Environmentalism

Wind Power Debate Turns Conservatives Into Liberals

The misguided case against wind power.

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How do you make a conservative sound like a liberal? Easy: Just bring up wind power.

For years, progressives have been pressing the country to use more renewable energy, including wind energy. Since liberal support for anything automatically renders it suspect in conservative eyes (and vice versa), conservatives have marshaled a series of arguments as to why that support is misguided.

Some of them are pretty good reasons. For instance: Wind is intermittent, and sometimes—hot days, for instance—the wind stops blowing just when people need power the most. So power companies need backup plants that burn conventional fuels to supply base-load generation. (That's why at least one fellow in the energy industry jokingly calls wind farms "natural-gas farms.") This is not exactly efficient.

Second, wind farms also tend to be pretty rough on birds—though this concern is overstated (domestic cats still kill far more birds every year than wind farms do) and perhaps a trifle disingenuous. One suspects conservatives call wind farms bird Cuisinarts less because they are horrified by the carnage themselves than because they think it will horrify liberals.

Third, there's a good free-market case for treating all energy sources the same—though doing so also would require removing a lot of government supports for traditional power sources such as fossil fuels and nuclear power.

For fossil fuels, those include everything from direct federal expenditures for R&D to tax exemptions for offshore drilling. For nuclear power, they include federal loan guarantees for plant construction and liability caps on claims for damages resulting from accidents. (For a complete overview, look up the Energy Information Administration's reports on federal financial interventions in the energy market.)

Those are all fine arguments. Unfortunately, in their zeal to slaughter a liberal sacred cow, conservatives often make another argument that only hurts their greater cause.

Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander trotted it out in a guest column on why "Wind-Power Tax Credits Need to be Blown Away" in The Wall Street Journal the other day. His No. 1 reason: Extending the tax credits "would cost taxpayers nearly $13 billion over the next 10 years."

Alexander is referring to a federal policy that provides a 2.3-cent tax credit for each kilowatt-hour of wind-generated electricity. He notes that "this is more than the federal government spends on energy research in one year. A better use of taxpayer dollars," he continues….

Wait—a better use of taxpayer dollars? What taxpayer dollars?

A tax credit is just that: a credit against the amount a taxpayer owes. As the IRS explains, a tax credit "reduces the amount of tax for which you are liable." That is vastly different from a direct grant, in which the government takes money from Jones and gives it to Smith. In the case of a tax credit, none of Jones' money goes into Smith's pocket. Rather, Smith gets to keep more of his own money. Smith's tax credit doesn't cost Jones a cent.

Yet conservatives often imply otherwise. According to The Heritage Foundation, support for the wind-production tax credit "ignores the multitude of costs Americans incur when handouts are given to special interests. First, there is an actual cost the taxpayers incur. …" Well, no. The "cost" in this case is simply the loss of revenue to the federal treasury. The federal treasury is not a taxpayer.

Then there's National Review: In a December piece on how "'Green' Energy Kills Eagles," Robert Bryce warns that extending the wind production tax credit "will cost taxpayers $6.1 billion." No, it won't. It will deprive the federal government of $6.1 billion, which is a very different proposition.

We've heard this rhetoric before. Those who've been around a while will remember it from debates over the Bush-era tax cuts. As The New York Times put it in 2004, "permanently extending Mr. Bush's tax cuts would cost about $1.7 trillion." Four years later, the Times was back at it: "Extending the Bush tax cuts would cost more than $700 billion in the next five years." Cost? Cost whom? Not the taxpayers, that's for sure.

You hear the same arguments today. When Rep. Paul Ryan rolled out his own budget proposal, the liberal Center for Budget and Policy Priorities warned that his "tax cuts would cost about $5 trillion over 10 years." The Washington Post likewise was aghast to discover that "Ryan's Tax Reforms Cost More Than All His Spending Cuts Combined." How in the world, it wanted to know, would he "pay for" those tax cuts?

Well. To say tax cuts "cost" money, and those "costs" must be "paid for," makes sense only from one perspective: the government's. To the taxpayer, tax cuts don't cost money—they save money. After all, whose money is it in the first place? Saying a tax cut costs money is like saying a sale on merchandise costs money. Not if you're on the consuming end, it doesn't.

Should the wind-production tax credit go away? Absolutely—along with all other disparate treatment for all other energy sources, in the tax code or elsewhere. But let's ditch those preferences for true and genuine reasons—not because taxing Smith less "costs" Jones more.

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  1. Why is the government taxing energy? In this day and age people need electricity to live, taxing essentials like that is even more unacceptable than ordinary taxes.

    1. Why is the government taxing energy? In this day and age people need electricity to live,

      You kind of answered your own question.

    2. same reason it taxes food in most places.

      1. In most places in the U.S., food purchases are not taxed.

        1. Cloudbuster, where the fuck in the US do you live that doesn’t tax food purchases?

          1. Every place I’ve lived has exempted food from sales tax. In fact, there’s some bizzaro rules about what items in a grocery store constitute “food” for tax exemption purposes. Reason recently ran a piece on the subject.

            1. Roughly 2/3rds of states exempt groceries from sales tax. Most states do tax restaurant meals and even “prepared” foods from grocery stores.

              The net effect is everyone still pays sales tax at the grocery store, it’s just a lower rate.

    3. “Why is the government…?”

      Come on now. We all know the answer to that question.

    4. Well fuck me upside my 15th asshole, I had NO idea what-so-EVER that TAX BREAKS are COMPLETELY and totally harmless to all the other tax-payers!?!?! Well fer Chriss-sakes, then, give me AND all of my buddies? everyone in the whole butt-fucked UNIVERSE, come to think of it? THAT is how TOTALLY benevolent Ah Ams? A 100% tax break, then! Done deal, Ah haz saved Y’all from ALL of that them thar taxes!!! Yer welcome, dangnabitall!!!

  2. econd, wind farms also tend to be pretty rough on birds?though this concern is overstated (domestic cats still kill far more birds every year than wind farms do)

    Do you have numbers on the number of eagles taken down by house cats per annum? Sparrows, Robins, Pigens and Crows are a bit more common, and tend to face the cats more often.

    1. I lost two cats* to owls. So it kinda goes both ways.

      * Well, not ME. My ex-wife was/is a crazy cat lady. Now that I’m married to someone sane (the elusive Female Libertarian), I’ve got a huge dog that would turn an eagle into KFC if it tried fucking with her.

