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Greens Against a Carbon Tax in Washington State

For some progressives it is more important to redistribute tax money than to save the climate.

GlobeCO2AbluecupDreamstimeAbluecup/DreamstimeIf man-made global warming produced by rising concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels poses a significant problem, then most economists think that a revenue-neutral carbon tax imposed at the minehead and the well-head is the cheapest and most efficient solution. So too should most environmental activists who are concerned about climate change. However, many environmentalist groups are surprisingly opposed to just such a proposal in Washington State.

Ballot Initiative 732 (I-732) would establish a tax on carbon emissions at $15 per metric ton of emissions in July 2017, $25 in July 2018, and then 3.5 percent plus inflation each year until the tax reaches $100 per metric ton. The tax would be phased in more slowly for farmers and nonprofit transportation providers. If adopted, I-732 could cut the state sales tax by one full percentage point from from 6.5 to 5.5 percent. It would fund the Working Families Rebate to provide up to $1,500 a year for 400,000 low-income working households to counter their increased energy expenditures. And it would essentially eliminate the Business and Occupation Tax for manufacturers, thus encouraging them to remain in the state.

I-732 aims to neither increase nor decrease state revenues; the new carbon tax would offset other taxes and there would be no additional revenue left over for Washington State politicians and bureaucrats to spend. The goal of the tax is to lower greenhouse gas emissions by incentivizing people to switch to low- and no-carbon based fuels. One would think that environmentalists would cheer and be urging Washington State residents to support I-732. However, a remarkably interesting article, "The left v. a carbon tax," over at Vox explains how many Washington State environmentalist and progressive groups came to oppose I-732.

One huge reason for their opposition is that the left-leaning groups against I-732 are against to revenue neutrality; they want to use climate policy as a way to increase tax revenues in order to "invest" in clean energy and to support "climate justice" redistribution programs. Consequently, as Ramez Naam, who has worked with the group CarbonWA to get I-732 on ballot, emailed me that its progressive opponents are essentially arguing, "Let's make the perfect the enemy of the really extremely good." He added, "On its merits, I-732 would be the strongest climate policy in North America, extremely market based, and the most progressive change to the tax code in Washington State (and possibly the biggest anti-poverty initiative here) in 40 years."

Actually, it is highly debatable that the revenue increasing proposals that Washington State's soi-disant climate progressives would prefer to enact are in any sense more "perfect" than I-732.

Jerry Taylor, the president of the Niskanen Center libertarian policy shop, favors a revenue-neutral carbon tax as a way to address concerns about climate change. When asked what he thought of I-732 Taylor responded in an email:

I-732 gets it right for the state of Washington. The initiative make polluters pay for the risks and damages they are imposing on the rest of us...and then turns around and gives that money (in the form of a sales tax cut) to those they are putting at risk. Even if corporations passed all of the tax on to consumers, a majority of the citizens of Washington would gain more in tax reduction than they would pay in higher energy prices. It is not a perfect model for federal action in that existing regulatory authority to address greenhouse gas emissions would continue to exist, but it is nonetheless a very good start.

Unfortunately, the opposition to I-732 by progressives is proving the salience of Cato Institute senior fellow Patrick Michaels' tart observation: "Do you really think $3 trillion will walk down K Street unmolested? That's what's required for a 'revenue neutral' tax." K Street is the notorious address for many of DC's more prominent lobbyists.

On the other hand, if I-732 does succeed that will provide some hope for supporters that a carbon tax could pass unmolested. A recent poll found support for I-732 at 42 percent with 37 against, and 21 percent undecided. Stay tuned.

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  • Brian||

    Here's what I want: a carbon tax that comes out to a few hundred bucks a year more on gas, but....

    The state buys me a new hybrid car every year.

    If the math on that doesn't work out, just make it a progressive carbon tax: rich people can buy me a hybrid car every year.

    If you really care about saving the planet, then you'll pay the price for me to drive a hybrid car.

    Now we're talking progressive climate justice.

  • ||

    I'll go along if my state sponsored car is an i8.

  • thom||

    I kind of need the state to buy me new energy efficient windows instead of that hybrid car. Wouldn't it make more sense to just give every family $30,000/year to make energy efficient upgrades in their life? (We would pay for it, obviously, by making rich people pay their fair share.)

  • And you believe that why?||

    I would love it if someone would pick up the costs for my replacement windows. Since I want to replace the siding at the same time(adding insulation in the process helps cut my bills as well) can someone else pay for it too? I'll throw some solar panels up if I have enough though current models will never return enough energy in the winter to make sense installing.

  • Suicidy||

    I'll vote for it if the solution to state budget shortfalls is to forcibly harvest the organs of progressives until the budget is balanced.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    While I'm always wary of "most economists think" assertions like the one in that opening if-then statement, I can see activists being upset one of their policies is not being used to punish the sinners harshly enough.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "If man-made global warming produced by rising concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels poses a significant problem, then most economists think that a revenue-neutral carbon tax imposed at the minehead and the well-head is the cheapest and most efficient solution."

