Even By Ritchie’s standards this is impressive

I am impressed by the courage of those who have taken direct action in the cause of the Extinction Rebellion. They have gone beyond talk, as the crisis facing our world requires.

But, that said, I have never been inclined to take direct action: it’s just not the way I want to change the world. I am not saying it’s wrong: far from it in fact. I think it works. But I have always felt that there have been other things for me to do. And what that has meant in the current situation is that I have had to ask myself what I might do. My answer is to suggest that we need to talk about Tax to Save The Environment (TASTE).

I have long argued that the primary purpose of tax is not to raise revenue. I wrote a whole book – The Joy of Tax – on that theme. I unashamedly recommend reading it. In it I suggested that there were six reasons for tax:

Reclaiming the money the government has spent into the economy.
Ratifying the value of money.
Reorganising the economy.
Redistributing income and wealth within the economy.
Repricing goods and services.
Raising representation in a democracy.
These are explained in more detail here.

My argument when suggesting Tax to Save The Environment falls into categories 3, 4 and 5, although with a focus on the last, and definite implications for the other groups. I stress: the aim is not to raise money. It is to use tax to change the way out society works.

And that is what is required now: a whole change to the way our society works. Since in my opinion tax is one of the most powerful tools that we have to change the way that society works, for better or worse, my contribution will be to suggest ways that tax can deliver change for the better to help save our plant. That’s what TASTE will be all about.

An example of which is:

It’s sometimes thought that tax is complex. And sometimes it is. And that’s why many people misunderstand a lot about taxation. But it does not always need to be so.

It’s my suggestion that we need to use Tax to Save the Environment (TASTE). Let me start with a simple example of something we could do now.

We now know that there is a massive problem with methane created by cattle, sheep and (to a somewhat lesser degree) goats. There is a way to address this issue in the UK. We could put VAT on all food the products that are created from them. We can do this now. VAT on food is allowed under EU law. And it would work: it would shift pricing and so reorientate people towards other products, of which there are many that are available.

I know this would be controversial: I am aware that the big problem would be around milk. The rate of tax on milk might then be open to discussion. On everything else standard rate VAT should be applied now, in my opinion.

And to ensure hardship does not result revenue raised must be matched by the allocation of additional funds to benefits.

This is simple, possible, and achievable now.

It’s the first Tax to Save The Environment. There will be more.

Actual economists have thought through this very problem. Last year’s Nobel Laureate, William Nordhaus, for example. Nick Stern in his review. In fact, damn near every economist who has considered the matter. And the vast majority of other economists agree with them. Assume that the science is right the answer is a carbon tax. What is Ritchie suggesting? Effectively, a carbon tax.

What has Ritchie said in the past?

And carbon pricing does not work. Marco Fante explains why here. The essence is simple though: renewables are cheap enough to ensure that carbon pricing is itself priced out of the market.

So the economists – or rather, the neoliberal economists that the Economist thinks to be the holders of that tile – have lost.

Apparently a carbon tax invented by Ritchie works and a carbon tax considered by every other economist does not. That’s impressive, even by the standards of the Senior Lecturer.

Who knows, maybe it’s just that he’s so damn ignorant he doesn’t know that implicit in all carbon tax proposals is that it’s levied on CO2-e, not actually upon carbon?

29 comments on “Even By Ritchie’s standards this is impressive

  1. All senior lecturers and political economists are carbon-based life forms. So to save the environment I propose a carbon tax on senior lecturers. Every time they open their mouths, quote something online or do much as even fast, they must pay a levy.

    That should redistribute airtime on Radio 2 and reorder society.

  2. Reducing their hot air should help.

    ‘Direct action.’ Means forcing someone else to do what you want them to do. What the rest of the English speaking world would call indirect action.

    You can reduce your emissions. Or you can stop traffic.

    ‘Assume that the science is right the answer is a carbon tax.’

    Assume Hillary is a nice lady.

    Giving money to the government solves problems.

  3. How about the pompous potato downsizing from a 4 bedroom house now that he’s single? Or stop flying to Scotland and take the train? I’d love to know how he heats his house – odds on it’s gas central heating. Where are his solar panels/windmills?Until he decides to take action about his own circumstances I’ll ignore what he says about this so called crisis. Hypocritical cunt.

