October 2019 Open Thread

Welcome to October.

67 thoughts on “October 2019 Open Thread

  1. Eric Sundwall

    The town of Kinderhook is having a major party meltdown between two very mediocre candidates. So glad I’m not a NAPper in this race, now that we have ballot access. The fear of winning would be too great. Can’t imagine the line of supplicants, sycophants and scarred individuals who would be in my Universe right. Go big NY Libertarians the protest is better than the reality.

  2. robert capozzi

    BR and others,

    You might read up on the subject. Here’s a start:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Land_value_tax

    You also might look into a recent Nobel Prize winning economist named Nordhaus who is advocating for a “carbon dividend.” It’s a view I’ve been toying with for at least a decade, and I don’t — at least — see anything fascist about it! 😉

  3. dL

    You might read up on the subject. Here’s a start:

    Economist Fred Foldvary is a definitive source on geolibertarianism. He was active in Cali LP politics at one time.

    Nordhaus who is advocating for a “carbon dividend.”

    We’ve had this argument before, but I don’t see any relationship between carbon taxes and the single land tax. A carbon tax is either a pigouvian tax or a consumption tax.

  4. Jared

    dL: “Economist Fred Foldvary is a definitive source on geolibertarianism. He was active in Cali LP politics at one time.”

    Seconded. There should still be a podcast uploaded to YouTube in which Foldvary debated (Rothbard proxy) Walter Block on the topic.

    Another great reference is Dan Sullivan, who was active in the Allegheny Co. or Pittsburgh LP–I don’t recall which–and who I’m convinced is some sort of LVT wizard. His knowledge of Georgism and related issues is staggering.

  5. dL

    There should still be a podcast uploaded to YouTube in which Foldvary debated (Rothbard proxy) Walter Block on the topic.

  6. dL

    btw, Block’s Laffer curve objection to the single land tax is ignorant at best, at worst a demonstration of the folly of consciously treating land like a standard capital good. Land is not a widget.

  7. robert capozzi

    I like Foldvary’s theoretical work as well. I find it politically unripe, however. The Geoists offer a more sellable construct generally than atomistic NAP Fundamentalists. In effect and as I understand them, they view a nation’s natural resources as the citizenry’s property. Individual property rights begin where a person or business IMPROVES those natural resources.

    A carbon dividend is a riper idea, politically speaking. It addresses the potentially catastrophic negative externality of air pollution and excessive carbon emissions in a sensible, market-oriented manner.

  8. NewFederalist

    Thanks, JR for introducing something other than “how many angels can dance on the head of a tax collector” into this thread!

  9. dL

    Thanks, JR for introducing something other than “how many angels can dance on the head of a tax collector” into this thread!

    I would say land injustice and homelessness is a pretty relevant political topic these days

  10. Jared

    RC: “The Geoists offer a more sellable construct generally than atomistic NAP Fundamentalists.”

    The NAP is not restricted to a single theory of property. I think most geolibertarians would argue LVT is consistent with the NAP. Deontological anarcho-capitalists don’t see it that way because they subscribe to a property philosophy that conflates land and capital.

    “In effect and as I understand them, they view a nation’s natural resources as the citizenry’s property.”

    Unownable commons, not jointly or collectively owned. It’s a subtle distinction, but one which makes a world of philosophical difference. For example, the people (or democratic government) have no legitimate authority to deprive an individual of his or her rightful share of land value.

    ,Individual property rights begin where a person or business IMPROVES those natural resources.”

    Locke might have provided the best way to determine how land titles are bestowed, but homesteading does not create a natural right to the land as allodial property. Ideally it would secure only the legal privilege of exclusive access.

    “A carbon dividend is a riper idea, politically speaking.”

    Maybe. But if the goal of this Pigouvian/sin tax is to reduce carbon emissions, then its success means the dividend value decreases, and people lose income with a reduction in air pollution. LVT is a much firmer foundation for a basic income guarantee, and fines targeting industrial pollution should be based on their devaluation of the natural commons.

  11. dL

    The NAP is not restricted to a single theory of property. I think most geolibertarians would argue LVT is consistent with the NAP.

    No it’s not, given that, say, the majority of the historical anarchist tradition views private property itself as aggression. Individualist anarchism(in the vein of Tucker or Proudhon) stays within the liberal tradition vis a vis private property but views any rent from such as a form of legalized plunder. Anarcho-capitalism is no longer something I take seriously. It’s just proven to be grift anarchism for people who hate the left . Geolibertarianism begins with the presumption of “land is part of the commons,” and I imagine most of its adherents could give a rats ass what Walter Block thinks are NAP violations.

