Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Climate policy does not need bureaucrats. A carbon tax would work just fine. - Richard Tol

Richard is planning to put a tin cup at every gas station.  Give early, give often.

48 comments:

Mark said...

Eli,

it is not necessary to be a sepcialist in Tol's personal worldview to see that what he means here is that a tax would be better than a set of regulations. It is not necessary because a carbon tax is what basically all economists in the field are calling for. And even a cursory look at the literature shows that a plurality of them prefer it at the expense of a regulation of emission abatement or a regulation of the energy sector. This is not Tol, but economics. Of course, one can disagree with this view, but then one should duly direct one's objections against Pigou, not Tol. The fact that you pretend to be dense and understand him to say that we don't need the bureaucrats necessary to organize a tax doesn't reflect well on you. Everybody is entitled to their opinion, but the problem here seems to be an objection against Tol's general woldview, even if that means that you have to make up a misunderstanding.

EliRabett said...

When Richard extends the olive branch of consideration to others, Eli might accept your POV. Eli's take was neither more nor less snarky than the Tolism.

Besides which, taxes require a fair bit of administration and depending on circumstance might require more or less administrative overhead.

Where complex taxes (VAT for example) have become less onerous to administer it is because of automation. A carbon tax requires following carbon (e.g. the changing composition of petrol/gasoline) over time, not by itself simple unless there is a simplifying rule making which itself requires monitoring to avoid those gaming the system.

Jay said...

I'm sure there's an argument to be had regarding regulation vs market solutions (whatever the outcome, it's useful to stick a price on carbon if only for the thought exercise) - but surely the thing with Tol is that he wants a tiny tiny tiny carbon tax. One deliberately so small that it won't be effective at reducing emissions in any meaningful way. And his reasoning for a tiny tax is that he knows climate change definitely won't be harmful all the way up to +4C and perhaps beyond.

If the modelling and risk analysis guys were all as confident as Tol that amassing enough additional energy in the climate system to change the average temperature of an entire planet (the one we happen to live on) from 14C to 18C was a recipe for happy times then Tol's might be a useful voice.

Mark said...

So what you are saying is that you are a meanie because Tol is? I do not even contest the latter. But seriously, are you a child?

If you have serious administrative cost estimates for the implementation of a carbon tax at large scale as compared to a corresponding regulatory approach, let me know. Everything else is taking hot air seriously at worst, or not accounting for one side of the equation at best. You cite a single sentence of Tol. Either you give him the benefit of the doubt and interpret it in the most useful rather than in the most dumb way - or you play along these pubertal boys' plays (and deliberately so, as you yourself admit more or less). Because Tol did it first, or something, I guess... It's not as if the topic were serious, after all, so personal bickering sure should trump everything else, Tol lets you no other choice, this almighty man.

Mark said...

Jay,

is this your judgment from an extensive study of Tol's papers? Or a wild guess resulting from sorta kinda remembering every silly comment he ever made in any blog battle while not even knowing where to look for his papers?

Because sure, if it's the latter, there is something like the four degrees would be nice in Ireland similar comments lacking sensibility.

I don't know what a tiny tiny tiny carbon tax is. But I know for sure that Tol never estimated a net positive impact of +4 °C. One can, of coure, critisize him for his political views and his proximity to sceptics. But that such easiliy demonstrable falsehoods are prevailing in the blogosphere shows that there is little idea or sincere communication of Tol's academic contribution. Eli, for example, has a platform do a serious discussion (as he once did with FUND), but usually he choses cockfighting, so there.

Jay said...

Fair call Mark. I exaggerate and simplify and bitch. Just not nearly as much as I'd like.

I'm not going to criticise Tol for his proximity to anyone. But I am going to criticise him because his risk analysis is pretty dodgy - he assumes that high market rate discounts for future costs are appropriate and climate impacts will be relatively slight. Neither are safe assumptions. There's good reason not to apply market rates across generations and climate impacts come with some chunky uncertainties that we have to accept in the equation.

