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    don't confuse us with the facts..., 2008-08-09 09:54:00 | Main | It turns out John Edwards is l..., 2008-08-09 19:20:40

    fred l. smith jr. doesn't make a lot of sense to me:

    Fred Smith, the welfare queen founder of the tax-payer subsidized sinkhole for Exxon's windfall profits called the "Competitive Enterprise Institute", jumps down the otherwise unremarkable throat of a jibber-jab on carbon policy sponsored by Reason magazine:

    Our ability to do anything about CO2 increases for the next half-century is now obviously nonexistent. And the tensions we could create by pushing the world into some form of energy rationing, I think, are underestimated. Recall that in World War II, one of the incidents that pushed the war party into power in Japan was an energy boycott on that Asian nation. We are going to do that again with China. It doesnt make a lot of sense to me.

    Obviously, it's not obvious, nor is energy coupled to greenhouse emissions, so there's no energy rationing implied, obviously, to some sort of rationing of said emissions by some sort of implied price mechanism, let alone some sort of energy boycott against China nobody seems to have suggested - for this reason, anyway, though they have for every other. Obviously, if the PRC is predicting a 10% loss of output in their 300 billion dollar ag sector, nevermind the annual 7% glacier loss reducing the supply of hydroelectric power and fresh water and irrigation resources, they've got their asses pretty far into the fire already. But China isn't the problem, even after years of record growth, with fewer past emissions to account for, the carbon footprint of the average Chinese citizen is less than a fifth of that of an American. An energy boycott against us would seem more likely.

    We must do something. Perhaps. But why must that something be the expansion of state power over our lives?

    That, from a classic example of a barnacle that feeds off the bounties that got us into this mess, is classic. Fred Smith pays himself his very comfortable salary with tax incentivized donations from large fossil energy firms, which, to quote Dick Cheney, "government involvement makes ... a unique commodity ... both the overwhelming control of oil resources by national oil companies and governments as well as in the consuming nations where oil products are heavily taxed and regulated", nevermind subsidized and supported as a way of life from the federal level to the local. From naval protection to production tax credits to the occasional trillion dollar occupation, to the state supported highway system at the expense of cheaper, more efficient mass transit that in turn was "deregulated" to shift liability to the public for private profit, to regulatory disincentives for end-use efficiency, to the zoning laws that restrict population density and spawn long commutes over sprawling heat islands, the simple amount of poor design of essential public goods that have benefitted Fred Smith's donor base since the invention of the automobile - and at the expense of alternatives we're now turning back to - is simply incalculable. And he wants to talk about costs.

    Fred Smith isn't afraid of a carbon tax increasing state power over our lives, he's afraid of state power ceasing its support of his.

    So I take it back. Fred Smith Jr. makes perfect sense, afterall. Inviting him to this debate is like asking the pig at the trough to address portion sizes in the kitchen.

    On the up side, I still find Ronald Bailey's argument for a carbon tax over cap-and-trade fairly convincing, and have to admit to some concern that the proposed carbon markets will be a massive swindle. This comment from Northwestern economics prof Lynne Kiesling may be apropos:

    Kiesling: In this case of Chicago Climate Exchange, the biggest participants are Ford Motor and American Electric Power—the largest coal-fired generation owners in the country. So for them, it’s a strategic action. They’re hoping to forestall regulation but also it’s a P.R. and reputation capital building exercise.

:: posted by buermann @ 2008-08-09 15:48:50 CST | link

      The carbon markets have been an enormous, value-sucking boondoggle so far. Big to-do about in the FT a little while ago. Personal carbon permits look even worse. Much as I'd like to make people suffer and feel their carbon contributions where it hurts, I can't bring myself to support them (although I have applied for a job as a jackbooted carbon cop).

      The carbon tax, if done with some effort at sanity, would be better, but I'm holding out for a solution that includes good ole Fred shucking the culture of dependency that's ruined his character, and joining me on the beat; making do on the princely salary that goes with it.

    posted by Zomg @ 2008-08-10 00:09:29 | link

    go ahead, express that vague notion

    your turing test:

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