Democrats & Liberals Archives

A Tax Swap for Your Health

One of the recommendations Al Gore made to reduce global warming is to

“Start a long-term tax shift to reduce payroll taxes and increase taxes on CO2 emissions.”

Doing this would remove the tax burden from something good - work - and place it on something bad - CO2. Even if you are a global-warming skeptic, you should still approve this recommendation since following it will at the very least clean the air and enhance your health.

The payroll tax is one of the most regressive taxes we have in U.S. The poor and middle class pay a hefty proportion of their earnings, but the very rich pay an insignificant proportion of their earnings. Besides, it makes no sense to tax something we want people to do: work.

Let's tax one of the worst "externalities" produced by our economic system. Economists do not consider the cost of carbon dioxide emissions when they do their calculations. They call these emissions "externalities," meaning they are factors outside the realm of economics. However, the costs of these "externalities" are huge and they show up in gray skies, lung diseases, cancers, other medical maladictions, and of course, the environmental devastations that climate scientists are predicting.

The carbon tax would be applied to all activities of firms producing CO2, not to individuals. Since coal produces more CO2 than oil, and oil more CO2 than natural gas, among these 3 items the tax would be greatest on oil and least on natural gas.

A carbon tax would reduce the use of fossil fuels, thus helping reduce carbon dioxide emissions. We'll be able to breathe again.

The carbon tax is favored by many conservatives. Liberals have some hesitation because the tax would increase the cost of gasoline that poor people need. If we insert a rebate to the poor we can have a non-regressive carbon tax.

Al Gore's tax swap of a carbon tax for the payroll tax will contribute to the health and peace of mind of all Americans.

Posted by Paul Siegel at March 27, 2007 8:02 PM
Comments
Comment #214029

Paul

I am afraid that I may not be helping your cause, but I agree with you.

It is a fine idea to swap with payroll taxes.

Posted by: Jack at March 27, 2007 8:12 PM
Comment #214031

Anything that can get the disgusting practice of taxing income and convert it to a usage based fee system is ok in my book, though I would rather see the federal government stop spending so much every year in addition to this, perhaps if they follow the same energy saving rules they set down for us mere citizens it might help…

Posted by: Rhinehold at March 27, 2007 8:14 PM
Comment #214034

Wow!

Paul, Jack, Rhinehold-

This may be the first time I have ever seen a Dem, Rep, Lib, and Green all agree. Guess Al may be on to something here. No?

Posted by: jrb at March 27, 2007 8:27 PM
Comment #214035

I don;t think i like it…So since i live in the northeast and we have winter I get a higher burden of taxes than those that live in the deep south or the sw where they have little if any heating cost, as expencive as heating oil, kernsene, and natural gas are already I wouldn’t see a fairness to it, … UNLESS to make it fair electricity was also under tax since it is also made from coal or oil in most cases. so that those that use ac all summer get equal treatment of those that use oil or natural gas in the winter

Posted by: Rhancheck at March 27, 2007 8:30 PM
Comment #214036

So, now we have to make sure the cost of living in each location of the country is the same? Because you choose to live in the northeast and you pollute more since you have to have more heat, you want to pay the same as someone who doesn’t?

Posted by: Rhinehold at March 27, 2007 8:41 PM
Comment #214038

Sooo Sicne i don;t have smog.. and i don;t run an ac at all in the summer, or have brownouts , blackouts or loss of power grid any other way you make LESS polution than me by running your AC on full blast for 6 months of the year? Or since the power drain from a city full of ac systems makes electric plants work harder, burn more coal, or oil but since its notyou directly but a third party buring it to provide for you, you get off scott free?

Posted by: Rhancheck at March 27, 2007 8:44 PM
Comment #214043

After some thought I like this idea. It would provide an incentive to produce and use alternative energy and help wean us off our forign oil dependancy. I think we should also in addition to this create a floor under which the cost of gasoline will never go below always adjusted up with inflation (also include the cost of the war for oil in this cost to pay for itslef).

Posted by: timesend at March 27, 2007 9:13 PM
Comment #214047

Rhancheck

The carbon tax taxes people in relation to their impact on global warming. If you believe global warming is a problem, you have no business opposing this tax. It is 100% fair since you are paying what you are costing.

