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Monday, May 19, 2014

Carbon taxation for skeptics [with small update]

Sometimes, an opinion piece is notable not just for its opinion but for the lengths to which the author will go to convince a particular audience of that opinion. Case in point: Irwin Stelzer's "Let's Tax Carbon," in the Weekly Standard. I strongly agree with the basic position (tax carbon and cut taxes on other things), which is one of the issues on which my centrist zig veered from the conservatives' zag in recent years. But I'd part company from Stelzer's rhetoric at moments like this:
Conservatives can maintain their skepticism about global climate change, but that does not mean that a bit of prudential action might not be appropriate should it turn out that carbon emissions are indeed having a negative effect on climate.
Me: Conservative identity has become so beholden to "skepticism about global climate change" that it's apparently now necessary to tell conservatives they can keep that set of beliefs even while trying to convince them to act as if they didn't hold them. If you like your skepticism, you can keep your skepticism. But I'm a pragmatist and not complaining. I hope Stelzer's approach is convincing.

UPDATE 7/17: Stelzer and the Standard double down, denying a carbon tax even has anything to do with climate change.

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