    I would argue that sales taxes are more efficient than income, corporate, and capital gains taxes, too, and if we were talking about replacing those inefficient taxes with sales taxes, I'd enthusiastically support the proposal for that reason alone.

    People who oppose dismantling socialism, if dismantling socialism meant addressing climate change, are not primarily capitalists.

  • Threedoor||

    If you think sales tax is efficient I'll let you file my Washington sales tax as an unpaid collector for the state. Sales taxes are the most inefficient of your listed taxed. I can't wait to have to pay washington a new carbon tax along with sales IFTA and all the time wasters I have to comply with for the privilege of crossing their border to work.

  • Ken Shultz||

    This is exactly the kind of proposal that should shake out the socialists masquerading as environmentalists. People who would rather see the environment destroyed if saving it means giving up on socialism are not primarily environmentalists.

  • And you believe that why?||

    Overall it looks like a good carbon tax proposal. If I lived in Washington it would be at least possible for me to vote yes but it would take a lot of convincing to accept shifting the tax burden in this manner.

  • Tionico||

    examining this problematic scam carefully shows clearly it will NOT work as proposed...... too much rests on suppositions that current behaviour will continue. People have well proven that changing behaviour is an appropriate and effective way of avoiding new taxes. Read about "Laffer's Curve". He's right.

    And NOTHING I saw here or in the ballot initiative directely addresses the pertinent question that needs to be addressed FIRST..... that of the validity of the assumption that carbon dioxide truly does contribute to "global warming", the warming that is not, and has not been, happening these past 150 or so years.

    Nor has anyone carefully examined the connexions between those developing and promoting this nonsense and the new "alternative" or "renewable" energy industries that will be allowed to suck up this new tax money.

    I doubt this initiave can pass WA state constitutional muster... an initiatve can ONLY deal with ONE issue, never more than one. This imposes a number of changes involving several different departments. New spending, new taxes, existing tax reductions, new exemptions.... and funding for new things. Won't pass the sniff test in that regard. Needs to be defeated.

  • BillWoods||

    Changing behavior is the goal. The carbon tax isn't supposed to be a revenue source. The more people avoid paying it the better, other things being equal.

  • ||

    "over at Vox explains"

    There's something very wrong with those words.

  • And you believe that why?||

    What is even more disconcerting is that somehow a real reporter managed to seek into Vox.

  • ||

    Is it just me, but when leftist government, or any government officials start talking about what something is going to cost, I assume zero credibility in what they are saying? IOW:

    Revenue neutral = It's gonna cost you suckas billions and I'm gonna be stuffin my pockets full

  • ||

    Revenue neutral = It's gonna cost you suckas billions and I'm gonna be stuffin my pockets full

    Not only that, but it assumes strict assets and zero liability. Using a sin tax on smoking to pay for treatments and lung cancer research in a revenue manner sounds like a great idea too until people stop smoking. We already have a fuel tax laws that were supposed to be used to (re)build roads being rewritten for hybrid vehicles that still destroy the roads but don't pay in through the fuel tax.

  • ||

    er... revenue neutral manner...

    I'm just going to pretend the new popups are a precursor to an edit button.

  • ||

    Haha, that's funny!

  • And you believe that why?||

    If fuel taxes had been sufficient to maintain roads before we had hybrids the argument would be more effective.

  • Tionico||

    oh the fuel taxes WERE more than enough to maintain roads...... trouble is, Washington's "powers that be" siphoned off much of that revenue into other funds, approved laws that mandated HUGE increases in costs for road contstruction/repair, made cush requirements for hiring/wages for all highway projects, added new "requirements" for jobsite specs, and State Patrol waste in construction zones.

    Trim all that fat and waste back off, and our highways would be in great shape today.

    It ain't a revenue problem, as it never is. Its a how you spend what you steal problem. And our lawmakers/watchdogs are either asleep at the wheel or are on the take at the spending end of the equation.

  • Threedoor||

    Dont forget all the 'art' and bike paths built with fuel taxes and a million bucks a whack for all the damn roundabouts popping up in Washington.

  • ||

    Wasn't the PPACA supposed to be "revenue neutral?"

  • prolefeed||

    I-732 aims to neither increase nor decrease state revenues; the new carbon tax would offset other taxes and there would be no additional revenue left over for Washington State politicians and bureaucrats to spend.

    I'm calling bullshit. They'd be adding a brand new source of theft. And thinking the promised opening rate of taxation will remain the same is like someone in the early 1900s thinking the brand new federal income tax would remain at 1% or so in perpetuity, and only apply to the very wealthy.

  • Swiss Servator||

    Kind of an obvious flaw in any new tax.

  • ||

    Feature, not a bug, Switzy.