    Unownable commons, not jointly or collectively owned. It’s a subtle distinction

    It’s not that subtle of a distinction. The commons is like, say, open source software. Collectivism is like requiring a real Id to enter a public building.

    But if the goal of this Pigouvian/sin tax is to reduce carbon emissions, then its success means the dividend value decreases, and people lose income with a reduction in air pollution.

    Yes. Tobacco taxes and vaping tells you all you need to know regarding the fate of pigouvian taxes that are relied upon as a source of public financing. Alternatives are either banned or taxed as a similar negative externality under a pretense of a manufactured moral panic.

  12. robert capozzi

    j,
    I don’t see a carbon tax and sin taxes as the same. A carbon tax taxes something that generally has trivial efffects on the individual level, but the cumulative effect could be globally catastrophic. Sin taxes are designed to dissuade individual behavior that could be catastrophic for the individual.

    A carbon tax rate could/should be increased over time.

  13. dL

    A carbon tax taxes something that generally has trivial efffects on the individual level

    A 20% increase in one’a utility bill and gasoline costs is not trivial for a lot of people, Bob.

    but the cumulative effect could be globally catastrophic.

    I would take claims of global catastrophe more seriously if folk weren’t trying to wrap some income redistribution scheme around a pigovian tax, and if the same folk went after the low hanging fruit of military spending. If one doesn’t advocate for severe reductions in the single biggest planetary polluter(US military), then I have to question the sincerity of one’s climate emergency convictions.

    Sin taxes are designed to dissuade individual behavior that could be catastrophic for the individual.

    One man’s sin is another’s healthy pleasure. Hail Satan!

  14. Eric Sundwall

    Richard,

    Town Supervisor position in this case. The Democrat kept a non-Democrat from attaining the nomination based on their bylaws. Folks are upset as a result.

    Unfortunately, my baiting of Mr. Capozzi didn’t work in this case, so the point is kind of moot. There has not been an insurgence of local office seekers since the LPNY obtained ballot access. My tease involves those who claim the baby steps are necessary to achieve “success” electorally. My assertion is that quality individuals in a bad situation, don’t really have a chance due to the jaded electorate, the immutable expectation of the conservative/liberal either/or and the utter banality of the offices in question.

    I’ll probably just keep working on my stand-up routine, rather than wait for Root’s Teeth Are Awesome to come back and inject some levity on IPR. Didn’t B. Holtz lay down the Foldavy tracts in 2006?

  15. robert capozzi

    J: Unownable commons, not jointly or collectively owned. It’s a subtle distinction, but one which makes a world of philosophical difference. For example, the people (or democratic government) have no legitimate authority to deprive an individual of his or her rightful share of land value.

    Me: Please clarify. Most — L and non-L — would say that land is ownable.

    Also, I’ve been toying with the idea of expanding the “tax” base for carbon dividends by having a second source of revenue: Carbon tariffs. Goods exported from, say, China and India would be tariffed at a higher rate, perhaps France at a lower rate. Products from nations that lowered their pollution levels would have their rate lowered annually, those whose emissions increased would have their tariff rate increased. This would allow citizens to defend themselves from the creeping assault that high-polluting nations are imposing on the RoW.

  16. Jared

    RC: “I don’t see a carbon tax and sin taxes as the same. A carbon tax taxes something that generally has trivial efffects on the individual level, but the cumulative effect could be globally catastrophic. Sin taxes are designed to dissuade individual behavior that could be catastrophic for the individual.”

    Pigouvian taxes are taxes on negative externalities. They’re intended to redress a market failure by ensuring market prices account for the full costs of production. Sin taxes are taxes levied on behaviors deemed socially undesirable, to lower demand. The former corrects market distortions, whereas the latter creates them. If a carbon tax is premised on internalizing externalized production costs, then it’s Pigouvian. If it’s designed to discourage or punish, reduce or eliminate carbon consumption because fossil fuels are “bad”, then it’s a sin tax.

    “Please clarify. Most — L and non-L — would say that land is ownable.”

    Ownership is not a right so much as a bundle of rights. For Georgists, a title to a lot does not entail exclusive rights to the land’s economic rent. Jefferson wrote to Madison, “The earth belongs in usufruct to the living.” Right-libertarians generally admit no degrees of property but take ownership to mean nothing short of unlimited, absolute control over the thing possessed.

  17. robert capozzi

    J,

    Yes, I don’t think fossil fuels are bad, per se. An individual burning fossil fuels harms no one else, for the most part. As I see it, the externality is a function of the cumulative damage done by billions of actors.

    For me, the Georgist construct has a lot of appeal and strikes me generally as a more serviceable model. But it IS a construct, just as any rule of law is.

