Establishment Politicians Using ‘Carbon Tax’ to Foil Trump

A number of mostly elderly very important persons have been compromised by the global warming hoax. The following wise men signed a tract: “The Conservative Case for Carbon Dividends.”

  • George Shultz - 96
  • James A Baker - 86
  • Martin Feldstein - 77
  • Thomas Stephenson - 74
  • Rob Walton - 72
  • Henry Paulson - 70
  • N. Gregory Mankiw - 59
  • Ted Halstead - 48

The carbon dividend tract was promoted in a Wall Street Journal article published on February 7th and signed by former Secretaries of State, Shultz and Baker. According to Shultz and Baker: “…there is mounting evidence of problems with the atmosphere that are growing too compelling to ignore.” That statement is simply wrong. There is no mounting evidence. Global temperature has been flat for 2 decades. The seas are not rising more than usual and the weather is not more extreme than usual. These important persons have simply fallen for the global warming hoax.

Ironically, just as our gang of global warming gentlemen launch their campaign for a carbon tax, the latest global temperature estimates from the government have been exposed as fraudulent, and inspired by politics, by a highly placed whistle blower.

Their carbon tax scheme is supposed to begin with a $40 per ton carbon tax. The proceeds from the carbon tax would be distributed to all persons with a valid Social Security number. This would appear to include every man, woman and child in the country except for illegal aliens who have not figured out how to get a Social Security number. Children are entitled to such a number at birth. Purportedly, this would provide a family of 4 with approximately $2000 per year.

Although the global warming gentlemen say they want to tax carbon, it is apparent that they are confused and are really proposing a tax on carbon dioxide (CO2), not carbon. Their numbers only make sense if that is what they are proposing. U.S. emissions of CO2 are about 5500 million metric tons per year, or 6,000 million 2000-pound tons. Assuming that 320 million people have Social Security numbers, or will quickly get one when they become lucrative, the $40 per ton tax on CO2 works out to $750 per person or $3,000 for a family of 4, not $2,000, as they state. A tax on carbon as opposed to CO2 would provide less than one third as much money, or about $800 for a family of 4.

If you work through the details, a $40 per ton CO2 tax would increase the cost of coal-generated electricity by 4 cents per kilowatt hour (KWH). For electricity generated by less-carbon natural gas, the increase would be about 2 cents per KWH. The cost of gasoline or diesel fuel would increase by about 12 cents per gallon.  This amount of taxation is not enough to substantially change the use of fossil fuels or greatly reduce emissions of CO2. It would slightly advantage the use of natural gas compared to coal for generating electricity.

Wealthier people, with more automobiles and larger houses, would pay much more for energy than they would get back from the government. Low income people with fewer cars and smaller houses, particularly in areas with little coal use and mild climates, like California, would get back far more than they spent for energy. The tax would be very popular with lower income people, who would see it as free money from the government. That would ensure political support for the tax. At least that is what the carbon tax wise men assume.

The carbon dividend is designed to fight populism (i.e. Trump). The authors want to “…redirect this populist energy in a socially beneficial direction.” By handing large sums of money to the less prosperous citizens who voted for Trump, these wise men think they can defeat Trumpism and regain political control for themselves and their friends. This is an unholy alliance between global warming believers and establishment political forces that have been shut out of power by the Trump victory. Trump’s policy is to restore jobs that have been exported to low wage countries. The carbon tax advocates want to buy the Trump voters by giving them cash rather than jobs. Global warming provides a convenient excuse for distributing cash.

The carbon tax is supposed to increase according to a regular schedule. These wise men seem to assume that if we simply tax carbon enough, the carbon will disappear due to the workings of the free market. The problem with this theory is that the market is not actually free. For example, if the government declared that all electricity should be generated with nuclear energy and all automobiles should be fueled by natural gas, carbon dioxide emissions would be reduced by more than half. Considering that the other half of carbon dioxide emissions disappear into the ocean, U.S. responsibility for carbon dioxide growth in the atmosphere would be eliminated. But this approach is not likely to emerge from the workings of the free market unless prompted by government guidance, research and changed regulations. Currently the government guidance promotes windmills, solar power, and electric cars. These are overpriced non-solutions.

The idea of reducing U.S. carbon emissions makes no sense because most carbon emissions come from Asia, not the U.S.  China alone burns 4 times as much coal as we do. Reducing carbon emissions also makes no sense because the evidence is rapidly accumulating that CO2 is a minor actor in the Earth’s climate. Further, CO2 is beneficial for agriculture. Crops grow better with less water when the amount of CO2 in the air is increased.

What level of carbon dioxide tax would be required to actually cause a substantial reduction in CO2 emissions? At $40 per ton there will be some effect due to a gradual shift away from coal to natural gas for electricity generation. This shift is already taking place due to the current low price of natural gas and the disproportionate regulatory burden placed on coal. If all coal generation were replaced by natural gas, national CO2 emissions would drop by about 15%. This would probably not happen anytime soon with a $40 tax, but it might happen faster with an $80 per ton tax that would increase further the cost per KWH differential for coal versus gas.

The carbon tax is a deeply corrupt idea. By handing out money, using bad science as an excuse, a discredited political class hopes to regain power. It is hard to see how this scheme would favor either Republicans or Democrats. Both parties would be obliged to support the carbon tax if a large part of the population is getting “free” money. The part of the population that would lose money might not notice the increase in the cost of electricity and gasoline, and they too would get checks from the government. Although the wise men propose that all the money collected would be returned to the citizens, the temptation to skim part of the tax for the government would become almost irresistible. If the carbon tax actually succeeded in eliminating carbon emissions, then there would be no money to distribute.

A somewhat similar scheme is going strong. A large part of the corn crop is converted to overpriced ethanol that is mixed with gasoline and burned up in cars. The scheme is justified by fake claims that it reduces global warming. Corn ethanol is popular in corn states, particularly politically crucial Iowa. Most people don’t notice the increase in the cost of gasoline, but the corn farmers notice the higher price of corn due to the ethanol mandates and subsidies. Such schemes are economic and political poison. Taking money from one group and giving it to another does not enhance prosperity.

Norman Rogers writes often on environmental and political issues. He maintains a website.

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