What I see going wrong with Tol's low tax scenario is that if we discover that climate impacts are at the nasty end of the range of uncertainties or if high discount rates don't apply we won't be able to do a sausage about it because we won't find out until it's too late. And this is a problem where the clock is ticking.

There's good odds your Titanic will sail through the night unscathed. But what if you don't and you know you won't find out 'till too late. What's the smart thing to do?

So what you're left with is Tol advocating a carbon tax position that he argues is a good fit in a bunch of reasonable(ish) contexts. But if he's wrong (and the odds of that aren't zero) the cost is potentially massive. And as far as I can tell that massive potential cost, even if it's an outsider, is enough to push sensible policy to more mitigation - even if by some other reasonable(ish) scenarios that's not the most efficient outcome.

So as I was saying. My beef with Tol is not that he advocates tax rather than regulation (though it's a fair argument to have I reckon) but whether his particular brand of low tax/low mitigation suggestions are sensible things to do (as opposed to think about abstractly) in the first. And that depends on how sure you are that climate impacts will be relatively mild (and you'd have to assume that the crazy weather we've seen in the last couple of years are all freakish incidents) and your grand kids will be 5 or more times better able to afford those impacts than you are.

Otherwise Tol makes some interesting points I reckon. Just don't think he's got it all wrapped up.

willard said...

I thought taxation was a form of regulation.

Maybe it's just a vocabulary thing.

Cf. http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com/post/31268600509

Mark said...

Jay,

well, in this case I ascribed my feelings to you. As someone who usually comes down on the liberal side of issues, I take exception with Tol's "advising" activity to crank organizations like the GWPF. He apparently believes there has to be a counterweight to alleged alarmist reporting pertaining to climate change. But then he overlooks that even if you accept this idea, there is a difference between exaggerating and spreading plain falsehoods and nonsense, and he gives weight to the latter.

Yes, I am aware that the discounting issue is "historically" the defining moment between what can arguably identified as liberal parts of the blogosphere, and Tol. He's come down hard on the Stern Review, bitching around incessantly and going over the top more than once. However, between al the bickering it got lost that basically everyone has criticized the discounting issue in the Review to some extent - including e.g. Delong, who can't be claimed to be "conservative" in any reasonable sense. What has gotten divisive is the "pure rate of time preference". Again, Tol criticized the Review because it did not account for empirical testing of this particular issue, but rather justify it on ethical grounds that may or may not be related to what the people would decide (he has explicitly not criticized Stern for this as a personal choice.) Interestingly, people politically as different as Quiggin and Tyler Cowen came down on Stern's side - so I don't quite understand why this got so political. (Also note that even after all his criticism, the Yohe/Tol review of the Review went along with the extremely widespread "right for the wrong reasons" chorus of the time.)

But then, Tol did not 'advocate' business discounting, but simply chose it as a matter of convenience. Chris Hope, on the other hand, had a more empirical approach, and his recent paper has been discussed in detail by Skeptical Science. If that means that SkSc accepts this approach now (that is, an approach perfectly consistent with what Tol asked for the whole time) I don't know - I am afraid that their choice of papers relating to economics is guided rather by the question if the calculated SCC correspond to their personal impression than according to a discernably comprehensive approach. If there is a comprehensive approach, they didn't communicate it.

What all this further disguises is that there are other issues that have literally zero representation in the blogosphere. Did you read about Tol's recent paper how the SCC are hugely underestimated because IAMs (here specifically PAGE2002 and DICE) do (or did) not account for lasting effects of climate change related economic shocks? Did you read about Tol's assessment of the forseeable civil war/climate change enforced poverty trap in quite a few countries in Sub-Saharan Africa for the whole forthcoming century? And as regards the urgency of mitigation, Tol is not simply a business thug, but has actual thoughts about this issue, but I don't think you will read a lot about his recently accepted (but circulating now for a while) paper "Climate Policy with Bentham-Rawls Preferences". Rather say Tol is an inconsiderate conservative than assuming that he might actually have a point worth considering.

Mark said...

... and to complete my today's communicative diarrhea...