  • PurityDiluting||

    No solution is pure enough. Especially when the solution doesn't put money in their pockets

  • Enjoy Every Sandwich||

    The idea that the government can run the economy by such twattery as selective taxes has been a ridiculous failure up to now; why should any of these proposals be any more successful?

  • Just Say'n||

    When you tax carbon you raise prices on every good, essentially. An equal percentage decline in other taxes is not going to mitigate the cost of a carbon tax. Such a tax will be the most expensive ever implemented.

  • OldMexican sine qua non||

    For some progressives it is more important to redistribute tax money than to save the climate.


    Oh, you're so sweet. For ALL Progressives, the planet can go fuck itself. It's all about imposing Socialism notwithstanding the promises of a greater material well-being not being fulfilled in the most spectacular way, which is why they now advertise the privations caused by socialism as a "planet-saving" feature and not a bug.

  • OldMexican sine qua non||

    Jerry Taylor, the president of the Niskanen Center libertarian policy shop, favors a revenue-neutral carbon tax as a way to address concerns about climate change.


    That's a very interesting albeit extremely important choice of word - concerns - because what the Niskanen Center is proposing is using a carbon tax as a form of indulgence, sort of like buying yourself the remission of punishment from Angry Volcano God a.k.a. Climatey Changey.

  • ||

    sort of like buying yourself the remission of punishment from Angry Volcano God a.k.a. Climatey Changey.

    Even Ronal'd Bejlij is not immune to devout, pious, religious beliefs.

  • Pay up, Palin's Buttplug!||

    Ronal'd Bejlij

    LOL

    Is Ronald Bailey Cyrillized the same in Ukrainian as it is in Russian?

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    This is not an application of the precautionary principle. Nope. Totally different.

  • Mickey Rat||

    What made you think "saving the enviroment" was actually the progressive's goal over redristibution and dictating to the market?

    Not getting into the fact that carbon taxes are artificial price fixes that have a tenuous, at best, relationship to the societal "costs" they theoretically account for.

  • ||

    "What made you think "saving the enviroment" was actually the progressive's goal over redristibution and dictating to the market?"

    Well, I mean when I saw millions of them across the country giving up their iGadgets and air conditioning and moving to the mountains to live a life as hunter gatherers, I just ... oh wait...

  • OldMexican sine qua non||

    Living the life of a hunter-gatherer is not anything close like it used to be. For starters, there's the problem of most land belonging to the federal government...

    Of course most enviromentalists are not serious about their own religion. They just want to use it as an excuse to impose socialism, just like the Catholics who subscribe to liberation theology are not serious about Catholic tenets but instead use religion to further their political agendas.

  • Inigo Montoya||

    The more I learn about the modern environmentalist movement, the more it becomes evident that it's actually religion trying to wear a scientific mask.

    If these people actually thought there was a real threat, and they believed in the science they profess to "fucking love" so much, they would be doing things a lot differently. You'd never hear any of the knee-jerk opposition from them to fracking, natural gas use, hydroelectric dams, next-generation nuclear power plants, and even these supposedly "revenue neutral" schemes hatched by their beloved statist leaders.

    The reality is that they are about as "scientific" as the followers of "creation science." But they're even less honest about where their dogmatic beliefs come from. At least creationists will admit they are basing their beliefs on a literal interpretation of the Bible. It's not like the enviro-fools don't hold the writings of Marx/Engels in the same regard, they just hope not too many people will figure it out and stop listening to them at all.

  • ||

    That simple phrase 'green on the outside, red on the inside' actually makes a lot of sense.

  • OldMexican sine qua non||

    Re: Iñigo Montoya

    The more I learn about the modern environmentalist movement, the more it becomes evident that it's actually religion trying to wear a scientific mask.


    The environmentalist movement has ALWAYS been a religious movement. Scholars and intellectuals have been saying so for at least six decades. Paul Johnson, for instance, had warned about the radical religious undertones of the modern environmentalist movement and its dangerous predilection for social nihilism.

    Environmentalism has a theology, a catechism and an eschatology. There's little difference between environmentalism and, say, most Middle Eastern religions including Christianity. In both cases, Man is a Fallen Creature, Selfish and a Sinner. The only path to Salvation in the mind of the religious environmentalist is for Man to accept His sins and repent, i.e. through living a life of illuminated asceticism and privation or to simply die and return the nutrients to the ground.

    There's no evidence that human activity is changing the climate by itself and climatologists have no way to prove this as they cannot calculate a RATE. In all physical sciences, the quest is to find the RATE - rate of change, rate of quantity compared to other quantities, etc. - something that has eluded the climate scientists because what they're studying is mind-boggling complex. But this doesn't faze the environmentalists who take the hypothesis as revelation.

  • Set Us Up The Chipper||

    yea Ronny is oblivious to the finer points...like doubling sensitivity, that nasty ole coupled non-linear thingy, and the theory actually having predictive power.

  • Sevo||

    "The more I learn about the modern environmentalist movement, the more it becomes evident that it's actually religion trying to wear a scientific mask."