      1. I lost two cats* to owls. So it kinda goes both ways.

        You need a bigger cat.

        1. Those cats are badass. But they’re scary. They can actually hurt people and dogs, and as a former long-time cat owner, cats are wild animals. Your house cat would eat you if it were big enough. The Savannah is getting close to that threshold.

          1. Savannahs are commonly compared to dogs in their loyalty, and they will follow their owners around the house like a canine. They can also be trained to walk on a leash and to fetch.[7]

            Awesome. I know what my next cat is going to be.

            1. Actually most cats are like that. They can learn all sorts of fancy tricks if you’re persistent enough training them. But without any training, they still tend to follow people, at least their favorites.

          2. Cats don’t hurt their friends. At least not on purpose. Even their little friends, like mice if they’re friends.

        2. That’s a fucking cougar.

          I’ve had some big cats, but a 30 lb. killing machine sharing my home and likely staring at me all night while I sleep is where I draw the line.

      2. Who said that being a “crazy cat person” and a libertarian are mutually exclusive? Tell that to the animal-loving former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson (R).

        1. I didn’t. But “prefers dogs” and “sane” are highly correlated.

          1. Dogs and people understand each other. We get along best in small groups.

          2. But “prefers dogs” and “sane” are highly correlated.

            All I can say is that I’ve had the distinctly opposite experience. Particularly where women are concerned. I’ve never met a woman who owned a dog where it wasn’t a creepily anthropomorphic substitute for the children she never had.

            And I have a hard time wrapping my head around how an animal slavishly obedient to whoever is willing to dominate it endears itself to the libertarian spirit.

    2. More proof that Reason doesn’t employ editors. No way does that non sequiter get by an editor. The better question is why did Hinkle think it was a convincing argument? Is he that stupid or does he think his readers are?

      1. Isn’t this a syndicated column?

      2. Is he that stupid or does he think his readers are?

        Not mutually exclusive.

      3. Is he that stupid or does he think his readers are?

        Yes.

      4. No way does that non sequiter get by an editor.

        John, in the interest of fairness, and in the spirit of giving, I’ll remind you of the current state of our print media and allow you to amend that statement.

        1. Then maybe he should have a friend read his columns before publishing them.

      5. What non sequiter(sic)?

        1. Hinkle claims that we shouldn’t worry about wind turbines killing birds because cats kill so many more. That is completely specious argument because the turbines and the cats kill different birds. The fact that cats kill a lot of sparrows and pigeons doesn’t make it any better or less of a problem for turbines to make the eagle endangered again.

          1. As long as they don’t put any wind turbines near Mt. Rushmore, we should be OK, right?

          2. Yeah, but mice actually run turbines!

      6. Exactly what I was thinking.

    3. Exactly right. Also, I don’t believe cats kill bats like windmills do.

      1. In that case, let a thousand windmills bloom.

  3. While targeted tax breaks (credits or otherwise) are less bad than direct subsidies, they are still worse than across the board tax cuts.

    As someone in an industry that has to pay a special targeted excise tax on each unit of production, someone else getting a tax credit for production pisses me off.

    How about end their credit AND end my excise tax?

    1. How are we supposed to set policy if we can’t pick winners and losers?

    2. Medical Devices?

    3. While targeted tax breaks (credits or otherwise) are less bad than direct subsidies, they are still worse than across the board tax cuts.

      Yes, but neither those nor non-arbitrary tax rates are hardly ever on the table. The tax system has a century’s worth of cronyism built into it at this point, so in this circumstance I’d rather more people and more industries receive cutouts than fewer.

      If Warren Buffett kept more of his money to invest in useful innovations and services that people want rather than seeing that wealth thrown away on useless or actively harmful state programs like the TSA, the NSA, or some other scam, we’d all be better off.

  4. This seems nitpicky. Clearly the point is that any tax which does not cover expenditures + debt service will manifest down the line as a “hidden” tax through inflation or some other means — so yes, by privileging one sector of the economy above others, one is not only distorting markets but also imposing any shortfall in government revenue on the general citizenry.

  5. Not taking is giving and not giving is taking. Tony said so.

  6. The final chapter of the Derponomicon- A prog responds to a famous quote from Augustine of Hippo:

    Justice being taken away, then, what are kingdoms but great robberies? For what are robberies themselves, but little kingdoms? The band itself is made up of men; it is ruled by the authority of a prince, it is knit together by the pact of the confederacy; the booty is divided by the law agreed on. If, by the admittance of abandoned men, this evil increases to such a degree that it holds places, fixes abodes, takes possession of cities, and subdues peoples, it assumes the more plainly the name of a kingdom, because the reality is now manifestly conferred on it, not by the removal of covetousness, but by the addition of impunity. Indeed, that was an apt and true reply which was given to Alexander the Great by a pirate who had been seized. For when that king had asked the man what he meant by keeping hostile possession of the sea, he answered with bold pride, “What thou meanest by seizing the whole earth; but because I do it with a petty ship, I am called a robber, whilst thou who dost it with a great fleet art styled emperor.”

    1. That is a great quote. Where is the derp response?

    2. “Kill one man, and you are a murderer. Kill millions of men, and you are a conqueror. Kill them all, and you are a god.”
      -Jean Rostand

    3. And here is the prog’s response:

      As far at the Augustine of Hippo quote, it is most certainly in reference to a mideval kingdom system of government. Equating a mideval kingdoms system of government to the modern day US government is once again, like comparing apples and hippos. In modern day US, tax dollars pay for roads, bridges, air traffic safety, clean air, clean water, inspected food, the military, satellites, the infrastructure of plumbing/electric/utilities/etc. we all enjoy, and about a zillion other things. In a kingdom, the people were lucky to get a water source. You literally cannot exist in modern society without taking advantage of what society (I.e. The government) provides. When you step on a sidewalk, or use electricity, or drive on a street in a car that isn’t exploding, etc. You are taking advantage of what the government provided to you.

      Once again, he confuses govt with society. Note also that he thinks St Augustine lived in medieval times.

      A fine representative of the intelligent, reality-based community he is.

      1. I am pretty sure the ancients built a few roads and a few armies as well.

        When you step on a sidewalk, or use electricity, or drive on a street in a car that isn’t exploding, etc.

