04 Apr 2019


Bob Murphy Show, Climate Change, Contra Krugman, Daniel Kuehn, Shameless Self-Promotion, Tom Woods 22 Comments

==> A writer in The Guardian admits socialism necessary to stop climate change. See, we’re not paranoid.

==> Speaking of socialists, even some of them oppose MMT. C. Jay Engel and I discuss.

==> I may have already posted this but: In the latest Contra Krugman, Tom and I talk about Krueger and the minimum wage debate. I also correctly pronounce the name “Daniel Kuehn.”

22 Responses to “Potpourri”

  1. coupon_clipper says:

    Regarding the first link: The Star Wars reference is awesome and very apt.

  2. Transformer says:

    I get that you think the UN is being alarmist and the damage to human well-being from climate change is overstated and that any implementation of a carbon tax is likely to be flawed.


    – Being in favor of taxes on negative externalities, which is generally considered to be perfectly compatible with free market economics, is in fact another step on the road to socialism ?

    – Socialists aren’t ‘admitting’ that socialism is needed to combat global climate change’ but celebrating the fact. However a socialist reading your IER posts would be quite justified in publishing an article entitled ‘leading free market thinker admits that free market policies cannot combat global warming’!

    • Dan says:

      He called a carbon tax a Trojan horse because it won’t be implemented in the way they want because the goal of these people is to eliminate capitalism. It’s not like they are going to replace existing regulations with a carbon tax. No, they’re going to add a carbon tax, remove nothing, and move right on to adding more taxes, regulations, and spending.

      And, no, they wouldn’t be justified in writing an article with that title. I mean, I guess they could if they wanted to lie through their teeth, but not honestly. At best they could argue, if they erroneously believe in nonsense like “free market taxes”, is that he thinks a different set of free market policies are better suited for addressing climate change, if that is even necessary, than taxing carbon.

      • Transformer says:

        ‘he thinks a different set of free market policies are better suited for addressing climate change’

        What are they, then ?

        • Dan says:

          Lower taxes, eliminate regulations, get the government out of the way. The typical free market approach to solving problems.

          • Transformer says:

            How would that address climate change caused by carbon emissions ?

            • Dan says:

              It’d make the country vastly richer and the private sector more able to produce solutions like pulling carbon from the atmosphere. Also, richer countries tend to have much cleaner environments than poorer countries.

              • Transformer says:

                All good points.

                But the reality is they are unlikely to happen in the next 20 years.

                Given this, isn’t taxing the negative externality on carbon the least bad approach ?

              • Dan says:

                Not in my opinion. For one, I don’t buy into the negative externalities argument for taxes. For two, I think adding a tax on carbon on top of everything else, which is all we would get, is a bad idea even if you believe in the case for taxing negative externalities.

                Even if I grant you that climate change is something that we need to address, I don’t believe the state can or will do anything but make it worse.

                Although, I do agree with socialist methods. I think free market proponents should demand a completely free market with no government interference whatsoever, but take any move in that direction in the short term. Just as the socialists demand we get rid of airplanes and farting cows, while being willing to accept a smaller move in that direction if they can get it.

    • Tel says:

      Being in favor of taxes on negative externalities, which is generally considered to be perfectly compatible with free market economics, is in fact another step on the road to socialism ?

      As far as I can understand it … taxes on “externalities” are conceptually incompatible with Austrian economics. The tax requires a belief that some global social optimum exists, outside of individual preferences (summing the utils if you want to call it that) and furthermore the government regulator must presume to be able to correctly calculate a price for this “externality”.

      Ignoring the unrealistic Global Warming scenarios … we will probably get some warming caused by CO2, and some degree of sea level rise, and it’s not going to be Earth shattering and life will go on. For people living in Siberia, Mongolia, Northern China, Scandinavia, Canada, and Alaska we can be highly confident that a few degrees of warming will do them some good. For some other people, such as people in Bangladesh who will be forced to build sea walls like the Dutch, it will be a problem. If rainfall patterns shift around then highly productive agricultural areas such as Spain, Italy, South of France will find themselves needing to adapt, and might be less productive, but no doubt other areas will become more productive. There will be winners and losers … just like always.

      Perhaps there’s some warm, fuzzy feeling in the idea that winners should compensate losers, but it’s really not clear why, nor who should be trusted with this global wealth redistribution project.