    Anyone who proposes concern about "the health" of the environment is engaged in religious twaddle. The environment *is*, and any claim regarding "health" is projection of religious bleefs.

  • CatoTheChipper||

    From an economics-minded environmentalist's perspective (if there is such a thing), the worst part of I-732 is that the Working Families Rebate that provides $1,500 a year to low-income working households. There is no way the carbon tax can be effective if the hoi polloi can still afford to drive cars, take vacations, and comfortably air condition their dwellings with heat and cooling.

    Increasing a tax on good only reduces consumption by those consumers whose marginal utility of that good is less than the tax imposed. If such consumers are indemnified from the consequences of the tax by a rebate, the tax will have little effect upon consumption quantity. It is essentially acts as wealth redistribution whose cost will fall most heavily upon the unsubsidized middle class.

    Of course, additional redistribution would make I-732 even less effective, and any money spent on clean energy "investments" will be squandered.

  • OldMexican sine qua non||

    Well put.

  • Mithrandir||

    "There is no way the carbon tax can be effective if the hoi polloi can still afford to drive cars, take vacations, and comfortably air condition their dwellings with heat and cooling."

    I don't see how that's true. The idea of a carbon tax is to approximately eliminate the negative externality caused by pollution. If the masses continue to "drive cars..." etc., they would more accurately be paying for the costs they're forcing everybody else to pay for if a carbon tax were initiated. It's an issue of property rights.

    As I've stated below though, if these types of behavior changing taxes were to be implemented, I would only support them if income taxes, property taxes, capital gains taxes, etc. were completely abolished in favor of a federal sales tax with exemptions for food and clothing items so as to not unduly hurt the poorest. A cold day in hell, I know.

  • Greg F||

    The idea of a carbon tax is to approximately eliminate the negative externality caused by pollution.

    CO2 is not a pollutant. It is a necessary ingredient for life. At pre-industrial levels of 280 ppm we were dangerously close to the minimum concentration required for life.

  • Mithrandir||

    I never said CO2 was a pollutant. Not all carbon is CO2. Examples of carbon-based air pollutants:

    Carbon monoxide, Nitrogen dioxide, Sulfur dioxide, etc.

  • Mithrandir||

    On second thought, several of those aren't actually carbon based. Only carbon monoxide is. I humbly retract that portion of my statement.

  • Tionico||

    and what portion of carbon in the form of fossil fuels and/or wood is released into the atmosphere as carbon MONoxide as compared to carbon DIoxide? Hint: it is vanishingly small. And CO is nowhere near as stable as CO2.

    One more science question for you to ponder and incorrectly answer:

    What is the single greatest means of "storage" of carbon dioxide on this planet, and by what mechanism does it operate? A HUGE Gold Star if you get half of the answer correct.

  • Greg F||

    I never said CO2 was a pollutant.

    Really? Do you have a clue why the enviro's are pushing a carbon tax? I will give you a hint, it ain't carbon monoxide.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "CO2 is not a pollutant."

    This is a word game.

    The question is whether too much of it being released into the atmosphere is harmful.

    Call it a pollutant or call it something else, the question remains the same.

  • And you believe that why?||

    Waste that can be a pollutant depending on concentration is far more accurate but slightly verbose.

  • Tionico||

    not so. A "pollutant" is something that does not belong, and is harmful at any level. Some pollutants can be lethal at some concentrations, and merely harmful at others. CO2, on the other hand, is NOT a pollutant because it BELONGS in the atmosphere. It serves vital functions. No CO2, no plant life. No plant life, no oxygen,. No oxygen, no animal life.
    No, CO2 is certainly NOT a pollutant.

    Further, please riddle me WHY folks exploring fully controlled atmosphere grow operations find that as temperature rises from average land surface temps, plant growth increases. What's so BAD about temperature rising? We get more plants to eat and build with. Further, when CO2 concentration is maintained at levels signficantly higher than in the air today (average today runs about .035) to figures approaching twice that (.008) plant growth again increases. Combine the two and a very small amount of enclosed space can feed a whole city of ten thousand with everything.. yes, including livestock to eat.

    so the "problem" with CO2 increasing past .035 is exactly WHAT??????

    This scam is only made possible because government controlled education has failed to teach children growing up how science, and in particular biology, works. When I was in grade school the science we learned would have had us all laughing our heads off at the fools proposing and promoting this insanity. Index finger points at temple, describes a smallish circle..... da nuthouse for YOU, pal....

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    Tell me again what the perfect co2 concentration and temp of the planet are. Somehow that's not a game. I know that life as we know it ceases to exist at somehweere around 200ppm. Now tell me again why I want to go back to 280.

  • Greg F||

    This is a word game.

    Which you are a willing participant.

    The question is whether too much of it being released into the atmosphere is harmful.

    In spite of billions of dollars spent, the data to support the hypothesis is lacking.

    Call it a pollutant or call it something else, the question remains the same.

