Holman Jenkins, over at the WSJ, has some thoughts on the CNN climate show.
CNN’s seven-hour climate town hall with the Democratic presidential candidates was the ratings bomb you expected, and no wonder since there was little debate.
It gets better from there.
There is much else going on, in which journalists are but lockstep automatons. And here it is: With their decision to resort to a strategy of hysterical exaggerations, vilifications and hackneyed partisanship, the greens have now succeeded in convincing voting publics that any climate strategy must be catastrophic to their lifestyles, transferring trillions from their pockets to green special interests.
Worse, voters are right. Many climate campaigners are more interested in social revolution than in climate science. Some are more interested in expressing their craving for humanity’s death and engaging in apocalyptic playacting than in improving the human condition.
That’s about right.
Here is where I disagree, somewhat, with Jenkins.
A carbon tax would hardly be prohibitive. Weitzman advocated $40 a ton—the equivalent of 36 cents per gallon of gasoline. Such a tax could be implemented without raising the overall tax burden; it could be used to trim taxes on work, saving and investment, improving the economy overall. It could be embraced and copied by other nations out of self-interest rather than self-abnegation (unlike the absurd Green New Deal).
How did such a modest and potentially beneficial adjustment to the tax code become virtually undiscussable?
Simple answer: because that is not what actually gets implemented. When the carbon tax was implemented in Australia, for example, the revenue was used to expand the welfare state – not reduce the tax burden. Worse – income tax rates to lower income individuals were increased.
Now there is an argument to having a carbon tax where that tax is considered as part of the overall tax system. Then we would have to consider the dead weight losses associated with a carbon tax and the dead weight losses associated with the taxes that it replaces. This would involve an honest debate and evaluation of the technical merits and demerits of a carbon tax. I have zero confidence given on what we have seen to date that such a debate could or would be possible.