        Americans didn’t even know what a toilet was until Obama showed them. These people are a riot.

        1. Come back here so that I may brain thee!

      2. Once again, he confuses govt with society.

        But, but, but… We the People!

      3. Besides roads, bridges, air traffic safety, clean air, clean water, inspected food, the military, satellites, the infrastructure of plumbing/electric/utilities/etc…..what have the Romans ever done for us ?

        The aqueduct ?

        1. What’s the point of being allowed to make babies if you can’t make babies?

      4. society (I.e. The government)

        He’s not confusing society with government, he is deliberately conflating the two. All within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state. This is not confusion, it is mendacity.

  7. Replace all taxes, local and federal, with the FairTax. Pay as you go.

  8. Sorry, but Hinkle is soundig a little disingenuous here. While decrying conservatives for calling not taxing wind power a use of taxpayer money, he himself leads in with references to “government supports for traditional power sources such as fossil fuels and nuclear power. For fossil fuels, those include everything from direct federal expenditures for R&D to tax exemptions for offshore drilling. How you can arrive at the conclusion that the tax exemption is a public subsdiy, but not the tax credit is beyond me.

    1. How you can arrive at the conclusion that the tax exemption is a public subsdiy, but not the tax credit is beyond me.

      Hinkle arrives at that by being stupid and trying to make up for it by being sloppy.

  9. Is it just me or is it a slow news day?

    The most exciting thing I’ve read from The Paper of Identity Politics is that there has been a slanderous misrepresentation of the facts in the media about Jill Abramson’s firing. That each person is taken on their strengths and weaknesses and Abramson wasn’t fired because she was a chick.

    But all those other Kochporashuns? Yeah, they’re just being mean to womyn.

    1. The Times should just come out and say “we fired her because she was a shitty executive and kept giving ACTUAL money to idiots like David Brooks and Thomas Friedman.”

      1. She was also paying Krugman a few shitloads.

    2. It’s different when THEY do it.

  10. Lamar Alexander is still alive? And still in office?

    1. I am always surprised to be reminded of those two things.

    2. It always surprises me when I see he is still a Senator.

      Abe Vigoda is still alive (although I guess I should check), so that kind go thing doesnt surprise me.

    3. He’s “only” been a Senator for a little over a decade, which isn’t even average these days. But, yes, he is a bit old and been involved in TN politics for nearly four decades…

  11. Somebody just sent me a link to the Michael Jackson hologram video.

    That is creepy as hell. What’s wrong with people?

    1. It’s a way to give people closure who never got a chance to see The King of Pop live. Or something.

  12. This is the trick they all pull and that most of us fall for. We allow the ridiculous statements they make until they become premises that are accepted without question. If everyone had laughed in the faces of the first dipsticks to ask how we could pay for tax cuts – or, better yet, voted them out of office over it – they’d have thrown up a different trial balloon.

    Our intelligence is battered by these nimrods because, well, it works. All of these problems are ultimately caused by us. Elected leaders merely reflect the majority of us, for better or worse. Almost always worse.

    1. If you vote and the election goes your way, then obviously you consent to what the government does.

      If you vote and it doesn’t go your way, then you consent by virtue of participating in the process.

      If you don’t vote, then you consent by not participating in the process.

      There is no way to not consent to the social contract.

      1. Yes, I get that we’re all of us beholden to the will of the majority of voters when it comes to who reps us in govt. I find that preferable (slightly) to total anarchy, which always devolves in a large enough society to a case of who has the most/best guns and the will to use them first. If our Republic actually still honored the Constitution instead of giving it lip service, idiots electing other idiots wouldn’t really matter all that much. But we monkeyed with the Constitution and put way too much power in their hands. Where we are today is the result.

        1. If our Republic actually still honored the Constitution instead of giving it lip service

          What lip-service? Do they even give it that?

      2. I can think of a couple ways.

        1. You can’t think.

      3. I always liked George Carlin’s take on that old saw, “if you don’t vote, you have no right to complain.” Which is backwards. Not voting gave him every right to complain about the mess other people created by voting these ass holes into office.

      4. Neither does voting establish any sort of voluntary consent even by the voters themselves to the government. As Spooner trenchantly pointed out:

        In truth, in the case of individuals their actual voting is not to be taken as proof of consent. . . . On the contrary, it is to be considered that, without his consent having even been asked a man finds himself environed by a government that he cannot resist; a government that forces him to pay money renders service, and foregoes the exercise of many of his natural rights, under peril of weighty punishments. . .

        Doubtless the most miserable of men, under the most oppressive government in the world, if allowed the ballot would use it, if they could see any chance of meliorating their condition. But it would not, therefore, be a legitimate inference that the government itself, that crushes them, was one which they had voluntarily set up, or even consented.

        The Ethics of Liberty, Ch. 22

  13. Robert Bryce warns that extending the wind production tax credit “will cost taxpayers $6.1 billion.” No, it won’t. It will deprive the federal government of $6.1 billion, which is a very different proposition.

    Yes it will. Tax credits are identical to handouts. If current taxpayers don’t cover it, future taxpayers will.

    1. Depends on if it’s a refundable credit or not.

    2. “Yes it will. Tax credits are identical to handouts. If current taxpayers don’t cover it, future taxpayers will.”

      Yes, this is correct. There’s no functional difference between a special interest tax credit and directly funding the special interest with federal money.

      Directly comparing narrow Federal tax deductions/credits with lowering the tax rate across the board is a poor argument. Hinkle you failed basic logic here.

  14. sometimes?hot days, for instance?the wind stops blowing just when people need power the most. So power companies need backup plants that burn conventional fuels to supply base-load generation.

    Plants that swoop into action when it’s hot and the wind stops blowing aren’t base load, dumbass.

    1. And you don’t just flip a switch to turn on a power plant because it is hot. It takes a bit to fire up a boiler. I suppose you could just flip a switch on a hydro electric dam, but not on a coal or gas fired one.

      Anyone who believes in “Wind Power” as any kind of alternative to coal or gas is a fucking moron who denies the laws of physics.

