Thursday, June 26, 2014

The reform conservative climate punt

Just for the record, in case future researchers in a heavily air-conditioned facility someday scroll through this blog as part of some vast data-mining project, let me state, unequivocally, that I dispute and reject Ross Douthat's post "Reform Conservatism and Climate Change," in which he argues that avoiding policy prescriptions on climate change is exactly the right thing for reform conservatives to be doing.

Douthat makes an extended analogy in which climate policy is likened to insurance that will be costly and have uncertain benefits, and require your neighbors to buy into it as well, plus the thing you're insuring against doesn't seem as bad as it did a few years ago, plus you're not as wealthy as you were a few years ago, so now is not the time to … blah blah blah. It's all offal. The risks are plenty real. The neighbors are considerably subject to your influence (because you are a huge property-owner known as the United States of America, and you buy a lot of their products and can put fees on ones that are carbon-intensive). You're not too poor to afford the insurance policy--if it's a carbon tax, it raises money, and can be used to help your economy by enabling cuts or elimination of other taxes.

This is what reform conservatism amounts to in 2014? Some child tax credits and deliberate omission of  action on climate? What kind of world are those kids going to grow up and grow old in? This kind.

UPDATE 6/30: "The best way to understand Douthat’s piece is by reverse engineering his argument as a constrained minimization problem The objective is to minimize the craziness he needs to embrace, subject to the constraint that he must end up in line with the denialist conspiracy theorists who dominate the base." I find this sadly persuasive, notwithstanding its lack of punctuation.

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