That is, what you get is that he's simply ignored on the basis of his being mean to Stoat (or whoever) or TOLGATE!!!!!! or preferring the Telegraph to the Guardian or the retraction of a paper that has nothing whatsoever to do with climate change. Tol is an eminent economist, not only in the universe of environmental economics, but in general: go look up his ranking, and you'll find him in a really excellent position (and consistently better than any of his critics). This is not to say that one shall follow him slavishly (apart from the question how meaningful such rankings are, anyway). But he makes important contributions. Reading this blog, for example, you'd have the impression that he is some sort of academic troll one should better not take seriously. The refusal to take his academic contributions into account on ideological grounds is reckless, preposterous and causes damage to the overall discussion. Just very recently Skeptical Science listed him alongside Watts as a 'skeptic' who admits that CO2 is a greenhouse gas. This is ridiculous. First, there is a difference in the crap Watts disseminates and Tol's positions (whatever you think about any of them), no way to justify a list containing them both under the generic term 'skeptic'. And second, the impression (that surely is conveyed) that Tol in anywhere near a position where such questions are even on the table is dumb, and nothing else but dumb. I have no idea what the author of this list had smoked or what he thought to accomplish with it other than confusing his/her readers about where actual differences on the topic might be located. As if Tol ran around yelling "Yeah, CO2 is a greenhouse gas, so what?" (If you think this is a reasonable description of his position, again, it is a sign that none of his papers ever crossed your eyes.)



What we get are endless discussions and willful misunderstandings about really any off-the-cuff or private remark, but no serious discussion. Given a difficult personality, one always has the choice to take seriously what is useful, and discount the rest. Instead, on almost every blog concerned with climate change (non-denialist and non-skeptic) it's discounting it all together because his hair is funny, thereby deliberately depriving themselves from insight. Tol is presented as a clown, and each and every comment is interpreted (to stress it again: even willfully wrongly) as a confirmation of this ridiculous charicature made up years ago. Unfortunately, Eli consistently chooses this approach for some time now, too.

P.S.: Sorry for not properly differentiating between sceptic and skeptic and whatever, this has gotten so lame, pointless and over-generalized I really do not care any more.

Mark said...

willard,

semantics aside, I think the issue is pretty clear. If not, you can start here...

http://www.econlib.org/library/NPDBooks/Pigou/pgEWCover.html

... and end up about here, for example...

http://gregmankiw.blogspot.fr/2006/10/pigou-club-manifesto.html

(Al Gore and Paul Krugman are members, in case you have doubts about Mankiw or the WSJ.)

Anonymous said...

Mark: "... and to complete my today's communicative diarrhea..."

Have I got a word for you: logorrhea 8^)!

Mal Adapted

Jay Alt said...

Guilty as charged, I confess to awareness of his style. The idea Tol is an upper echelon economist seems odd. His name has never cropps up anywhere I notice save AGW economics discussions.

Since 2007, many reports have shown IPCC projections are too conservative. Around that time, Tol says the Stern Report assumptions are far too strong a medicine. A lot of water has passed under the bridge since then and in New Hampshire, for example, many 200 yro covered bridges washed out to sea.

Given the spotty record of economists to predict growth, recessions or much else, I've no confidence Tol has special insights. His claim that the costs of carbon tax might exceed most people's income is not credible.

I see that sort of 'dodgy analysis' conclusion as typical of bad [read 'climate denier'] economists. Like Margo Thorning who regularly testifies to congress for manufacturers. Her trick? If cap-and-trade were passed and nobody tried to reduce their C use, the cost of using fossil fuels would be enormous. Duh. Complete idiocy.

Mark said...

Yes, Jay, thanks for that contribution.

What you attribute to Tol is not true.

The rest of your post is about your problems with economics in general, not with Tol. Bty, it's the same kind economics Stern is using. Or Krugman.

Here is an author ranking:

http://ideas.repec.org/top/top.person.all.html

Thanks for to admit in advance that all you care about is style, not content. It shows.

Anon, good point.

Jay said...

Loosely speaking I don't care what discount rate you choose as long as you're upfront about it.

At least if Tol says he's assuming a discount rate of 3% other people can chip in and argue why they think it's unreasonable.

