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Carbon taxation-

by on 15/07/2013

ER; It is hard to explain to the simple minded people that not making carbon tax means subsidizing the energy consumption. Any kind of subsidy means price and free market price mechanism distortion. Would the Liberal-Conservatives support a direct subsidy on any product sold freely on the market be it a service or merchandize? Probably not. But when the subsidy is not directly given by the government to the producer but indirectly by the general public, whose environment is as you said correctly downgraded, it is covered to the eye so automatically opposed. Other problem of the simple minded people opposing carbon tax is, that they are more concerned with the words than with the meaning of these words, so the solution should be change of semantic. The legislators who support carbon tax shouldn’t call it any kind of “XXX tax”, but price that no one, is opposing it (not even the most conservative tee party follower can’t say, price is a negative word). I have many beautiful and confusing names that will leave the simple minded legislators with gaping mouth, like “tide up service price”, “clear sky price”, “clean water price”, one even better, “Glacier preservation price” or this one “Sustainable fresh air price”. I want to see those legislators opposing fresh air, clean water or clear sky. Since the carbon tax opposers never use in their argumentation logic or evidence, there is no need to try to explain to them with evidence why the “clean air price charge”, will eventually help to clean the air.

J; This statement: “not making carbon tax means subsidizing the energy consumption” only makes sense if you begin with the premise that every single item of consumption should be taxed in the first place. Otherwise your statement is fallacious. Because an item is not taxed does not mean it is subsidized.

ER: Taxation positive or negative (in other word subsidy) is a tool to “correct” the relative prices of “PRODUCTS”, in any society whenever a social life comes to existence. If a hunter-gatherer teaches his son how to use a bow, he is subsidizing education by using energy to teach the next generation how to use a bow, instead of enjoying this energy for his individual pleasure. By the way, it appears even in animal kingdom this kind of subsidy is very common, apparently even in the lowest forms of life. An other form of taxation will be when a father punishes a child, trying to rape his sister, or brother kills his brother as in the following story, is a kind of diversion of resources from pure individualistic consumption to a common socio-biological good, (preventing genetic degradation of the spices).
To make it short, the TAXATION, be it positive or negative, is only a institutionalized modern version of primitive act of intervention of authority, (in this case government) in restraining unsocial behavior of an individual in the society to protect the more common good than directly and immediately fulfilling the lust of an individual. If we would live in the land of Eden, where people know only love and altruism and no lust, (Brrr, what a boredom) maybe we would not need such an authority and “No More Taxation”, as some of the politicians so often like to proclaim, but never fulfill.
Now as to the carbon taxation, the question is not if positive or negative taxation (subsidies) is legitimate or not, but if the society should ask carbon users to compensate it for the future cost of their consumption. This including the future cost of repairing and cleaning the devastated environment by exceeded usage of hydro-carbon, exactly as hunter gatherers of modern age, the homeless people who live out of gathering garbage have to pay tax whenever they buy their alcohol beer to wash their personal agony. Again to make it as simple as possible, if a car producer doesn’t want to go bust, the car’s selling price has to be higher than its cost, caused in the past or will cost in the future (future cost; interest rate or recycling tax). And now since the environmental damage of carbon usage will force the society to make in the future a big clean up of the environment, the question is not if to tax it or not but who will pay when the pay day comes. We, the present carbon polluters, or the future generation of our children.
Here let me make a citation from my book
……..the primary long-term problem of the world economy: world environmental stability. If we believe that the depletion of the world’s resources is an inevitable process (and this is a question of faith and not conclusively based on evidence), we must believe that the world environment as a major resource is also limited. Yet any policy of creating ecological sustainability demands substantial revolutionary sacrifices of the “modern human life style”……………..

J; But that’s not the kind of taxation we are talking about. Your basics are not the basics as generally understood on this forum or as it is understood since the advent of the modern nation state two and a half centuries ago. In contemporary usage, taxation is the exaction of a payment by the state on a non-state actor for the benefit of the state.

ER: You said………. taxation is the exaction of a payment by the state on a non-state actor for the benefit of the state.
Taxation is the positive side (from the perspective of the Government) of the government activity. The negative side is all the services and money transfers the Government provides. For example;
When EU and the US decided to give subsidies to agriculture or the peasants, they had many different issues in mind like; stabilizing the income of the farmers, sustaining the rural communities, reducing the food prices etc. Non of these are about “state benefit”, but serve certain communities, way of life, ideology, in short political issues. The same is when the government subsidizes the education, health, pension payments, social security payments, etc. All these are the negative side of the taxation. You can argue the government expenditure in security is not of this kind, but then you should also say you don’t belong to the community you live in (US, Western world, Russia, China or any other sovereign country), be it anywhere, since every community as a whole needs communal protection, and to achieve it in the present world and present state of the humanity, it needs army and army costs money.
To make it short to look on taxation as standing independently from the governments activity as a service provider is wrong perspective.

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