Tuesday, July 02, 2013

R Street Part I

One of the things that Eli has to thank Peter Gleick for is driving Eli Lehrer out of the Heartland Institute.  Lehrer, in addition to being an Eli, is that Washington DC mixture of think tanker and lobbyist whose practice centers on the insurance industry, and as he puts it

Indeed, if free-market conservatives really want evidence of climate change, they ought to look towards the insurance markets that would bear much of the cost of catastrophic climate change. All three of the major insurance modeling firms and every global insurance company incorporate human-caused climate change into their projections of current and future weather patterns. The big business that has the most to lose from climate change, and that would reap the biggest rewards if it were somehow solved tomorrow, has&nbsp universally decided that climate change is a real problem. An insurance company that ignored climate change predictions could, in the short term, make a lot of money by underpricing its competition on a wide range of products. Not a single firm has done this.
The unmasking of Heartland, followed by the billboard meltdown, as Marx would say, heightened the contradictions.for Lehrer to the point where his team had to leave Heartland before his practice left him.  Eli2 has set up a new organization R Street, and they are doing some interesting things including a recent debate between Andrew Moylan from R Street and Bob Inglis on one side and James Taylor from Heartland and David Kreutzer from Heritage.  The moderator, Ronald Bailey was excellent.  Peter Sinclair at Crocks has some more on the debate.  Lehrer had set up the debate:  Resolved: Under no circumstances should conservatives support a tax on carbon emissions, but it was assumed as part of the debate that human driven climate change was a real threat, and the question before the quite right wing house was whether a carbon tax to meet that challenge could be supported by conservatives.

As a somewhat neutral, this Eli, quite enjoyed the discomfort of Taylor, who kept on trying to push back against the parameters of reality.  The interesting thing, given that he said anything interesting, was how stilted, and weak his arguments were.  Just the usual.  Willis and Willard Tony do a better job, but clearly he thought that he was dealing with an audience who had not followed any of the discussion (and there were some of those there).  Anyone challenged to a debate by Taylor should accept, and if feeling generous give odds.  OTOH be prepared to talk over him.  Kreutzer had a single argument, that any new income to the federal government was evil, that any proposals for rebates were hopelessly naive.  In his words it would be delusional to believe that $200 billion could walk across DC without being molested.

Perhaps the most interesting statement came from Kreutzer when challenged about the regressive nature of a carbon tax he pointed out that simultaneous reduction of payroll taxes could compensate. 

The house stood strong for the negative at the end.  At least that bunch of conservatives would accept a carbon tax.


Martin Vermeer said...

Actually one solution instead of carbon tax that "doesn't have to walk across DC" would be a feed-in tariff for renewables. It's just between power companies, producers and consumers... libertarians should love it.

OTOH it cuts out he big corps too, from the production side. Honest libertarians should love it...

Brian said...

Carbon tax instead of payroll tax has been Al Gore's idea for years. Interesting that the Heritage rep would support it.

KAP said...

In the Leher quote, you've missed a semicolon at the end of an &nbsp character entity.

KAP said...

The problem with feed-in tariffs is that the government ends up choosing winners and losers. With a straight carbon tax, the marketplace decides.

Russell Seitz said...

I've tried for years to offset Ron Bailey's aversion to taxes by pitching a hydrogen rebate as part of any tax on hydrocarbon fuels.

Because coal and tar sand are not chemicals , but rocks of highly variable composition.

Attempts to ramp carbon taxation up into de facto carbon prohibition face a fact equally inconvenient to technophiles and wannbe l geosocial engineers:

limiting antropogenic CO2 growth to 1 ppm a year means a per captia carbon fuel ration of barely a pound per day- less a campaign against coal than a war aganst fire.

Martin Vermeer said...


as electricity "markets" bear little resemblance to those in the economics textbooks, I choose not to care. And I (and surely you) know who the losers are. Guess where the word 'carbon' in 'carbon tax' comes from?