The green money machine gears up

Last week I wrote a piece on Al Gore's global warming tour   No sooner were the pixels burned into my LCD display than Washington Post columnist Sebastian Mallaby affirmed my wildest suspicions.

In Monday' s Post, Mallaby wrote a column advocating carbon taxes to alleviate global warming echoing my previous assertion perfectly. Almost certainly, Mallaby almost certainly did not get this from the American Thinker, thus one can reasonably infer that this notion is being presently discussed at self important confabs like the World Economic Forum in Davos and the Aspen Ideas Festival both places you're likely to find poeple such as Al Gore and Mr. Mallaby.

Mallaby wrote a book about the World Bank so he's been a regular  on the international finance jet set circuit.  I haven't read his book but if it's anything like this column it's probably not something I'm likely to bother with. Consistent with the false accepted conventional wisdom, Mallaby of course declares there is no doubt that global warming is happening; then, he says we are being lied to in that we cannot confront climate change without raising taxes and regulations. He argues that we need to impose higher taxes to incentivize people and industry to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions.  He calls it incentive, I call it coercion.

To make his point, he laments the failure of hybrid cars, which he attributes to a lack of subsidies. He then suggests that Norwegians are injecting their carbon dioxide back into the sea floor because of carbon tax liability. He drones on for several more paragraphs citing some other rather suspect examples that don't have much more than surface validity.

You don't have do much more than scratch the surface to demonstrate the fallacies of his examples. Ford and GM were given as much as $1 billion for hybrid car technology development. Toyota and Honda got nothing and look who has the cars. I cannot speak specifically to the Norway case but I can say that they probably are injecting carbon dioxide back into the sea floor for reasons other than avoiding taxes. Most notably, gases are regularly injected into production oil fields to raise pressures.

The imposition of taxes quite often result in adverse unintended consequences. Despite mountains of real world applied experience people that think like Mallaby insist only government knows best how to coax the desired result out people.  Japan spent most of the 90s futilely running up deficits funding fiscal stimulus programs. We could not devise a better real world laboratory to show that government spending is dead end.

Taxes create perverse incentives. The $70 EU airfare tax I mentioned in my last column is a prime example of this. An airfare tax will raise billions but what expenditures should it cover? Scientific grants, daycare, social welfare, fight attendant's pensions, or carbon dioxide sequestration (pumping CO2 into the earth). I am reasonably confident that there is no proven technology available to measurably offset carbon emissions. So where's the money going to go? I suspect it will wind up in some bureaucrat's pocket in Brussels.

The very vagueness of global warming and the lack of any specific purpose make carbon dioxide taxes untenable. Advocating them under these circumstances is both wrong and irresponsible. 

Christopher Alleva  7 14 06

Last week I wrote a piece on Al Gore's global warming tour   No sooner were the pixels burned into my LCD display than Washington Post columnist Sebastian Mallaby affirmed my wildest suspicions.

In Monday' s Post, Mallaby wrote a column advocating carbon taxes to alleviate global warming echoing my previous assertion perfectly. Almost certainly, Mallaby almost certainly did not get this from the American Thinker, thus one can reasonably infer that this notion is being presently discussed at self important confabs like the World Economic Forum in Davos and the Aspen Ideas Festival both places you're likely to find poeple such as Al Gore and Mr. Mallaby.

Mallaby wrote a book about the World Bank so he's been a regular  on the international finance jet set circuit.  I haven't read his book but if it's anything like this column it's probably not something I'm likely to bother with. Consistent with the false accepted conventional wisdom, Mallaby of course declares there is no doubt that global warming is happening; then, he says we are being lied to in that we cannot confront climate change without raising taxes and regulations. He argues that we need to impose higher taxes to incentivize people and industry to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions.  He calls it incentive, I call it coercion.

To make his point, he laments the failure of hybrid cars, which he attributes to a lack of subsidies. He then suggests that Norwegians are injecting their carbon dioxide back into the sea floor because of carbon tax liability. He drones on for several more paragraphs citing some other rather suspect examples that don't have much more than surface validity.

You don't have do much more than scratch the surface to demonstrate the fallacies of his examples. Ford and GM were given as much as $1 billion for hybrid car technology development. Toyota and Honda got nothing and look who has the cars. I cannot speak specifically to the Norway case but I can say that they probably are injecting carbon dioxide back into the sea floor for reasons other than avoiding taxes. Most notably, gases are regularly injected into production oil fields to raise pressures.

The imposition of taxes quite often result in adverse unintended consequences. Despite mountains of real world applied experience people that think like Mallaby insist only government knows best how to coax the desired result out people.  Japan spent most of the 90s futilely running up deficits funding fiscal stimulus programs. We could not devise a better real world laboratory to show that government spending is dead end.

Taxes create perverse incentives. The $70 EU airfare tax I mentioned in my last column is a prime example of this. An airfare tax will raise billions but what expenditures should it cover? Scientific grants, daycare, social welfare, fight attendant's pensions, or carbon dioxide sequestration (pumping CO2 into the earth). I am reasonably confident that there is no proven technology available to measurably offset carbon emissions. So where's the money going to go? I suspect it will wind up in some bureaucrat's pocket in Brussels.

The very vagueness of global warming and the lack of any specific purpose make carbon dioxide taxes untenable. Advocating them under these circumstances is both wrong and irresponsible. 

Christopher Alleva  7 14 06