    Look up the definition of 'pollutant'. Calling it a 'pollutant' is fabricating facts not in evidence.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    And how does it fix the externality by exempting a large fraction or majority of ppl from paying?

  • And you believe that why?||

    The economics-minded environmentalist wants thorium fueled molten salt reactors to process the waste from 'green' energy production.

    Never mind, I thought your were talking about economically literate economics-minded environmentalists.

  • GILMORE™||

    the left-leaning groups against I-732 are against to revenue neutrality

    I totally didn't see for this coming

  • GILMORE™||

    the Niskanen Center libertarian policy shop

    Maybe we should take a poll on that.

  • Microaggressor||

    Millennial here to answer all your questions.

    Yes, I voted against this turd and it felt good.

  • GILMORE™||

    I was actually wondering how many self-described libertarians think the "Learn to Love The Welfare State" bullshit the Niskanen Center pumps out qualifies for that label

  • aistamn||

    I voted against it as well. I love voting no on every proposed tax. As if any reduction in the sales tax would be forthcoming!

  • commodious cam't contmpla..||

    IOW Washington state is fighting to become this century's new rust belt?

  • Microaggressor||

    Mostly Seattle. Though every single initiative proposed is a progressive wet dream. They even want us to vote on whether they would "urge" the federal congress to gut the first amendment because muh corporations aren't speech.

  • Glide||

    I understand the theoretical libertarian argument for a carbon tax (based upon the idea that pollution is harm to others). I do not agree, but I get it.

    However, it is insulting to call such a solution "market-based." You give that a market-based label, then Obamacare (similarly set up to selectively penalize bad outcomes instead of directly banning them) is also market-based. Call it what it is - penalties for polluters.

  • ||

    The argument for a carbon tax is that it's the least unpleasant of the alternatives the enviros are trying to force upon us. The energy industry supports this, which tells me that it's going to be easy to engage in regulatory capture - which is not a good thing, either, but better than the alternatives.

  • GILMORE™||

    The argument for a carbon tax is that it's the least unpleasant of the alternatives the enviros are trying to force upon us.

    False choices are best choices.

  • commodious cam't contmpla..||

    Plus least unpleasant doesn't mean only. Eventually the full gamut of unpleasant options will be enforced.

  • GILMORE™||

    Exactly. Its pretending to ask you "either/or", but they're really just asking you which you want to have first.

  • ||

    Good observations, both of you. Those people are never satisfied.

  • Mithrandir||

    "Call it what it is - penalties for polluters."

    That's not true. While polluters may be forced to directly pay for the tax, ultimately who pays the real tax burden is dependent on the elasticity of demand for that particular "product". So, while a corporation might have to directly pay for the costs of their pollution, particularly if the good is considered a "necessity" that cost is more likely passed on to the consumer rather than the corporation.

  • Tionico||

    except that people who exhale carbon dioxide are NOT polluters. Nor are people who use energy derived from the oxidation of carbon based substances.

    Carbon dioxide is NOT a pollutant. Never has been, never can be.

    On the other hand.... the mercury in the stupid fluorescent bulbs that were forced upon us IS. So is the lithium and other heavy metals used in the manufacture of the new current storage batteries in the hybrid and electric cars. Find satellite photos of the vast areas of dead grey lands turned into dead zones wherever those minerals are processed or handled over in China. WHY are not those minerals refined near their source in Canada? Too toxic, so they get shipped off to CHina, which don't care yet. Further, those dead batteries are not recyclable by any practical means. What does that mean? A serious source of POLLUTANT is being manufactured in massive numbers with no reclaim or neutralising path in place. China are quite happy to store them long term... any bets as to what will happen when they wake up and realise they don't want any more in their country? Yeah, ballast on ships that will "sink" "accidentally" somewhere......

    and these gaia worshipping enviroslaves are all with knotted knickers over a bit more of a relatively inert gas necessary for life on this planet being released into the air? They have places for persons of such unstable mental state......

  • CatoTheChipper||

    The only good thing about a carbon tax is that it is not as bad as cap-and-trade.

  • ||

    "I'll believe it's a crisis when the people who keep telling me it's a crisis start acting like it's a crisis." -Glenn Reynolds

  • GILMORE™||

    Square this for me please

    a revenue-neutral carbon tax imposed at the minehead and the well-head

    ok

    . The initiative make polluters pay for the risks and damages they are imposing on the rest of us

    uh, no?

    The people who extract/distribute/market fossil fuels aren't the ones burning it.

    The consumer is the "polluter".

    And I'm not really clear on how taxing WA-based producers of fossil fuels is supposed to impact "the environment" when WA consumers can get their fossil fuels from all over the world; it would seem to me that any state based carbon tax is just telling producers to pick up and move their business elsewhere.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    The people who extract/distribute/market fossil fuels aren't the ones burning it.

    The consumer is the "polluter".

    this can't be said enough.

  • ||

    ^ Seconded.