  4. Again, having a solution to a mis-stated problem is to have nothing. Define the problem first. Establish the magnitude of the problem second. Then the cost of each of the options to solve it. None of this has been done in this case, so do it. No more economists wet dreams of a lovely new pigou tax without justification. AND, don’t believe a word an activist says, ever.

  5. The concept of that podgy, sweaty, be-cardiganed girl’s blouse taking “direct action” is sufficient to make the unwary piss themselves laughing … I’m now going for a change of underwear.

  6. I’m quite sanguine about all the eco-bollocks. Because when push comes to shove what they are effectively saying is Mr and Mrs Average and Mr Chav and his live in Chavette are going to have to stop having so much stuff, stop being so warm, stop doing things and going places they want to go, stop eating the things they want to, basically return to a lifestyle of 50 plus years ago. This is never going to fly, in electoral terms.

    No society has voluntarily impoverished itself, its just not going to happen. You can see the political impact merely of the slight reduction on real purchasing power that has resulted from the financial crash and globalisation/mass immigration over the last 10 years or so. Think of the anger at ‘austerity’ and multiply it by 100 when the eco freaks try to make everyone poorer by 30-50%, not even in a ‘people not getting richer by as much as they could have’ way, but in the ‘you’ve got X now, we’re going to take a lot of it away’ way. There would be actual real riots and lynchings I think.

    What we have now is faux eco-freakery. Everyone talks a good talk, but walks away to their new car, their centrally heated house, their food and goods shipped in from all around the globe, their holidays abroad every few months etc etc. There is no actual cost to the virtue signalling. The politicians pretend to want to do something (while knowing that real reductions in energy use on the timescales involved would be catastrophic) and the voters pretend its important but carry on consuming as usual.

    The reality is that behind every unit of GDP lies a unit of energy. Reducing the energy consumption equals reducing GDP to match, certainly in the short to medium term. And that just isn’t going to be able to be done once practical policy proposals to achieve it are announced, rather than vague inspirational guff.

  7. “We now know that there is a massive problem with methane created by cattle, sheep and (to a somewhat lesser degree) goats. There is a way to address this issue in the UK. We could put VAT on all food the products that are created from them. We can do this now. VAT on food is allowed under EU law. And it would work: it would shift pricing and so reorientate people towards other products, of which there are many that are available.
    I thought this guff about methane from cattle etc had been debunked. Plus a 20% tax on food is going to go down well with the general populace. No wonder Mcdonnell thought he’s an idiot.

  8. Don’t suppose his being an idiot would particularly deter McDonnel. The Labour Party excels in idiots. He sits in the same shadow cabinet as the Abbotopotomus who barely achieves sentience. He is however a dangerous idiot.

  9. The Times has a full-length interview (behind paywall, natch) with Gail Bradbrook, ‘leader’ of Extinction Rebellion. My ‘favourite quote (among many):

    If we could build 400 warplanes in six weeks during the Second World War, why can’t we replace 26 million gas boilers with electric ones by 2025?

    Where does this ‘clever’ (she claims to have got the top degree in her year at Manchester, but I’m not sure how anyone can check that) woman think that the electricity to run them would come from? My trusty envelope tells me you’d need to increase generating capacity from its current 40GW to around 200GW. So another 100 nuclear plants should just about cover it. I’m sure that’s just what she’s advocating.

  10. ‘why can’t we replace 26 million gas boilers with electric ones by 2025?’

    We? What’s this “WE” stuff?

    How to replace boilers: First, assume totalitarian state.

  11. “If we could build 400 warplanes in six weeks during the Second World War, why can’t we replace 26 million gas boilers with electric ones by 2025”

    Simple, they just did it. No paperwork, no rules, just ‘Here are the resources, get on with it pdq’. You can’t fart in a western economy these days without a form filled in triplicate and signed off by the Office of Fart Administration. And proof that the number of people farting are gender and racially representative of the population as a whole.

