Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
Well, yes, telling people what is useless crap and what is not is not a good way of doing environmental policy. But the problem with the tax-and-compensate policy is that right-wing politicians are all too often happy to play ball on the tax part (because green taxes are usually regressive), but not so much on the compensate part (because the compensation schemes are, naturally, progressive).

So if you go by the former route, you will get better environment (compared to doing nothing) and less inequality. If you go by the latter route, but stop short of adequately compensating the poor who are regressively taxed, you get better environment but bigger inequality, which you will then have to redistribute your way out of.

In the ideal world, where the quid pro quo of the latter policy was clearly understood and accepted by all political actors, that would not be a problem. But in the real world, where we have to fight tooth and nail for any redistribution at all...

As for your counter-examples, there is no reason why car taxes cannot be tied to the location of the car through, for example, fees to enter or park in densely populated areas. Well, that and the fact that there is certainly a case to be made that population densities insufficient to support a rail line are insufficient, full stop.

Similarly, if one were to institute a tax on heating fuel - and an inheritance tax, a wealth tax and a progressive income tax to restore progressivity to the tax system - and use the proceeds to fund re-insulation of houses, then I would have no objection. But in the real world, what is usually proposed is simply heating fuel taxes, full stop, which is inherently regressive. Even worse, it hits tenants worse than home-owners, because the landlord has little financial incentive to improve the insulation (the tenant usually pays the heating bill, after all).

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu May 29th, 2008 at 02:58:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Others have rated this comment as follows:

Carrie 4


Occasional Series