    If we start with how we view the air, we can eventually make the same case for the ground. The case for the air being a shared resource strikes me as a stronger one, especially as a starting point.

  18. robert capozzi

    SG,

    Thanks for the link on Nordhaus. The argument is too in-the-weeds for me, at least. I simply appreciate the idea of taxing pollution and paying it out as a dividend. The specifics of how that might be enacted is above my paygrade. Which discount rate to use, ditto.

    And who the dude’s nephew is is — to me — completely irrelevant.

  19. Jim

    Jared: Jefferson wrote to Madison, “The earth belongs in usufruct to the living.”

    In that letter Jefferson said that if someone owned land and died while still owing debts, the living were not obligated to pay those debts. People should not take on debt for a longer term than they can reasonably be expected to pay in their lifetime. If they die before their debt is paid, the inheritors may pay the debt out of generosity, but not obligation.

    Jefferson said that, if someone with property dies, the land, by natural right, is then owned by the first occupant, which would generally be the wife or children. And by that natural right of being a new owner, the new owner has no obligation to pay the debts of the previous owner. It is not by natural right, but by law, that the inheritors of property are obligated to pay the debt of the deceased. A law with which Jefferson apparently disagreed.

    Jefferson said this was equally true for government debt. If one generation takes on government debt and uses the money to party itself to death, the succeeding generation has no obligation to repay those loans. And it was also true for government law. Government law is only valid on those who made the law while living. When they die, successive generations are not bound to that law. How that would work in practice, I don’t know, other than through Panarchy. I’ve never heard that Jefferson supported that, though.

    How does that Jefferson quote support Georgism?

  20. Jim

    SocraticGadfly https://foreignpolicy.com/2018/12/06/the-nobel-prize-for-climate-catastrophe/

    “A striking new poll from Yale’s Program on Climate Change Communication shows that 70 percent of Americans believe that environmental protection is more important than growth—and this is true even in deeply Republican states. Another poll has found that 70 percent of people in middle- and high-income nations believe that overconsumption is putting our planet and society at risk. Similar majorities also believe that we should strive to buy and own less, and that doing so would not compromise our well-being.”

    Stated preference vs revealed preference.

  21. dL

    How does that Jefferson quote support Georgism?

    Jim, it is well known that the classical economists, Adam Smith et al, treated land as a separate factor of production from capital goods and generally favorably viewed the taxation of ground rent as the preferred fiscal sources of government. And the obvious “founding father” to peg georgism to is Thomas Paine. Georgism is hardly alien to the so-called classical liberal tradition.

  22. dL

    Stated preference vs revealed preference.

    I would agree. Americans certainly have a puritanical streak but not when it comes to consumption.

  23. robert capozzi

    As a general observation, I’ve noticed that NAP Fundamentalists will quote someone like Jefferson as if it’s “proof” of something. I did it, too, when I was in the cult challenging the cult of the omnipotent state. If someone whom we generally resonate with says something, however, it’s not “proof” of anything. For me, quotes can be a great device if someone of great wisdom said something that is so well put that paraphrasing doesn’t do the point justice, only the actual quote will do.

    It’s mildly interesting if Paine or Jefferson were proto-Georgists. That’s about it.

  24. Jared

    Jim,

    You wrote, “Jefferson said that, if someone with property dies, the land, by natural right, is then owned by the first occupant, which would generally be the wife or children.”

    Actually, to the contrary, he said no other individual has a natural right to take exclusive possession of the deceased man’s land. Societal laws govern land inheritance. In the state of nature, it reenters the commons:

    “The portion occupied by any individual ceases to be his when himself ceases to be, and reverts to the society. If the society has formed no rules for the appropriation of its lands in severality, it will be taken by the first occupants. These will generally be the wife and children of the decedent. If they have formed rules of appropriation, those rules may give it to the wife and children, or to some one of them, or to the legatee of the deceased. So they may give it to his creditor. But the child, the legatee, or creditor takes it, not by any natural right, but by a law of the society of which they are members, and to which they are subject.”

    On that basis he draws his conclusions. Nothing here is incompatible with the Georgist approach, which I believe it actually implies. I’m happy to concede that, in an anarchic state of nature, something akin to a mutualist arrangement should prevail. Take that philosophy of real property, add political civilization, and you end up with a system like geolibertarianism.

    Thomas Paine is the go-to American founding father for Georgists, though, especially his pamphlet Agrarian Justice in which he couldn’t be more explicit.

  25. Jared

    RC: “As a general observation, I’ve noticed that NAP Fundamentalists will quote someone like Jefferson as if it’s ‘proof’ of something. I did it, too, when I was in the cult challenging the cult of the omnipotent state.”

