Friday, October 21, 2016

The Climate Debate

In the current climate debate, we have two vital initiatives right now in Washington State. Carbon Washington or I-732, which I have written about multiple times, and ST3 for Sound Transit are going to make our state a better place to live. Carbon Washington make our tax code a bell shaped curve as opposed to a simple regressive code, tax carbon, and fund the earning families income tax credit. These are all good things which we need to do right now. ST3 is going to fix the Greater Seattle mass transit mess which threatens our quality of life.

There are several arguments here which have been talked about and I see which are arguing against these propositions.

The first one are signs saying "No on ST3, fund education first". This is a red herring argument. It doesn't have anything to do with the content of ST3 and seeks to get people to vote against the progressive initiative we have right now and focus instead on another important issue. If there is an actual problem with ST3 then the opposition needs to state exactly what is wrong. There are major issues with ST3, primarily that the timeline for construction extends for 40 years. Most of the construction will be done within 20 years, but it still leaves some vital projects off for a long period of time. This however is not a valid reason to vote against ST3. It will set us in motion to get our mass transit funded and then in 3 years or so we can put forward another proposition to speed up the time frame. Voting against ST3 will not cause mass transit to move forward, but it will mean that we will get no additional progress until another proposition on the ballot. A net loss for climate activists.

The arguments against Carbon Washington on the other hand suffers from attacks which are both Red Herrings and Straw Men. The first common argument I see is they complain it is not funding our education. I lobbied for education in college and understand it is a vital issue. This however is a bill focused on three main issues, and three issues only. Inequality, the regressive nature of our tax code, and climate change. Education is not on the list. We need to fund our education system, and we do need to get additional funding for our state, but these are not what Carbon Washington does. Carbon Washington does about as much as one piece of legislation could possibly do and it does the three major issues through one major policy change, which is tax replacement with a more progressive tax than what we have.

The most common straw man argument against Carbon Washington I have heard from people who do not understand economics is that it will not reduce emissions. This is moose shit. Taxes reduce consumption of the good which is taxed, which is one of the most proven theories in all of economics. By taxing carbon it will increase the advantage of renewables making it so more people will move to renewable technology and consume less oil. This is one of the most widely agreed upon issues by economists around the world, and all of the evidence in the field points to this is true.

The other major argument against Carbon Washington is that it will hurt poor people. This is another big truck load of moose shit. When economists have graphed the impact of Carbon Washington on Washington State families vs. the current tax code we find the following results:

The graph speaks for itself. The opposition is lying.

This bill has shown very clearly that a lot of environmental organizations in Washington state are poorly run by people who do not understand climate science. Actual experts in related fields at universities across the state have endorsed I 732, while the people opposing it are not experts and do not do actual research to back up their claims. Their weak arguments only make me want I 732 to pass it even more to fight idiocracy as much as climate change. Good luck finding a professional with a degree in a related field who opposes Carbon Washington. This fight has turned into scientists vs. absolutists who have in their mind that there is only one way to fix a certain problem. Anyone who has ever studied economics knows that this is completely not true, and is what makes economics fun. There are multiple ways to fix economic problems, and often times the differences between solutions, such as carbon taxes vs cap and trade, comes down to small efficiency gains.

When it comes down to it, Carbon Washington is here now. People who only want other solutions have not filed their initiatives. Global warming is an imminent threat to humanity and we need to do what we can now. If there is an improvement to the carbon tax in the future (which will probably be a small technocratic tweak), a bill that funds our education, and possibly an income tax I will support that. Given how those are years away at a bare minimum we need to do what we can today. Not voting for Carbon Washington would have been like voting against gay marriage in 2012 because it didn't include hate crime legislation. Such actions are a fool's endeavor. Carbon Washington is a net gain for working class families, and a net gain for our climate here in Washington State. ST3 is far from perfect but it is better than nothing.

This is why the only pro-climate action this election is to vote YES on 732 and YES on ST3.


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