      1. Just get Congress to rewrite those silly laws of physics. After all, consensus is the new science.

      2. Reality based community, remember.

        There is a kind of childishness to the idea that some technology will simply leapfrog and replace existing technology with decades of development behind it. Look at the belief that hybrids or electrics will replace internal comubustion cars. Yes, maybe, over time the drive to improve may move things in that direction…or not. But like a kid designing a world in their head, some believe it’s possible to simply replace existing cars with something else, something better, it’s patently obvious. Pesky reality refuses to cooperate.

        1. Mainer,

          If you ever get down this way, I found the best driving road I have ever driven this weekend. Virginia Route 211 takes off west from US 29 in Warranton, which the very outer edge of the DC burbs. It heads straight to the Blue Ridge and then the fun begins. If you are like me, I am sure you have had the experience of finding a great road only to be stuck behind grandma out for a drive in the crown vic. VA 211 eliminates that problem by having three lanes, two for going up the ridge and one for going down. So you can safely pass on it.

          It snakes all the way up the ridge with more curves than you can count. There are some of them where the pavement is actually banked. They are like mini Nurburgring carousels. I took the 911 up there Saturday. It so terrifying and fun, my wife nearly had an asthma attack.

          1. What year 911?

            1. A 2002. A 996 4S, the unloved 911. Picked up used this spring. So far it has been the greatest thing I have ever purchased.

              Mainer is restoring one from the early 70s.

      3. You can start a gas turbine or get a few more MW’s out of a boiler pretty quickly. That’s what happens during peak load.

        1. A few sure. But you are not going to start it quickly enough to make up for losing say a quarter of your capacity because the wind stopped blowing.

          1. (You could if you had a ridiculous amount of turbines or IC engines on standby.)

            Right. That’s what Hinkle is trying to say but he’s using industry terms he doesn’t understand.

      4. Hold on, does natgas require a boiler at all?

        1. Natgas is burned in a turbine. In a combined cycle plant, the turbine exhaust goes through a boiler.

          1. Or more to the point, peak power plants that use natural gas without a boiler, are in-efficient and both cost more and produce additional CO2.

            This is why, that in some cases, a poorly sited wind turbine field, that is highly intermittent, can actually cost more money that the value of the electricity it produces and end up in a net addition of CO2 production.

            Generally speaking the US tends to have efficient wind power production and those events are rare. However, China has an enormous amount of poorly sited wind turbine sites and may well have actually increased both electricity costs and CO2 production because of this. (I’ve just used CO2 instead of saying CO2 and particulates and pollutants, but it’s relevant to all 3 in every case.

            It’s noteworthy that the capacity factor (efficiency) of US wind power production is roughly twice what China’s is and around 20% better than the EU’s.

    2. I took that to mean that you need power plants capable of supplying base-load amounts of electricity. We have back-up ‘pocket’ power plants in our area that kick in only when the existing big plants are not expected to be able to meet demand, like during a heat wave. The pocket plants only supplement the existing infrastructure, they are only about 5% excess capacity normally. If you go 100% wind power, how much back-up generating capacity do you need to ensure that you still have electricity when the wind stops blowing? I suspect more than 5%.

      1. There is another problem with that. Having demand exceed the amount of power generation is a different and much easier problem to solve than having the power you are generating drop. You demand doesn’t go from 90% to 110% immediately. The power companies see it rising and take steps to keep generation sufficient. Wind power doesn’t give such warning and can drop really quickly.

        They have been generating power for going on 125 years now. Wind was never a serious option until the Greens went full retard.

        1. “They have been generating power for going on 125 years now. Wind was never a serious option until the Greens went full retard.”

          This isn’t exactly correct. While wind power back in the 1970’s was a boondoggle. However, the technology has significantly improved. Both wind and solar power are now marginally useful.

          And I’m using marginally in the engineering and economic sense. So, if either a) the cost of wind/solar power drops or b) the cost of other forms of power increases, they’ll both become prevalent.

          Granted, they won’t become dominant without economical gross power storage to handle the intermittency issues, but they could still easily supply 15-25% of the US power production and lower costs at the same time.

      2. Power during “hot days” is by definition not base load.

      3. “If you go 100% wind power, how much back-up generating capacity do you need to ensure that you still have electricity when the wind stops blowing?”

        Roughly 100%. There are some hours during the year when there is no significant wind production across the continental US.

        It’s really silly to talk about more than 20-30% wind power without some kind of storage mechanism, because it’s just not a realistic idea.

        And please nobody chirp in with an uninformed comment about using batteries as wind power backup. They are way, way too costly to handle anything more than spike smoothing.

  15. How is gaining an inflated market advantage via special tax breaks that your competitors don’t get not tantamount to a transfer from one to the other?

    It needn’t be so. We just need to make sure polluting energy sources pay for the damage they cause. Any wind power subsidy is a rounding error compared to that free ride.

    1. Not giving is taking and not taking is giving.

      1. So many billions in corporate welfare justified by your simplistic little slogans. It’s almost impressive.

        1. That’s not my simplistic little slogan. It’s yours. Or at least an honest summary of your argument. Not that you would know what honest means.

          1. Whatever. You’re the one trying to defend the justness of a scenario in which two people, in all other respects equally situated, pay two different tax rates because government picked a favorite. It’s okay because the favorite’s rate can be construed as a cut, and that’s always good. That’s your position.

            1. No, dipshit, he’s arguing that welfare and tax cuts are not the same fucking thing.

              If the government takes 10% from one, and 20% from the other, that’s not a giveaway, it’s a fucking reprieve.

              But according to you, we should take more from everybody because fairness.

              1. That’s exactly what he’s arguing; otherwise point out the flaw. I may use different words but it means the same fucking thing. It’s all so much bullshit to defend one form of welfare and not another. And guess whose welfare you’re defending–the ones whose main burden in life is taxes, not the ones whose main burden in life is affording food. What a shock.

                1. You know, you keep repeating the same fallacy and then wonder why sarcasmic repeats the same tagline in response to you.

                  I absolutely 100% no-shit defend the rights of people to make a living for themselves, i.e. to put food on their table without stealing from others, which is something that your socialist wonderland cannot ever achieve.

                  A tax cut is not a handout. Your semantic handwaving does not make you superior, it makes you an intellectually dishonest sack of shit.

                  Your entire worldview is zero-sum yet you are too stupid to even understand what that means.

                  1. Your semantic handwaving does not make you superior, it makes you an intellectually dishonest sack of shit.

                    He probably took that as a compliment.

