Economist Don Boudreaux writes:
I care – very deeply – whether the process for pursuing one’s life’s goals is fair or not. I want everyone to have as fair a chance in the economy as is humanly possible. I despise special privileges that stack the deck either in favor of Jones or against Smith. … But I do not care about differences in monetary income or wealth as such.
If (by whatever criteria) the process is fair, then the outcomes are fair. If the process is not fair, then at least some outcomes are lamentable. …
Worrying about income (or wealth) differences as such has always for me smacked of childishness. It’s envy elevated into public policy.
Yaron Brook and Don Watkins write:
Historically, substantial cuts in the rate at which government spending grew, such as the one in Canada in the 1990s, have led not to economic collapse but economic expansion. …
Spending doesn’t drive an economy. Prosperity comes from production – from free individuals discovering new and better ways to create wealth. …
Is it any wonder that spending is out of control? If there are no limits to what government does, how could there possibly be any limits to what government spends?
Read more: We Should Be Embarrassed by the Sequester Debate.
At Reason.com, Ronald Bailey writes:
[W]hat you believe about a scientific debate signals to like-minded people that you are on their side and are therefore a good and trustworthy person. Unfortunately, this means that the factual accuracy of beliefs is somewhat incidental to the process of moral signaling.
The Denver Post recently advocated that Colorado increase its 22 cents per gallon fuel tax. But why tax drivers even more when much of what they are taxed does not support roads (or even mass-trensit) in Colorado? I’m talking about the 18.4 cents-per-gallon federal fuel tax. How about fighting to let Colorado keep federal fuel tax revenue, instead of sending it to D.C.? After all, as I show below, Colorado sends more than it receives.
The Federal Fuel Tax is 18.4 cents per gallon. The Federal Highway Administration publishes state-by-state data on tax receipts and apportionments for the Highway Trust Fund. Here’s data from 2010 for Colorado:
Colorado, paid into fund: $461,516,000 (not including general fund taxes*)
Colorado, apportionments & allocations from fund: $598,641,000
The data table says: “The $14,700,000,000 transfer from the General Fund to the Highway Trust Fund is not included in the data.”
From the above, you cannot tell how much Colorado gets back compared to how much it pays in to the Highway Trust Fund. We need to know how much of the $14.7 billion in general fund money came from Colorado. The most recent data I could find on this is from the Tax Foundation‘s report: Federal Taxes Paid vs. Federal Spending Received by State, 1981-2005. More recent data would be nice, but it’s what I found. (Please link more recent data in comments if you find it.)
The Excel spreadsheet in the link above includes a worksheet that breaks down the federal tax revenue by state. So it’s easy to compute what percentage Colorado contributed. In 2005, it was 1.69%. This percentage (1.69%) of $14.7 billion is $0.284 billion, or $248.4 million. Add this amount to the amount Colorado drivers paid into the Highway Trust fund ($461.5 million), and you get a total of $709.5 million.
Ah, but Colorado only gets back 598.6 million. That’s a shortfall of $110.9 million, or 84% of the tax dollars taken by the federal government. By comparison, Colorado governments collected $1.56 billion in “state and local fuel and vehicle taxes” in 2010. If Colorado could keep the $110.9 million it loses to the federal Highway Trust Fund, it would have 7% more revenue (100*110.9/1560).
This is one reason the Ronald Utt, when he was with the Heritage Foundation, published this memo: Federal Highway Program: How Opting Out Would Help States. In this proposal, Colorado would retain all the tax revenue – from both the federal fuel tax and the general fund – that would otherwise be placed in the Highway Trust Fund.
Reformed crooks say the New York newspaper that published a map of names and addresses of gun owners did a great service – to their old cronies in the burglary trade.
This originally appeared in the Boulder Daily Camera on December 15, 2012.
Many people will uncritically blame fossil fuel use for recent warm weather. But they are blind to how fossil fuels have reduced climate-related deaths since the 1920s. Since then, climate-related death rates have decreased by 98 percent, explains a Reason Foundation study by Indur Goklany. During this time, carbon dioxide emissions increased significantly.
Thanks to the fertilizers, pesticides, irrigation, and farm machinery enabled by fossil fuels, increased global food production has made droughts less deadly. Where extreme weather leaves people hungry and injured, fossil-fuel based transportation enables fast delivery of food, medical supplies, and disaster response units.
Wealth is a population’s best protection from climate risks, and wealth creation requires affordable, reliable energy. But billions of people in poor under-developed countries are still very vulnerable to climate risks. They need affordable and reliable energy — now. Obstructing their use of fossil fuels endangers their lives.
And droughts? Two recent studies published this year challenge the notion that global warming contributes to them. In the Journal of Climate, CU-Boulder and NOAA researchers “conclude that projections of acute and chronic [increases in severe droughts] … are likely an exaggerated indicator for future Great Plains drought severity.” In the journal Nature, Princeton University researchers find that “there has been little change in drought over the past 60 years.” In the same issue of Nature, a lead IPCC author wrote that “the findings imply that there is no necessary correlation between temperature changes and long-term drought variations.”
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“The Industrial Manifesto,” by Alex Epstein (Center for Industrial Progress. He debates Bill McKibbon above.)
Earlier this year I wrote a short piece in the Daily Camera summarizing the case against extending the City of Boulder’s Carbon Tax. In the 2012 election, it’s Boulder ballot issue 2A. I reproduce it here:
The Boulder City Council’s website touts a “Climate Action Plan” as one of its primarygoals. “The current goal is equivalent to the Kyoto Protocol target – to reduce emissions to a level seven percent below 1990 levels by 2012,” it says. With the city’s carbon tax set to end early next year, it’s worth asking: Is reducing carbon dioxide emissions the best way to respond to global warming?
