Knowledge Not Required

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One might think one would have to know what one was talking about to write an op-ed for The Washington Post but of course if that were the case then Robert Samuelson would be unemployed:

Unless we find cost-effective ways of reducing the role of fossil fuels, a cap-and-trade system will ultimately break down. It wouldn’t permit satisfactory economic growth. But if we’re going to try to stimulate new technologies through price, let’s do it honestly. A straightforward tax on carbon would favor alternative fuels and conservation just as much as cap-and-trade but without the rigid emission limits. A tax is more visible and understandable. If environmentalists still prefer an allowance system, let’s call it by its proper name: cap-and-tax.

We’ll turn this over to Ryan Avent:

Yowza. As any economist worth his or her salt will tell you, a cap and trade plan with auctioned permits is essentially identical to a carbon tax. That also happens to be exactly what Barack Obama is proposing. So, another way for Samuelson to have written this column would have been to title it, “Barack Obama has a good plan to reduce carbon emissions.”

This is, of course, also the view of Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, leading congressional Democrats, and all the main environmental groups. But of course Samuelson’s the kind of guy for whom environmentalists and Democrats are always wrong, so we have to ignore the facts.