For too long, “environmentalists” have gotten away with preaching and trying to transfer costs to others. Now we are in solution time, not whining time. Move on.

I do not know that the NE would pay more anyway. Electricity produced with dirty coal would cost more too.

What is not to like. I can accept Paul’s idea that it would offset payroll taxes, which are somewhat regressive, so it help the poor and charges the polluter.

Posted by: Jack at March 27, 2007 9:29 PM
Comment #214049

BTW, wasn’t it this author who spoke out against the Fair Tax as being too regressive since it was based off usage fees instead of income taxation which was heralded as being progressive?

As we singing a different tune now Paul?

Posted by: Rhinehold at March 27, 2007 9:36 PM
Comment #214057

Rhancheck
Although those in the northeast and other parts that have a more severe winter the summers are more severe in the south and southwest and the air conditioning cost could equal things out.

Posted by: j2t2 at March 27, 2007 9:54 PM
Comment #214067

I like it — but only with the rebate for the poor.

Posted by: Adrienne at March 27, 2007 10:16 PM
Comment #214071

Adrienne

If you rebate to anybody, you ruin the effectiveness and you are just taxing, not fighting global warming. So you have to ask yourself if you believe in countering global warming or if you just want to tax.

If you offset payroll taxes, you are returning money to the poor anyway and it the poor are producing that much co2 they certainly should be encouraged to change their profligate ways.

Posted by: Jack at March 27, 2007 10:32 PM
Comment #214074

A thought just occurred to me. I wonder, since we are talking, here, about replacing the income tax with a carbon tax—would this disproportionately affect the retired? Will the AARP be the demise of the carbon tax? Thoughts anyone?

Posted by: jrb at March 27, 2007 10:37 PM
Comment #214075

Where would money for a “rebate for the poor” come from, I wonder? From the taxes ONLY payed on the CO2 emmissions of the rich? That won’t even begin to cover a tax based only on consumption. Having slashed payroll taxes, where is all this money coming from? The magic money tree?

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at March 27, 2007 10:43 PM
Comment #214078

So..Jack you say if we rebate to anybody….which I agree with… we are just taxing.

Is it your proposition to let the elderly and poor freeze to death in the winter? Sounds a lot like the eskimo tradition of sending the infirm to the ice floe.


No wonder nobody would ever vote for you.

Posted by: gergle at March 27, 2007 10:52 PM
Comment #214081

gergle:
“Is it your proposition to let the elderly and poor freeze to death in the winter?”

This was exactly my thought when I said there would need to be a rebate. I guess Jack either didn’t think about how this might adversely affect the elderly and the poor, or maybe he just doesn’t care.

Posted by: Adrienne at March 27, 2007 11:01 PM
Comment #214084

Gergle, lets face the cold hard reality here.

Liberals are not going to have their cake and eat it too when it comes to a matter like reducing CO2 emmissions. You cannot protect the poor from economic hardship AND protect the environment with punitative tax measures which exclude them.

Either the poor have to PAY UP like everybody else on the front end or pay on the back end when industries starts cutting jobs and lowering wages in response to cuts in profitablility with an increased tax burden on economic activity.

In a larger sense, this thinking has global ramifications.

If you really believe that the planet is in the severe danger that Gore and his ilk insist that it is, you MUST be ready to do what’s necessary. And thats to let the poor of the world lose the meager liveliehoods that they now have as a result of the economy of consumption and pollution that sustains them.

Nobody’s who is unwilling to see the poor starve and freeze is serious about saving the planet. Everybody has to make that choice and then follow it to its logical and inevitable conclusion.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at March 27, 2007 11:20 PM
Comment #214091

LO-

I hope the last part of your last post is meant to be sarcasm. Otherwise, I say, “Talk about a defeatist attitude.”

Posted by: jrb at March 27, 2007 11:52 PM
Comment #214102

A defeatist attitude?

We live on a planet with billions of fellow human beings who are alive today (instead of dead) because of modern technologies and the economic systems which go along with them.

From transportation to agriculture, our massive and growing human population is based on the exploitation and consumption of fossil fuels. For the forseeable future, that’s just a fact. It certainly wasn’t my idea.

Al Gore and Leonardo Dicaprio can tell their financial managers to buy carbon offsets to ease their conscience even though it makes a tiny dent in their bottom lines, but a poor villager in Africa or China has no such luxury.

