The chief political virtue of cap-and-trade — a complex scheme to reduce greenhouse gases — is its complexity. This allows its environmental supporters to shape public perceptions in essentially deceptive ways. Cap-and-trade would act as a tax, but it’s not described as a tax. It would regulate economic activity, but it’s promoted as a “free market” mechanism. Finally, it would trigger a tidal wave of influence-peddling, as lobbyists scrambled to exploit the system for different industries and localities. This would undermine whatever abstract advantages the system has.
Robert Samuelson’s Washington Post op-ed has generated quite a lot of commentary, some of it informed. Personally, I thought Samuelson’s piece was straightforward and honest, though it could have been better supported by referencing the voluminous existing academic research. So I wrote a supportive comment at 0500 this morning to include some of the research.
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