[lbo-talk] The Planet is Fine

Gar Lipow gar.lipow at gmail.com
Tue Dec 20 18:15:03 PST 2011

On Tue, Dec 20, 2011 at 10:25 AM, Doug Henwood <dhenwood at panix.com> wrote:
> On Dec 20, 2011, at 1:15 PM, Gar Lipow wrote:
>> Hi Doug. I'm for a carbon tax as a reinforcement measure as long as we
>> have public investment and rule base aka "command & control" measures
>> as well. But as a stand alone policy  - not effective.  No amount of
>> carbon tax will build trains.
> Actually we can't get any of it right now. We couldn't even get that weak cap & trade thing through back in 2009. But in an ideal world, or even just a better one, we'd have all of it. So I don't see why you don't push for all to start with, instead of building in compromise from the outset.
> Doug

Compromise was just a passing thought. The point I should have made: most people who are not focused on global warming but are aware of it, put the emphasis on pricing carbon. Most of the time, when someone is talking about doing something about global warming, and they don't have time to mention everything, the one thing they mention is "putting a price on carbon". And the entire non-far left end of those active on the issues, "moderate", neoliberal and liberal talk about putting a price on carbon as the main thing to do with other stuff either not needed (on the neoliberal and "moderate" side) or nice but not as important as a carbon price (on the liberal side). Some exceptions, but far and few between. In the whole ACES cap-and-trade debacle,what we saw was a process that started out with a weak, but more or less equal amount of everything, then gradually traded away everything but price to get a carbon price, and then (just before being defeated) traded away most of the carbon price. And then just reinforced that price was the thing to focus on as common sense. I feel like I'm wading through quicksand where 90% of the people who care about global warming and have spent some time thinking about it but are not experts end up focusing on putting a price on carbon either by means of a carbon tax or through some sort of permit system (cap-and-trade, cap-and-dividend, or other variations). A carbon price has become the "common sense" of how to deal with the climate crisis. Everything else is sort of secondary, or nice or unimportant.

Emphasizing a carbon tax, without mentioning public investment and or "command and control" (I hate that phrase) regulation reinforces that problem.

And I don't know why Carrol chose to sneer at me with the particular quote he used. But life is too short to spend more time than these two sentences took to worry about that one.

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