My biggest beef with Tol is his logic, not his numbers.

Tol will argue things like 'you can appeal to higher risk and argue for higher mitigation' - which I think is pretty much a word for word quote and a fair representation.

Thing is, these are all appeals to this or that.

And risk analysis 101 tells us not that we can appeal to higher risk, but because the clock is ticking and we won't know things until it's too late to act on them, that we must.

That's a big difference.

Truth is, climate change might be a sticky problem that costs some money. Trying to find a get out of jail free card and hoping physics conveniently plays along might not be the best way to deal with it.

EliRabett said...

IEHO the tell on Tol is the issues he has had nailing down a long term positions, that and the fun that and the tiny stink bombs he leaves his colleagues on his exit.

Of course, many are impressed with Richard's way in the world

Mark said...

Great Eli,

simply repeat the same stories from the last few years and link a) an shitstorm about a non-academic contribution, and b) an old story about a paper that has absolutely nothing to do with climate change. Your lame puns are only topped by your intellectual laziness. Of course you have exactly nothing to say on any topic brought up. Way to go.

EWI said...

@ Mark

I think the supposed academic rankings give some cause for concern. Say you have an attention-seeking academic whose insecurities lead him to develop an obsession with the rankings, and who coincidentally also has some noticeable oddities in his referencing practices.

Now where are your rankings, which apparently can be gamed if you're shameless enough?

EWI said...

@ Mark

Tol, by the way, is certainly denialist-curious at the very least, no matter how coy he is about it, trying to straddle both the positions of his comrades in the nutter/shill squad and the respectable academic community to which he also wishes to belong. We could fill a very lengthy thread with examples here.

willard said...

Mark,

Mansplaining dully noted.

Semantics aside, I don't think there's much to discuss.

Eli's comment might be an invitation to think.


Thank you for your concerns,

w

David B. Benson said...

Thinking in short supply this thread.

Mark said...

@ EWI

Well, the reaction to the evidence that Tol has a very comfortable standing in academics outside the mind of those who get their information about him from blogs like this here is interesting. First, a commenter simply refuses to believe it. Then, Eli comes up with a desperate attempt at making fun about Tol by linking to two posts that have absolutely no bearing on the question at all. Now you refuse to accept the validity of the ranking. There are indeed problems with it: Elinor Ostrom, for example, has a not a very good ranking (yes, deceased authors are in), possibly meaning that the accounting is not inclusive enough. Some relevant economists, e.g. Jeffrey Sachs, are not registered at repec and therefore not on the list at all. But the idea that you get in the top 100 simply by producing crap that everybody feels the need to refute and thus cite is quite a stretch (note again the "almighty Tol" theme here). Even if you account for all shortcomings Tol won't suddenly become a bad economist, or so. Won't happen. Your conjectures are absolutely evidence-free (I could make the same claim about whoever I happen to dislike), and if I refuted them the next would come up with the idea that Tol is just in the top 100 because he cites himself so much, or whatever it needs to convince yourself that you need not read an actual paper.

Moreover, please cite where Tol himself is in denial or whatever "denier-curious at least" means (and note that chosing a high discount rate etc. is not denial). It's disturbing that he gives weight to denialists, I don't think you can claim that he himself is one. But sure, show me the contrary.

@ willard

Of course, one can always think about whatever one stumbles upon. But the post itself was an exercise in bad faith, and Eli admitted as much in comment 2 (but it's really justifed because Tol looked at his girlfriend funny; it's a man's world, after all). Regarding this specific topic Eli is a typical comment section expert: he can endlessly regurgitate any story from any blog or comment section from the last five or so years, but has little to nothing to say about what is actually going on in the literature. His knowledge regarding climate change economics is apparently pegged to the level of 2006 discussions about the Stern Review, and that's why he is coming up with the ever same lame meta-comments and stories unrelated to the questions the actual literature brings up. But he has very strong judgments nonetheless; every reading related to Tol is done for the sole sake of confirming it. Now that is something to think about.

willard said...

Mark,

The post itself was a comment on a quote.