                  2. Tax cuts are the ways rich people and corporations receive welfare from the government. If you’re okay with any and all tax cuts no matter how inequitably distributed, then you’re the one defending a horrendous position with semantic bullshit. There’s something very sick about finding social welfare for the poor an intolerable intrusion but the form of welfare the rich get perfectly okay, because words.

                    1. Tax cuts are the ways rich people and corporations receive welfare from the government.

                      Um, no. Welfare is a transfer from one party to another. Tax cuts mean the evil rich and evil corporations pay less. Paying less is not a transfer to the evil rich and evil corporations. It is a transfer from the evil rich and evil corporations.

                      So it’s not welfare. You call it welfare because it has an emotional appeal (grrr the evil rich and evil corporations don’t need welfare!) but that doesn’t make it welfare.

                      then you’re the one defending a horrendous position with semantic bullshit

                      No. You are the one engaging in semantic bullshit by saying from is to and to is from.

                      I’m being honest. Something you know nothing about.

                    2. So if a billionaire’s taxes are cut by $1 million, that’s fine. But if government sent a check to that billionaire for $1 million, that’s bad. Even though the situations are precisely identical.

                    3. Even though the situations are precisely identical.

                      John is right. At least old-school communists could think, all you motherfuckers have is superstition and voodoo.

                    4. So if a billionaire’s taxes are cut by $1 million, that’s fine. But if government sent a check to that billionaire for $1 million, that’s bad. Even though the situations are precisely identical.

                      The outcomes are identical, yes. The government has a million less and the billionaire has a million more. That is true.

                      But the means by which those outcomes were arrived at are totally different.

                      One involved not taking from the billionaire, while the other involved the government taking from others and giving to the billionaire.

                      One of those stories is honest, and the other is not.

                      No question as to which story Tony will tell. Here’s a hint: it won’t be the honest one.

                    5. The mans are utterly irrelevant. If it were that easy to justify something, just change the words around, then don’t you think they might have figured out that tax cuts are a more palatable means of corporate welfare than checks passed in envelopes?

                      You’re typically missing the all-important factor: the billionaire gets all the same government he had before (more than you and I get by a lot). He just has to pay less for it now. Taxes don’t go into a fucking black hole with the notable exceptions of Iraq.

                      If you went into Kwik-E-Mart and the cashier refused to take your payment for your Slurpee? Did he give you a Slurpee or didn’t he?

              2. No, dipshit, he’s arguing that welfare and tax cuts are not the same fucking thing.

                Let’s start with the scenario where every week I take twenty bucks from you at gunpoint, then give five of it to someone.

                Well, one week instead of giving that five to someone, I give it back to you.

                According to Tony, in that second scenario I robbed that someone of five dollars and gave it to you.

                You see, that someone was expecting that five dollars. By not giving I am actually taking.

                And you were expecting to have twenty dollars taken from you, but I only took fifteen. So by not taking I am giving.

                See?

                My taking fifteen dollars from you instead of twenty is exactly the same as my taking five dollars from that someone and giving it to you. Except that I didn’t. But it’s the same thing. Exactly the same. Except that it isn’t. But it is.

                1. Your underlying assumption is that zero taxes is the default, that all taxation is theft, and thus any tax cut is simply returning money to its rightful owner. But that’s anarchist bullshit that makes no sense. If you are still using public services and you get a tax cut, you are getting those public services at a discount. That’s a handout just like any other.

                  1. Shorter Tony: Not giving is taking and not taking is giving.

                  2. Your underlying assumption is that zero taxes is the default, that all taxation is theft, and thus any tax cut is simply returning money to its rightful owner.

                    Your underlying assumption is that 100% taxes is the default, that all taxation is a gift, and thus any tax increase is simply returning money to its rightful owner. But that’s communist bullshit that makes no sense.

                    If you are still using public services and you get a tax cut, you are getting those public services at a discount.

                    Still can’t contemplate how basic math works, I see.

                    1. No I don’t. My assumption is that we’re born into a world with existing social services, and when we become adults we contribute to their cost. You guys treat taxes like they’re taken from you and burned in a bonfire.

                      It is quintessentially libertarian to assume that all the stuff you have already is your birthright.

                    2. You guys treat taxes like they’re taken from you and burned in a bonfire.

                      Alright, so when we’ve accounted for the legitimate uses of my money, which I could’ve done on my own anyway without the government stealing from me, how do you explain the other 99% of the spending?

                      It is quintessentially libertarian to assume that all the stuff you have already is your birthright.

                      You are free to start surrendering your property for the greater good, comrade:

                      Gifts to the United States
                      U.S. Department of the Treasury
                      Credit Accounting Branch
                      3700 East-West Highway, Room 622D
                      Hyattsville, MD 20782

                    3. With no taxation supported property rights enforcement I’m perfectly free to surrender my property to the nearest well-armed gang. But you don’t like that thought, so those taxes are OK, and it is, after all, all about you.

                    4. With no taxation supported property rights enforcement I’m perfectly free to surrender my property to the nearest well-armed gang.

                      Don’t know why you’d do that when you could spend the money you saved paying for some fatass donut chomping fascist to get a 90k/yr pension with no-contribution 100% free health care on your own private security with better guns, better service, and price competition.

                    5. It is true that the theory of our Constitution is, that all taxes are paid voluntarily; that our government is a mutual insurance company, voluntarily entered into by the people with each other. . . .

                      But this theory of our government is wholly different from the practical fact. The fact is that the government, like a highwayman, says to a man: “Your money, or your life.” And many, if not most, taxes are paid under the compulsion of that threat. . .

                      Chapter 22

                    6. With no taxation supported property rights enforcement I’m perfectly free to surrender my property to the nearest well-armed gang.

                      Enforcement of property rights can only be funded through the forcible extraction of property? So you have to violate property rights in order to protect them?

                      all about you

                      I want everyone to be free, so therefore of course it’s all about me.

                    7. My assumption

                      Yes, question-begging is one of the ubiquitous features of the prog philosophy.

            2. Actually, I would agree with you that the situation you describe is unjust and intolerable.

              The problem is how we repair that injustice.

              It would also be unjust for the government to “pick a favorite” between you and I by hitting you in the head with a pipe while leaving me alone. But that injustice cannot be repaired by having someone from the government hit me in the head with a pipe, too. The way to repair the injustice is for the government to stop hitting you in the head with a pipe.

