explain how taxing carbon will compensate people around the world that are affected by climate change.

      That droning sound you hear over the backdrop of cricket chirps is the air whooshing through Hinkle’s cranial cavity.

  28. Interesting. But I’m curious, shouldn’t the computation of such a tax also include credits for things that benefited from warming, such as the aforementioned crop yields? Or, if some of the wilder claims are correct, the benefit of delaying a future ice age? One of my problems with the UN IPCC agency is they seem to only talk about the negatives, and imply the world would only be better if there had been no fossil fuels burned.

    1. I think that this is an important question. There are undoubtedly benefits to a warmer climate as well as harms. You need to account for both before you can argue that there is harm being done that needs to be compensated by means of a tax (if that even makes sense in the first place. If the tax is just another government revenue stream, it is far from obvious that it does anything at all to mitigate any harm caused by CO2).

  29. At this point I’m all for the carbon tax and going over the fiscal cliff, so team #FREESHIT can finally experience the consequences of taxes and paying their ‘fair share’ (whatever that is). The sooner we get these new taxes, the sooner black markets can form to provide reduced price products and services for the rest of us. Since I’m part of the ever-shrinking minority of taxpaying US citizens and hence not eligible for free shit, I will just have to settle for cheap shit instead.

    1. Whoa whoa whoa! Hold on there. It’s not “their” fair share, it’s “OUR” fair share (OUR meaning unspecified rich guys, of which we are assuredly are a part since we hate the poor so much). They aren’t going to pay, silly, it’ll be those bad ol’ moneymakers!

      1. You are absolutely correct, and my error can only be construed as a microaggression towards both women and the poor.

        1. Turn in your monocle and top hat, harumph!

  30. Speaking of energy policy, get a load of this: it was mentioned on 24/7 here a couple of days ago but got basically no attention: Obama’s stooge at the E.P.A. Lisa Jackson is apparently using fake names and multiple e-mail addresses in an effort to keep her correspondence from public scrutiny. Which doesn’t surprise me at all, given her radical extremist agenda.

  31. You don’t have to take anything Al Gore says as gospel to recognize that today’s climate-change skeptics resemble the anti-anti-communists of decades past, who displayed what Alexander Solzhenitsyn correctly described as “a desire not to know.”

    Hey A. Barton Hinkle how about you go fuck yourself. I have forgotten more about climate change then you will ever know.

    I am also positive that the writers at WUWT and Climate Audit and the dozen or so orbiting blogs know a shit load more about climate change then I do.

  32. There is another free-market reason to support a carbon tax: It would level the energy playing field. Washington should not be lavishing taxpayer subsidies on either renewable or fossil fuels; it should let market forces dictate which energy sources prevail. But doing so requires that prices reflect actual costs. A carbon tax applied to energy producers, who then pass it on to consumers, would help ensure they do.

    Um…how is using taxes to increase prices “market forces”?

    1. If bonafide victims could be identified and the damages quantified, I could see some merit here. But methodology and data are enslaved to the assumptions, so virtually any quantification of harm will inevitably be a SWAG, at best.

    2. Simple. Government distorts the market by using force. Hence “market forces”.

  33. Americans are paying less than the full cost of their energy use.

    Since value is subjective and a cost is other choices forgone, what exactly does Barton have in mind when he asserts that people are paying “less than the full cost”?

    How much harm does climate change do? Estimates vary wildly.

    And there’s a good reason for that – because they’re all guessing.

    But even those who are ideologically indisposed to environmental alarmism consider a social cost of $25 per ton of carbon-dioxide emissions defensible.

    Let me tell you, Barton, that if they find that “social cost” defensible, is because they have NO clue what a cost means in economic terms.

    First of all, there’s NO SUCH THING AS A SOCIAL COST. Some people stil confuse the map for the territory. Since only individuals choose, only individuals incur in costs, NOT GROUPS.

    Second of all, you cannot know a cost until the market clears, if you’re talking about costs in monetary terms. You have to first have the exchange in order to determine costs in exchanged dollars in cents, that is only after the market clears. If you intend to use prices to calculate costs, the prices must come from somwhere first, otherwise you would be doing nothing better than guessing.

  34. “But intellectually honest skeptics cannot ignore facts they do not like. Hence more and more former deniers are concluding as physicist Richard Muller has: “Three years ago I identified problems in previous climate studies that, in my mind, threw doubt on the very existence of global warming,” he wrote in The New York Times this summer. “Last year, following an intensive research effort involving a dozen scientists, I concluded that global warming was real and that the prior estimates of the rate of warming were correct. I’m now going a step further: Humans are almost entirely the cause.”

