Thursday, December 16, 2010
By Nick Sorrentino
Let me state from the outset that I despise taxes. I loathe them. I believe in free markets, and freedom, choice, and initiative. Taxes almost always get in the way of all of these things.
I believe in cutting taxes whenever possible. I believe in reducing the footprint of the state whenever possible. I have however come to the conclusion that I likely will not convert the world to Rothbardian libertarianism anytime soon no matter how much I would like to, and that where possible it makes sense to work people who may be opposed to many of my beliefs. In this spirit I have decided that 2011 will be the year I make a special effort to reach out to people outside of the libertarian silo.
I believe it makes sense to engage thoughtful, well intentioned people on the issues of the day even if their prescriptions for solution are very different from my own. As a believer in free markets, I believe that libertarianism rises to the top in a free market of ideas. So long as the people debating are not completely incapable of reasonable thought, or are flat out evil, liberty wins. This is why I am venturing out into the policy wilds.
I have begun working with a group interested in how best to deal with carbon emissions. That’s right, I said carbon. Trust me, I feel you, as they say. Most of my comrades in liberty would probably argue that carbon emissions are not even an issue, or at least many of them would.
Saying this, this group I am working with has an interesting take on how best to address the “problem” of carbon. It is one that makes quite a lot of sense for those of us who believe in the power of markets to change the world for the better.
First, I think it is fair to say that the carbon debate and discussion is happening without any libertarians (by and large) at the table. Most of the people discussing the future of “climate regulation” are on the modern left, with the usual cadre of statists, wordlists etc. They have little interest in the free flow of markets. In fact, in (many of) their eyes markets are the reason for the carbon “problem” in the first place.
Those of us who believe in freedom, economic and otherwise rightfully recognize that many of the policies forwarded by the climate establishment are dangerous for individuals and markets. Most of the ideas handed down from on high are heavy handed and almost feel as if they are either crafted to specifically penalize the US and reign it in, or to solidify a global elite in both government and business to the exclusion of those of us who are outside of the carbon regulation club.
This is why people fear the “climate regs,” and carbon taxation so much. It is at least why I do. For many carbon regulation on a global scale is nothing more than a Trojan horse for the comprehensive regulation of every aspect of the world economy. This would be catastrophic for nearly everyone but the regulators.
Back to my new project.
The folks I am working with are interested in reducing carbon emissions. They believe strongly that the emission of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere contributes greatly to climate change, or global warming, or whatever, and as such something must be done about it.
But they stand in relief to many of the people crafting 2000 page documents at the United Nations. This group (I know I have not said their name.) wants to reduce carbon for the sake of a better, more sustainable, planet. They are not interested in regulating the world in such a way that it rectifies all the perceived wrongs of capitalism. They want to reduce carbon, that is their real goal and they have no problem with capitalism flourishing in a cleaner more “sustainable” way.
How is their approach different?
The core tenant of their approach is that carbon must indeed be taxed, but such a tax must be offset by a reduction in restrictive taxes on business.
Now before the wailing begins, I am fully aware of the fact that tax offsets are very difficult to get right, but I am going to give them the benefit of the doubt on this at this point.
Assuming that such an idea could be reliably implemented and that it indeed was taxation neutral, this approach offers much to those of us who are liberty and market oriented.
This might be a way to in fact reduce constraints on business through the reduction of payroll and other taxes while also encouraging growth in areas of the economy that are less polluting.
I know, I know, taxation is theft. But we have to work with people who don’t think that it is. If we don’t, our cause, the cause of liberty, won’t be furthered as much as it might be.
I have more to write on this subject. Perhaps next time I will name the organization. In the mean time let me list the principals of my new collaborators as expressed on their website.
ENHANCE NATIONAL SECURITY – cut our strategic dependence on oil from sources that fund our enemies and place our sons and daughters at risk
CUT JOB TAXES – taxes proven to cut wages and destroy jobs, like the payroll tax – our most regressive tax
STOP SUBSIDIZING POLLUTION – put a simple price on pollution, and use it to pay for further tax cuts on jobs and growth
PAY DIVIDENDS TO CONSUMERS – put the dollars raised back in our pockets, not in the pockets of special interests looking for “cap-and-trade” profits