It would be quite possible to analyze that quote to clearly see what it conveys. For instance, we see the word "bureaucrat", which I don't think is a concept taken from any formal discipline. There is also this interesting two-step between necessity ("does not need") and sufficiency ("would work just fine") that does seem to lie beyond the powers of any kind of modelling.

In other words, as Ross McKitrick would say in what might not be his most self-reflecting moments, what we are witnessing right now is activism. This includes Richard, Eli.

This includes me.

And this includes you.

As the ancients might say, this concerns manner, not wit. That there is a swift brain behind all that bad hair does not alone justify Richard's rhetorical stance. Another Dick, viz. Lindzen, clearly shows the limits of relying on wit alone.

Climate policy does not need witty scoundrels. Good-mannered rhetors would work just fine.

Behind his curmudgeon façade, I believe that Eli's not that bad mannered. Mileage varies, as always.

While I have some sympathy for your point, dear Mark, it is sugar-coated in so much condescending deflections that you'll have to defend it all by yourself.

There are limits to justified disingeniousness. Please do not push them and mind your manners, as Richard should.

Best,

w

Mark said...

willard,

I am not sure what you are referring to. What I am saying the whole time is that basing one's judgment on meta alone is ridiculous, as is Tol's ideological activism (I don't know how to make that any clearer). What is not OK is to simply ignore Tol's academic contributions on these grounds. If you have evidence that these consist on activism, please demonstrate it. The whole discussion about climate change economics as it happens here consists of a self-referencing loop between a couple of blogs without much connection to the literature, but permanently concerned with off-the-cuff comments and things that XY said about Tol in some obscure comment section some years ago (and a lot of self-delusion that Tol is an unimportant economist, but that's just an aside). Again, if you have any concrete evidence to the contrary, let me know.

Mark said...

willard,

at second thought you are right. I have vented my frustrations and if there was a point to be made I either succeded or not at this point. No need to further troll the comment section.

willard said...

Mark,

That Richard uses his authority as a genial economist to promote his anti-authoritarianism seems quite obvious to anyone who follows his opus of op-eds. In our actual case, the way he opposes taxation and bureaucracy might very well push the limits of justified dis-ingeniousness [1]. I believe this was Eli's point, which is even more relevant if we assume that there is lots of wit behind that bad hair.

Eli does have his idiosyncratic ways. It's just a bunny, and it's just a blog. The take home, as always, is:

> We're being played, folks. That's all.

Hoping we're in less than violent agreement,

Goodbye,

w

[1] It does not beat McKitrick's "carbon-neutral" taxation trick, but nevermind.



badger badger badger said...

The case for not giving Richard Tol the benefit of doubt is provided in the comments at the Crooked Timber post, by Richard Tol.

Jay Alt said...

@Mark, who wrote:
Yes, Jay, thanks for that contribution.
What you attribute to Tol is not true.


The falsities of Tol mentioned are available in his own words-

THE SOCIAL COST OF CARBON: trends, outlier and catastrophes
Richard S.J. Tol Aug 9, 2007

(Conclusions)
Fourthly, if everyone were to pay a carbon tax equal to the social cost of carbon (but not reduce emissions), there is a fair chance that annual
taxes would exceed annual income for many people.


That is the exact argument adopted by paid industry liars, like Margo Thorning, to testify before Congress and derail adoption of a carbon price.

Tol is also a member of that self-appointed coffee klatch headed by Bjorn, the Copenhagen Consensus. Chuckle

Mark said...