              1. It would also be unjust for the government to “pick a favorite” between you and I by hitting you in the head with a pipe while leaving me alone. But that injustice cannot be repaired by having someone from the government hit me in the head with a pipe, too. The way to repair the injustice is for the government to stop hitting you in the head with a pipe.

                I think Fluffy is one of those anarchists Harry Reid has been warning us about.

            3. If you actually listened to libertarian arguments, you’d know that we neither of those two people should be taxed at all as it is theft. The writer is simply making a critique based on the faulty logic of this conservative/liberal argument (tax credits=cost)

              1. I’ve been repeatedly told that libertarians aren’t anarchists, though.

                1. I’ve been repeatedly told that libertarians aren’t anarchists, though.

                  Apparently, according to you, any limits on government are anarchic. Why don’t we repeal that pesky Bill of Rights already?

                  1. Why don’t we repeal that pesky Bill of Rights already?

                    Tony has already said that he would love to, starting with the 2A.

                2. I’ve been repeatedly told that libertarians aren’t anarchists, though.

                  They aren’t, you’re just so abjectly stupid you can’t differentiate anything short of Stalinism from anarchy.

    2. That is right Tony. If we would just make them pay for all of the unicorns their C02 emissions are killing, renewable energy would be the only cost effective source of power available and we would be living in the dark, cold world we deserve. You tell them TONY!@!

      1. Sooo you think people should be able to cause harm to other people and other people’s property and not pay for it?

        1. And no good ever comes from the electricity and energy produced. Why should poor and middle class people have access to affordable and reliable power? Not like they are going to do anything with it besides make more CO2.

          You have convinced me Tony. The key to the future is having really expensive and unreliable power. Maybe if people couldn’t afford electricity, they would find ways to downsize and make their lifestyle more sustainable.

          1. What I’m hearing is that you think you deserve your lifestyle even if it harms other people. The tradeoff is worth it, said every criminal ever.

            1. So Tony, do you plan to go to war against China and India and the rest of the developing world’s C02 emissions start to dwarf ours? They are harming us aren’t they?

              And yes, Tony, you hate the American middle and lower class and would like nothing better than to see them poor, dependent and hopefully in a lot of cases dead. So for you making it so people can’t afford electricity is a feature of this kind of thing not a bug.

              Seriously, when you started out in life did you plan on hating your fellow human beings and trying to do harm to them or did you just sort of fall into it?

              1. Your own chasm-like ignorance is no excuse for the fact that you’re arguing for making life far more miserable, especially for the poor, by doing nothing about climate change. Why do you hate humanity and most other species and coastal cities?

                No serious estimate of the cost of transitioning to clean energy that has been done has forecast global economic doom. That’s just bullshit you’re using as an excuse to keep burning fossil fuels. And you’re still not explaining why you think you get to harm other people for free.

                1. Your own chasm-like ignorance is no excuse for the fact that you’re arguing for making life far more miserable, especially for the poor, by doing nothing about climate change.

                  Yes tony, people freezing to death THIS WINTER, which was the coldest in a century, is totally okay because if we had affordable energy things would be worse in the future because we have some mathematical models that have never successfully predicting anything that tell us so.

                  Sorry Tony, you and your ilk advocate policies that make people poor, cold and hungry. That is what you stand for and you need to own up to it.

                  1. Did you seriously just say that because it was cold last winter where you live, climate change isn’t real? Jesus fuck, even FOX abandoned that bit of horseshit, I hope.

                    Climate science says local weather will tend to be more extreme. So if you’re holding up a record winter as evidence of something, it’s not a lack of climate change.

                    No I do not stand for making people poor, cold, and hungry. I stand for saving them from that fate, while you stand for nothing. Total nihilism. Give the oil companies everything they want and fuck the world. That is your moral superiority.

                    1. I do not agree with that someone with presidential aspirations could be a prohibitionist and have smoked pot and be a moral human being.

                      No. I said last winter was cold and energy is an immediate problem and “climate change” is a long term and highly speculative one. You just think I said last winter means AGW is not real because you are one of the most profoundly stupid people on earth.

                    2. Climate change is immediate and the longer we take to address it the more costly it’s going to be. All you’ve done in this entire thread is try to rationalize why it’s OK for oil and coal to get all the goodies they want.

                    3. Climate change is immediate and the longer we take to address it the more costly it’s going to be

                      Prove it

                    4. Did you seriously just say that because it was cold last winter where you live, climate change isn’t real?

                      No. He said that there was extreme cold where he lives and that without fossil fuels lots more people would die in that situation.

              2. I especially want to know how he’ll fuel his tank and jet planes used to force them to stop thei supposed trespass.

            2. We have this thing called a tort, whereupon you can quantify the harm done and seek restitution.

              Of course, there are some (minimal) standards to meet, like an ability to prove the harm, and as you’ve repeatedly shown on this subject, you can’t prove diddly squat.

              1. The fact that it is absurd to think of a poor Bangladeshi suing for damages done by US energy production is your fucking problem not mine. I believe in forcing companies not to harm other people in the first place.

                1. If a company has operations in a country, then it has capital that can be seized by the courts.

                  Oh but the courts in dumbfuckistan are bent by evil monies and corporate greed?

                  Of course, never mind the fact that every third-world shithole has been run by “democratically elected” socialist corruptocrats for at least half a century, we wouldn’t want those inconvenient facts to get in the way of a good narrative.

        2. So what you’re saying is that you’re going to go all CSI detective and find my carpet fibers on the CO2 molecules that hurt people in Bangladesh?

          Wow. Impressive.

          Liability requires provable attribution.

          Because I would say that the people in Micronesia were hurt by the CO2 that you exhaled, and that came from the tailpipe of your car. The CO2 my power plant put out was harmlessly recycled by the biosphere.

          If you have a way to document anything to the contrary, I’d like to hear it.

          1. The fact that externalities are difficult or impossible to quantify is why regulation is preferable to after-the-fact litigation. Not to mention it avoids the pollution in the first place.

            Of course we could just pretend that burning fossil fuels harms no one. That takes care of that extremely huge problem with libertarian assumptions.

            1. Of course we could just pretend that burning fossil fuels harms no one.

              So instead we will pretend that no one needs electricity and the poor freezing in the winter and baking in the summer is a good thing.