    That has not been my experience with “NAP fundamentalists”, unless by “someone like Jefferson” you mean Murray N. Rothbard. You’re more likely to observe the apotheosis of founding fathers in the Constitution Party.

    “If someone whom we generally resonate with says something, however, it’s not ‘proof’ of anything. For me, quotes can be a great device if someone of great wisdom said something that is so well put that paraphrasing doesn’t do the point justice, only the actual quote will do.

    Nobody claimed it’s proof of anything. If I were paraphrasing, I wouldn’t have used quotation marks. The line is verbatim. (Your general observation is sounding a lot like a targeted reply…?)

    “It’s mildly interesting if Paine or Jefferson were proto-Georgists. That’s about it.”

    It establishes the intellectual pedigree of Georgist philosophy within the classical American political tradition, which is rhetorically powerful, especially to a conservative audience.

  26. dL

    It’s mildly interesting if Paine or Jefferson were proto-Georgists. That’s about it.

    I thought every school boy was familiar w/ Agrarian Justice. Btw, Bob, a lot of intellectual traditions claim Paine, including liberals, socialists and libertarians. Thomas Piketty has Agrarian Justice linked from his academic pages
    http://piketty.pse.ens.fr/files/Paine1795.pdf

    and SSA lists Thomas Paine as one of the heroes of social security!

    The binary NAP fundamentalist on IPR is pretty much you, Bob

  27. dL

    On a tangentially related topic, Pacific Gas and Electric apparently is going to shut off power to ~ 1 million customers in Cali for a week to limit the company’s property damage liability from wildfires. 21st century, indeed…

  28. robert capozzi

    J: It establishes the intellectual pedigree of Georgist philosophy within the classical American political tradition, which is rhetorically powerful, especially to a conservative audience.

    Me: I get it. “Pedigree” and “tradition” are moderately interesting for academics and those interested in theory. And it may well give comfort and cover who find your alternative construct, which is probably more obscure than NAP Fundamentalism.

    I’m more interested in ideas that move things in a more peacefujl direction and are saleable in the intermediate term. That’s where politics is played. My concern for Geoists is that they tend to fall into the same trap that NAP Fundamentalists do: Offering pie-in-the-sky ideas with no bridge for how to get there.

  29. dL

    My concern for Geoists is that they tend to fall into the same trap that NAP Fundamentalists do: Offering pie-in-the-sky ideas with no bridge for how to get there.

    Historically, it’s not pie in the sky; it has had is implementations. It’s just a non-starter when you have progressive taxation on income, an annual need for budget deficits to finance a permanent military industry and little faith that the government is capable of defining public use. There is no bridge to build. Perhaps the only practical use of Georgist knowledge today is to simply knock down consumption taxes being sold as Georgism.

  30. Jim

    Jared “Actually, to the contrary, he said no other individual has a natural right to take exclusive possession of the deceased man’s land. Societal laws govern land inheritance. In the state of nature, it reenters the commons:”

    Yes, he does say that any other individual has a natural right to take exclusive possession of the deceased man’s land.

    He said that in the state of nature land reenters the commons upon a man’s death, and is then appropriated by the first occupant. There is nothing in there about the first occupant needing to pay society for its exclusive use.

    He clearly disagrees with society’s laws of inheritance, with its obligations to pay dead men’s debts. That is what almost the entire letter is about.

    And just as the younger generations have no obligation to pay the debts of dead men, Jefferson also said that the laws of older generations do not bind any succeeding generation. Laws naturally expire with the generation that passed them, and younger generations are as free of old law as if the law had expressly expired, even without repeal.

  31. robert capozzi

    J: (Your general observation is sounding a lot like a targeted reply…?)

    me: Nope, a general observation, like I said.

  32. Jared

    Jim, I’m trying to locate a specific objection. Do you believe Jefferson’s views on debt inheritance are out of step with Georgist ideas about property in land? Or do you mean to say I’m taking him out of context by applying his stated principle to a matter that wasn’t the central focus of the quoted letter? — By natural right, we hold the earth only in usufruct. I think we can draw out the implications of his thought.

  33. SocraticGadfly

    Robert, others:

    It’s not Nordhaus’ mechanism that’s the problem. His problem is simple, as noted in the story, and it’s above nobody’s pay grade.

    His price points for where to set a carbon tax are WAY too low to actually deal much with climate change in any serious way. But, per Goldilocks, they’re “Just right” for capitalist big biz to feel comfortable pretending to do something.

    (And, that’s why, for people who know Ted Nordhaus and Breakthrough Institute, the family connection is indeed relevant.)

    ==

    That said, I know the “October open thread” has largely become the “October intra-Libertarian open thread.”

