Archive for Friday, March 8, 2013

Letter: The bottom line

March 8, 2013

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Controversy around whether a carbon tax should be introduced in the United States has begun to heat up after the comprehensive climate legislation was introduced in the Senate, which included, among other things, a carbon tax. Perhaps somewhat predictably, industries who base their profitability on the ability to use our atmosphere as a free sink for their pollution are objecting to such a measure, citing how it will affect their bottom line.

Hearing their arguments I couldn’t help but think back to the arguments against ending slavery, which opposed abolishment claiming that it would cripple agricultural industries whose profitability was based on the exploitation of slaves. The parallels are remarkable except the slave in this case is the atmosphere and our future is at stake.

Meanwhile, as the U.S. squabbles again over climate action, both South Africa and China have recently agreed to join the growing ranks of countries who are taxing carbon. Both are developing countries with much higher poverty levels, smaller GDPs, smaller historic emissions and far fewer emissions per capita, and yet they realize that they can no longer give free rein to polluters and are instead introducing such measures to enact a more just and sustainable paradigm of growth. How long will the world continue to wait for the U.S. to do likewise?

Comments

Richard Heckler 2 years ago

When all citizens in the USA that have respiratory problems can no longer live in the USA.

When corn and wheat can no longer be grown in Kansas.

When all perfectly manicured not natural green yards no longer can water their yards every day to soak in the toxic weed controls and to soak in the toxic chemical fertilizers.

Fred Mertz 2 years ago

Nice, when you don't have substance try to tie it to slavery or civil rights. It is a cheap and weak tactic that leads people to quickly dismiss any valid points you may actually have.

And what a crock that China is considered a developing nation.

Protecting our environment is extremely important. We must be stewards of our planet - it is our home. But, what we do must be meaningful and not just single out one group.

Want to put in place a carbon tax then make everyone pay - both those that produce products and those that use them. Why should the consumer get a pass?

But most importantly, make sure that their is data that can demonstrate the value of the tax. Show me how the tax will actually, not theoretically make a difference and then I will support it. Make it constructive and not just punitive.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years ago

"Want to put in place a carbon tax then make everyone pay - both those that produce products and those that use them."

What are you talking about? That's exactly what the carbon tax would do-- and coupled with a dividend, the tax is considerably less regressive.

Fred Mertz 2 years ago

How do you figure that the consumer shares equally when the tax would be paid back 100% to the public. Testimony on this issue suggested that each adult legal resident would get $3000 per year and families more. It went on to state that some would make money from the dividend.

So how is the consumer paying?

jafs 2 years ago

Do you have a source for that number?

I'm not saying you're wrong, I've just heard substantially lower figures mentioned, and I'm curious.

jafs 2 years ago

Thanks - that's interesting.

So, under that proposal, we'd get $500/month in dividends, which is rather substantial. I revise my earlier opinion that the dividend wouldn't be enough to make changes in one's lifestyle.

Of course, I don't know how much more expensive utilities would get - do you have a figure for that as well?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years ago

The tax is levied at the source of the carbon, but those costs will be passed on to the consumer (as all costs of production are.) So, clearly, consumers of carbon would be paying. It's really not that difficult.

The total amount of dividend payments made would be tied directly to the total amount of carbon taxes collected.

Yes, people who don't use much carbon might make money on this, but more likely, they'll be using the dividend on measures that reduce their carbon consumption even further. That's the whole point-- to create a substantial incentive to reduce carbon consumption.

Fred Mertz 2 years ago

So if the carbon tax is passed onto the consumer but the consumer gets the dividend to offset the cost being passed onto them so how is the consumer paying for it?

What is the point of the dividend if not to keep the consumer from paying for it?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years ago

"how is the consumer paying for it?"

With money.

"What is the point of the dividend"

To offset the regressive nature of consumption taxes, which would hit disproportionally hard against lower and middle income people. The dividend can be spent on anything, including alternatives to carbon-intensive goods and services, whose prices will be gradually increasing because of the gradually increasing carbon tax.

Why do so many people choose to be so willfully dense about this proposal?

Fred Mertz 2 years ago

The consumer is not paying for it if they get a dividend to offset the costs that might be passed onto them unless the cost passed onto them exceeds the dividend.

Ken Lassman 2 years ago

Let's break it down simpler: a carbon fee and dividend does two things: 1) send a clear economic signal that carbon emitting energy production and other carbon intensive activities are going to get increasingly less economically attractive over time as the carbon fee goes up from $15 to $20 and so on over time. This gives a good economic signal to investors that viable alternatives, ranging from more energy efficient appliances, shelter, transportation and the like would be a good investment to support as the demand grows. It also provides folks with some cash to be able to afford to purchase some of these less carbon intensive/energy efficient products through the fee, or, alternatively, to pay their increasing bills if that's the direction they choose to go.

The end result is that there is an economic incentive created to wean our culture of the carbon emissions that are threatening the very stability of our planetary climate that we have flourished under.

The key to the whole plan, of course, is to keep politicians and their fossil fuel benefactors from using the carbon fees for their own selfish interests or from siphoning it off for other uses that might even be desirable, like debt reduction, but slows the transition to the point that it no longer works as an incentive and our climate goes over the cliff anyway.

Water 2 years ago

Stop providing tax breaks for dependents.
Require Energy Star labels on homes and commercial buildings.

woodscolt 2 years ago

What is really important is not handing a debt to our "children" to have to pay off but it is ok to hand them an uninhabitable scorched earth to try to live on.

Armstrong 2 years ago

The carbon tax is a sham, it's another way for the govt to dig their greedy, inept fingers into what they view as the bottomless pockets of Americas business.

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