            2. The fact that externalities are difficult or impossible to quantify is why regulation is preferable to after-the-fact litigation.

              Sorry. If you are going to analogize to civil liability – where my conduct causes a harm to another by destroying their property – then you’re stuck with the whole analogy.

              Prove my liability or hit the bricks.

              It doesn’t matter to me if it’s difficult for you to do that. In fact, the difficulty of doing so is a feature, and not a bug.

              1. It’s not even a fact. If you suffer damages, it’s not really that difficult to take account of what you’ve lost. whether it’s hospital bills, lost time from work. value of property damaged, etc.

            3. Not to mention it avoids the pollution in the first place.

              Magical fairy dust is real, if you just believe in it hard enough.

              Of course we could just pretend that burning fossil fuels harms no one.

              Burn that straw man, burn it real good.

        3. you think taxes or regulatory fines pays actually goes to restitution of harm to other people and their property?

        4. But what if CO2 causes benefits? That’s even more true for C3 crops like, oh, Bangladeshi rice.

          Where’s my check, bitch?

        5. Sooo you think people should be able to cause harm to other people and other people’s property and not pay for it?

          If you or your property have been harmed by another, you have a remedy easily available to you. It’s telling that with all the rock-solid, incontrovertible evidence you have of specific damages occurring as a result of environmental damage and climate change from the use of fossil fuels, you’ve yet to win any legal victories for these victims you’re so unendingly concerned for.

    3. There’s every reason to believe that the CO2 created by the serious energy options we have such as coal and natgas are beneficial. The cost of the real pollutants has been over-covered for a long time.

      1. Nonsense. CO2 is sin, and sin is never beneficial.

        1. Water is good for us, thus there is no such thing as drinking too much water.

          1. Equality is good for us, thus there is no such thing as too much equality.

          2. Then, by all means, go drink five gallons of water.

        2. Sin is extremely beneficial to the Church, via the profitable sale of Priuses and CFLs indulgences.

    4. It needn’t be so. We just need to make sure polluting energy sources pay for the damage they cause. Any wind power subsidy is a rounding error compared to that free ride.

      Right, because wind turbines require no raw materials or factories to create and once created, require no maintenance.

      1. Hey I’m for not dicking around with the wind and massively investing in fusion.

        1. Hey I’m for not dicking around with the wind

          Lol–you really do have a comic-book mentality about the world..

        2. and massively investing in fusion.

          Lol. Tony’s solution to climate change is cold fusion.

          THIS IS WHAT RETARDS ACTUALLY BELIEVE!

          1. Did I say cold fusion you unfathomable sinkhole?

            1. Yes, clearly the point here is one of terminology, and not the fact that you want to throw oodles of stolen money at unicorn farts and fairy dust.

  16. conservatives often make another argument that only hurts their greater cause

    And just what would that greater cause be? The GOP has no greater cause than getting themselves elected in order to use the power of goverment as they see fit so any argument is a good argument. The argument that ‘not giving money to government’ = ‘taking money from government’ is a bad argument only insofar as you believe the GOP seriously believes in a smaller, less powerful, lower cost government. I have yet to see any evidence of this proposition.

  17. Hinkle’s argument is technically correct but it just seems really…minor. A really minor point.

    1. It’s not correct because money is fungible and people getting credits use public services. Therefore it is a transfer.

      1. Yes, I agree with this. Taxes should be broad in general and not targeted. Narrowly, targeted tax cuts become nothing more than government handouts to cronyist friends and lobbys.

  18. “Savannahs are commonly compared to dogs in their loyalty, and they will follow their owners around the house like a canine. They can also be trained to walk on a leash and to fetch.”

    My wife is cat crazy, but then, so am I, and yes, we are both libertarians. Neat cats, but I will keep my Manx cats for now. Of our regular housecats, two love the leash and three will fetch. But then, my two goats also love the leash and my pig follows me around so much it’s sometimes annoying. The goats and pig live outdoors, of course, but then, I have never seen any of the local eagles try to make off with a 200-pound Alpine or a 100-pound Potbellie 🙂

  19. I’m still waiting for someone to point out all these catastrophic climate predictions that have come true.

    1. Didn’t you see the firenado? Those have never ever been seen before.

      1. I hope you are kidding because those happen with most large fires. There is also something called a firestorm. Look up Dresden Bombing to see government action on changing the climate for humans.

      2. And don’t forget Sharknado. That was unheard of until just last year. See Global Warming is Real and Catastrophic!

        http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2724064/

    2. Shark. Fucking. Nado.

  20. I see the Master Baiter was here baiting the commentariat.

  21. IMO, from the perspective of a free people, cutting taxes is always a good policy. From the perspective of government, cutting taxes is only a good policy if the resultant economic growth may result in increase tax revenue.

  22. Tax credits are not subsidies, but when one group gets them and another doesn’t it is not a market driven response and doesn’t show true costs. True, oil and gas also gets tax credits, but they pale on a percentage basis, and that does not count fuel taxes at the gas pump.

    1. A tax cut or a “non-refundable tax credit” is a reduction in taxes.

      “Refundable” or “transferable” tax credits typically refund more than someone pays or owes in taxes.

      Don’t assume that just because it’s called a “tax credit” that it’s just a tax cut, check the fine print and then check your wallet.

  23. Tax preferences (not subsidies) received by fossil fossil fuel producers and users are principally the same capital recovery allowances that all other industries receive. These require that 1) the business first invests its own capital at its own risk, 2) the business makes a profit, and 3) the business pays income taxes.

    True subsidies are situations where taxpayers are compelled by the vampire State to give loans or grants or other benefits to some activity deemed to be beneficial. The subsidized entity gets a free ride, and is not required to invest capital, earn a profit, or pay taxes in order to enjoy the subsidy.

    And before the ankle-biters get their panties in a knot, I am aware that some, but not all, dictionaries define capital recovery allowances as subsidies. But they are also misinformed.

    To deny capital recovery allowances would be equivalent to making the principal amount of a savings account or a bond taxable. An unlawful taking. How would the author of this article like to pay tax on the principal amount of his IRA or 401K? Some times Libertarians are foolish about subtle issues and inclined to concede the family jewels away.