  34. paulie Post author

    That said, I know the “October open thread” has largely become the “October intra-Libertarian open thread.”

    No, you are welcome to talk about any subject, and invite anyone you think may be interested. Also, several of the people you may be assuming are in the LP…are not.

  35. robert capozzi

    SG,

    It’s above my paygrade to know where the price point should be. I just resonate with the principle that it makes a lot of sense on a lot of levels that we’d tax pollution and pay the proceeds out to citizens as a dividend. I think it could be sold, politically, and I could imagine that it would be helpful in healing a pretty sick society.

  36. dL

    it makes a lot of sense on a lot of levels that we’d tax pollution and pay the proceeds out to citizens as a dividend.

    It makes no sense to redistribute Pigouvian taxes as dividends. I can’t say you’ve actually failed to make that case because you haven’t even tried. What you have failed at is attempting to equate Georgism, or should we say, purest Georgism, with NAP fundamentalism.

  37. dL

    That said, I know the “October open thread” has largely become the “October intra-Libertarian open thread.”

    Yes, IPR Open threads are usually devoted to libertarian squabbles. You’re welcome to take aim…

  38. paulie Post author

    They are what people make of them. I can set up a separate non-LP one but it would be a hassle policing the comments and what’s the point if few people are going to use it?

  39. Jared

    I would think the Georgist land value tax and Pigouvian taxes on negative externalities are topics that Greens would feel comfortable weighing in on. After all, they’re in the GP platform.

  40. Nicholas Hensley

    So two former third party candidates are running against Trump for the GOP nomination with Wield and De La Fuente? How long will it be until one, or both, of them steps out for a third party run? My money is on at least one GOP primary person stepping out.

  41. FW Whitley

    “you are welcome to talk about any subject”

    If Darcy Richardson is monitoring this October open thread, please contact CP-Idaho regarding presidential debate and primary. We are beginning the planning on this event.

    The timing of the Boise Debate is three days in advance of the AIP California March 3rd primary, which is one week in advance of the Idaho Primary.

    Media-wise, that is a substantial block of subject time. Please advise.

  42. Be Rational

    “it makes a lot of sense on a lot of levels that we’d tax pollution and pay the proceeds out to citizens as a dividend.”

    Nope. It makes no sense at all.

    We should consider any money collected from pollution and carbon as fines … not taxes … fines with a purpose.

    The purpose of 100% of the money collected should be to repair the damage caused by the pollution. The funds should be used to clean up polluted areas and to remove carbon from the air. These things must be done and they will take substantial resources to accomplish.

    If you tax pollution and carbon and then turn around and give the money back to consumers, they will continue to buy the things that cause pollution and carbon – although maybe less, but maybe more – and the pollution and carbon will continue to threaten the human race. Many socialists favor such a redistribution of purchasing power through carbon taxes; the fact that this may actually increase pollution and carbon emissions matters nothing to socialists. They don’t actually care about people or the environment … just about gaining government power.

  43. robert capozzi

    BR,

    I’m fine with calling carbon/polluton taxes “fines.”

    I’m sure you agree that what makes sense to me and what makes sense to you could well be different, and apparently in this case, it is.

    I might agree that remediation might be the better solution, but I’m unaware of a reasonable means to do so. So, I don’t want the government getting the funds from the fines. As the fines were phased in over time, most economists would suggest/predict that this would incentivize people seek substitute goods and services that had lower/no fines embedded or explicitly charged. If you don’t understand this or you disagree, consider going to the library to find a good microeconomics text! 😉

    I would not to refer a carbon dividend as “redistribution.” I rather consider it a rough approximation of justice.

    Now, if you consider the CURRENT justice system to be perfect, it’s not a good use of our time to engage in conversation. Justice is not blind; there are HIGH costs to obtaining justice. A sound justice system is vital for a market economy’s operation. Since we don’t and I suspect cannot have a sound justice system (due to its costs and often prohibitive information costs to mount a lawsuit to right a wrong), a citizen’s carbon dividend would, in effect, correct for a highly imperfect justice system.

    If you think the US justice system produces perfect, “blind” justice, then, again, this conversation is futile for me. If you think the justice system is perfectable, I’d like to hear more, but I’m skeptical.

    If you think the fines should be spent by the government in another, better way, I’m open-minded.

  44. robert capozzi

    more…

    If a carbon dividend were put in place, this would do a few things:

    1) Dissuade pollution and human-made carbon in the atmosphere, helping the process of reversing the conditions that threaten further artificial global climate change.

    2) Address mammoth, endemic injustice due to an imperfect justice system

    3) Shift the “welfare state” model toward a “commonwealth” model where all citizens have a stake in the nation’s natural resources. Geoist LVT or other unimproved resources could ultimately be tapped to address unaddressed injustices and to undo the labyrinth-like welfare state.

