Thursday, April 25, 2013

Thomas Freedman: a carbon tax for both the economy and the environment

Tom Friedman On Carbon Tax
Tom Friedman lays out why a carbon tax could save America.

From NPR's On Point with Tom Ashbrook website, April 24, 2013
The country’s in trouble and we all know it, says New York Times columnist Tom Friedman. We’re drifting, just when we need to be rebounding. We’re weakening, just when the world needs the American experiment with tolerance and pluralism to succeed. And, says Friedman, we’re not reaching for bold solutions big enough to address our problems.
He’s got one. A carbon tax, on gas, oil, coal. To balance our books, rebuild the country, bring America back, and save the climate, the planet.

It is a responsible, reasonable and legitimate recommendation for Friedman to pose to a country flat on its back with political sclerosis, economic pneumonia and visionary myopia, obsessed with both the weapons and the acts of violence.
Every idea has its time, and this idea is long overdue. Even China is considering the imposition of a carbon tax, because, as Friedman says, "They can't breathe!"
Friedman's argument, bolstered by economists on both sides of the political spectrum, is that a carbon tax would generate considerable revenue, much of which could and should be spent on research and development, infrastructure, and even rebated to the poorest Americans. having recently visited a the Department of Health and Human Services, Friedman was shocked to learn that one of the least known benefits of the Obama Health Reform Act is the proliferation of small research and development companies engaged in initiatives like the digitizing of health care records. He cites this evidence in support of his carbon tax proposal.
Central to his argument is that the carbon tax would and could also be used to offset the deficit, another consuming itch among the American political class.
So, for both economic and ecological reasons, to clean up the rapidly declining global environment, Friedman posits a political solution, a new tax on carbon, as a prophetic, optimistic and even somewhat visionary voice on the American media.
However, Friedman's recommendation is not only valid in the United States; it is also valid in Canada, where the Harper government panders to the "rise in prices" argument the please consumers and not incidentally voters, in their steadfast opposition to even the hint of a carbon tax, while ridiculing Tom Mulcair, the Leader of the Opposition, for supporting such a tax.
Friedman's carbon tax proposal would also have to be implemented in all major industrial countries like India, China, Brazil, Russia and The European Union which has gone farther toward environmental protection than most other regions.
Lest we get too far out in front of ourselves, and think or imagine that Friedman's proposal would easily gather political traction in a Congress obsessed with the retention of personal power, and the obsessions of fund-raising that undergird that personal ambition, don't look for headlines in major dailies across the U.S. to herald a change of heart among the members of either the House or the Senate toward support for the measure.
While the U.S. and most western nations are not yet finding it hard to breathe, there is a growing spectre of climate change and global warming that is "hanging" over all of us, with little or no appetite for addressing the question. Corporate, capitalistic, globalization of markets also includes the pursuit of profit above all other formerly normal social and political agendas. So, a carbon tax imposed by any government with both courage and vision and foresight, would be immediately resisted by a force of political action and fundraising from the big wallets on the "right" so that they and their associates can continue to grab the cream off the economic and fiscal bottle, while leaving the world breathing more and more polluted, contaminated and suffocating oxygen, and all the while also resisting "any new tax" with a force and a venom that posits "primarying" for any politician so foolish to support such a measure.
It will be a long time, perhaps until the planet is so enveloped in carbon dioxide and methane (twenty-time more toxic than carbon dioxide) that we are all struggling to breathe before the U.S. Congress becomes amenable and open to the Freedman prescription....and it will be even longer before Harper and his gang of neanderthals wake up to the reality of our collective shortness of breath.
And by then, it may well be too late, especially for our grandchildren!
Some legacy!

No comments:

Post a Comment