18 Jun 2009

Yet More on Cost/Benefits of Waxman-Markey

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This MasterResource blog post repeats much of what I’ve written elsewhere, but here’s a new point I made in response to Silas Barta’s criticism on my Mises Daily piece:

In conclusion, the above arguments do not show that the government should “do nothing.” If one accepted the premises of manmade climate change, and the property rights of certain people to be protected from emissions of others, then advocates could still plausibly argue that greenhouse gas emitters should be forced to pay a certain fine per ton of emissions, which would then be funneled into the hands of the aggrieved parties.

However, under no circumstances would the correct outcome be to cap emissions at the level proposed by Waxman-Markey. That would be akin to banning automobile usage, on the grounds that sometimes pedestrians get hit by drivers.

One final point: If the proponents of carbon legislation took the IPCC models (including the economic ones) seriously, and wanted to start penalizing emitters to compensate those damaged by the emissions, then the obvious thing to do would be WAIT and STUDY THE PROBLEM MORE. Even on their own terms, the damages to poor nations will not really kick in until many decades from now. To refine the analogy above, Waxman-Markey seeks to seriously restrict automobile usage now, on the grounds that some pedestrians might be killed by drivers in the year 2100.

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