  • And you believe that why?||

    The producers use energy to extract, process, and distribute fossil fuels so as long as we include producer use in consumption I am happy with that assessment.

  • Tionico||

    the energy so used is vanishingly small compared to the product so produced/distributed.

    We are being overrun by monster skunks and you are satisfied with putting flea collars on them to reduce the flea "problem"?
    But the REAL scam is the meme that we are even being overrun by the skunks. Not happening, nor will it. Sure, we'll have fewer fleas.... but the cost to eliminate the non-existent skunks is prohibitive and damning to us all. Further, the REAL scammers are the ones who have "The Plan" to eliminate the non-existant skunks for us... which plan will greatly increase their wealth.... and decrease ours.

    Imagine the fury of our grandchildren whtn CO2 is at .008 (currently about .035) and the temps are four degrees warmer most places and plants grow half again as fast with less work..... and they comprehend how their forbears were so seriously scammed by the well connected greed driven scammers. "HOW could they have been SO STUPID?" Did they not learn ANYTHING about biology back when EVERYONE was FORCED to attend school for twelve years? What did they LEARN? "

  • Longtobefree||

    Much better idea - tax all those who are concerned about carbon impact ten cents each time they breath out. And asses a ten dollar fee to each one for each tree that dies of CO2 starvation. If they are really environmentalists, they would acknowledge that CO2 is a critical portion of "the circle of life", and leave its regulation to mother nature/God, whichever they will accept as really being in charge. Unless the real agenda is for the to be in charge.

  • Mithrandir||

    I feel like I'm very alone among libertarians in thinking this, but I actually support a carbon tax or a cap-and-trade scheme. These might not be libertarian solutions, but I would at least call them market-based solutions.

    Pollution causes a negative externality on citizens. Economically speaking, if you can fairly accurately estimate the cost associated with the negative externality a carbon tax or cap-and-trade scheme can be instituted that will shift the demand to pollute to their "proper" levels.

    In particular, I would be in favor of carbon taxes, gasoline taxes, and negative externality reducing "behavior changing" taxes, if and only if the country were to completely eliminate income taxes, capital gains taxes, property taxes, etc. in favor of a national sales tax that would not be instituted on items such as food and clothing so as to not unduly harm the poorest of us.

  • ||

    "Externality" is not a good word to throw around, here. Was serially abused by a progtroll.

    These might not be libertarian solutions, but I would at least call them market-based solutions.

    Uh, libertarians believe that the market solves things on its own without top-down controls like taxes.

  • Mithrandir||

    I'm an Economics person, but I'm certainly not progressive. Externalities are real phenomenon unfortunately. If you don't like the term "externality" perhaps you would more appreciate invasion of property rights?

    "Uh, libertarians believe that the market solves things on its own without top-down controls like taxes."

    I agree in general, but there are certain areas where markets aren't perfect. Do you disagree? I believe incentive altering policies are better than actual top-down controls (cap-and-trade would more fit this top-down control definition).

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Unfortunately, cap-and-trade is a top-down control. It's a market entirely created by government with prices set by apparatchiks, and if they set the price... "wrong" then the cap-and-trade market will collapse.

    Price signals are the most important feature of any market-- and if those prices are controlled, the the price signal is, at some point, going to end up wrong-- either too high or too low.

  • Mithrandir||

    I agree, cap-and-trade is certainly at least more top-down control than a carbon tax.

    "Price signals are the most important feature of any market-- and if those prices are controlled, the the price signal is, at some point, going to end up wrong-- either too high or too low."

    As I stated above, I generally agree with that statement. However, prices in markets can be distorted due to lack of available information or a failure to take into account additional costs that are imposed on society (read as a break down in property rights if not externality). I don't think anyone can deny that in a few, not most, but a few situations, there are price distortions in markets.

  • Caput Lupinum||

    The key portion of your original comment is this:

    Economically speaking, if you can fairly accurately estimate the cost associated with the negative externality

    This is important, because we have to be able to evaluate the externality before we can impose a correction for it, assuming your only goal was to correct for the original economic dislocation caused by the externality. In cases where the externality can be easily examined to discover the amount of dislocation and to whom the reparations for the externality should be paid to, top down controls are unnecessary. Such cases can be resolved with either torts, or Coasian bargaining, or stricter property rights, the list goes on. If, however, the costs are diffuse and the people harmed are many, and the harm itself cannot actually be identified directly, correcting for externalities won't work because you don't know how much to pay or to whom you should pay. If you believe that the damage is enough to worry over and believe that the market cannot correct for it on its own, that's fine as far as it goes, but there is no solution that can be justified in libertarian terms based off of externalities and property rights. If you want to go that route, take a page out of Ken's book, and justify a carbon tax as being among the least harmful taxes with the side benefit of being somewhat acceptable to leftists.

  • Mithrandir||

    I appreciate your thoughtful comment and agree with you on many of your points.