Jay Alt,

this is my fault. I thought we were talking about a Pigou tax according to average estimates. Tol is actually calling for something like the latter. If you literally mean 'any tax', your claim is true, and my objection was wrong. But so is yours (i.e. that his assertion is not credible): What Tol is referring to is taxes (or liability) representing the full SCC (times emissions) without abatement according to a meta-analysis regarding various (catastrophic) risk scenarios (and related the influence of the discount rate). To judge if the claim is true you need a pencil and a sheet of paper. The first country for which he assumes the "not credible" claim to become true is the Ukraine under a carbon tax of $418/tC! A look at the data presented might help. Tip: Figure 2 really makes clear immediately what he is talking about. Or what happens under $1385/tC. Really, you doubt that this tax burden would exceed annual income for many people? Where is that extremely high-income country you are living in? This is a simple matter of fact, and if he's wrong it should take you one line to disprove him: you only have to show that any country's average income (at the time when the paper was published) is higher than any arbitrarily high number (OK, OK... at the very least that the specified tax burden really does not exceed annual Ukrainian income as of 2002, as claimed in the paper). So could you specify how this claim is 'not credible'? Again, what you are referring to is a claim about a carbon tax representing full liability for emissions without abatement, not some vague statement about carbon tax. The conclusion as stated in the paper, btw, is that one should abate and that his gets an issue of equity. More generally: Is your objection really that it is not credible that such a tax can be higher than income, NO MATTER how high the tax or the income?! This would be an extraordinary claim, for purely mathematical reasons.

But some vague allusion to "industry liars" and throwing in some names and random other stuff will do it, too, I guess. Perhaps you should also link to some blogposts totally unrelated to the topic, just to be sure, as this is an extremely powerful tool to show how wrong he is. Learn from the bunny. Chuckle

Anonymous said...

"InTolerance"
-- by Horatio Algeranon

InTolerant am I?
For simply questioning "Why?
A basic carbon tax
Requires no bureaucrats"

Mark said...

Anon, this is the best comment until now!

However, context might help if the original quote is really so confusing as to force anybody to attribute a ridiculous claim to it. Tol is arguing against the set up of a bureaucracy that does nothing to reduce emissions (yes, he actually thinks that should be done!) - and underlines this with the obvious zinger quoted here. Now, you might say, one relly cannot read such a specific meaning out of that single quote. I guess that was the whole point of this post, as the piece from which the quote is taken and thus its context is not linked to. So, here you go:

http://www.irisheconomy.ie/index.php/2012/12/10/doha/

You'll find the bunny there, too, with nothing to say about the piece, but surely cutting out the quote, natch!

EliRabett said...

The thing, dear Mark, about Dickey, is that he has absolutely no ability to look at the consequences of his brilliance. Reducing him to an absurdity is a twitter length activity.

This was quite clear in his latest "proposal", thinking that a complex tax could be administered by thin air.

His latest though on that thread is even better, showing a complete lack of self awareness dismissively describing

“Climocrats are bureaucrats in private, public, or multilateral organization who spend most of their working time on climate policy.”

Richard to a Tol.

Anonymous said...

"Flat as a Hatter"
-- by Horatio Algeranon

"Goofy claims* require goofy evidence"
Is what a wise old chap once said.
"The world is flat" requires a cat
Perched atop a hatter's head.

So,

If hats are tall
And cats have tails
Do Tol cats
Have Tol tales?

/////

*eg, "Climate policy does not need bureaucrats"

Mark said...

Eli,

I know that wou managed to extract another quote out of context for the sole reason to ridicule it - I read the comment thread there.

But if you think that Tol's academic activity (hence his working time) consists of doing climate policy shows once more that you spend half of your life in comment threads tackling pure meta without having even a smidgeon of an idea what is going on in in academic liaterature related to climate change economics.

And it further confirms that the only thing you are concerned with is looking for quotes to confirm your bias.

Mark said...

Horatio,

You and Eli can of course further refuse to interpret the quote in its context where it makes perfect sense, I cannot change that. If you feel better doing so by evading to lame sarcasm, so be it.

Anonymous said...

This is quite a momentumous equation: the first time anyone has ever taken Horatio's goofiness seriously.

Mark said...

Anon,

I tend to believe that people use several strategies to convey a meaning while concealing their motivations. In this case we have a near-pathological obsession with Tol's persona (as if anybody cared or should care e.g. if he is self-conscious) paired with a blatand disregard for the message he conveys (be it in the quote itself or in the overal article for which there seems to be exactly zero iterest, here or over there).

Eli resorts to what he thinks is humor, Horatio write poems that hopefully are also intended as a form of humor. In both cases there is a very serious intention that for some reason not really clear to me shall not be visible. Like people who hit their opinion in the keyboard with apparent anger in their style and then add a smiley to give a false impression of how desinterestedly and coolly they are writing. It's a communication strategy the aim of which escapes me. And while it is indeed goofy in its form, I don't see why I should not take it seriously in its content.

