It’s economics stupid

econ101I should have been an economist. This fact came home to me Monday evening at a Montgomery County Green Party Meeting. As the earnest activists discussed the importance of defeating a proposal to loosen pesticide regulations, I found myself utterly uninterested in this objectively important battle. The two issues that matter to me more than any other are economic injustice – more particularly the wealth and income chasm between the ultrarich in America and everybody else, most particularly the tens of millions impoverished by conservanomics – and the onrushing environmental cataclysm wrought by anthropogenic global warming (AGW).

While the first of these concerns is inarguably economic in nature the second might seem closer in spirit to the aforementioned yawn-inducing pesticide battle. My passion for AGW certainly stems from concern for the millions of species inhabiting our green earth and the desire for the glories of bio-diversity and sustainability to be passed on to future generations. But my solution is pure economics – let’s tax the hell out of fossil fuels. In contrast, I can’t identify as simple a response to the problem of dangerous pesticides – a continuing the ban is proposed but that seems so blunt and inelegant and, in fact, may prove problematic in light of our densely populated hungry planet. It may be more essential to reduce population by attrition first before cutting the planet’s food-generating capacity.

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3 Responses to It’s economics stupid

  1. Shade says:

    It is too bad you have such a poor & simplistic understanding of economics Hal. In light of our densely populated hungry planet, instantly taxing the hell out of fossil fuels (as you say) is as problematic as instantly banning pesticides (though I could agree on a goal to more slowly phase out both fossil fuels and many current ag practices by the use of moderate taxes & new laws).

    Look at the financial instability that has been caused by the market forces that recently halved the price of oil & gasoline. Your immediate Draconian tax would have a much more serious & detrimental effect. Unlike with the fall in the price of oil, there are no acceptable alternative marketplace actions immediately possible (at this time) if you double the price of fossil fuels. All your arbitrarily imposed tax would create is an inability for people to purchase the energy they need to conduct business and survive (even given your your proposed but impossible to fairly implement Soviet-style income redistribution plan that would work no better here than there). The likely outcome would be mass starvation, disease, and perhaps wars for resources. (In my opinion the world economy already sits on the brink of disaster; your plan if implemented could tip things over the edge.)

    More moderate new laws and taxes have the advantage of allowing for a more predictable (and if necessary a more modifiable) transition. This Draconian carbon-tax of yours is more a religion than any type of serious academic proposal that anyone but those already converted (to your religion) can take seriously. I don’t know why I even bother to respond to your nonsense, except that in large part I agree with your ultimate goals and I get tired of you and your ilk repeatedly shooting yourself in the foot (& thus being marginalized and accomplishing nothing).

  2. halginsberg says:

    We disagree on the availability of alternatives, as shown here, http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/vermont-city-come-rely-100-percent-renewable-energy/, and the disruption that would transpire if the tax revenues are immediately returned to the citizenry as I urge in the linked article I posted late last year..

    • Shade says:

      Here is the problem with your idea Hal. Let’s for the sake of argument pretend that nuclear energy is the Holy Grail of alternative energy (though it really doesn’t matter which magical alternative energy sources we ultimately utilize). So with your idea, we instantly double the price of all existing fossil fuels, and we force everyone towards nuclear.

      Is there enough nuclear energy currently available to supply the world at this point? No! It would take perhaps 10-20 years and a massive diversion of funds (that are currently being used for other necessities like food, shelter, education, healthcare, and other technologies) just to start planning and building such an infrastructure. Perhaps you could rebate money to some to avoid the worst of hardships, but you can’t afford to rebate money to everyone… not even close to everybody, because to start building our new magical green infrastructure requires a massive diversion of funds for the investment.

      Given the “dire nature” of global warming, would it be wise to instantly force such an investment? Probably not. The Soviets tried a virtually 100% controlled economy. It didn’t work there and it won’t work well here either. We aren’t that smart, and we are equally corrupt. In spite of your good intentions, what you would actually create is boondoggles and unintended consequences. It turns out that many green alternative energy schemes are not really so green once you start implementing them on the massive scale necessary to supply the world.

      So the answer? Simply a more moderate approach. A carbon tax? Yes, just not a Draconian one. The recent halving of oil prices has given us a tremendous opportunity to relatively painlessly implement a carbon tax. And presented correctly, I believe this is something we could get the public to support (unlike your Draconian pipe-dreams).

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