1 year ago

Should we tax greenhouse gases?

A group of distinguished economists, including Nobel prize winners and past Council of Economic Advisors members, recently supported a carbon tax. While the economic case for such a tax is strong, I nonetheless think the policy is ill-advised. Today let’s consider the economics of a carbon tax.

A carbon tax would limit emissions of greenhouse gases, most notably carbon dioxide, due to their impact on global warming. The tax differs only subtly in effect from the “cap and trade” policy considered by Congress in 2010; I will not consider the differences here. A tax is probably the best way to limit greenhouse gases if we choose.

The economists propose replacing regulations and other policies to limit fossil fuels or encourage alternative energy – from the Clean Power Plan to tax credits for electric cars – with the carbon tax. This makes perfect sense. The pollution problem arises because actions like burning gasoline in a car effectively use clean air without the driver or oil company having to pay for it. The price is too low, resulting in too much pollution.

Economist A. C. Pigou hit upon a solution almost a century ago. Tax the good, or better yet the pollution, the amount of damage to the environment. The tax gets reflected in the price, and we can then let prices coordinate economic activity and protect the environment.

Prices never prohibit any activity for which someone is willing and able to pay. This is a huge advantage relative to regulation. A carbon tax ensures that we can use fossil fuels for highly valued activities like powering jet planes or running generators for hospitals during blackouts. Regulations often prohibit highly valued uses, causing significant costs.

Quantifying environmental damage is always challenging, and the impacts of global warming will not occur for decades. Any tax we impose now must rely on climate models to estimate future impacts. Integrated Assessment Models pioneered by 2018 Nobel Prize-winning economist William Nordhaus show how to value the estimated climate impacts.

Economic analysis shows that the carbon tax should increase over time. Fossil fuels become more expensive in a predictable manner. These rising prices provide the incentive to invest in electric cars or solar or wind energy without direct subsidies.

A carbon tax would also hit “alternatives” to fossil fuels generating significant carbon dioxide emissions. Ethanol blends corn with gasoline and is subsidized as a clean fuel. Yet growing corn uses fossil fuels to power tractors, harvesters, and irrigation equipment. We can avoid wasting money on politically favored non-solutions.

Using pollution taxes to fund government offers another benefit. When we tax anything, we get less of it. Taxing income, investment, or employment leaves us with less of things which drive prosperity. Each dollar in taxes raised costs the economy more than a dollar. When we tax pollution, we get less of a bad thing.

The economists propose rebating carbon tax revenue to Americans as a climate dividend. This also makes sense. A carbon tax will increase energy prices and poor Americans spend more of their income on energy than others. A carbon tax would be regressive, falling more heavily on lower income families.

Each household’s climate dividend would be an equal share of the tax revenue. Poorer households spend a larger share of their income on energy, but high-income households consume more energy. Low-income households should receive a dividend larger than carbon tax paid.

Rebating the revenue might seem to just reverse the tax. Yet this is not true provided that the revenue is not refunded exactly as collected. If paying an extra $50 tax increases our climate dividend by exactly $50, then the refund cancels the tax. If I pay an extra $50 tax, it will be divided among more than 100 million households, so effectively I get none of it back.

A carbon tax makes economic sense, particularly if we eliminate other climate change regulations and alternative fuels subsidies. But the political process does not always employ policies as economists suggest. There’s more to this story than just economics, although the rest of the story will have to wait until next time.

Daniel Sutter is the Charles G. Koch Professor of Economics with the Manuel H. Johnson Center for Political Economy at Troy University.

2 mins ago

Alabama Democrat calls for mandatory genetic testing of all public school student-athletes

State Rep. John Rogers (D-Birmingham) is making news once again.

Yellowhammer News last week reported that Rogers in a House committee meeting said that his favorite football player is “transgender.” Asked by Yellowhammer afterwards what player he was referring to, Rogers at the time responded that he was referencing Cam Newton but that he misspoke and meant “gay” rather than “transgender.”

These remarks came during a hearing on HB 35, known as the “Gender is Real Legislative” (GIRL) Act.

In a follow-up interview to Yellowhammer’s reporting with the website “Pluralist” published on Monday, Rogers shared some more interesting thoughts on the subject.

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HB 35 would require Alabama public schools to make sure every entrant in an athletic competition is sorted by the gender on their birth certificate. The bill also forbids any state, county or municipal government/agency from providing a facility to a single-gender competition that allows a transgender entrant. The GIRL Act exempts any event that is specifically designed to have both boys and girls as competitors.

In his interview with Pluralist, Rogers reportedly once again asserted that “a lot of people in the NFL have accused Cam Newton and other players of being [transgender].”

However, he did clarify that he himself did not know Newton to be transgender or gay; Rogers stated that he was simply trying to state that others believe this to be the case.