      Let’s look at other situations where people are incidentally harmed. Suppose the software developers manage to come up with a self driving truck, and presume it actually works and can be trusted. Immediately all the truck drivers are economically harmed because they are out of work. Their personal investment in learning job skills has been taken from them and made worthless. Should these people be compensated? How much? Who should pay?

      • Transformer says:

        I don’t think arguments abut taxing externalities are to do with ‘winners should compensate losers’ but rather (to state it in Austrian terms) with people being compensated for violation of their property rights. This typically would exclude people who end up on the wrong end of technological advance. But assuming people have some shared property rights in the environment it would be relevant to global warming. From an economic perspective taxing (or otherwise addressing) negative externalities will result in market-prices fully incorporating all the benefits and costs associated with production.

        In my view Austrians who accept the science that carbon-emissions are harmful to the environment but oppose measure to address this infringement of property rights are being inconsistent.

        • Tel says:

          OK, the taxi driver owns this once-valuable property called a “Taxi Plate” purchased legally from City Hall, which has been measurably devalued by more competition in the marketplace from Uber, Lyft, etc. The taxi driver waves his fist and says, “Hey my property rights have been violated!” He thinks he should be compensated for his loss. In Australia they are trying it on, with a large class action court case.


          In New South Wales, government generously handed out $250 million of other people’s money to placate these guys.

          If you want another example: consider a sleepy suburban neighborhood with mostly owner/occupier families, everyone is polite to their neighbors because they have lived there a long time, and they know each other. There’s a homeowner’s association that tries to maintain certain standards. Low crime rate because if you own the house you don’t want to be starting trouble.

          Now someone says, “Hey, we need cheap accommodation!” and they somehow get exemptions from the homeowner’s association, and build some giant slab apartment blocks, where they offer tiny one bedroom apartments at cheap rent. Traffic gets worse … you can never find parking any more … now you have lots of people hanging around who are only there for a temporary job and will move out in a year, no investment in the neighborhood. Crime rate almost certainly increases. You have these tower blocks dominating the landscape. Police demand better resources and local government taxes go up.

          So the families who have been there a long time say, “This isn’t the lifestyle I wanted!” In this case they can probably sell and move elsewhere, but that in itself is onerous, and there will be taxes and other penalties and costs in being forced to sell up. Seems like they have a legitimate claim that the property rights they always enjoyed are now being intruded upon. You would have to accept that changing the whole character of a neighborhood will impose “externalities” on those who want it to remain the same as it always was.

          You see, the same fundamental question of “Should the winners compensate the losers?” can easily move into a property rights paradigm too.

          In order to apply this to the Global Warming scenario, you have to believe that some guy running a diesel generator in the mountains of Nepal is violating the property of some other guy living on the coast in Bangladesh. I would say that’s a whole heap more indirect and nebulous than the two examples I gave up above.

          • Transformer says:

            Well, yes there are shades of grey involved – but does that mean that the whole idea of ‘compensation for infringement of property rights’should be abandoned ?

      • Anonymous says:

        For discussion, is that necessary? The utils thing, I mean. One could still put everything in dollar terms.

        After all, it is undeniable that externalities exist. Some activities *do* have a spillover effect on others. Could we add up what dollars people would pay/accept, not utils?

        In a perfect market, the spillovers would be compensated by individual payments so everyone was happy. The fact that these payments are theoretically possible but practically impossible is also surely impossible to deny. If a free market is simply defined as one in which the Government does not get involved, then the idea of a free market is fundamentally and necessarily very different from a perfect market. We know for a fact that such a free market will not arrive at efficient positions. The Wikipedia article on perfect markets lists 13 conditions necessary. Only one if these disbars Government interference. I can see a philosophy that a perfect market is a thing to strive for. I fail to see that a market with all the other imperfections but simply with Govt interference removed is anything we should necessarily strive for.

        On the self driving trucks, yes the drivers should be compensated. Not because they have property rights, but because it reduces disruption. If you have too much disruption you might get revolution, and then you might get Marxists or Fascists in control. And we don’t want that, do we?

  3. Khodge says:

    For the half century I’ve been paying attention, it has been obvious that the environment would be a major tool in socialists/elitists putting themselves in charge.

    The problem arises from using positive economics when mainstream economics isn’t all that good with normative economics.

  4. guest says:

    “A writer in The Guardian admits socialism necessary to stop climate change.”