  45. Be Rational

    We already have the means and technology to remove carbon from the air and clean up pollution sites. This is what the money should be spent on. True, right now some of the options are new and expensive, but with money there, more producers and investors will come forward, improving the technology and lowering the cost. Some options, however, such as preserving forests and buying land and planting more forests – some suggest 1 trillion trees as a partial solution – have no technological barriers to implementation.

    As to your misunderstanding of Economics, a brief lesson:

    If you charge fines on goods according to their carbon footprints – and the amount should be the cost of remediation plus administration – then all things being the same, there should be a reduction in sales of those items due to the higher cost and a shift to other non-fined items that do not have the increased cost.

    However, we are dealing with dynamic economics in this case.

    You want to redistribute this money to OTHER people, more specifically, low-income individuals.

    So, what will happen.

    High income individuals will continue to consume the products that are fined – because they can. Price elasticity. Only some people drop out of the demand curve as the price rises.

    But with the redistribution, lower income people will have more money. Since the non-carbon items will still have the same price, and they were already purchasing their desired mix of goods, these new funds will be spent on items that were left off their previous budgets. They will be able to buy the more expensive, carbon emitting or polluting goods … and they will.

    It is therefore quite likely that the consumption of some of these carbon producing goods will increase.

    Consider Beef: Maybe you impose a fine on its production.

    Higher income individuals will continue to buy it. A very large percentage will not reduce their consumption. Lower income individuals who consume beef might cut their consumption, except you plan to give out significant funds to a large portion of society.

    So, now, the new funds distributed to those who couldn’t afford beef before will allow them to buy more beef. Even at a higher price they are likely to add beef to their desired mix of goods and services they buy – because they can. Those who already purchased a small quantity of beef will also have new funds to allow them to continue to buy beef. As a result, total consumption may rise.

    So, given the thousands of products that would face increased prices, the likelihood is that a large portion would see increased demand. The result could be increased pollution. Of course there are too many unknowns to calculate in advance, which goods would see such increases.

    Since you are taking in funds from one group and paying out the funds to another, the total amount of money to be spent should be about the same. The recipients will have more money, so in the aggregate they will in all likelihood purchase more polluting and carbon emitting goods. The question remains as to how those who pay the fines through their purchases but receive no redistribution adjust their spending? Since they are not likely to give up their beef or drive less, they may instead choose to cook beef at home or go to less expensive restaurants. They may increase their beef consumption as a result. It’s possible that the only result will be a reduction in employment of service providers, while the consumption of the targeted goods remains the same or increases.

    The only way to use carbon fines to reduce carbon emissions is to spend the funds on cleaning up the environment and the damage already incurred. The amount of the fines and the total amount raised should be set to do just that. Producers will then see lower demand. Producers will look for lower cost – non-polluting production methods to avoid the fines. This is a desirable outcome, of course, and in the meantime, substantial amounts of carbon can be removed from the air, trees planted, old-growth forests protected from the collected fines.

    The government, however, should not be allowed to have the funds. We would need to set up some kinds of responsible groups: NGOs, trusts, citizen groups or what-have-you to administer and oversee the funds to clean up the environment – which is problematic in itself, but better than giving more money to the government.

    All of the fines should expected to be temporary, however, as over time – a fairly long period for some – all producers would work to find production methods and other means to reduce their carbon footprints to zero and to eliminate pollution.

  46. Be Rational

    Nearly all economics taught is economic statics. You need to study economic dynamics.

  47. robert capozzi

    BR,

    First, all citizens would get the dividend, not just the lower incomes. I’m pointing to a citizen’s dividend for all.

    Second, yes, people will continue to consuming polluting/carbon emitting products. All else equal, though, the relative costs would incentivize a shift toward low/no polluting activities. Yes, it’s possible that some might consume even more polluting activities with their dividends, but overall the dynamics suggest a shift away.

    Third, businesses would see the price signals, and they’d bring to market better and better ways to avoid the pollution fees, for the businesses themselves and with less-polluting consumer products. Rather than subsidize electric cars and solar panels, I suggest the market do the work by internalizing the negative externality of pollution and carbon emissions.

    Fourth, yes, I’ve heard that some have proposed mammoth carbon scrubbers. I’m skeptical that the government can efficiently fund such a massive undertaking.

    Fifth, you have so far avoided my view that the current rule of law is massively biased in favor of those who can buy legal services, and that a dividend is a way to address that profound injustice.

  48. Freeman

    I get the impression that carbon dioxide is taken as a pollutant in this discussion.
    It is no more a pollutant than oxygen is. CO2 is to plants as O2 is to us.
    You couldn’t ask for anything more “green” than carbon dioxide.