    Sorry but the man-made global warming theory doesn’t pass the four wheel proof level test.

    And that is, anything that cannot be proven with exactly the same level of definitiveness that I can prove that my car has four wheels attached to it isn’t proven at all.

  35. This is how the economics ignoramus think:

    Re: Tony,

    It absolutely is the business of government since energy as it is currently produced and consumed is a finite resource and energy in general is a society-wide concern.

    So are shoes, they’re finite. So is food. So can be many other things. Your conclusion fails because it depends on a non sequitur.

    It is simply not an option for inhabitants of the first world to forgo energy, and it is simply a fact that most of us do not appreciate or pay for the true cost of it.

    First of all, one thing has nothing to do with the other. Your conclusion – that people do not pay the full cost – is born from economic ignorance.

    Costs are choices forgone, first of all. Second, people trade if they expect to profit from the trade, and if they trade less desirable dollars for more desirable fuel after all possible choices are considered (including doing without fuel), then all their costs are fully considered. And if the seller exchanged the less desirable fuel for the more desirable dollars, then the buyers paid exactly the amount they should pay, not a penny more. Any other considerations from 3rd parties are extraneous, irrelevant; nothing more than backseat driving, no more insightful than gossiping or unwanted advise.

  36. Once the mechanism explaining why the climate got warmer, then cooler during the Roman and Medeival Warm Periods and why it got colder during the Little Ice Age and then warmer is understood AND an explaination why any single point upon the continium between the climate as it was pre-Roman Warming to the present is the “normal” climate value, then I might be ready to discuss why I should give Al Gore and his ilk even more money.

    1. Well said 21044. I couldn’t believe it when this article held up Mueller as a rational skeptic. Mueller’s analysis of temperature change shows a 400 year warming trend. He can’t explain why it’s been changing over that time. But we’re supposed to accept his assertion that it’s only the recent changes that are due to man.

      For the last 100 years, there’s been a weak correlation between temperature and CO2. There’s been stronger correlations with temperature and the amount of sunlight reaching the Earth’s surface and the strength of the solar cycles. Yet, the IPCC has glossed over these other correlations.

      1. Correlations that do not fit the narrative do not equal causation.

  37. Re: The Derider,

    Carbon taxes will not compensate everyone harmed by climate change.

    Who said carbon taxes were meant to compensate people for what climate does? The carbon tax is meant to make a few politically-connected plutocrats richer than they are already.

    Therefore we should do nothing, ensuring far more people are harmed by climate change.

    Throwing virgins to the Volcano God does not assure that the Volcano God will not get angry at us.

    Preferably to keep the virgins and let the Volcano God throw a few tantrums. We have survived before.

    Do I have the argument right?

    What argument? I thought you were having a seizure or something.

    His furnace releases greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. It’s causing harm.

    Obvious lie. Just because certain gasses are “greenhouse” gasses does not mean that they cause harm.

    If his furnace were releasing arsenic into the water table, would you still defend his right to pollute?

    Arsenic =/= CO2.

    False equivallency tailored from hysteria and alarmism.

    1. A carbon tax is meant to reduce carbon emissions. Or at least it should.

      Adding extra greenhouse gases to the atmosphere is harmful because it results in heating up the planet, by definition. Or are you such a postmodern anarchist relativist that to the proposition “Earth could have the climate of Venus” you say, “So what? Who said earth has to be hospitable to humans?”

      1. He’s saying that (presuming the warmists are right) the effects of the relatively tiny increase in temperature are now knowable, neither are they tracable.

        What makes you think th effects will be uniformly, or even on balance, negative?

        1. Because just about every scientist in the field says so?

          1. Or are you such a postmodern anarchist relativist that to the proposition “Earth could have the climate of Venus” you say, “So what?

            No, I would laugh out loud at the preposterousness of such unscientific and hysterical assertion.

            Because just about every scientist in the field says so?

            In what field? Most of the doomsday scenarios peddled since the 90s have not come to be, which is why the AGW proponents resorted to doublespeak and now call the phenomenon “Climate Change”, a misleading but very convenient term since climate changes all the time (a) and thus any natural disaster can be attributed to AGW (b)

            Just like people attributed disasters to the appearance of comets in the sky.

            And don’t even dare call yourself a skeptic, Tony. You’re one of the most gullible persons I’ve had the pleasure to debate.

            1. The data suggest climate change effects are closer to worst-case scenario predictions than rosier ones.

              Gullibility in this instance, and any other, is not believing what current science says. It’s believing what a few right-wing hacks with oil industry ties say in their stead.