    Where the heck is Harold?

    • Harold says:

      Hi! I have been pondering the flu preference. More later.

  5. Harold says:

    A writer in the Guardian. Socialists are likely to say socialism is the way forward. He seems to support Corbyn.

    There is a contradiction here:

    McDuff “the GND is far from truly radical and already represents a compromise solution, but mainly because the radical economics isn’t a hidden clause, but a headline feature.”

    Stating his position that he does not think the GND is Marxist, which would be more radical. The GND is NOT truly radical. he says.

    BM: “Stop calling the Green New Deal a Trojan Horse to bring about a Marxist revolution: The Marxists aren’t in a horse at all! ”

    Er, what?

    I guess it comes down to a different definition if what Marxism is. Or you might think that he doesn’t think Marxism is sufficiently radical to be called “truly radical”.

    People who believe in AGW are not a monolith. I can point to lots of deniers who will prove to me that the greenhouse effect cannot exist because of thermodynamics. It is all lapse rate and specific heat capacities. It is total nonsense of course, but I accept that these are not representative of all those who call us “alarmists”.

    There is a distinct double standard, where a single scientists says something stupid and they are taken by the deniers to be representative of all climate science, yet the nutters in their extreme are “not one of us.”

    It should be clear that neither side is monolithic.

    • guest says:

      Figueres: First time the world economy is transformed intentionally

      “However the official, Christiana Figueres, the Executive Secretary of UNFCCC, warns that the fight against climate change is a process and that the necessary transformation of the world economy will not be decided at one conference or in one agreement. …”

      “… “This is probably the most difficult task we have ever given ourselves, which is to intentionally transform the economic development model, for the first time in human history”, Ms Figueres stated at a press conference in Brussels.

      ”This is the first time in the history of mankind that we are setting ourselves the task of intentionally, within a defined period of time to change the economic development model that has been reigning for at least 150 years, since the industrial revolution.“

      • Harold says:

        I don’t see anything about the workers controlling the means of production there.

        • guest says:

          I think you meant to say “workers owning the businesses they work at,” which would be just an intermediary step, anyway, toward attempted government ownership of the means of production.

          At any rate, what you do see is globally coordinated attack on free markets by climate alarmists / socialists.

          Socialists like to impose socialism by installments so that it’s easier to accuse people of “McCarthyism” (McCarthy was right in his day, by the way; Just like Project Veritas is right, these days).

          Food for thought:

          The Question
          by Eugene Genovese (A Communist)
          for Dissent Magazine
          Summer of 1994

          Scholars in our own ranks have shown precious little interest in reflecting seriously on the collapse of the socialist countries we supported to the bitter end or on any personal responsibilities we might have for the occasional unpleasantness that led to so sad a denouement.

          “And sad the denouement has been. For one might make a case of sorts to justify mass slaughters as the necessary price to be paid for a grand human liberation. …”

          “… But where is there a serious attempt to determine the extent to which any socialism could function without a command economy or to show how a socialist economy could integrate markets? A few left-wing economists, most notably Louis Ferleger and Jay Mandle, tried to raise these questions long before the collapse of the socialist economies, but they were effectively shut out of the left-wing press and are still ignored. And we may doubt that the wry remark of Nancy Folbre and Samuel Bowles, two other respected left-wing economists, will cause a wrinkle: “Leftwing economists— among whom we count ourselves—have thus far failed to come up with a convincing alternative to capitalism.” …”

          “… We do not need guilt trips and breastbeating. We do need a sober reassessment of the ideological foundations of our political course. …”

          “… Am I crazy to think that if we do not understand why and how we did what we did, we shall certainly end by doing it again—and again? Crazy I may be, but I try not to be a fool. And only a fool would trust those who are now playing possum with even a modicum of political power.”

          “… We have yet to answer our right-wing critics’ claims, which are regrettably well documented, that throughout history, from ancient times to the peasant wars of the sixteenth century to the Reign of Terror and beyond, social movements that have espoused radical egalitarianism and participatory democracy have begun with mass murder and ended in despotism.

        • guest says:

          Oh, hey, look! More attacks on capitalism by people who claim to be single-mindedly afraid of global warming:

          George Monbiot Explains Climate Science

          “Novara Media
          “”We’ve got to go straight to the heart of capitalism and overthrow it.”
          @GeorgeMonbiot on the only hope we have of stopping climate breakdown.”

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