  49. robert capozzi

    Freeman,

    Sorry if I gave you that impression. CO2 is not inherently polluting, although burning it often releases other polluting substances, as I understand it. Climate science holds that excessive levels of CO2 is causing significant climate change, again as I understand their position.

    Dissuading pollution would also dissuade the excessive release of CO2.

    Unless you believe there’s a “right ” to pollute, I would think Ls would be drawn to the idea of fining polluters.

  50. Freeman

    Mr. Capozzi wrote, “CO2 is not inherently polluting, although burning it often releases other polluting substances, as I understand it.”

    It’s the other way around. When you burn hydrocarbons, fossil fuels, CO2 and pollutants are emitted.
    I reiterate that CO2 is not a pollutant but a substance essential to life.
    Soot is a pollutant produced by burning hydrocarbons. Soot is carbon. Soot, carbon, is a known cause of global cooling. Volcanic ash from big eruptions are a greater cooling influence than people, though, so man-made cooling needn’t be a worry.

    Mr. Capozzi wrote, “Climate science holds that excessive levels of CO2 is causing significant climate change, again as I understand their position.”

    Despite what media and politicians constantly tell us, climate observation shows that CO2 as climate control knob is not among the possible explanations for what is observed.
    It is also known that the more CO2 the less difference it makes.
    As for the man-made portion of CO2 production, it is 5% or less. Termites alone outdo people in that regard. Man-made CO2 is no cause for alarm.

    My intent is just to clarify that carbon dioxide and carbon are completely different substances, and that no crisis is about to occur due to human carbon dioxide emissions. Talk of climate crisis saturates the air, but fear not. We are not toast.

  51. Jared

    Capozzi: “CO2 is not inherently polluting, although burning it often releases other polluting substances, as I understand it.”

    CO2 is released when fossil fuels are burned. The CO2 itself doesn’t burn (alkali metals aside), which is why it’s used in fire extinguishers to displace oxygen. The problem isn’t the mere existence of CO2 in the air and water, obviously. It becomes a “pollutant” when rising levels begin to cause ecological disruption and destruction.

    Freeman, I’m sure you’d concede there’s nothing “green” about the Red Planet, even though the thin Martian atmosphere is pure CO2. Also, for the record, oxygen toxicity is real. It’s possible to have too much of a good thing. Elevated CO2 levels can have long-term detrimental effects on plant life and agriculture for a variety of reasons, such as a greater need for water as air temperatures rise as well as greater susceptibility to damage caused by insect populations.

  52. robert capozzi

    F and J,

    Thanks. I didn’t put that sentence well, but the point stands: burning “fossil fuels” (which is itself a dicey term, as I understand it) releases CO2 and other substances into the atmosphere. This is pollution. Some of what is released is toxic. Agreed?

    F,

    You may believe that climate change is a massive hoax or something. To which I say: Sure, anything’s possible. But personally I’d say that getting that many scientists to lie strains credibility. The projections they make are not especially reliable, however.

    Let’s get more radical: Is it your view that there’s a natural “right” to pollute the air? Can anyone spew whatever s/he wants into the air with impugnity?

  53. George Phillies

    “Despite what media and politicians constantly tell us, climate observation shows that CO2 as climate control knob is not among the possible explanations for what is observed.”

    Raving nonsense.

  54. dL

    But personally I’d say that getting that many scientists to lie strains credibility.

    They lied about marijuana for 80 years. They’re lying(at least US government science is lying) right now about e-cigarettes. Trust the scientists is not exactly a bulletproof argument. True, 97 out of 100 climate scientists are at a consensus RE: anthropomorphic climate change. Of course, I’m always amused when I peruse realclimate.org and read the economic central planning recommendations of climate scientists, as if being an expert in climate science suddenly makes one an authority in economics and political science.

  55. Freeman

    Jared.
    Naturally, Mars is not green. Plants have never lived there.
    Over the last few hundred million years on Earth, plants evolved in atmosphere with a few times more CO2 in it than what’s in the air today. Only for the last few tens of millions of years has there been so little CO2 in Earth’s atmosphere as we have now. In terms of the history of plants on Earth, these are times of very little carbon dioxide. CO2 is a trace gas, and the current level is .04%. If that level would sink below .015%, all plants would die. Many who cultivate indoors add CO2 to the indoor air to boost yield. Considering the history of plants on Earth, and how little of it there is in the atmosphere today, it should come as no surprise that plants thrive most in air with quadruple the CO2 in it.

    Robert & dL.
    The oft quoted figure of 97% consensus is made up.

    dL.
    You deftly illustrate the fact the we are constantly exposed to what you accurately describe as “government science” which comes to us with a political agenda and is a lie.