The “defeatist attitude” is on the part of those who are ready and willing to literally destroy the world economy and see millions die in the bargain.

Believe the dire predictions about the health of the planet or don’t. That’s up to each individual. But at this point, you can’t ask for sweeping changes the likes of which would actually make a difference without also embracing nearly genocidal treatment of the poor.

I’m not advocating that myself, but that IS the choice before us. One way or another, face the consequences of your beliefs.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at March 28, 2007 12:17 AM
Comment #214104

Since when is a poor villager in China or Africa affected in any way by the US tax system?

Posted by: jrb at March 28, 2007 12:19 AM
Comment #214108
Since when is a poor villager in China or Africa affected in any way by the US tax system?/blockquote>

Does that poor villager in China go to work in a factory, as do millions of his countrymen, in a factory that sells goods to the US? Does he eat food planted and harvested with farm equipment paid for by China’s trade revenues? Does the poor African villager eat grain bought indirectly with tourist and export dollars or bought directly with the international aid which comes from tax dollars in Western countries? Odds are yes.

And if we’re “thinking globally,” any American tax scheme which would cut pollution is only part of the picture. It has to happen everywhere, or our drop in productivity will just be matched elsewhere by those who don’t live under the same restrictions.

Change the world’s habits of exploiting resources and polluting, and the poor of the world will be the first to pay for it. In many many cases, with their lives.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at March 28, 2007 12:38 AM
Comment #214109

LO-

Somehow, I think you have missed the concept of trading federal income tax for a carbon tax.

That said, you are clearly being overly dramatic here. You accuse global warming proponents of being alarmist, then spout rhetoric which epitomizes fear-mongering. However, if you have seen ANY data which supports your contention I would love to see it.

Until then, I am still interested to hear from anyone with thoughts on how this may be received by the AARP and retirees in general.

Posted by: jrb at March 28, 2007 12:52 AM
Comment #214112

LO,

Well, now we at least know who you expect to pony up for your wealth—-the poor. I suppose you also wish to see the poor die of at a faster rate than they do currently by further reducing their access to healthcare. At least I’ll give you an A for honesty, here.

I thought we were just shifting tax burdens around, but apparently you have a new world order in mind.

I’m curious who you expect to join you in your new two world vision of the wealthy world and the dead and dying?

Posted by: gergle at March 28, 2007 2:45 AM
Comment #214123

Paul,

Maybe if we got everyone who believed that mankind was responsible for global warming to stop breathing, then they could all feel better about reducing their personal CO2 emmisions.

Posted by: wkw at March 28, 2007 8:35 AM
Comment #214125

Paul,

Of course the above mentioned solution would be voluntary. Guilt, about not doing anything to help the environment, should not sway anyone’s decision to voluntarily stop breathing.

Posted by: wkw at March 28, 2007 9:07 AM
Comment #214128

Gergle & Adrienne

I know I could never be elected to any office. But, unlike you, I am actually looking for solutions to the global warming problem. If you want to address the problem of carbon, you have to use less of it. You can make it higher prices, so people use less, or you can ration it, so people use less. If you ration, prices of substitutes go up and you create black markets, which makes it even harder on the poor.

So yes, you can get on my case about being anti-poor, if I can get on yours for being anti-environment.

The days of your feel good bashing of conservatives on this issue have ended. We are now looking for solutions and we are finding them. Go ahead, tell me again how bad the environmental situation has become. Recount the history of the problem since the industrial revolution. That is what liberals are good at - morality stories. Then give me the non-fairly tale solution that will make the poor rich and ensure a green world forever. We are calling your bluff. Show your weak hand.

The rich use more resources per person. Their use would be taxed more per person. But there are more non-rich and collectively they create a lot more CO2. They are also using resources. Unlike in liberal world, the real one has a bottom line. A ton of CO2 produced is the same no matter who produces it. You have to address the behavior that produces it, not go after the person.

You are not thinking systematically. If you raise the tax on carbon, you can lower it somewhere else and you can enact any sort of tax rebates or credits you can get the American people to accept. Do not try to give me this tax and poor BS. I have lived too long and seen too much to be taken in by it anymore. I am interested in addressing the CO2 problem. If you are too, welcome.

