Is the trade war with China a carbon tax?

I know that in my Twitter feed I am told a “carbon tax is GOOD” and the “Trumpian trade war with China is BAD.”  But isn’t Trump’s trade war, at least indirectly, a tax on carbon emissions?

Most Chinese exports are manufactured goods, and they are produced in a fairly carbon-intensive manner.  Furthermore, it doesn’t seem that Vietnam is able to pick up the slack, so it is not just a case of substituting from one dirty carbon emitter to another.  It seems the trade war is genuinely restricting trade, and over time it will restrict the consumption and production of carbon-intensive goods.  China is by far the exporter with the most to lose.

Of course the targeting of these new taxes is far from ideal from an environmental point of view, nor are they contingent on emissions in the proper manner (still, China is hardly on the verge of being able to switch into clean manufacturing, and in that sense contingent may not matter so much).  And it is hardly the case that Trump has “green motives.”

Still, put aside all the imperfections — don’t we finally have a carbon tax — and a framework for improving it — that so many commentators have been wanting all along?  Won’t this give Elizabeth Warren the chance to really fine-tune the apparatus?

On these points I am indebted to some remarks from Ray Lopez.  And here is my earlier 2016 post “Tyrone on why Democrats should vote for Donald Trump.


Peter Theil made essentially that point in his address to that conservative conference a few weeks back.

But Ray Lopez has been making this point for a couple of years now, in the comments section. A Great Man said: "On these points I am indebted to some remarks from Ray Lopez". I think that's at least the third time I've gotten a citation here, trifecta!

To that point you should also thank your parents for their choice in Christian names, as I fear no one will want to admit they are indebted to Shark Lasers.

It misses the point!!! The purpose of a carbon tax is NOT to reduce CO2 it is to enrich the global elite. They don't give a fig about reducing CO2, duh! But taxes that go into their pocket; now that is some useful result of the AGW scam.

No one has occasion to admit that.

China is exporting roads and high rises?

A huge portion of China's CO2 comes frrom making portland cement and the like, followed by reducing metal, eg steel.

China is past peak construction, so these sources are falling.

Like the US, China used coal in houseeholds, but is moving rapidly to end household use. I remember coal, but then it was gone almost instantly. I lived in a number of houses with a coal bin used for storage and a coal furnance converted to oil or gas.

Easily half of vehicles are electric, with electric bikes/rickshaws replacing gasoline one. China produces and buys most of the global EVs.

China making steel for the global market reduces CO2 from steel because the Chinese mills are the most advanced in the world, built most recently.

And China's transportation infrastructure is the most efficient of all nations, the most modern rail and port, mostly electric. For comparison, China has over 90,000 km of electrified track compared to 1600 in the US, and much higher efficiency.

Moving production out of China willincrease CO2 emissions.

"Furthermore, it doesn’t seem that Vietnam is able to pick up the slack, so it is not just a case of substituting from one dirty carbon emitter to another."'s%20share%20of,the%204%2Dbillion%20ton%20mark.

Mulp comes out against on-shoring! Nooooooo!,31.38,384

might be of some interest to the viewers. Click on the "Earth" label and you can change the display for various particulates.


Yes, and that is basically why I am against all of this. It is a tax, and the endgame of the dispute will be, most likely, and overall increase in prices which is not enough to change the climate but it is enough to impact the poor. So the earth still warms and we pay more at Walmart...

"...So the earth still warms and we pay more at Walmart..."

But Walmart is air conditioned, so it's all cool.

The carbon tax aspect is not important, it is a hed herring. The i portant thing is, it is an outsorcing American jobs-tax. By denying it the largest market in the world, it makes Red China's less competitive and therefore less able to steal American jobs.

The best way to get rid of industrial emissions is to close the factory and move it to another country. The benefits are two fold; you get to preen yourself on how environmentally enlightened you are, and the manufacturer benefits from a less rigorous environmental enforcement regime. It is a win win situation. Who cares if you can't see three blocks in Shanghai if the sky is blue in Los Angeles.

... but less at the self storage facility, to hold all that stuff we wanted but kinda didn't?

'I know that in my Twitter feed I am told'

People tell you things on twitter? Sounds like an utter waste of time, though it might explain the 'you' affectation that has become more apparent recently in a number of posts.