          2. Because just about every scientist in the field says so?

            That higher CO2 can warm the atmosphere or that the earth can have the climate of Venus?

            Cuz no scientist, who is not insane, is saying that we will have the climate of Venus.

            1. Just about every scientist says the effects will be more harmful than beneficial.

              I was querying OM on whether his “we can’t possibly know anything about human needs and preferences” relativism bullshit encompasses the preference to have a habitable planet.

      2. Re: Tony,

        A carbon tax is meant to reduce carbon emissions. Or at least it should.

        It won’t. You assume humans don’t change their behavior to defeat such impositions, the callous and desobedient bastards.

        Adding extra greenhouse gases to the atmosphere is harmful because it results in heating up the planet, by definition.

        First, you have NO idea of what you talk about. CO2 does NOT trap heat – understand? It does NOT. It absorbs heat and then releases it again at almost the same time. This is why the more CO2 you have the more it can absorb and release IR energy, but not the way you think you understand. These gases are NOT “greenhouse” gases, they do not make heat energy “bounce back” to Earth. Some of the absorbed energy will be released to space and some will be released towards the neighboring N2, but will not trap more heat than what it can absorb. There is NO possibility of a runaway greenhouse effect.

        Second, there is NO reason why a warmer planet means more harm to humans. YOU don’t know that and the scientists that have been peddling the doom and gloom scenarios (some taken from popular magazines) have been proven wrong about the effects. Since the 90’s I’ve heard that we would have worldwide dry spells and famines, yet food production has been steadily increasing.

  38. But while aggregate U.S. emissions have returned to 1990 levels thanks to the natural-gas boom, most of the CO2 now in the atmosphere was emitted here, and Americans are still the largest emitters by far on a per-capita basis.

    I don’t understand this argument. Is Barton suggesting the imposition of a carbon tax to expiate Americans’ past sins???

    And so what if Americans are the “largest emitters” on a per-capita basis? Americans also produce more wealth on a per-capita basis than most other people on Earth. Those emissions exist for a reason: Because Americans are producing wealth.

    If what Barton is really advocating is that people lower their standard of living by reducing their productive output, it would be less dishonest to simply come out and say so.

  39. Oh, and let me point out that no Carioca under the age of 40 would ever wear a bikini that large.

  40. Why a tax? The switchover to natural gas over the last decade has cut deeply into our methane (the more dangerous greenhouse gas) emissions. How about this: instead of taxing the wealthy, like turncoat Hinkle wants, why not upgrade the poor? More efficient wood burning stoves in the poorest parts of the globe would improve their standard of living and cut down greenhouse gases enormously.

    1. A carbon tax won’t be a tax on the rich. Like every other tax it will be passed on to the consumer. You think things are tough for the poor now watch what a carbon tax does to the price of virtually everything.

  41. “Property rights should not be sacrificed as part of some utilitarian calculus.”

    That’s what a utilitarian calculus does – make tradeoffs. Property rights themselves are part of a utilitarian trade off, whether property in natural resources, or intellectual monopolies.

    1. Re: buybuydandavis,

      Property rights themselves are part of a utilitarian trade off, whether property in natural resources, or intellectual monopolies.

      Which makes the ownership of your body also contingent to these utilitarian tradeoffs. Or am I wrong? I’m using your very same argument.

      Thanks, you have just given me the utilitarian justification to harvest your organs to give them to someone more productive than you – like me, for instance.

      Or, next time, think through your conclusions before advertising them to everyody else.

      1. There is still political debate over the extent to which people own their bodies. Think abortion and physician-assisted suicide.

        Property rights are even more problematic for all obvious reasons. Stop thinking in absolutes. There are so very few of them in reality.

        1. There is still political debate over the extent to which people own their bodies.

          Mostly just in your mind, where there are no such things as “rights”, but mere privileges bestowed by beneficent government.

  42. Remember when this used to be a libertarian magazine?

    1. No shit. Arguing for a fucking useless CARBON tax.

      Terrible.

    2. Cato would not even pull this shit…and they are the libertarian moderates.

  43. Let’s just inverse Hinkle’s argument:

    If Bangladeshi farmer can sue for damages resulting form the united state’s past action of pumping out tons of CO2, then bangladeshi farmer also owes the United States untold millions for all the aid and increased regional stability/lack of genocide he and his family has experienced thanks to our military meddling.

    On the other hand, he can sue for damages if our foreign policy negatively impacted his family, but then that cost would be offset by the benefits owed us by his sworn enemies across the border who received arms and training.