  56. robert capozzi

    To clarify, I don’t believe that rigorous scientific consensus cannot be ultimately wrong. My observation is that it is often imperfect, at least. Nor would I suggest that SOME scientists don’t actually lie or purposely misrepresent their findings. Nor would I defer to scientists who opine on matters outside of their expertise.

    In fact, even if there were NOT a consensus on human-made global climate change, I’d still suggest there is a case for fining behaviors that pollute the air. Even NAP Fundamentalists don’t generally believe there’s a right to spew into the atmosphere. The remedy I’ve seen from them is the completely unworkable notion that the matter be resolved in civil court. Sorry, but I can’t get my head around how they’d propose to establish who the plaintiffs and defendants would be, given that we pretty much all contribute to the spew stream.

  57. Be Rational

    “Raving nonsense.”

    Thank you George Phillies, climate change deniers need no further refutation.

  58. Freeman

    “climate change deniers need no further refutation.”
    No further refutation beyond just name calling? This is hardly being rational.

  59. robert capozzi

    F: The oft quoted figure of 97% consensus is made up.

    Me: Interesting assertion. Who “made it up”? And what is the correct number?

  60. Jared

    Freeman,

    The atmospheric conditions under which Silurian land plants evolved over millions of years might be of interest to paleobotanists, but they’re irrelevant to this discussion. The Mars reference was cheap, I admit, but my point was, “more carbon dioxide =/= more flora-friendly.” Plants also require nitrogen and oxygen. You can’t possibly believe that, because CO2 can be added to indoor plants to boost photosynthesis, the negative general impact of spiking atmospheric CO2 levels would be nothing but positive. I mentioned plants suffering heat stress from rising temperatures and greater vulnerability to insect damage. Another problem is nitrogen availability. Wild flora will be affected more than agricultural crops thanks to nitrogen fertilizer, but (1) fertilizer such as ammonia contributes a great deal to water pollution, and (2) it gets oxidized by microbes in the soil and released into the air as nitrous oxide, which besides depleting ozone, is a much more potent greenhouse gas than CO2. (Coincidentally, N2O is released when permafrost thaws from rising surface temperatures.) Not all crops react the same way to increased CO2, and for reasons not yet well understood, higher levels produce lower nutritional values. You said: “It is also known that the more CO2 the less difference it makes,” which is dead wrong. The fact is, slightly elevated CO2 levels generally benefit plant life, but–even in isolation–the more you introduce, the less beneficial it is.

  61. Freeman

    Thanks, Jared, for the added depth. One of the big mistakes in thinking going around these days is the comicbookish goodguys/badguys mentality of pure good versus pure evil. What is lost on folks of that mentality is a sense of wonder. From just the few examples you provide above, one can sense what a staggeringly complex, interlaced climate & biosphere we live in, full of uncertainties and unknowns. I wish more folks would gain that kind of perspective and appreciation of nature.

    To clarify, I’m not saying more CO2 is all benefit and no detriment. I doubt anything’s that simple about Earth’s climate (or about agriculture). I am saying that we are not facing a climate crisis in our lifetimes, at least not from atmospheric carbon dioxide.

    I said, “It is also known that the more CO2 the less difference it makes.” You said, “The fact is, slightly elevated CO2 levels generally benefit plant life, but–even in isolation–the more you introduce, the less beneficial it is.” I think you’re right and I think you know a lot more about agriculture than I do. It’s just that I wasn’t applying the above statement to agriculture. What I mean is the more CO2, the less difference in temperature. The relation between atmospheric CO2 concentration and temperature is logarithmic. The temperature difference from increases in CO2 levels is not linear. It quickly approaches zero. Just how sensitive temperature is to changes in CO2 concentration is a matter of great dispute, but the fact that added CO2 makes progressively less temperature difference is not even disputed by alarmed climatologists. They just think we’ve got a ways to go before we get to zero difference, while other climatologists think we’re already somewhere near zero difference. Some say it’s always been nil.

    Atmospheric CO2 has been directly and reliably measured since about 1930. It went up from about .03% to about .04% since then for reasons unknown. This is slightly elevated CO2, and it has been generally beneficial to plant life in a very small way. From space they notice a slight greening of the Earth. As for temperatures, it remains climate as usual, within natural multidecadal variation. In the 21st Century so far, extreme weather has been below average. We are constantly told otherwise with dishonest, misleading and even fraudulent representations of climate. If CO2 levels continue trending this way it’ll rise to something like .05% by end of century. Observation does not lead to any reason to expect another such slight elevation in carbon dioxide to bring climate catastrophe.

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