In “The Summit of Green Futility“, Anne Applebaum outlines the failure of the recent G-8 summit to come to anything even remotely resembling a meaningful agreement on carbon emissions, the failure of Kyoto, the inevitable futility of the upcoming Copenhagen summit and the impending failure of congress to come up with any real or meaningful solutions to anything based on Waxman Markey.
Instead she clearly calls for governments to do the only thing governments have proven uniformly excellent at doing throughout history – collecting taxes. Like all rational economists, she calls for using the tax system to put a price on the economic externalities of our fossil fuel dependence, suggesting “the price of fossil fuels has never reflected their true cost, either environmental or political. It doesn’t reflect the cost of the U.S. military presence in the Middle East. It doesn’t reflect the cost of treating asthma. And it certainly doesn’t reflect the cost of rescuing bits of the coast of Florida that will be submerged by rising sea levels. Raise the taxes on fossil fuels to reflect those costs”.
And she encourages the government to use that taxing power in such a way that will enable entrepreneurs to solve the various problems associated with our fossil fuel addiction rather than pretending those issues can be effectively addressed by bureaucrats, politicians and lobbyists. This is again the solution favored by all the rational practitioners of economics.
Its good to see main stream media like the Washington Post getting a bit more realistic about these issues and particularly starting to clarify the externalities that should be included in the cost of paying for our fossil fuel addiction.
The Ameican public isn’t stupid. Given the option of paying higher taxes on fossil fuels or continuing to pay regressive taxes on our personal earnings, the vast majority of Americans would prefer to reduce payroll and income taxes and instead tax our wasteful use of energy. It is time for politicians to listen to common sense rather than just doing the bidding of the lobbyists and special interests.