Of course I might be wrong and talk to clowns, I just don't think so.

willard said...

Mark,

Perhaps there is a more straightforward way to settle this.

How do you suggest that the carbon tax gets implemented, if not by regulative means, which usually entail some kind of bureaucracy?

Since this is Eli's point from the start, and considering your interest in that thread, I'd like you to share your opinion on this.

***

So let's recap:

(P1) Climate policy does not need climatocrats.

(P2) Bureaucrats might be needed for university stuff.

I believe that from these premises, we could concede:

(C) Climate policy can never be something like university stuff.

What kind of stuff is climate policy, and how can that kind of stuff share anything with "academic lichurchur related to climate change economics" if we accept P1 and P2?

Maybe it's just a vocabulary thing.

Mark said...

willard,

read Tol's article. (P1) gets pretty clear when you just read the sentence preceding it: it is simply a pointed remark alluding to the relative benefits of the implementation of a carbon tax relative to the regulatory approach as it is exemplified by conferences like DOHA (the actual topic) and the bureaucracy necessary for it. As I said, Eli is free to present a calculation to the contrary if he has one, he would get quite important in economics overnight. This reading in context is much more reasonable than believing that you just reduced an eminent economist "to an absurdity" in "twitter length activity" under the implicit hypothesis that he doesn't know econ101 and is dumb to a point where he wouldn't pass kindergarden. I'd again stress that Eli himself admitted that this reading is indeed possible (if only Tol was nicer). Dumb comments by eminent economists do happen from time to time: Krugman's refutation of Lucas' remarks related to macroeconomics at the beginning of our crisis can only be defended by resorting to extremely convoluted arguments (though this is also not exactly an econ101 problem). This is not the case here: you just have to read the sentence before. If you chose not to include it in your evaluation about what Tol wanted to say in the quote presented here, you willfully ignore context. This, then, says more about you than Tol. That is, your (P1) is not what Tol means to say - when quoting, one should follow the thought, not punctuation marks.

I don't know what exactly (P2) refers to, but I do not think that anybody doubts it, including Tol (though he argues that university bureaucracy is overblown, at least in Ireland). And following what I just said, there is no contradiction between (P1) and (P2), as (P1) is not true. Ask Tol, if you have doubts about it, I'll give you an emoticon if he says otherwise.

I do not understand what (C) means or how it is important.

Concerning your last point: academic literature can inform policy, e.g. in that it evaluates policy. It cannot negotiate or implement policy, and that is was what Tol was referring to with climatocrats. So either you play words, as Eli did, and again work under the hypothesis that you are obsessed with an idiot. Or you pay some attention to what Tol is actually talking about. And apart from that, the question if Tol is self-conscious or not is as important for the accuracy of his remarks as the question if Al Gore is self-conscious to buy a house at the shore is for the reality of AGW. Of course, faulty arguments concerning the latter have been undertaken, and it's interesting to see Eli following the example. Hatred is evil. But then, as I said, the obsession here is with Tol as a person, there is no interest in what he is actually saying.

Mark said...

Sorry, the Krugman/Lucas example meant to say that Lucas' remarks are hardly defensible, not Krugman's refutation.

Mark said...

And I actually just referred to Doha as a conference, called DOHA.

Dear willard, I think this is a clear sign that I've spent too much time in a comment section without the training for such marathons. I'll refrain from further commenting, this time for real - as I said above, there is no point I could hope to convey if I haven't already. I have no idea why I got so worked up about this particular post. I'd just say that it's one in a long series here invariably relating to meta about Tol that are annoying me. Hopefully, we get some real discussion about climate change economics here in the future. It has happend with FUND, so why should it not happen again?

willard said...

Dear Mark,

The way I phrased my premises should be enough to hint at the fact that I did read the article, but thank you for the unsollicited advice.