    Factor in slavery reparations for every human being that has ever existed (since at some point in history every people was enslaved by some other people) and you’ve completely paid off the deficit!
    Huzzah!

  44. If the purpose of a carbon tax is to compensate those hurt by man made climate change, then how is the revenue for the tax distributed to those who are harmed, and who does the distributing?

    Is there supposed to be a global IRS that decides the Indian farmer is due x?

    The answer is that this has nothing to do with compensating the Indian farmer. Like every tax increase, it’s just a power/control grab aimed at punishing those evil producers.

    And another tax, on top of the pending Obamacare, cap gains and income taxes, is just what is needed at a time when businesses and banks are hoarding their money and not hiring anyone.

    And of course, the author’s proposed “$25 per ton of carbon-dioxide emissions” would always stay at $25, right? Just like the income tax rate has stayed at 3%.

    I come to a libertarian site to read this crap? Really? Can anyone suggest any other libertarian sites to read? Thanks.

    1. What libertarian ethic says you’re allowed to pollute the earth and not pay for it?

      1. Pay whom for it? The federal government?

        1. The people harmed. That would be everyone. But especially poor people.

          I’m sure paying to subsidize energy production that doesn’t destroy the environment would suffice in most people’s eyes, despite more than a century of getting energy (and companies profiting hugely) from sources whose costs are forced on future generations so we can pretend that it’s cheap.

          1. The people harmed. That would be everyone. But especially poor people.

            [citation needed]

      2. Show damages and sue in court. If there’s good evidence, courts will rule in your favor and a jury will probably give you a massive jackpot award and probably impose punitive damages as well.

  45. Can’t believe I just read this shit on reason.com

  46. I’ve come to expect Reason authors to be more informed and inquiring, examining multiple perspectives than demonstrated by Mr. Hinkle in this article. Start by reading some from Watts Up With That: http://wattsupwiththat.com/. Examine internet sites such as Climate Depot, Climate Audit, Climate Skeptic, Jo Nova, Tom Nelson, Bishop Hill, Climate Realist, Climate Science, Ice Cap, Real Science, etc . An example of an intriguing article posted today on Watts Up With That: “cooling in the near future” http://wattsupwiththat.com/201…..more-74502
    Also read peer reviewed publications from Dr. Lindzen, Dr. Pielke, Dr. Spenser, Dr. Curry, McKibben, McIntyre, etc. Read publications from Heartland Climate Conferences.
    Also, do a little more research on Dr. Mueller before you go labeling and quote him.

  47. A load of collectivist crap with the required circular logic to make it fly. If I want religion/superstition in my economics and social policy, I’ll head over to MSNBC et al or Foxnews et al. I am all in favor of making those who are clearly and presently fouling private property accountable for their actions (and that may even be over a span of time and yet still be clear and present when the saturation point is found and the damage assessable). Broadcast definitions rooted in “we” where there is no such we exists, and making a free use of resources either a crime or a taxable behavior is at its root a theft of liberty. A clear damage has to be established and clear
    “aggressor” and a clear harmed party HAS to be presented. A collective we, who are also they, who are also us has no such defined parties for any sort of action, criminal or civil. In other words, if I have to take a dookie out in the woods, I’m NOT paying a crap tax. If I burn a piece of wood to survive the cold, I’m NOT paying a carbon tax. I have a RIGHT to exist without paying to central command a thing based on some quasi-religious system of obligation to the Brotherhood of Man and the “damage” my existence is supposedly causing at large. It is dismaying to see an enslaving by taxing behavior on a supposed libertarian/minarchic site. I can get heaven/hell puritanical enslavement on just about every philosophical street corner.

  48. Here’s a radical idea… taxes should fund government, be calculated simply and applied broadly – nothing more.

    The concept that tax policy should be a means of achieving social aims or compensating for externalities has been tried a gazillion times, with consistently limited success – except in leaving us with a 60,000 page Federal tax code.

    Carbon footprints aren’t the problem – government footprints are.

  49. A pro AGW post combined with a plea to raise taxes.

    Reason.com loses all sense of Reason. Impressive.

  50. If we got rid of subsidies for all forms of energy, then maybe we might not need to discuss a carbon tax.

  51. Why should the government tax carbon. Why not oxygen? Through the use and distribution of oxygen we produce carbon. Reducing the oxygen as a tax will do will lessen our exposure to carbon. Stay out o f my life! Tax yourself and think a bit more clearly, Mr. A. Barton. There is not a chance in hell that any government program of so edge hammer us will do any good at all. Not we can’t make money off this, but it is insane.