Posted by: Jack at March 28, 2007 9:26 AM
Comment #214138

Interesred in the CO2 problem? Yeah I am. Kudos to you Jack for the way you have stepped up to the plate on facing the reality of “our” emissions and “our” atmosphere. Unfortunately you are not representative of most republicans on the issue,yet. There is a concerted effort to spin people who are concerned about global warming as members of some religious cult and that global warming is some sort of religion or myth. That must stop. Its too simple to ignore: what we put into the atmosphere changes the atmosphere.

That said I’ve got some ideas.

—-Sequestration of carbon emissions from coal power plants. It can be done. It is expensive (I think), and potentially unreliable (seals can rupture and release the carbon anyway). But we can start now. The government may as well borrow a few more billion and just get started. We are really dependent on coal, and so is much of the rest of the world. Lets start using is better. If we lead China will follow.

—-No tax on any new car that gets 40mpg.

—-Tax breaks or incentives for efficient appliances and homes.

—-R&D money for solar power. There is real potential here.

—-Lets put up some f’n windmills already.

—-Start speading the word “Energy Efficiency is Patriotic”.


Good article Paul and thanks for letting vent a little.

Posted by: darren159 at March 28, 2007 11:14 AM
Comment #214147

darren

You will be surprised. Any Republican running for president this season will support efforts to address global warming. We just do not like the silly ones, such as Kyoto, that do not work and cost a lot. If Kyoto were implemented it would cause net environmental damage. We want the measures to address global environment, not redistribute income, punish SUV owners or support politicians’ pet projects.

Some supporters, BTW, are like a cult. Global warming is a problem, but it is not the end of the world. The world was warmer 1000 years ago and much much warmer during many times longer in the past. Warming is also getting blamed for all sort of things, such as the hurricane season in 2005 or the disappearance of frogs etc, that have nothing to do with it. There were lots of hurricanes before and frogs did really well during the very warm Mesozoic, when jungles covered the mid latitudes and temperate forests grew around the Arctic Circle.

Re our current problem - Carbon is the problem. Less carbon = good. More = bad. If you have a carbon tax you ARE giving tax breaks to carbon free solar & wind; you ARE giving tax breaks to energy efficient vehicles. You ARE giving tax breaks to efficient appliances.

The elegance of the carbon tax is precisely that it keeps politicians and bureaucrats out of the business of determining which people and technologies are virtuous. Those that use less carbon = good. That is all.

If you start larding in exceptions and breaks, the politicians do what they do best - make deals to advance their reelection prospects. Pretty soon you get subsidies for things that don’t work and taxes on things that do. After all, the inefficient “need” the help (as in the cries about “the poor”) to compete with the effective.

Re carbon sequestration, I wrote two articles about it. These things can work and it looks like they are. How do we encourage them. Carbon tax. You get deductions for NOT using carbon. See it works again.

This is a close to the Holy Grail at the nexus of economics and ecology as you will ever come. If you are interested in addressing the problem, you favor a carbon tax. You do not support it if you are interested just taxing or interfering with people’s lives.

You might want to broaden it a bit to include other greenhouse gases such as methane.

Posted by: Jack at March 28, 2007 12:17 PM
Comment #214150

Jack,

Huh? If you can’t get elected with these ideas, then they have zero chance of being effective. How’s that for systematic?

I actually was agreeing with you. What I disagreed with was LO’s let them eat cake attitude. It sounds wonderfully efficient and politically as well as morally stupid. In other threads you prefer tax credits over welfare..now you advocate letting the poor die off? What’s the difference between tax credits and carbon or tax subsidies for the poor?

Posted by: gergle at March 28, 2007 12:34 PM
Comment #214157

Gergle

Effective ideas are rarely popular. People want to be told they can have everything. They want to believe that can change the entire energy mix and have it cheaper and cleaner too. The great weakness of all politics and all government is the mendacity required to get elected and maintain popular support. That is the best arguement for limiting the scope of government.

The carbon tax can pass because the alternatives are worse. We need to succor the deserving poor, and that is where the tax credit comes in.

The difference between tax credit and exempting from carbon is how you get them. One is aimed at your state of being and the other at your behavior. You would get a tax credit based on your income, whether or not you use lots of carbon based energy. You would pay the tax based on your behavior. A poor person could increase the REAL value of his tax credit by using less carbon based fuel. He still has the incentive to use his intelligence and imagination to be part of the solution and not the problem.

