Wednesday, November 15, 2006
... when everyone is this wrong anyway?
I was originally going to limit my response to this article, about Republican support for imposing an inane "carbon tax" as a response to global warming hysteria, to rolling my eyes. It was on the lefty web site, Slate, after all.
And then I saw this other article, which "opposes" this tax on the very same grounds!
And so I looked into both a little more. Global warming hysteria, as it turns out, is not the only thing that is causing these "fiscal conservatives" to pretend that the government is supposed to forget about individual rights. For example, Alan Greenspan sees the notion of a carbon tax as a "national security issue" -- as if reimposing the Arab Oil Embargo on ourselves through high taxes can take the place of fighting to defeat the Islamofascists.
On reinspection, I must confess to being surprised at myself for not being as alarmed as I should have been about the first article, which opens in this way:
Two days after the election, a movement is afoot to achieve an audacious Democratic goal. The weird part is that the people behind it are Republicans.Meanwhile, over at TCS Daily, Ted Balaker of the Reason Foundation objects to all of this, praising President Bush for "refus[ing] to budge". Balaker is a Libertarian. That means he opposed all government intrusion into the economy for any purpose other than protecting citizens from crime or enforcing contractual agreements, right?
In a Nov. 9 Wall Street Journal op-ed, former Bush speechwriter David Frum suggested that President Bush propose a carbon tax. N. Gregory Mankiw, former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers in the Bush White House, suggested the same thing in an Oct. 20 op-ed in the Journal, and former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan talked it up in late September. Harvard's Martin Feldstein and Weekly Standard contributing editor Irwin Stelzer like the idea, too. Slate "Moneybox" columnist Dan Gross took note of this unexpected GOP trend in an Oct. 8 New York Times column ("Raise the Gasoline Tax? Funny, It Doesn't Sound Republican").
The following excerpt provides his idea of small government, complete with its rationale. I mean, excuse.
Many hope that higher gas taxes will curb American's appetite for driving. If we drove less, we'd pollute less and wouldn't have to worry as much about global warming.Got that? The purpose of our government isn't to protect our rights. It is to take money from us in the name of preventing global warming through forcing us to use less gasoline. And a high tax, although it might affect what the proles do, it is not only probably less effective at causing the desired outcome, it may be easier to dupe them into accepting more "effective" tolls instead. As an added bonus, Balaker says nothing about tolls as being a good first step towards privatization of the highway system or even as a replacement for taxes. He sees them as a "revenue source" -- for the government, of course!
Our reliance on gas taxes means that drivers pay for roads when they're at the gas station, not when they're actually using them. The result is traffic congestion. And that congestion frustrates the environmental goals of those who support higher gas taxes.
[T]ransitioning to tolls gets harder as gas taxes get higher. At $4.24 per gallon, Britain has Europe's highest gas tax. It's made tolling a tougher sell as Brits demand to know why they should pay more when they already pay so much. American reformers may regard tolling as even more of a political long-shot than raising the gas tax, but there are signs that motorists are warming to tolls. [link dropped]
In fact, neither article mentions the word "rights" a single, solitary time. It appears that even the "better" part of the conservative movement is infested with such vermin as environmentalists openly calling for higher taxes and those who would rather use national defense as an excuse to smuggle in bad domestic policy than as a rationale to argue for a more vigorous prosecution of the war.
But wait! There's more! Although the Slate article crows about Republican "triangulation" and kicks off with a post-election editorial, note that much of this conservative foolishness was taking place before the election. This means that the Republicans were building momentum for this portion of the Democrat agenda long ago. C. Bradley Thompson is vindicated once again. And Robert Tracinski's advice to rout the left looks farther off the mark by the day, given what is being "debated" on the right.