Question for the Commentariat

Reader Alex writes:

Would libertarians approve of a carbon tax if it was accompanied with an abolition or 50 year suspension of the federal income tax?

I won’t pretend to speak for such a diverse movement. Personally, since I’m such a concequentialist, I’d ask for a cost-benefit analysis, and endorse such a move only if it reduced overall tax burdens. What do other folks think?

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8 Responses to Question for the Commentariat

  1. Prodigal Son says:

    Speaking for myself, I would agree with a carbon tax over the income tax if it was revenue neutral (or better). This would realistically be a consumption tax where the tax rate is spread unevenly based on how much carbon that product consumes during the production process. While this would raise prices on most (all?) goods people would have access to more of their wages, giving them more disposable income to make market-based decisions. By taxing carbon it is an attempt to internalize externalities… I don’t think that is the best or most efficient way to deal with pollution but it is better than the current system. Even if a cost/benefit analysis shows no monetary gain I would still support it.

    • Aaron says:

      To appeal to libertarians broadly, there would have to be safeguards to prevent politically/socially favored industries or products from receiving exemptions. For instance, the carbon footprint of some ‘green’ goods far exceeds their ‘dirtier’ goods. The results, in terms of carbon, would have to be empirically determined and unbiased by politics.

      WHIIIIIIIIIICH is all about as unlikely as a politically neutral income tax code …

  2. No and hell no!

    A libertarian must never, ever approve of a new taxing authority, whether as part of a swap or in isolation. There are no morally acceptable bases for taxation. Government revenue should be on a fee-for-service basis, just as every other enterprise gets its revenues — and the prospective customer must always have the right to say “No, thanks” and do without the service.

    The one imaginable exception is national defense, a classic “public good” that cannot be restricted to only those willing to pay for it. But there are voluntarist approaches even to funding that.

    We might not achieve our desired end state swiftly, but we mustn’t collaborate with the statists. Every concession to them will be used as a lever against us later.

    I know, I know. “We have to be practical.” Again, no we don’t. “Being practical” is what got America into this mess. Besides, that’s the job of the other parties. Our job is to uphold a consistent, morally sound standard “to which the wise and the honest can repair.” Thus we can drag the other parties toward our positions with consistent, well reasoned, principled arguments and a growing base of allegiants whose votes they covet.

    Keep the faith.

  3. Pingback: The Brief Case against the Carbon Tax | Whiskey and Car Keys

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