It is true that a person who continues a profligate lifestyle - rich or poor - will suffer. I would do nothing to alleviate his pain. In fact if the carbon tax helps grease the skids on his highway to hell, so much the better. Fortunately, those who are sufficiently dumb, lazy or craven to fall into this category probably will not stir themselves to vote in any great numbers. That is a strength of government.

Posted by: Jack at March 28, 2007 1:51 PM
Comment #214158

Gergle

Besides, I was saying that I (me) could not get elected. I can be useful to the political system by advocating these sort of things, but by now you know that in the myriad of my ideas almost everybody would find something not to like and I have the unpolitician characteristic of not caring.

Posted by: Jack at March 28, 2007 1:54 PM
Comment #214160

Rhinehold:

I’m still against the fair tax because it is not fair. The rich get a reduction in tax and the poor get an increase in tax.

The carbon tax is a fixed tax for a fixed purpose: cutting down CO2. All of us, rich and poor, suffer from CO2, so we all must pay. However, since the tax will increase the price of gasoline, we should offer rebates to the poor.

Rebates may reduce the amount collected, but there will be plenty available to apply to alternate sources of energy.

Posted by: Paul Siegel at March 28, 2007 2:01 PM
Comment #214163

Paul or Ms Adrienne
This is an honest question. I disagree with both Paul and Jack about what should be done, but this just doesn’t make much sense and I would appreciate a little insight.

If a poor person spends $50 a month driving and contributes X amount of carbon now, wouldn’t a rebate just make it so that they could still contribute the same amount of carbon?
How would that lower or help the environment?

Posted by: kctim at March 28, 2007 2:18 PM
Comment #214165

“I’m still against the fair tax because it is not fair. The rich get a reduction in tax and the poor get an increase in tax.”

That’s not true. I’ve calculated the tax for the rich, poor, and in between. The people below poverty pay no tax under the fair tax plan. How can this be an increase?

I have a question. What percentage of carbon dioxide emmissions are man made?

Posted by: tomd at March 28, 2007 2:30 PM
Comment #214173

Jack,

O.K. That’s a little clearer. I think it’s a little convoluted to differentiate between a tax credit and a carbon tax…but if it makes you feel better…O.K.

I’m not sure why you seem to think that the poor will use more carbon than the wealthy… I doubt that’s an economic possiblity, unless you beleive eating beans is a significant source of carbon emissions :)

Posted by: gergle at March 28, 2007 3:42 PM
Comment #214180

Exchange income tax for a carbon tax? Please, that would imply a break-even situation. Unless you believe we not only spend all the taxes we now collect and many billions more, how would a carbon tax raise increased revenues to support even greater government spending.
I have lost respect for most of the writers on this blog by even considering this scheme. I have read countless posts by these same writers who bemoan our deficit spending and national debt. Now these same people see no problem with endless red ink being spent on a boondoggle. I lost respect for Al Gore when he began pedaling his lies and half-truths about global man-made warming.

Posted by: Jim at March 28, 2007 4:36 PM
Comment #214183

I forgot to mention that most of the writers on the blog also have written countless messages bemoaning the loss of American jobs. When our industry can no longer use fossil fuel to run the factories those jobs will go to China, India, Mexico and countless other countries exempted by Kyoto. We will become like the E.U. which is collapsing under the weight of this foolishness concerning the supposed global man-made warming. 151 countries of the world have no intention of signing onto Kyoto and watch their ecomonies and people become the poor of the world all in the name of a hair-brained scheme that purports to claim that we can control or affect the world’s climate.

Posted by: Jim at March 28, 2007 4:45 PM
Comment #214184

Gergle,

As I understand Jack, he’s distinguishing between a tax credit and an exemption from the tax, as opposed to between a tax credit and a carbon tax. His distinction is perfectly reasonable. If you simply provide a subset of the population with an exemption, than those exempted will have no incentive to use less carbon fuels. That’s why the Carbon Tax Center proposes a revenue neutral carbon tax with the carbon tax revenues used to reduce the payroll tax or distributed via a rebate (not related to consumption) such as that used by the Alaska Permanent Fund to rebate oil revenues the State of Alaska receives.