Reviewing analysis by retired NCAR Senior Scientist Tom Wigley, Boulder’s University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) states that even if the “industrialized and nearly industrialized countries called upon to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the protocol … continued to abide by Kyoto’s limits” through 2100, global average temperatures would be at most 0.38 degrees Fahrenheit less than midpoint warming projections. Put in perspective, global temperatures decreased by this amount between 1900 and 1910, according to NASA.
Given this tiny effect, I’m not surprised that expert climate economists commissioned by the Copenhagen Consensus Center ranked emission reductions last among cost-effective responses to climate change. More efficient methods, listed at FixTheClimate.com, include adaptation, climate engineering, and carbon storage technologies.
With or without global warming, people — especially those in developing nations –face threats from extreme temperature, coastal flooding, hurricanes, malaria, poverty, starvation, and water stress. While global warming may increase these risks, scholars including Indur Goklany and Bjorn Lomborg convincingly argue that directly reducing these threats and promoting prosperity save more lives at lower cost than attempts involving emissions reductions.
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Other aspects to consider:
[P]roponents say we should tax ‘bads’ like pollution instead of ‘goods’ like capital or labor. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a ‘bad,’ they contend, because its impact on global climate imposes a ‘social cost.’ But the social cost of carbon is very far from being a known quantity. Try, for example, to discern carbon’s social cost in the following information.
- Global tropical cyclone frequency has declined slightly since 1970, while tropical accumulated cyclone energy (a measure of hurricane strength) has declined significantly since 2006.
- As U.S. urban air temperatures increased over the past three decades, heat-related mortality and air pollution levels declined.
- Since the 1920s, global deaths and death rates related to extreme weather declined by 93% and 98%, respectively.
Whatever your views on climate science, the claim that carbon taxes tax ‘bads’ rather than ‘goods’ is misleading. Enterprises don’t emit CO2 for the fun of it. They do so in the process of creating value and employing people. Carbon taxes are indirect taxes on labor and capital.
Proper role of taxes. Lewis continues:
In a genuinely free society, taxes are used solely to raise revenue to pay for public services. That is, taxes are not used to regulate behavior, reward friends and punish enemies, or rig the marketplace. Carbon taxes deliberately aim to do those very things. Inevitably, the extent of the tax will be determined not only by fiscal considerations but also by social-engineering/wealth-transfer agendas and by sky’s-the-limit speculation about social cost.
Energy efficiency. The Daily Camera reports that the tax raises around $1.8 million a year for energy efficiency and renewable energy programs, including incentives and rebates for homeowners and residential and commercial landlords.” However, McClatchy news service reports:
If homeowners decide to purchase energy-efficient windows, they shouldn’t to expect recoup the investment anytime soon. Given that it costs $7,000 to $20,000 to outfit an average home, it could take 20 years or more to break even, according to Consumer Reports magazine.
where increased energy efficiency is offset by increases in energy use because increased fuel efficiency lowers the relative cost of consumption. The magnitude of energy rebound effects has important implications for strategies aimed at restraining climate change through energy conservation requirements.
Oppose Boulder bag tax before it’s too late. It’s wasteful, threatens jobs, insults shoppers, & is an unlawful tax
Update, Oct 17: Now’s it’s a 10 cent tax. Final vote Nov. 1.
Last Sunday, the Boulder Daily Camera reported:
When the city solicited feedback online, a majority the comments were highly critical of the idea, but at public meetings most speakers have supported the fee or pressed for a ban on plastic.
Here’s your chance to tell them in person.
Where: Municipal Building, 1777 Broadway (map)
When: Tuesday, October 16, 2012, 6 p.m
If you cannot attend, e-mail or call the the council members.
In a Daily Camera op-ed, I reviewed some key arguments against the bag fee (and potential ban):
- Plastic bag litter is trivial.
- Bans did not reduce it in San Francisco.
- Consumers respond by using bags that have larger environmental impacts (fabric bags, heavier plastic bags).
Stores in Los Angeles county that complied with bag ban suffered reduced sales, and their employees lose their jobs. Stores in surrounding areas saw increased sales and increased employment. See: “A Survey on the Economic Effects of Los Angeles County’s Plastic Bag Ban.”
The “fee” is really a tax that’s is unlawful unless approved by voters. Here’s a complaint filed against the city of Aspen on these grounds. (Thanks to Jim Manley at the Mountain States Legal Foundation for this.)
- The restrictions also unjustly restrict the choices of innocent people who neither litter nor misplace plastic bags in recycling bins.
- Retailers have a right to distribute bags to customers. Customers have a right to discard them so long as they respect people’s property rights.
A better idea that does not insult Boulder shoppers:
The bag ban or fee also shows disrespect for Boulder shoppers. As I wrote:
The Council’s support of bag restrictions also reveals its low regard for those who elected them. The restrictions imply that even if voters knew the harms of plastic bags in recycling bins [they clog Western Disposal's sorting machines], they would not change their behavior.
But why would voters know? Beyond a small notice inside recycling bins, has Western Disposal made any effort to educate customers about plastic bag recycling? How about a large notice outside the bin? Better yet, Western Disposal can sell huge truck-side advertising to stores that recycle plastic bags: “Plastic bags jam our recycling sorters. Recycle them at King Soopers.”