“I brought him up because there are a lot of insinuations about a lot of people who play athletics, whether they are transgender or not, and you never know,” Rogers reportedly told Pluralist. “Why would you point at someone if you don’t know and no test has been done?”

According to the publication, it subsequently became clear that Rogers seemed to be at least somewhat confusing being “transgender” with “intersexuality,” which is more colloquially understood as being a “hermaphrodite.”

“When you’re born, sometimes people are born a hermaphrodite,” Rogers remarked. “They’re born as a boy but they have other chromosomes of a girl, or they’re born as a girl but they have other chromosomes of a boy. Sometimes, the gender doesn’t take effect until later in life. That’s science. It’s x and y chromosomes.”

While reportedly decrying that “hermaphrodites” would be singled out under HB 35, Rogers then suggested a solution that would actually go further than the original legislation, which would rely on each student-athlete’s respective birth certificate for gender identification and eligibility purposes.

Rogers reportedly advocated that Alabama public school student-athletes be mandated to undergo genetic testing that would then be utilized to sort them for eligibility purposes.

“You need to get medical proof of what they really are: a boy or a girl. They need to have more x chromosomes than y chromosomes, which gender is prominent,” Rogers said. “Go with the test. Go with the biology.”

He added, “If a person ends up being male, they can compete as male, and if they end up being a female, they can compete as female.”

People around the state — and the country — may remember Rogers for his “kill ’em now or kill ’em later” comments made last year during debate of Alabama’s abortion ban legislation.

However, Rogers took a hardline conservative stance last week in advocating for an automatic death penalty without any appeals for convicted cop killers. No matter which ideological side of an issue Rogers finds himself aligned with, he seems to be making a splash whenever paired with a microphone.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

1 hour ago

Pringle: Heterosexual, Southern, conservative Christians blamed for ‘every wrong in society’

State Rep. Chris Pringle (R-Mobile) is out with a second television ad in his Republican bid for Alabama’s First Congressional District seat, and, like his first TV ad, the latest spot does not shy away from being different.

The new ad lasts 30 seconds and features Pringle speaking into the camera for all but the closing snippet at the very end that contains a mandatory disclaimer.

“I’m Chris Pringle,” he says to open. “These days, if you look like me and believe like me, every wrong in society is your fault.”

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“If you’re straight, Southern, conservative and, heaven forbid, Christian, they call you a racist and blame you for everyone else’s problems,” he continues. “Maybe I’m not supposed to say that, but someone has to.”

“I’m Chris Pringle, and I approve this message because saving this country means keeping the radical left from killing it,” the candidate concludes.

Watch:

In a statement to Yellowhammer News, he commented, “South Alabama deserves a leader who will put our conservative principles above political correctness, and who won’t concede an inch to radical leftists trying to destroy our way of life.”

Pringle is running in a competitive GOP primary field on March 3 that also includes former State Sen. Bill Hightower (R-Mobile) and Mobile County Commissioner Jerry Carl.

This latest ad comes as Pringle pushes to get his “Gender is Real Legislative” (GIRL) Act passed in the Alabama legislature. The bill would require public schools to make sure every entrant in an athletic competition is sorted by the gender on their birth certificate. The bill also forbids any state, county or municipal government/agency from providing a facility to a single-gender competition that allows a transgender entrant. The GIRL Act exempts any event that is specifically designed to have both boys and girls as competitors.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

14 hours ago

UA Dance Marathon raises over $307,000 for Children’s Miracle Network

The University of Alabama Dance Marathon (UADM) announced Monday that it raised $307,843.20 for Children’s of Alabama during its most recent fundraiser, which takes place annually.

The total raised was presented during the organization’s recent BAMAthon event, the organization’s 13.1-hour dance marathon. Over the course of nine years at the University of Alabama, more than $1.6 million has been raised for the Children’s Miracle Network Hospital in Birmingham.

Current and former patients of Children’s of Alabama, referred to as “Miracle Kids,” attended the event to share their stories with those participating in the event.

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For the parents of Brayden Butler, “known to friends and family as B.B., a 13-year-old Miracle Kid from Chelsea who suffered a traumatic brain injury in 2014, UADM represents a place of belonging and an opportunity to find hope and healing.”

“B.B. deals with challenges due to his disability,” said Christie Butler, Brayden’s mother. “UADM has shown B.B. that there is a bigger purpose out there. It gives him a platform to reach others about all the good things that come from Children’s of Alabama.”

Lily Klootwyk, president of UADM 2020, offered her thanks to those who helped raise money and produce the event.

“UADM is a special organization full of people who are going to change this world,” Klootwyk said. “We’ve accomplished nothing alone and everything together.”

Kyle Morris also contributes daily to Breitbart News. You can follow him on Twitter @RealKyleMorris.

15 hours ago

Alabama Realtors Association announces primary endorsements

The political arm of the Alabama Association of Realtors on Monday announced its endorsement of candidates for Alabama’s upcoming March 3 primary elections.