Adrienne and others,

The question of how to protect the poor is important and is addressed on the Carbon Tax Center web site in a paper titled Softening the Impact of Carbon Taxes.

Posted by: Dan at March 28, 2007 4:52 PM
Comment #214185

Gergle

There is a very big and substantial difference. The purpose of the carbon tax to reduce CO2 by making the use of CO2 producing fuels more expense. It is not a tax to raise revenue, but since all taxes raise revenue, we must address that part.

The tax credit gives money to the poor NOT based on what they paid in carbon taxes, but only because of their low incomes. If two individuals are have the same income, they will receive the same tax credit treatment. It does not matter if one paid $1000 in carbon tax and the other paid none. We are after behaviors here, not money.

Eating beans is a source of methane, which is a more potentent greenhouse gas than CO2.

The rich will probably pay more per person because they will consume more carbon fuel. But the richest 20% of the population and the poorest 20% have the same number of people. I would assume the lower 20% will use less fuel, but still significant total amount when we are talking about 60 million Americans.

And if a guy earning a million a year uses no carbon based fuels, he should not pay any carbon tax. Behaviors count, not status.

Jim

Government can raise taxes anyway and the Dems certainly will do that soon. We cannot stop them. The carbon tax is good because of the incidence of the tax, not the fact that it is a tax. The total amount the government takes from the economy is what counts. The worst types of taxes are those on captial gains and productive investment. The best kinds are those that target harmful activites. A carbon tax does that. Even if you do not believe in global warming, a tax that cuts into the profits of tin pots like Ahmadinejad or Chavez is a good thing.

Posted by: Jack at March 28, 2007 4:59 PM
Comment #214196

““I’m still against the fair tax because it is not fair. The rich get a reduction in tax and the poor get an increase in tax.”

That’s not true. I’ve calculated the tax for the rich, poor, and in between. The people below poverty pay no tax under the fair tax plan. How can this be an increase?

I have a question. What percentage of carbon dioxide emmissions are man made?”

I see what you’re saying, however it would greatly tilt the tax system to the favor of the rich. It would barely affect the super-rich however it would increase income inequality by allowing people to hoard ever larger amounts of wealth without doing any real work. If you have hundreds of millions of dollars, only a very miniscule percentage goes to buy material goods. With the rest you can stock up on investments, stock, real estate, and other passive ways of making money. Then of course no taxes (other than the “fair” tax only on consumption) will ever be applied to it. While in theory when you do spend it you’ll pay the fair tax, you could just use the money to buy things from other countries. This tax would of course be a dream come true for billionaires who inherited money and don’t want to ever work. A carbon tax, for example actually encourages positive, productive behavior. In this case it protects the environment (and US security) by helping to wean us off oil, and it should help the economy to by stimulating the growth of alternative energy. The so-called fair tax taxes everything the same, good or bad. A tax system that works to benefit society is better than one that doesn’t.

Posted by: mark at March 28, 2007 6:48 PM
Comment #214206

“I see what you’re saying, however it would greatly tilt the tax system to the favor of the rich.”

So, poor people pay less and middle income people pay less, but you don’t like it because the rich will also pay less?

A carbon tax as I understand it would be in addition to the income tax and not replace it.

The purpose of taxation is to pay the country’s debt. Not to shape policy.

Posted by: tomd at March 28, 2007 7:47 PM
Comment #214217

tomd

The tax system shapes behavior in every way. You learn in accounting 101 never to make any decision w/o figuring the tax consequences.

The current tax and government spending policies encourage oil consumption by subsidizing oil’s external costs.

The very fact that we tax income and not consumption builds in a bias to spend and acquire debt.

It is a given that tax policy is the strongest and most consistent way government shapes policy. It is better to make it right.

We are proposing that the carbon tax REPLACE others, BTW. Slapping on an additional tax would be harmful. Of course, the Dems will raise taxes in general, but there is nothing we can do to avoid that so we should minimize the harm.

Posted by: Jack at March 28, 2007 9:20 PM
Comment #214246

Jack,
I fully understand your distinction. I was only making a point that it’s difference amounts to an accounting ledger column…not reality.

While I think the idea has merit and moves us toward a consumption tax rather than an income tax, I have always been a believer that some kinds of income should be encouraged. Industrial and farming revenue might become discouraged through the vagaries of implementation and Wall Street might be seen as a green business. That wouldn’t be a good thing in my opinion. Perhaps after we shoot all the lawyers, we could start on the accountants.

Posted by: gergle at March 29, 2007 12:00 AM
Comment #214260

Jack:
“It is true that a person who continues a profligate lifestyle - rich or poor - will suffer. I would do nothing to alleviate his pain. In fact if the carbon tax helps grease the skids on his highway to hell, so much the better. Fortunately, those who are sufficiently dumb, lazy or craven to fall into this category probably will not stir themselves to vote in any great numbers. That is a strength of government.”

Jack must you always be so arrogant and nasty when you talk about anything having to do with the poor or the environment, or global climate change, or all of the above? We both seem to want the same thing here, but you not caring a fig about how poor people will have deal with these types of changes marks you as a belligerent, uncaring plutocrat. The difference between the rich and the poor who are “profligate” is that the rich will be able to simply go out and purchase hybrid cars and brand new super-efficient appliances and home heating systems to reduce their being taxed, but the poor won’t be able to.
In your arrogance and belligerence, you’re saying screw Gran and Grandpa who worry about being able to buy their meds and heat/cool their home, let alone put in a brand new heating/cooling systems. Screw Single Mom who considers herself lucky to have a car that actually runs so that she can get to daycare and work every morning, let alone buy a hybrid car. Screw Returning Iraq Veteran whose family is barely hanging on, and who simply can’t go out and buy a whole bunch of new super efficient appliances.
Americans who are struggling need large rebates to upgrade efficiently and do right by the environment and the entire planet. Period.

d.a.n., thanks for that interesting link.

Posted by: Adrienne at March 29, 2007 1:53 AM
Comment #214267


Jack,

I understand how the tax system is used. It is used to punish, reward, tempt and bribe. What I’m saying is that it shouldn’t be that way. Our tax system was established to fund the government.

I don’t have any problem with not subsidizing the oil companies. I think the oil companies should be standing or falling on their own. At the same time, I get tired of people complaining about the oil company’s “obscene profits”. I’m sure you ralize that their return on investment is less than most major industries.

I agree we should go to a consumption based system. It would solve this problem and many others. I favor the Fairtax Plan.

You say it is a given that tax policy is the strongest and most consistent way government shapes policy and I agree, but as I stated above, It shouldn’t be. Kind of like using a hammer to drive in a screw. If you are careful it will go, but it’s not good for the wood or the screw.

If this would REPLACE our entire income tax structure, it would certainly be worth looking at, but as I said…I like the Fairtax.

Posted by: tomd at March 29, 2007 4:14 AM
Comment #214277

Gergle

It is not mere accounting. It creates a change in behavior or at least the incentive for the change. The savings come only to those who do the right thing.

Adrienne

I am “screwing” with behavior not people. The “poor” can get a tax credit. They can adapt to it as they wish. They are empowered with choices.

Re the environment, carbon is carbon. If you consider it a problem you need a solution. I am arrogant about this and always have been. I was an environmentalist before I was a conservative and I was poor before I was not poor. I KNOW that even the poorest person has many choices each day. I believe in their worth as humans who make choices. That is a big difference between us. You see only victims; I see thinking people. I wonder who is more arrogant in this respect.

Tomd

I understand that you understood, but NO tax system can be neutral because people behave differently and most will seek to avoid taxes.

Posted by: Jack at March 29, 2007 8:59 AM
Comment #214297

Why tax carbon? It’s not like it matters, unless you buy into the fallacy that greenhouse gases are an issue we need to deal with. Here’s a clue: the relative amounts of greenhouse gases FOLLOWS the global temperature trend by a few hundred years - not the other way around. Besides it’ll just make other taxes go up as production of carbon goes down.

Nice sound bite, but no value behind it.

Posted by: EdB at March 29, 2007 12:21 PM
Comment #214327

EdB

I do buy into that fallacy, but even if I did not, a carbon tax is an elegant solution to many of our environmental and geopolitical problems. The use of carbon based fuels producing pollution other than CO2. Our our dependence on oil makes us dependent on unstable regimes that control most of the exportable oil.

Posted by: Jack at March 29, 2007 4:00 PM
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