'don’t we finally have a carbon tax'

No, an economic slowdown is not a carbon tax. Otherwise, someone might be tempted to say that the dismantling of East Germany's extremely inefficient and dirty Soviet era industrial base was also like a carbon tax.

'Won’t this give Elizabeth Warren the chance to really fine-tune the apparatus?'

Who cares about Warren? She is not even the nominee, nor has she (or any other candidate) won a single primary yet. Or should people now care what Walsh thinks about Chinese tariffs?

cp: "No, an economic slowdown is not a carbon tax" - yes it is, the literature shows a drop in atmospheric CO2 during recessions, well known. Not very Pigovian however.

Where is the tax? You know, the money collected by tax authorities?

And is this a tax too? - 'It was forecast that the AVE would substantially replace air traffic on the Barcelona - Madrid route (in the same way that the Eurostar has on the London-Paris/London-Brussels routes and France's TGV has on the Paris-Lyon route). Indeed, by the end of 2017, the line had already taken 63% of the traffic, stealing most of it from aircraft. A few years before the Madrid-Barcelona route was the world's busiest passenger air route in 2007 with 971 scheduled flights per week (both directions). Similarly more than 80% of travellers between Madrid and Seville use the AVE, with fewer than 20% travelling by air.'

Carbon reduction happens for a wide variety of reasons - not all of them are taxes. Even if one can assign a certain amount of causality to a chain of events, that does not make the results a tax. For example, apparently the world is not desperate to purchase Chinese goods at a price the Chinese find acceptable, meaning that an increase in tariffs in the U.S. leads to an apparent slowdown. However, Trump's tariff threats have also been directed towards Europe, yet it does not appear that the resulting (potential) decline in economic activity in the French wine making branch is seen as being part of a carbon reduction tax.

Reduced economic activity = reduced CO2 output? Yes. Any reduction in CO2 output due to any economic or political factor = tax? No.

But there actually is a tax here: the tariffs imposed on China.

One could imagine a very similar trade war taking place, led by the left, but framed as "China, the fastest growing CO2 emitter, needs to clean up their act, so we are going to impose tariffs until they do".

'But there actually is a tax here'

Sure. And if one was to raise a sales tax from 4% to 5%, and there is a reduction in the amount of goods sold due to that price increase, would one call that a carbon tax?

Or how about one of the favorite points here - an increase in the minimum wage leading to reduced economic activity. Would increasing the minimum wage also be called a carbon tax?

Simply because one can find a cause in government policy does not make tariffs carbon taxes.

And politics might be about framing, but is that Madrid-Barcelona HSR the sort of the thing the 'left' would say is required for CO2 reduction? (Hint - who cares? Spain imports basically all of its oil, so switching from an oil intensive transport mode to one that comes closer to how the French run the TGV, without long distance domestic travel being beholden to oil exporters, would seem to be a policy goal on several levels.)

if the income tax rate increases from 50% to 70% and the total amount of tax reduces, would one call that an income tax? What are you doing on this forum.

Dealing with issues from when he was an undergrad.

+1 obsession

Also, he just doesn't have anything better to do.

Does an income tax remain an income tax, regardless of the amount collected? Why yes, it does.

If an increase from 50% to 70% in an income tax rate leads to a reduction in economic activity, does that make an income tax rate increase a carbon tax? No.

The false equivalence of a carbon tax and tariffs on China is a bit much. It is a tax on imports from China but it is emphatically not a carbon tax. The usual polluters like coal plants, meat agribusinesses, heavy industry, logistics, etc aren't paying anything, only particular Chinese exporters.

For the record, this is the style of hyperbole that I don't like from the left, take a small thing and then make a false exaggeration for effect, so when I see it here it brings a tear to my eye.

Yes, I can't stand it when one side says "My opponents are hypocrites for not supporting my policy. They should actually support it because [insert bad reasoning that fails to understand my opponents' real position here]".

Tyler doesn't quite say this, but he is coming dangerously close.

It's interesting as a thought experiment, though.

There's a significant difference. Tyler isn't arguing in favor of the tariffs. Indeed he's arguing against them. Tyler is just pointing out that the tariffs happen to behave, loosely, in a similar manner to a carbon tax. It's a comparison and a thought experiment, not a recommendation.

I suppose back when the Australian government used to set limits on how many chickens farmers could have was a tax on high cholesterol levels. Banning dredging in the Brisbane River was a tax on construction. And reducing the amount of water that can be taken out of the Murry river is a tax on irrigation.

Come to think of it, the Soviet Union had a lot of these kinds of taxes. I wonder what ever happened to them?

Well indeed the limits you cite are hard taxes. A quota is a very steep "tax" (after the quota limit is reached, the tax becomes infinity). And the USSR fell unexpectedly due to lack of state income from banned vodka (taxes) and from the collapse in the price of oil (cite: C. Miller's book TR cited). Keep in mind rigid wage and price controls was not an impediment per se, in a simpler time, to the Byzantine empire lasting nearly 1000 years despite them having such 'communistic' practices. Ditto ancient Egypt.

Bonus trivia: city rats have high cholesterol levels, from eating junk food found in trash.

There was nothing unexpected about the collapse of the Soviet system. The USSR fell at a particular time with the help of some particular causes, but it was fundamentally unsustainable and headed for collapse at some point (absent some major reforms, such as China's conversion to a mostly market-based economy).

Hindsight fallacy. In the early Gorbachev years everybody thought he was going to revitalize the Soviet system.

Democratization was a prerequisite for the collapse. Cuban or North Korean regimes, by contrast, were never remotely threatened even in their worst economic crises. Without Gorbachev, the Soviet Union would still be muddling through to this very day. And no one expected a Gorbachev to emerge.

If not the Gorbachev they had, there would have been another Gorbachev-like leader not too long after. Especially as the internet got going.

I agree. The USSR didn't necessarily need to implode politically from its economic collapse. Economic collapse opens that door, but countries often don't go through it. Most likely the political collapse was based on the fact that many Soviet Republics deeply resented living under Moscow rule in the first place.

"Bonus trivia: city rats have high cholesterol levels, from eating junk food found in trash."

That seem improbable. Cholesterol comes only from animal products. Junk food is primarily derived from plants. And I don't think rats get tested for cholesterol.

'Cholesterol comes only from animal products.'

You may want to explore why potato chips are not healthy, though they are 100% cholesterol free. Hint - your body creates cholesterol. 'Cholesterol also is needed to make vitamin D, hormones (including testosterone and estrogen), and fat-dissolving bile acids. In fact, cholesterol production is so important that your liver and intestines make about 80% of the cholesterol you need to stay healthy. Only about 20% comes from the foods you eat.

If you eat only 200 to 300 milligrams (mg) of cholesterol a day (one egg yolk has about 200 mg), your liver will produce an additional 800 milligrams per day from raw materials such as fat, sugars, and proteins.'

You are pretty much making my point, Sio I should be grateful.

Cholesterol is only produced by, and hence contained in, animals. Humans and rats are both animals and can produce cholesterol.

Potato chips are indeed bad for humans, and perhaps bad for rats. I have not consumed one in 2019 and don't intend to.

But nothing in the linked article or your arguments implies that potato chips play a role in elevating cholesterol - in rats or otherwise.

Finally, I still do not think a statistically significant number of rats get tested for cholesterol.

Maybe they are too smart for it. Lots of humans get tested and some subsequently take a lot of pills. But that only seems to elevate US health case costs and drug company profits.

I think Crikey's point is these aren't very effective taxes. If you want to lower cholesterol levels then restricting the number of egg laying chickens is not a smart way to go about it.

Also, Crikey should have said it was the Queensland Government that had the chicken quotas, not the Australian Government.

> 2016 post "Tyrone on why Democrats should vote for Donald Trump."

> "And so, four or maybe eight years later, — or is it two? — what we could expect to find? A fully Democratic Congress and White House. (And dear reader, is there any other way to get there?) And thus would arrive comprehensive climate change legislation, just as we got Obamacare post-2008."

My evil twin Tyrone Slime asked me to post the following:

Ah those devious Russians. All their efforts were working toward their real long-term goal: a radical progressive Democratic regime. Putin is the patient boy who is rewarded with two marshmallows in the end.

Obamacare was a one-and-done, however. After the midterms he lost the Congress and no more big stuff got done. Taking that lesson to heart, will the Democrats really use up their next two-year window of opportunity on climate austerity legislation?

Popular support for that is a mile wide and an inch deep: any concrete policy proposal will either be ineffective or hated. In the 1970s everyone resented the 55 mph speed limit and Jimmy Carter's 78-degree air conditioning decree for public buildings. Nothing will be different this time.

Far more likely the Democrats will prioritize social and economic reforms instead. The other lesson of Obamacare, after all, was that it couldn't be repealed. New entitlement spending, once enacted, is locked in forever, regardless of who is in power.

So the Democrats' can either create a permanent reform legacy (free college tuition or universal basic income or whatnot), or pass an unpopular climate bill that will be repealed as quickly as Ronald Reagan scrapped Jimmy Carter's solar panels on the White House. It's a no-brainer really.

But how to pay for that ambitious new entitlement spending? Either dollars are permanently diverted from the military budget, or America falls into a guns-plus-butter trap and goes over a fiscal cliff like the Soviet Union did.

And there you have it. That's the plan. The greatest trick Putin ever pulled was convincing the world that he supported the Republicans.

"Taking that lesson to heart, will the Democrats really use up their next two-year window of opportunity on climate austerity legislation?"

Do the Democrats really seem to be taking a lot of lessons to heart?

Hey Captain, clearly you haven’t noticed, but we’ve already fallen into the guns and butter trap. Trillion dollar deficits as far as the eye can see.

And... the greatest trick the Republicans ever pulled was convincing the ignorant they were fiscal conservatives.

Taxing something that, coincidentally, has some connection to carbon output is not the same as a carbon tax. Carbon taxes are supposed to have a clear incentive effect...

That's exactly the comment I was planning on making. The incentives created by these tariffs are are those of a broad consumption tax, not a consumption tax proportional to carbon intensity.

Hurricanes cool the environment, so are Ray Lopez and Cowen in favor of more hurricanes? Natural disasters, pandemics, and wars reduce the world's population and, thus, the pressure on natural resources and carbon emissions.

I see ye visibly, and now believe
That he, the Supreme Good, to whom all things ill
Are but as slavish officers of vengeance,
Would send a glistering guardian, if need were
To keep my life and honour unassailed.
Was I deceived, or did a sable cloud
Turn forth her silver lining on the night?
I did not err; there does a sable cloud
Turn forth her silver lining on the night,
And casts a gleam over this tufted grove.

Another underrated point about Trump's trade war is that it prevents the sinking of ships. When less ships are used for trade, there are less of them that get into accidents. It saves lives.

There's a school of economic thought, popular in some places but whose critics refer to as "depression economics", deserves mention here. An economic depression would have all kinds of benefits, not least being a reduction in carbon emissions. Other benefits include a drop in inflated asset prices, which would facilitate a more efficient use of assets, including development of more residential housing units in coastal cities where the rent is too high. For those who believe today's high level of inequality contributes to financial instability and low economic growth, a depression would result in a significant reduction in inequality as asset prices collapse (the wealthy own most of the assets) provided central banks allow markets to be markets and don't intervene.

If it were steep and prolonged it would lower the population and reduce the strain on the environment. Nice if you are the environment, I guess.

What you are missing is that the argument against all of those things (climate change, inefficient asset use, etc) is that they cause economic harm. Hoping for a depression so you can fix those things is kind of like hoping to be hit by a bus so you don't have to worry about the life-shortening effects of your heart disease any more.

Browsing the web I find a page How to Treat Polipos Colon We ask ourselves What is thick intestine?, Polyps symptoms in the colon ?, What types of polyps are there in the body?, Colon cancer symptoms ?, What are colon polyps ?, Does it cause colon cancer ?, and we become the questions What is the Colon?, What is a Polyp ?, Colon Cancer symptoms ?, Different types of polyps ?, How to relieve irritated colon ?, Problems generated Polyps? much more ... Health Advice

If the carbon tax receipts equal one dollar, how are the 100 cents distributed? Who gets how many cents? Who gets to determine the allocations? Will there be a boom in the desk construction business that will need to supply many thousands of desks and chairs for the many thousands of bureaucrats needed to administer the carbon tax program?

A tax and dividend structure, which is in my view the right approach, could be administered cheaply - and I wouldn't mind if the bureaucrats had to stand up.

Only in the sense that any tax that reduces consumption also happens to reduce emissions.

A carbon tax ought to be a tax on the carbon emissions in all goods and services, not targeted against imports from one country. Otherwise, it’s a distortionary tax that incidentally reduces carbon emissions by reducing consumption.

It’s also not clear that China’s manufacturing is exceptionally dirty or that tariffs on China would cause a shift to cleaner manufacturing. One would normally expect developing countries with more labor-intensive production to be more carbon-efficient than richer countries where more energy is used to substitute for labor. China’s high total population merely reflects its large population and industrial output. Indeed, China’s ratio of carbon emissions to industrial output seems to be a bit lower than the US’s. (, Tariffs could be beneficial for the environment of industry shifts to less-developed countries, but not if it shifts to the United States as intended.

Well, one thing to think about here might be the potential impact of the idea that higher quality goods are exported. Is there a link between quality of manufactured good and production process in a carbon sense?

If so then the "trade war" will work in the opposite direction.

It's only an indirect carbon tax in the very short run. It might be a carbon subsidy in the long run if it hastens companies shifting production to even more environmentally lax countries.

As another anonymous has pointed out, economic slowdowns may have benefits, possibly including better health. But as Ray admits, "the literature shows a drop in atmospheric CO2 during recessions, well known. Not very Pigovian however."

So I don't know. I hope Tyler is just pulling our leg, and this is not legitimately "recessions for everyone, MAGA."

This is plainly stupid.

When Tyler posts these things, he risks us thinking, that he thinks, they're actually bright.

Even the Tyrone link reminds us that Tyler's dark side expected rational job performance, and not madness, from Trump.

Pull it together, man.

Were you expecting it to be ornate?

It would be a carbon tax if reducing CO2 emissions reduced the tax due. Are tariffs lower for Chinese goods from more ecologically friendly factories?

Reading again, it's possible that the purpose of the whole piece was to deliver this one line:

"Won’t this give Elizabeth Warren the chance to really fine-tune the apparatus?"

I believe her China trade policy *is* to tie (hopefully low) tariffs to performance on the environment, worker safety, etc. I consider that somewhat artful. It allows something that is (hopefully mildly) protectionist while being for, championing, "good things."

China might even be fine with it, if "the number" is something they can work with.

But maybe Tyler could not really go there, and "fine tune" was the Straussian reach in that direction.

'the purpose of the whole piece was to deliver this one line'


Regardless of whether or not this can be considered a carbon tax and whether or not that's A Good Thing, Democrats have pushed the message that Trump is unambiguously The Enemy. They simply cannot afford to attribute anything he does as possibly having a beneficial effect, even if it's unintentional.

He's not an enemy, just an idiot, and increasingly anyone who turns a blind eye. For example, Trump has said several times now that we'd be better off without any trade with China. That's idiotic, and it's increasingly idiotic to pretend he doesn't believe it, that it's just a bargaining position or whatever.

Of course he believes it, but it is hard for any right of center economist to, as I say, go there.

Are you trying to claim that Democrats haven't gone out of their way to portray Trump as the enemy, and unambiguously so?

I honest to God don't care about whether you like, dislike, agree, disagree with him. Fact is, the message from the Left is that he is without any positive virtue whatsoever. Claiming that the "trade war" could be considered a Carbon Tax contradicts the message the left has built its platform on since the last election.

Okay, politics is a backdrop, and anyone politically active is going to be looking for a case to be made.

That's there, that's just not what is unique about these times.

Indeed, people looking for political angles, perhaps on both sides, have been slow to accept that uniqueness.

(Trying to classify an economic slowdown as "the carbon tax the left always wanted" might be looking for such a political angle, rather than coming to grips with executive dysfunction.)

Whoosh!! Strauss weeps, again.

The point is the next Democrat party administration is likely to institute similar tariffs or taxes in regards to carbon.

The actual, literal outcome will be exactly the same. The economic pain will be exactly the same. The consumer will feel the exact same effects. The labor market will be affected in the exact same way.

Next time it will be exactly the same as to all parties concerned, but have a different justification. We’ve always been at war with Eastasia.

Straussian Lesson: political opponents of the current president to include you are completely at ease (and champion!) imposing the exact same (or worse) economic pain on the US in the form of tariffs or taxes.

This isn’t partisan. Repubs did the same with deficit spending when Obama was in charge.

Status signaling and competition. Time for you to grow up. You’re not uniquely virtuous. Your ingroup is equally insidious as your out-group. Groups are insidious.

Time to start reading Slate Star Codex and embrace rationality.

You’re welcome to the community.

So basically you toe the line that any dumb Trump tariff is exactly the same as a carbon tax.

Tyler is this your partisan intent?

Oh, you’re mentally retarded.

Hey guy, there are programs for you now. And they limit internet access.

Outcomes of things are TOUGH and you shouldn’t have to have an IQ over 60 to understand them. There are multiple nonprofits that specifically engage mentally retarded folks. Good luck, sorry for the sarcasm, I didn’t realize you were literally mentally retarded.

They simply cannot afford to attribute anything he does as possibly having a beneficial effect, even if it's unintentional.

Perhaps the stupidest criticism yet mounted here.

Mom: Child, I'm home. What have you done!?
Kid: I took all the clothes made a big pile and peed on them. Then I did it again and again and again.
Mom: What the F! This is insane. How could you do that? All these clothes are ruined. It's going to be a fortune and we just did cloths shopping for the fall.
Child: Mom, you simply cannot afford to attribute anything I do as possibly having a beneficial effect, even if it's unintentional. For example, there might now be a sale that you can take advantage of!
Mom: How are you ever going to get anywhere in this world being so foolish.
Child: Shows what you know mom! I am going to make comments on public blogs in the future. My future is gold!

All of this really happened.

"All of this really happened."

Wow, that's some pretty bizarre and delusional TDS.

It's an exaggerated/humorous illustration of a basic point. Trump's opponents may or may not give him credit for anything good that he does, regardless of intention. But that's beside the point for them. He's still terrible. One does not need to have 'TDS' to oppose Trump.

Just as not every, or even most, criticism of Obama is a result of ODS. I really wish the '_DS' meme would die. Every time Blue Guy says something negative about a Republican president, they have _DS. Same when a Red Guy says something about a Democrat. Wasted pixels.

Basically the underlying argument about Trump here from people talking about TDS is as follows:

Yes Trump did something very stupid and on the whole destructive but if you can fish a silver lining of any sort out of it then YOU! harsh Trump critic must give him credit NOW NOW NOW. Or else you are deranged, delusional, obsessed like some sort of political captain Ahab.

Of course the people making this argument have no need to abide by any coherent world view. For example, do they support a carbon tax? No. So why are they fishing a sort of indirect accidental carbon tax from tariffs as a good thing if they think carbon taxes are bad?

TDS afflicts Trumps critics in very rare cases but his supporters seem to carry the virus almost all the time.

Tyler’s point is that the tariffs are dumb and unhelpful but are ironically broadly in line with what the next Democrat Administration will attempt to do. It’s an indirect carbon tax.

He’s pointing out the hypocrisy of both party platforms, and the underlying similarity of being totally detached with policy outcomes.

It really is status competition between groups all the way down.

Tariffs against China : increased status for blue collar workers

Indirect carbon tax: increased status for climate change activists

Even if the effects are roughly the same (debatable), people will scream in each other’s faces based on which group rises or falls in status.

Y’all need to study your Strauss.

Because this is not true:

"It’s an indirect carbon tax."

This does not work:

"He’s pointing out the hypocrisy of both party platforms, and the underlying similarity of being totally detached with policy outcomes."

No one, of any party, proposes reduction in sales, and economic slowdown, as environmental policy.

Geez! Have you ever heard a Democrat claim recessions are good? For this or any other reason?

IN FACT which party preached austerity in 2009? If austerity was the environmental plan, it wasn't Democrats pushing it.

(Do I need to go back to fundamentals, that a carbon tax is usually framed as a revenue-neutral proposal?)

You addressed none of the points. Let’s rehash.

It really is status competition between groups all the way down.

Tariffs against China : increased status for blue collar workers

Indirect carbon tax: increased status for climate change activists

Even if the effects are roughly the same (debatable), people will scream in each other’s faces based on which group rises or falls in status.

Y’all need to study your Strauss.

Also, while freshwater economists have indeed proposed revenue neutral carbon taxes, that is not the position of any Democrat party candidate for president nor part of their platform. Do you know who Mankiw is?

Most salt water economists propose a carbon tax with funds going into either general revenues or targeted towards Democrat constituencies’ nonprofits.

(from November 2018)

By the way, I think this "It really is status competition between groups all the way down" stuff is just a weaselly way out of actually choosing the less bad option.

"Tyler’s point is that the tariffs are dumb and unhelpful but are ironically broadly in line with what the next Democrat Administration will attempt to do. It’s an indirect carbon tax."

Except it's not. If a Chinese factory produces goods with a lower carbon footprint, say because they are using hydroelectric power, their goods are not subjected to lower tariffs. How exactly is something a 'carbon tax' if altering the amount of carbon emissions does nothing to the tax you have to pay?

The only way to make this into a carbon tax is by noting at the moment US carbon output per unit is lower than China. That doesn't mean manufacturing that shifts to the US will maintain the average. It also doesn't mean that manufacturing might shift to other countries that are even worse than China when it comes to carbon.

It's an extremely inefficient one, however. At the same time, people should realize that a border-adjustable carbon tax isn't at all anti-trade, it's merely neutral on consumption, regardless of where a product is produced, as opposed to neutral on anything produced in the US, regardless of where consumed. Both are perfectly neutral under reasonable points of view.

If you think that a sales tax is reasonable, then you should think that a border-adjusted VAT or carbon tax or DBCFT is reasonable. Indeed, that's why all VATs are border adjusted.

If you want to reduce CO2 you will have to roll back globalism, roll back monetary stimulus, and build nuclear power plants. When people in this debate start talking about these items, then they can be taken seriously.

I remember a while ago there was a post on "What Happened to Tyrone", but I don't think the "How to Get Ahead in Advertising" scenario was mentioned at the time.

Sort of reminds me of the old sword-in-the-steering wheel argument. Sure, you get fewer deaths from car accidents, but lose all the benefits of having the car in the first place.

>But we all know how disastrous Trump’s economic ideas would be in practice.


When economists look at tariffs they never look at the entire picture:
1. They raise money.
2. They subsidize domestic industries
3. They reduce imports.
These may or may not be good ideas, but let's consider all the impacts.

That’s a class A troll, Tyler, a masterpiece of the genre.

But just to be boring and earnest for a bit: For advocates of carbon taxes, the whole motivation is to find an *efficient* way to reduce carbon emissions. So to say, hey, here’s some different policy that plausibly reduces carbon emissions but much less efficiently is not a particularly attractive idea to, well, anyone.

Exactly as Crust said.

Also typical double standard. Any policy from the left is suspect if you find one possible bad outcome. From the right, all is good if you can only find one possible good outcome.

More people with health coverage under the ACA? Well maybe some more opioid addiction since it's a bit easier to go to the doctor and get scripts filled. (Of course such people would never opt to go without health coverage to protect themselves from medical errors).

Trade war with China? Well maybe less carbon emissions if the economy is tanked and some manufacturing shifts to the US.

Several issues with the 'carbon tax' = trade war idea:

1. The carbon tax is a long term incentive play. The coincidence of carbon in US v. China manufacturing is short term. One could just as easily note recessions lower carbon output too, but to make a difference you need a long term investment.

2. Short term you could make it worse as you forestall China's environmental development. Here's how that would play out. Less exports means less pressure on China to upgrade from older to newer capital stock. With less output needed for the export market, their consumer market can expand. Best case upgrading their stock is delayed, worse case their consumer market expands very slowly and upgrading is delayed even more.

3. To some degree the differences in carbon output have to be due to the nature of the job, not better US capital. If dirtier jobs shift back to the US they don't magically become clean because they are on US soil, the US average will simply get worse just like the average score in a school that suddenly takes in a group of difficult to teach students.

4. To the degree you move away from economies of scale, you make carbon worse since you are shifting to a less efficient manufacturing system. Consider this game could be played in the US. Some states do better with carbon than others. Imagine we created internal trade barriers between the states. Would that lower our carbon as big factories are turned into medium size factories and states carbon good states that had previously imported from carbon bad states take on some manufacturing internally?

Taxing foreign imports as well as domestic products might act as a carbon tax but renewables are far worse for the economy and are plunging millions into

How exactly did the price of electricity double in a decade due to renewables, yet everyone's electric bill today is about the same as it was a decade ago?

Ohhh, wait, why does this link say 'virtually double'? Seems kind of odd when you look at the share of US electric generation by renewables for the last decade or so. See

From 2001 onwards their increase is real but still small compared to total electric in the US. Sorry no one's electric has doubled in the US due to renewables. We can dismiss this link as nonsense.

Comments for this post are closed