    The irony is I think most of the Right would welcome a wartime economy attitude in general – everything based on actual measurable performance in the field and nothing to do with the colour of your skin, what gender you think you might be today, who you stick your dick in, what sky fairy to think is real, or your political views. The Left on the other hand………….

  12. I am amused that the climate alarmists have taken a page from medieval times of the Catholic church and are proposing the sale of indulgences.

  13. Haven’t been following but why such a hate on gas boilers?
    Wouldn’t the most effective way to get rid of gas boilers be to ban the sale of new ones and let natural lifecycle lead to replacement with electric, what’s so bad you would need to actively take out and replace working boilers? Also the premature replacement would lead to increased manufacturing carbon etc and then the scrapping and recycling cost.
    For a push a trade in scheme for older boilers to get things moving would be the most you’d need.

  14. NinC: Exactly! I replaced my windows when my old windows needed replacing, I replaced my roof when my old roof needed replacing, I’ll replace my boiler when it needs replacing, and I’ll replace it with something that uses fuel a lot cheaper than electricity for space heating. My last boiler was 30+ years old when I replaced it, it will probably be 2040 by the time I replace this one.

    Also, presumably this person is not an engineer. Why the BLEEP would I voluntarily choose to replace a system where the fuel gets sourced, sent down a pipe, and then converted into heat for one where the fuel gets sourced, converted into heat, converted into motion, converted into electricity, squeezed down a transmission network, and then converted back into heat again, with losses at every single step? Space heating is just about the *worst* use of electricity there is.

    And we built 400 warplanes in six weeks because we were starting from having no warplanes, not starting from having 400 warplanes and deciding to scrap them all.

  15. Or try freedom. I seem to be writing this a lot, nowadays, and some people don’t know what I mean.

  16. “Wouldn’t the most effective way to get rid of gas boilers be…”

    The most effective way to get rid of gas boilers would be to invent something even cheaper.

    But getting rid of gas boilers isn’t the point. The point is to establish people’s guilt. The point is to create a moral imperative requiring that people to do something that they are not voluntarily going to do, justifying the creation of those coercive powers needed to make them. The point is to justify them having the power to tax things and regulate things and ban things.

    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.”

  17. You’re wrong there, NiV, as you usually are. What drives these people is personal gain & status amongst their peers. Simple as that. Everything else is means to an end.

  18. bis, I’m going to take NiV’s side here, even though it’s against my religion.

    NiV describes the hierarchy’s goals.

    The useful idiot prols might have some social goals, but they really believe Big Brother and they really want people to do what they want. “personal gain & status” have little to do with it.
    Which makes them feel good; they are working for a higher calling. Saving the planet. Like this big old dirt ball flying around the sun needs ‘saving.’

  19. Gamecock. Wrong way to look at it. There is no “hierarchy” There are only people. As there are always only people. Each motivated by their own desires

  20. Think of the soldiers in a parade. All marching in step. All looking identical. But each one is an individual person. They conform because each individual wants to conform. They gain status by conforming.

  21. But getting rid of gas boilers isn’t the point. The point is to establish people’s guilt. The point is to create a moral imperative requiring that people to do something that they are not voluntarily going to do, justifying the creation of those coercive powers needed to make them. The point is to justify them having the power to tax things and regulate things and ban things.

    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.”

    So National Grid plc should sell off its gas division with the name changed back to Transco?

  22. We now know that there is a massive problem with methane created by cattle, sheep and (to a somewhat lesser degree) goats.

    The middle-class wankers who flew in for this ‘protest’ comfortably caused more ‘carbon emissions’ than the sum of every goat fart in this country for the past fifty years. Oh, and he left Unicorns out of that list.

    Still, good on Richie for spotting the goats – in years to come he will be claiming at tedious length of how he was the first to notice this “massive problem”. Everything is “a massive crisis” with these tossers. Anything to gain power.

    Still, the working classes can now afford to eat as well (nutritionally) as the middle classes, and that is NOT ON. Time for some massive price rises to put them back in their place, eh?

  23. Will Ritchie be giving up his dogs. Even better, will he eat them.
    Massive problem, emergency, . . .blah blah
    Not when it comes to his personal life it isn’t.

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