Who vets NYTimes op-eds?
Posted by Rich Sweeney on March 25, 2008
Today’s piece on carbon taxes by Monica Prasad was pretty weak. Her argument is that we should tax carbon but recycle 100% of the revenue back to industry. While this is not necessarily a bad idea, the evidence she sights from Denmark’s experience is pretty JV. How much of Denmark’s comparatively strong clean energy growth came from R&D investment vs. simple resource availability? Who knows. European carbon emissions have gone up since a carbon tax was imposed, but how much higher would they have been without the tax? Not relevant. And oh yeah, just ignore all of the petty equity and distributional implications.
Also, this sentence didn’t make any sense: “But unless steps are taken to lock the tax revenue away from policymakers and invest in substitutes, a carbon tax could lead to more revenue rather than to less pollution.”
Sorry for the random rant. Read and form your own opinion, of course :)
UPDATE: Apparently the Environmental Econ guys got to this before I did, pointing out that demand for gasoline is not perfectly inelastic. Although, surprisingly, they forgot to hyperlink their first behavioral response. You guys are slipping!
Another Update: Over on Grist, David Roberts adds to the Prasad critique by pointing out (as I weakly alluded above) that the US aint Denmark, and that distribution and ease of transition matter a lot. My favorite line: “Far as I can tell, though, what Prasad calls not spending looks a lot like what the rest of us call spending.”