  52. Trouble shooting AGW is quite easy.

    Our best shot of reducing anthropogenic global warming is to reduce the number of anthropoid life forms. In other words we need to cull the human herd.

    Next we have to deal with the other sources of CO2, cattle being the most popular. We will need a cull for them too.

    There are other climate criminals who will need to be culled but those are the headliners.

    Meanwhile, we need a 500% tax on all energy derived from fossil fuels, or anything we can link to CO2.

    Shut it deniers, it’s time for genocide and poverty to save Gaia.

  53. Not that anyone is going to read this far down but…

    I would much rather tax carbon then labor.

    Taxing carbon increases energy efficiency
    mitigates the risks of global warming
    increases the returns to labor thus encouraging work
    reduces other carbon harms like smog

    Note no where in here or we talking about what is the right TOTAL tax level, instead, I’m saying that I would happily replace some of the taxes on labor with taxes on carbon

    1. It should be obvious that government generally doesn’t replace taxes, rather it only adds new ones.

    2. It should be obvious that government generally doesn’t replace taxes, rather it only adds new ones.

  54. If global warming alarmists are so concerned, why don’t they propose the most effective and do-able solution; dig a canal and flood the below-sea-level areas of the great African rift valley and that certain area of Australia. More water vapor would mean more heat, but it oceans also mediate temperature, and the more heat would be accompanied by more rainfall. Hell, ethiopia would become a fertile jungle, no more of those famines.

  55. You should rename this article “The Case For Not Publishing Articles By A. Barton Hinkle On Reason.com” There’s nothing “Libertarian” in this article.

  56. “There is another free-market reason to support a carbon tax: It would level the energy playing field.” That’s so contradictory. To say you will level the playing field by taxation is free-market is completely absurd. It’s like saying you’re going to stop crime by passing out free guns to criminals.

  57. And some of the more placid scenes that http://www.nikefootballcleatstrade.com/ follow?Pi’s boat becalmed on a mirror-smooth sea, and lit up at night by an armada of bioluminescent jellyfish?have a radiant beauty. As Pi struggles to stay alive, there are also leaping porpoises, a squadron of flying fish (sushi is served!), and a http://www.drdrebeatsbydreau.com/ gargantuan whale rocketing up from the depths.

  58. Americans can scale down their lifestyles, etc., but the net impact on any carbon output, and more importantly on the total accumulation in the atmosphere will be negligible. If the earth is warming, this will not stop it, just slow it down a very litte bit. And cost all of us a lot of money and effort and lower our standard of living for basically nothing except to make us feel virtuous. Screw that. Solar and wind aren’t cost effective, and China and India are going to swamp us in CO2 output any day now. The natural gas thing is great. More please!

    I think there is warming, and some is man-made and some is natural. The models that project catastrophe have so far been way off. The effect is much milder than it “should” be at this point. Perhaps the feedback effects aren’t well understood, certainly not enough to make society go off like chickens with our heads cut off because the sky is going to fall any minute now. Even if it was there isn’t a damn thing we can do about it in a practical sense except wait for human ingenuity to come up with a market driven solution, which, IMO, should be small nuclear battery type reactors that don’t produce waste and cannot have a run away chain reaction. They are being developed. They are cost effective. They are not being talked about. Why is that? Spend a carbon tax on THAT.

    I think we have time to decide what to do, if anything, without being knee jerk about it. It’s just a money grab at this point.

  59. To advocate a carbon tax is to capitulate entirely to coercion, and give up any chance of freedom.

    It does not matter what the calculation of social benefit determines, forcing someone to modify their behavior in advance of actually doing anything wrong is a violation of their individual rights.

    INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS.

    Not permission, not calculation, not a heavenly blessing, but a right that we have because we were born human.

    Get used to hearing that term, because the culture is going to get hammered with it as advocates of real freedom keep The Good Ship Earth from going down the statist drain hole.

  60. Global temperatures have been changing up and down for thousands of years long before human industrialization. The Hudson and Long Island was formed by a glacier that melted long before the beginning of industrialization. The IPCC report that started all of this man made global warming discussion said that co2 levels grew from 0.02% to 0.04% since 1880 while mean temperature of the earth increased only half a percent. There is zero scientific proof that that tiny increase in co2 led to the tiny increase in temperature and hundreds of other factors besides the co2 increase could have raised the global temperature. A much more plausible scientific theory is that since we have been coming out of the last ice age and temperatures have been increasing for the last 10,000 years that this is just how nature works and at some point it will crest and decrease as it always has. There have been more than six ice age warming cooling cycles in the last 100,000 years. To tax everyone on the earth based on this implausible set of assumptions would be the real tragedy.

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