Since I prefer to read whole paragraphs, here's the one containing the sentence quoted by Eli:

> Climate policy does not need bureaucrats. A carbon tax would work just fine. I was therefore pleased that as of Budget2(0)13 solid fuels will no longer be exempted from the carbon tax. Let’s hope that the fiscal problems elsewhere will force other countries to follow Ireland’s example and introduce a carbon tax too. It would be even better if austerity would cull the excessive numbers of climocrats.

http://www.irisheconomy.ie/index.php/2012/12/10/doha/

I'm not sure how you can find any pointedness to these remarks, which you have excluded from your exegesis. Finding a formal paper on the merits of economical austerity to fight against climatocracy.

While I don't get this remark as a comment based on therization of climate economics as you do, I sure can see that this whole paragraph serves the purpose of editorializing against bureaucracy and for free market solutions.

Even if we **do** interpret this sentence as an allusion to the relative benefits of the implementation of a carbon tax relative to regulatory approach by conferences like DOHA (the actual topic thank you very much), my question remains:

How the hell do you implement such taxation, if not by bureaucratic means?

You see, Eli might only be a bunny, he seems to be able to smell when folks are being played.

All this has nothing to do with academic stuff, which by essence has been portrayed as bureaucratic by Dr. Tol.

***

I mean, come on, Mark, it's quite obvious why you're trying to steer the discussion under the rug of academic stuff: to attack Eli's knowledge of it. Perhaps this is because you do believe he does the same with Dr. Tol. Quite frankly, I could not care less for your motivations, even when you openly talk about them as you do, and will finally note simply the irrelevance of this dig at Krugman and that the way you are refusing to answer this simple question might mean that this might not be the first time you are raising concerns. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

Farewell,

w

PS: The opposite to marathons are drive-bys.


willard said...

Finding a formal paper on the merits of economical austerity to fight against climatocracy **might be tough**, of course.

Anonymous said...

"Twitspeak"
-- by Horatio Algeranon

It's only Twitter
Don't blame me
If I say "yes"
It means "no," see?

If I say "black"
It really means "white"
If I say "day"
It actually means "night"

If I say
"This tweet's sorely needed"
It simply means
I shouldn't have tweeted.

Richard S J Tol said...

I had completely overlooked this thread about me.

A carbon tax is best implemented as an energy-specific excise. Energy use is excised already in many countries, so a carbon tax requires merely a change in existing excises. The administration is in place already.

The only extra bureaucracy you need is a small panel to advise on the carbon tax in the next budget.

Tradable permits, subsidies, refits, fuel mandates, feebates and whatever regulation you can think of require quite a bit of bureaucracy to administer the policy.

EliRabett said...

Ahem. So solar and wind and hydro pay the same tax? For example, consider electricity, how do you separate the cost of carbon driven and carbon free electrical generation?

Further, you appear to be saying that there already exists a considerable taxing infrastructure so we won't count that.

Richard S J Tol said...

@eli
For electricity, you tax the intermediate energy delivered to the power plant.

There is indeed already an administrative infrastructure to levy and pay taxes on almost all forms of commercial energy. In most cases, a carbon tax implies that you only need to adjust the rates.

Mark said...

Yeah! The Tol was here. And apparently Eli's misreading is at the same time refuted and too dumb for him to specifically identify and address. I ask you, how could I have known what he means from the very beginning, just how is that possible? Either I am telepathically connected to Tol's brainz or I am simply not deliberately illiterate, I guess.

And now for the next post how Tol does not know that CO2 is a GHG, or how he cannot tell the difference between the discount rate and the pure rate of time preference, or how he thinks that Weitzman is a German beer and Sterner is really just the comprative of Stern. I mean, come on, Eli, you'll find a quote for all those somewhere in a comment that you can not link to, then!

Martin Vermeer said...

Actually the same applies for regulation: e.g., in all civilized countries there have been regulations (standards) in place forever on the amount of pollution car engines are allowed to produce. True, this is about local pollution, but would be readily extended to GHG pollution.

For cap-and-trade ab initio, the objection is valid. And we have seen how the discretion it introduces (awarding free emission permits to pre-existing polluters) can be and is being gamed.