David Brooks, New York Times, taxes, deficit reduction, income security for all, basic income, Peaceful Positive Revolution, Steven Shafarman www.IncomeSecurityForAll.org, Steven Shafarman
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Thursday, December 9th 2010

Rapid climate progress requires income security for all

Rapid climate progress requires income security for all. Too bad most people, particularly elected politicians, don’t realize it. Our job is to educate them.

There have been lots of news stories over the past two days about the Obama administration setting stricter fuel efficiency standards. Opponents insist that the new standards will raise car prices and hurt consumers, without much impact on climate change.

The continuing conflicts and complexities are clearly considered in a Wall Street Journal story. The first few paragraphs follow, and the complete article is here:

Obama Would Support Auto Incentives for Consumers

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration would support the idea of giving consumers additional incentives to buy fuel-efficient vehicles, a White House official said Tuesday.

The White House would likely favor tax credits for vehicle purchases over any proposal to raise the 18.4 cents-a-gallon federal gas tax, as many industry officials and transportation experts have recommended.

“We fought for the $7,500 tax credit for the purchase of advanced technology vehicles in the Recovery Act,” the official said, and “our administration remains committed to policies to help bring the costs down” for consumers.

Industry officials in recent days have expressed concern that consumers might balk at paying a premium for costlier, more fuel-efficient cars and trucks if gas prices don’t rise to $4 per gallon or more in the years ahead.

The administration estimates fuel-economy regulations will add $1,300 on average to the price of new cars by 2016.

Suppose we start with income security for all, and every adult citizen is getting, say, $1,000 a month in addition to what we earn or get from other sources. Suppose, as well, that we pay for that, in part, through higher carbon taxes.

Everyone could afford to pay the higher gas taxes, higher costs for new efficient cars, higher costs for electricity, and so on. Everyone would have strong incentives to reduce fuel consumption, in order to save the money for other purposes.

Moreover, pairing the guaranteed income, Citizen Dividends, with the carbon tax is a way to make the carbon tax politically acceptable.

Among the most interesting aspects of the recent debates is the number of people who are saying that auto companies will make fuel-efficient vehicles when there’s a demand for them. As we saw last year, when fuel costs were so high, people were turning in their SUVs and buying much smaller cars. That was without any government mandates for vehicle fuel efficiency. That recent history is good evidence for this proposal to combine guaranteed income with carbon taxes.

(This idea, combining a guaranteed income and higher natural resource taxes, actually goes back to Thomas Paine and his 1793 pamphlet Agrarian Justice.)

The auto companies ought to be leading the campaign to enact this, because this would create huge demand for more efficient cars while providing people with the money to pay for them. Until now, auto companies have been saying that there’s not enough demand for more efficient cars. Higher fuel prices will create that demand, particularly if consumers know that prices will remain high. That certainty will come with a gas tax.

A more modest version of this is getting some public attention. It’s called “tax and dividend.” Most versions, however, would distribute the dividend as a cut in payroll taxes. That would leave out people who don’t work and earn, including the very poor and retired. A true guaranteed income would help everyone equally.

Guaranteed income was a mainstream, moderate idea in the 1960s. Martin Luther King called for it in his last book, and a plan to provide it passed the House of Representatives by two-to-one, but was blocked in the Senate. Proponents including leading economists from the left and the right.

The complete guaranteed income plan, the idea, the benefits, and how we can make it happen – including a discussion of carbon taxes – is in Peaceful, Positive Revolution,.

Additional information is on the home page and elsewhere on this web site.

I hope you’ll comment on this blog. And please help spread the word.

Steven Shafarman

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One Response to “Rapid climate progress requires income security for all”

  1. Charles Garry » Triumph 2000 Says:

    [...] Rapid climate progress requires income security for all | Income … [...]