by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
One suspects observers like Roy Cordato will appreciate this blurb from the latest print edition of National Review.
Australians, having decided that they do not wish to become poor and miserable, have thrown out their so-called carbon tax, which is in fact a tax on energy — and therefore, in effect, a tax on everything. It is the first developed nation to have inflicted such a tax on itself and then to have seen reason. The tax was put forward by a Labor government that promised it would fund substantial tax cuts elsewhere and expanded welfare benefits; but of course the tax intensified the burden on Australians, who did not much notice their increasing cost of living … until the economy went soft, the mining boom petered out, and financial trouble in the rest of the world took some of the momentum out of the Aussies’ sails. There are two lessons here. The first is that a carbon tax is not a tax on pollution or on greenhouse gases — it is a tax on modernity, from food to fuel to manufactured goods to home utilities. The second and perhaps more important lesson is that, in a world that contains (1) China, (2) India, and (3) vast amounts of coal waiting to be consumed, even a painful tax on a handful of national economies is going to do nothing to reverse worrisome climate trends. [Kokai’s note: The previous statement assumes that climate trends are “worrisome,” though that notion is certainly open for debate.] Global warming is global, and not subject to local regulation — not in Australia, not in the United States. Australia has repealed its carbon tax; we should save ourselves the trouble.