    I think undeniably in regards to pollution "the costs are diffuse and the people harmed are many" is certainly the correct analysis of the situation. So with that:

    "...correcting for externalities won't work because you don't know how much to pay or to whom you should pay."

    It doesn't necessarily need to be a matter of whom to pay (allow obviously not over-correcting as far as how much is certainly important). The idea is to simply try to more accurately allow the "product" in question to reflect the total associated costs as far as prices are concerned.

    I'll agree that accurately reflecting those costs is certainly problematic, as it would be an approximation at best, and could potentially be manipulated for political purposes at worst.

    "If you want to go that route, take a page out of Ken's book, and justify a carbon tax as being among the least harmful taxes"

    That's pretty much my thoughts, although like I said in my original post, I would only be theoretically in favor of this solution if other harmful incentive altering taxes were eliminated.

  • Caput Lupinum||

    Dead thread and all, but my point was twofold; 1, that in order for the externalities justification to hold, you need to be able to accurately price the externality and 2, you need to direct the payments to the parties that suffered from the negative externality in the first place in relation to the damages suffered. Anything that fails on either of those two counts isn't correcting for the externality, and therefor fails to be a property rights based approach.

    You're advocating for essentially a Pigouvian tax. The point of a Pigouvian tax is to correct for an unpriced externality, but it doesn't do so by pricing in the original externality but by levying a tax based on the cost of removing the damages caused by the externality.

    I'm not taking sides on what the best approach is, just trying to clarify your terminology. It is impossible to have a discussion if both sides are speaking a different language.

  • Mithrandir||

    Yep you're right. It's been a while so I did forget Pigouvian tax was the correct term. Thank you.

    I am curious though, do you view the topic in question as an issue? And if so, do you believe there is a proper solution? I'm always very interested to talk about this discussion with reasonable, intelligent libertarians, since I seem to be the odd-man out on this topic.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    Tell me what the perfect temp for the planet is first. Now tell me whom you should send your check to for the considerable geening caused by co2 fertilization over the last 30 years. After that tell me what the net costs of co2 are with substantiation of those costs. Then we'll talk.

  • GILMORE™||

    I agree in general, but there are certain areas where markets aren't perfect.

    So what? still better than any of the alternatives.

    Your case is one giant pile of false assumptions =

    e.g.

    "" if you can fairly accurately estimate the cost associated with the negative externality""..

    You can't. And "fairly accurately" will always be defined politically, regardless. If you hand the power to impose costs to a political system, it will be wielded for political purposes, not for "environmental" ones.

    a carbon tax or cap-and-trade scheme can be instituted that will shift the demand to pollute to their "proper" levels.

    It didn't work in Europe. It just created a market in carbon-credits and made electricity wildly more expensive. AND resulted in more pollution.

    You're assuming that it would function as intended just because its intended to do so. You don't sound much like an "economics" person - a label that would generally indicate some awareness that artificial distortions of markets tend to have consequences far beyond mere intent.

    As per my above comment - a carbon-tax in a single state strikes me as stupid because consumers can get their fossil fuels from other, lower-taxed sources, and simply force local producers into a disadvantaged position.

  • GILMORE™||

    *side note =

    WA, last i checked, also exports lots of its electricity

    Washington is a major electricity exporter, supplying electricity to several other states, including California. Natural gas, coal, and nuclear combined generate almost 25 percent of the state's electricity. Non-hydroelectric renewables, primarily wind, wood and wood waste, combined contributes almost 5 percent.

    this is mainly because of demand for 'clean' energy in other states. (*created by other stupid laws);

    They only get 7% of their electricity from coal anyway.

    It seems to me that the entire law has little to do with reducing any real pollution from local energy production, and more to do with imposing feelgood 'green' regulations which voters think is somehow having an effect on the planet.

  • Threedoor||

    Hydro is king in Washington. The last lame governor and her progs in the state government ignored it when they mandated that 20% of the states electricity had to be generated by 'renewables' specifically ignoring hydro. As the windmill farms went up so did the electric rates. 90-100 yards o concrete at the base of each of those things. Really carbon neutral...

  • Mithrandir||

    Your entire argument here is essentially the same as a progressive saying, "We see there's a problem with our debt, but there are so many issues with trying to lower spending and paying off the debt that we might as well just stick our heads in the sand and do nothing".

    I don't buy it, sorry.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "I feel like I'm very alone among libertarians in thinking this, but I actually support a carbon tax"

    You're not alone on this, but we get more mileage if we point out that we should be taxing something like carbon rather than income, profits, or capital gains regardless of whether AGW is a hoax/

    Even if AGW were a hoax, the left is practically begging us to get rid of socialist, nationalizing, redistributive taxes and replace them with a sales tax based on carbon--if only we'd call their bluff. . . . and we should be taking advantage of the situation to get rid of these socialist and authoritarian taxation methods--but nooooOOOOooooo.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    So you support a tax on sugar. Totally not authoritarian.