    A more libertarian argument is that all enterprises should be able to deduct capital investments from taxes in the period they are made. Why do investors in capital assets have to string out the recovery of their investments? It amounts to a free loan to the vampire State of trillions of dollars.

    1. The string-out is presumably acknowledgment that cash is not the only form of asset you have. Actually you can expense a capital investment up to an amount that’s very large for an individual, but gets restrictive only for a sizable partnership or corp. for an individual it’s often better for tax purposes to amortize a large capitaliz’n.

  24. In addition to the Federal Renewable Energy Production tax credit they also get the Renewable Energy Production Incentive.

    Companies that generate electricity from wind, geothermal, and “closed-loop” bioenergy (using dedicated energy crops) are eligible for a federal PTC, which provides a 2.3-cent per kilowatt-hour (kWh) incentive for the first ten years of a renewable energy facility’s operation.

  25. This is the dumbest article I’ve ever read.

    1. Stick around for a Sheldon Richman or Steve Chapman piece.

  26. Whether it’s a tax credit or a tax grant, the net effect is still unequal tax treatment: the favored parties pay less tax than the unfavored parties. Given that our tax money is fungible, the idea that a credit isn’t taking money out of the pocket of other tax payers is disingenuous.

    There should be no such thing as either tax credits or tax grants unless they apply to everyone across the board. Want to give Toyota a 20 year property tax abatement to build their factory in my county, well, where’s my property tax abatement?

    1. Money is fungible; sources of revenue and expense are not.

      Let’s say the government decides to give a tax cut to a particular entity but maintain its current levels of spending, making up the shortfall by expanding the money supply.

      In so doing, the government diminishes the value of the money (stealing from all). That’s no better (from an ethical standpoint) than stealing more from someone in particular, but it doesn’t mean you are owed money out of someone else’s pocket.

      This is the problem with payment extracted by force: the whole institution is immoral; the only “fair” solution is to abolish it entirely.

      1. I hadn’t seen his comment before I wrote mine on fungibility. Mine covers and refutes your claim. I have paid taxes which are used for public goods and sercices going to sports stadiums which they dopidn’t pay for. That’s a transfer. Now one should argue that the shouldn’t be public but in the meantime it is a transfer.

        1. You can quantify the value of those goods and services provided to the stadium then perform a little bit of arithmetic to determine whether or not they are receiving more in benefit than they are paying in tax. If so, then you can start talking about transfers from you to them. If not, then if anything the transfer is going in the opposite direction.

          I’m not really clear on how anything you said refutes anything I said.

  27. A tax simply overwrites a producer’s system of values with another system. If he who is doing the overwriting lets a producer keep a little more than they otherwise would have, they are then supporting the producer’s original system of value. It doesn’t alter the fact that the delusional idiot who thinks he’s tapped into some fifth-element-ethereal-truth (so that Force against peaceful and productive people has righteousness) doesn’t have any morality at all. The whole process of taxation is a fucked up bucket of evil nonsense from penny one. Debating a grant from a subsidy from a refundable credit from a non-refundable credit from a poke in the eye is to debate the subject on their terms. It’s insanity based on a pedestal of evil.

    But I’m a CPA, so I’ve mad some of my living from it so it’s not all bad.

    1. “If he who is doing the overwriting lets a producer keep a little more than they otherwise would have, they are then supporting the producer’s original system of value.”

      … and subsidizing behavior they would not have otherwise exhibited. For example creating three windmills when they should have only created two. Our housing bubble was in part subsidized with tax incentives, and we ended up having to demolish the surplus houses when we overbuilt.

  28. Preferential tax rates distort the market.

  29. “A tax credit is just that: a credit against the amount a taxpayer owes. As the IRS explains, a tax credit “reduces the amount of tax for which you are liable.” That is vastly different from a direct grant, in which the government takes money from Jones and gives it to Smith. In the case of a tax credit, none of Jones’ money goes into Smith’s pocket. Rather, Smith gets to keep more of his own money. Smith’s tax credit doesn’t cost Jones a cent”

    Specious argument because money is fungable. In fact I can make a tax credit identical to a grant by allowing it to be transfered to other entities and persons via sale, and/or making the credit able to exceed taxes due on the activity. Furthermore tax credits like grants can be issued on a case by case manner if the government wants to. For example tax breaks for specific sports stadiums.

    So the only difference comes when it is limited to taxes owed, but even then it’s still a transfer though. A sports stadium that is built will require public services like garbage pick up, roads, sewers, etc. With a 100% tax break the stadium will not be paying for any of these goodies and another taxpayer will have to foot the bill.

    I really wish I could stamp out all the stupid arguments made by libertarians on these and other areas like immigration and defense.

  30. “A tax credit is just that: a credit against the amount a taxpayer owes. As the IRS explains, a tax credit “reduces the amount of tax for which you are liable.” That is vastly different from a direct grant, in which the government takes money from Jones and gives it to Smith. In the case of a tax credit, none of Jones’ money goes into Smith’s pocket. Rather, Smith gets to keep more of his own money. Smith’s tax credit doesn’t cost Jones a cent”

    Specious argument because money is fungable. In fact I can make a tax credit identical to a grant by allowing it to be transfered to other entities and persons via sale, and/or making the credit able to exceed taxes due on the activity. Furthermore tax credits like grants can be issued on a case by case manner if the government wants to. For example tax breaks for specific sports stadiums.

    So the only difference comes when it is limited to taxes owed, but even then it’s still a transfer though. A sports stadium that is built will require public services like garbage pick up, roads, sewers, etc. With a 100% tax break the stadium will not be paying for any of these goodies and another taxpayer will have to foot the bill.

    I really wish I could stamp out all the stupid arguments made by libertarians on these and other areas like immigration and defense.

    1. +7,500 dollars in electric car tax credits to the upper middle class

  31. I think a premise of this article is that government spending is limited by current tax revenue.

    That’s adorable.

  32. This is strange since “Conservative” Texas has twice the wind power generating capacity as “Liberal” California:

    http://blogs.dallasobserver.co…..s_wind.php

    Governor Rick Perry is very proud of this little known fact, and the federal tax credits Texas receives:

    http://governor.state.tx.us/news/speech/4652/

  33. Start working at home with Google. It’s a great work at home opportunity. Just work for few hours. I earn up to $500 a week. I can’t believe how easy it was once I tried it out. http://www.Fox81.com

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