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Climate Policy as ‘Bribery’: James Hansen’s Latest (gov’t failure in the quest to correct ‘market failure’)

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- November 1, 2016

So why did nations from Australia to Europe and states such as California adopt an ineffectual bureaucratic cap-and-trade system? In a word: bribes.”

James Hansen, “Washington [State] can Lead: Unwashed Version,” October 26, 2016.

“In every country and state where I have tried to make the case for a simple, honest carbon fee-and-dividend the politicians respond that they want part of the money to spend on ‘this and that’ ….”

James Hansen, “Carbon Pricing: A Useful Cautionary Tale.” October 28, 2016.

The civil war in the environmental community, already evident in the debate over the future of nuclear power, also exists in climate policy between carbon taxation and cap-and-trade. MasterResource has published numerous posts summarizing the views of climate scientist James Hansen, and intellectual leader of CitizensClimateLobby.org on this issue (see here and here).

In his recent opinion-page editorial, “Washington [State] can Lead: Unwashed Version,” climate scientist James Hansen revisits his concerns about real-world climate policy and his theoretical ideal, a CO2 fee-and-dividend program. Hansen is insightful and honest about what passes for public policy compared to what he thinks is effectual in this debate. This scientist/activist has discovered Public Choice Economics through the back door/

Some highlights follow:

“So why did nations from Australia to Europe and states such as California adopt an ineffectual bureaucratic cap-and-trade system?  In a word: bribes.”

“Seven years ago, then Senator John Kerry admitted to me that fee-and-dividend was better, but, he said, in words that still ring in my ears, “I can’t get one vote for that.”  Instead, liberals pushed for Waxman/Markey cap-and-trade, with every vote bought and paid for by giveaways to special interests, the bill stretching to over 2000 pages.”

I tried in more than a dozen countries to persuade politicians of the need for a simple across-the-board (oil/gas/coal) rising carbon fee with all money given to the public…. I initially attributed the difficulty of achieving this in the U.S. to the large number of climate deniers, politicians who are well-oiled and coal-fired. However, … comparable blame rests upon politicians of both political parties.”

“Right-wing collaboration with the fossil fuel industry is obvious, but connivance of liberals is widespread. Soon after Dick Gephardt retired as the Democratic leader in the U.S. House of Representatives, he began receiving $120,000 per quarter from Peabody coal for lobbying, almost half a million dollars per year from a single source.”

“Once elected, our representatives feel entitled to become part of an elite class. They are intelligent people, who support political perspectives that they think are good, but their personal well-being plays a big role.”

“Washington is broken. The system in Washington is rotten to the core. Sophisticated bribery reigns. The pharmaceutical industry, the big banks, the fossil fuel industry, and so on, all work the system with impunity.”

“… cap-and-trade is designed to allow favors, offsets, and never would or should be trusted by the public. And tax swaps in our nation’s capital are fodder for special interests, not the public’s interest.”

In every country that I visited and in every state that proffers their plan for cap-and-trade, the politicians drool over the money. They say the money is needed for good social services, and they mean it. But that approach is also a setup for business-as-usual bribes.”

Two days after the above post, James Hansen published another post on the debate in Washington State over a carbon tax, Proposition I-732, which reads:

This measure was designed to impose a carbon emission tax on certain fossil fuels and fossil-fuel-generated electricity, reduce the sales tax by one percentage point, increase a low-income exemption, and reduce certain manufacturing taxes.

Followed by more detail:

This measure would impose a carbon emission tax on the sale or use of certain fossil fuels and fossil-fuel-generated electricity, at $15 per metric ton of carbon dioxide in 2017, and increasing gradually to $100 per metric ton (2016 dollars adjusted for inflation), with more gradual phase-in for some users. It would reduce the sales tax rate by one percentage point over two years, increase a low-income sales tax exemption, and reduce certain manufacturing taxes.

Hansen is supported of Initiative 732; ‘people of color’ are not, because they see the tax swap as relatively discriminatory. Evidently, James Hansen was treated disrespectfully.

“Van Jones vowed to go on Bill Maher’s program to sink [Washington State’s] I-732 and carbon fee-and-dividend. He said that the community concerned about actions to slow human-made climate change needs to start over, work together with communities of color, and come up with a better plan that better compensates all communities.”

“In my 75 years, to the best of my knowledge, I was never previously accused of condescension and racism…. [W]hat we propose is in the best interests of disadvantaged communities.”

James Hansen, “Carbon Pricing: A Useful Cautionary Tale.” October 28, 2016.

James Hansen should rethink the climate crusade, beginning with the science and continuing with climate policy. There is not only the market failure he claims to see so clearly. There is also government failure, the inherently corrupting influence, of government intervention into markets such as taxing, for the first time, carbon dioxide.

One Comment for “Climate Policy as ‘Bribery’: James Hansen’s Latest (gov’t failure in the quest to correct ‘market failure’)”

  1. Steve Walser  

    It should be obvious to all that carbon, being black, any attempt to reduce carbon is inherently racist! From this we can conclude that the entire, lily white, environmental movement is built on a racist foundation and must be smashed.
    How could Hansen not see this glaring defect? Apparently his privilege got in the way.


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