  • Greg F||

    Even if AGW were a hoax ...

    And the mask slips.

  • Threedoor||

    Since when is Ken a libertarian?

  • And you believe that why?||

    I am with you on the consumption taxes as long as everything thing I consume is taxed equally. That means the investment is included. The financial services included in a basic banking account are taxed. Proper consumption taxes will destroy most of our financial sector but at least the overhead will be low and the lack of distinctions of purchases avoid the regressive issue as long as we don't have deflation.

    Personally I prefer to tax profits when they are distributed to individuals. While too big to fail banks need to fail I prefer to still have investing and a consumption tax doesn't allow that without massive complexity.

  • Bob Armstrong||

    The only detectable externality of our CO2 is a visibly greening planet -- as should be expected from what should be grade school science .

  • Tionico||

    you base your entereal cogitation upon a grave falsehood...... here is a bit of reality:

    Carbon Dioxide is NOT a pollutant. It is NECESSARY for life as we know it today, and for the past XX thousand years.

    So are you OK with the envirowhackoes lying to us all by promiting their false meme that CO2 is a pollutant and thus needs "mitigated", meanwhile greasing the skids for themselves and their crones massively profitting from the "alternate energy" industries that will now be fueled by the new tax revenues?

    If these creeps were REALLY on about pollution, WHY are they ignorning the billion tonne elephant in the room.... WHAT will be the eventual fate of all those lithium batteries being produced for the hybrid/electric cars? The lithium in those cells is NOT recoverable, and is a SERIOUS pollutant. It is only a matter of time, as things stand now, before the numbers of disposed-or batteries will grow so high the spread of that gross pollutant will affect massive areas of the planet. At that point, CO2 concentration in the air will not matter. Neither plants nor animals ca survive with lithium polluting the water and soil Go find the satellite photos of the processing and disposal grounds for these batteries in China.... look for the massive areas of slate-grey dirt...... NOTHING growing there at all.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Actually, it is highly debatable that the revenue increasing proposals that Washington State's soi-disant climate progressives would prefer to enact are in any sense more "perfect" than I-732.

    You first have to understand the ideological capture that's occurred here. To the proponents of these measures, the progressive vision is the perfect, and ultimately the goal. But there are a few people that recognize that when enacting things at a state level that depend on other peoples' money, that money can leave.

  • Chocolate Starfish ( . )||

    BUT... it's hard to measure & tax every user's consumption. Easier to just tax the electricity utilities.
    WA state won't tax out of state electrical generators. So to get their emission numbers down in-state natural gas generated electric producers will buy out of state coal generated energy. Result is more CO2 & pollution and BIG money changes hands.

    Jay Inslee is Governor Moonbeam x2. Talk about a punchable face!

  • Tionico||

    this AFTER our ever brilliant (sarc/) state lawmakers bought the meme that coal is nasty and shut down all our coal fired plants...... my electric bill has TRIPLED in the last five years, but my KwHr usage has not changed a bit. WHY? Added "costs" to the acquisition and distribution of electricty due to government meddling.

    Yes, Inslee IS a rat...... needs replaced but I seriously doubt Bill Bryant will pull it off. Though it is looking good for Marty Mc Clendon to get seated as Lt Gov. At least he might get SOME influence... he's a good guy with his head screwed on straight, and DOES see through the liberal tripe.

  • Tionico||

    Idiots are barmy if they really think CO2 is a "greenhouse gas" and/or leads to "global warming/cooling/change" in any signficant way. Temps have changed, worldwide, less than one half degree centigrade since the 1880's. That's as long as its been measured. What happens to all that CO2 "produced" by burning fossil fuels? LEARN the biology you flunked when you failed to pay attention in school... it is taken up by plants of all sorts and turned into carbon biomass, and oxygen released into the air. Where does that carbon based biomass end up? THings like coal, wood, etc..... which are then either burned or otherwise more slowly oxidised.....

    If the idiots promoting this were to THINK, they'd realise that there is not one more carbon molecule on planet earth today than there was fifty thousand years ago. And nothing they can do will make one more... or less.

    this whole insane scheme is not about climate change.. its about stealing tax dollars from individuals and giving them to companies in the business of producing "alternate" or "renewable" energy. If this passes it will be ome more nail in the coffin of Washington businesses. We will become the New California, with 1200 businesses leaving the state every month. Most of the doofi promoting this nonsense came from California..... and want to make this place the hellhole that place has become.

  • Eratosthenes||

    I am a bit confused here. As far as I know, Washington has not a single oil or gas well, and very few (if any) coal mines. Its primary energy sources are hydro (from the Columbia) and nuclear. There may be some coal or gas electricity plants, but the fuel sources are not in-state, i.e. in state mine-head or well head sources. So who is being taxed? Looks like farmers mostly. Am I missing something?

  • Threedoor||

    Truck drivers are going to get hit hard. This will move to a Mileage based gas tax for non commercial rigs too.

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