The list of Alabama Realtors Political Action Committee (ARPAC) endorsements includes candidates respectively for the Public Service Commission, Supreme Court and Courts of both Civil and Criminal Appeals. Further, the National Association of Realtors PAC has announced endorsements in each of the state’s seven U.S. House districts. According to a release, all the announced candidates endorsed exhibited a commitment to home ownership, private property rights and economic growth.

“The real estate industry and Alabama’s economy are dependent upon each other to remain healthy and thriving,” stated Forrest Meadows, ARPAC trustees chair. “We look for candidates who understand the relationship between the two, and share the REALTOR® vision of protecting private property owners against harmful legislation and fighting for policies that will aid in the development of prosperous communities and businesses across the state.”

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“We feel strongly that these candidates will work hard to ensure private property rights remain a top priority and support efforts for economic growth and homeownership in Alabama,” added Jeremy Walker, Alabama Association of Realtors CEO.

ARPAC endorsements as follows:

For president of the Alabama Public Service Commission:

Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh

For Alabama Supreme Court Place 2 Associate Justice:

Brad Mendheim

For Alabama Court of Civil Appeals:

Place 1: Bill Thompson
Place 2: Matt Fridy

For Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals:

Place 1: Mary Windom
Place 2: Beth Kellum

The National Association of Realtors endorsed the following congressional candidates:

U.S. House of Representatives, District 1: Chris Pringle
U.S. House of Representatives, District 2: Jeff Coleman
U.S. House of Representatives, District 3: Mike Rogers
U.S. House of Representatives, District 4: Robert Aderholt
U.S. House of Representatives, District 5: Mo Brooks
U.S. House of Representatives, District 6: Gary Palmer
U.S. House of Representatives, District 7: Terri Sewell

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

15 hours ago

Did Tuberville really say government handouts for illegal aliens are ‘Donald Trump’s fault’?

On Monday, a national news outlet shared a truncated clip from a 2019 speech by Tommy Tuberville that makes it seem like the U.S. Senate candidate and former Auburn University head football coach blamed President Donald Trump for illegal aliens receiving free government handouts.

The speech in question was first reported on by Yellowhammer News way back in August. National outlets at the time jumped on Tuberville’s comments, because he did indeed ding Trump for what Tuberville viewed as a lack of progress when it comes to the state of veterans’ healthcare in the United States.

However, a reporter from Breitbart News on Monday posted an isolated audio clip from that speech, alleging that Tuberville was focusing his criticism of the president on immigration. The headline read, “Tommy Tuberville in Unearthed Remarks: ‘We’re Paying for Illegals to Come Over Here … That’s Donald Trump’s Fault.’” The article also claimed that the remarks were “previously not reported on.”

Here’s the full part of Tuberville’s speech in question:

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I’m pissed off at Donald Trump that our vets can’t get health care. And if I ever get to see him, I’m going to tell him that. You said you were going to fix it and it ain’t fixed. And that’s who we ought to be taking care of — these young men and women. I’ve had them come up to me and cry. ‘Coach, we can’t get health care. Nobody will take care of us.’ 22 vets every day – every day are committing suicide. We can’t take care of them. We won’t take care of them. We’re paying for illegals to come over here – everything they’re getting: cell phones, health care, everything they want. That’s Donald Trump’s fault. That’s his fault. He’s got to get it done. That’s one of the most important things I think we need to do because we send young men and women over to fight for us, put their life on the line and we don’t take care of them? What are we doing? What are we doing?

I’m a Donald Trump guy, but there are things that he hasn’t done yet that we got to get done. And I think he’s had to fight every battle by himself. He can’t get to all of them because nobody is helping him. Nobody is standing up for him.

And here’s the audio snippet from that speech released on Monday:

This same reporter has hit Tuberville on the immigration issue in the past, and the latest article comes on the heels of Congressman Bradley Byrne (AL-01), one of Tuberville’s GOP opponents, releasing a television ad accusing the former coach of supporting “amnesty.” Tuberville contends that his comments referenced in the Byrne ad were focused on legal immigration, rather than amnesty for illegal aliens. Tuberville has forcefully denied being for amnesty.

Reacting to the latest Breitbart piece on Monday, Tuberville commented in a statement to Yellowhammer News, “The Tuberville plan to fight illegal immigration mirrors everything Donald Trump has said on the issue. We’ve got to close our borders, protect American jobs, stop illegal drugs, and block terrorists from sneaking into our country.”

“The Trump administration believes we must prioritize skilled workers who apply to come here legally so they can do the jobs that Americans just don’t want to do,” he continued. “I’m simply backing President Trump’s policy…just like I’ll do in Washington.”

The primary will be held March 3, just 15 days away. Tuberville and Byrne are likely competing among each other and former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions for two runoff spots for the GOP nomination to face U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) in November.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn