Monday, March 23, 2009

False Scare on “Green Protectionism”

Nothing gets the New York Times into an ideological frenzy like threats to “free trade”. This obsession is worth a study in itself, but we’ll let it pass. For now, let’s just insert a modest correction into the record: there is nothing protectionist about border taxes designed to offset the difference in production costs due to differences in carbon regulation. First of all, the issue is pragmatic: unless such taxes are introduced, no country will unilaterally introduce a carbon cap or any other measure that increases the costs of carbon-intensive goods. And if they did, it is quite possible that the effect could be perverse—with production migrating from more regulated regions to unregulated ones, leading to more emissions overall. So there simply have to be border taxes based on carbon content.

But there is also no friction between practicality and principle. Look at it this way: considering the global emergency posed by climate change, any country that doesn’t begin to restrict its use of fossil fuels is actually subsidizing its producers. And we have the Times to tell us what a monumental threat subsidies pose to the world economy.


Anonymous said...

This is what happens when the global warming movement starts to cost actual money.

Myrtle Blackwood said...

'Free trade'??
Keep saying it did exist. Say a big lie often enough; as Hitler noted, the tactic works.

The large transnational corporations want to be able to engage in unfettered financial, services and goods transactions across all national borders.

Transactions that are largely intracorporate.

"The World Managers like to characterise the issues surrounding global corporations as protectionism vs free trade. (A standard theme is that as in the 1930s protectionism will precipitate another Great Depression.) The attacks on the global corporations raise what Harry Heltzer calls "a hard cash issue" which "threatens the pay...and dividends" of employees and stockholders. Caterpillar Tractor distributes a booklet called "Multinational Corporations and Your Paycheck.") In an era when political appeals based on fear appear to be more successful than campaigns based on unredeemable promises, the global corporations in mounting their counterattack are focusing public attention less on the Heavenly City and more on the Hell that will materialise if their plans are disrupted: trade wars, unemployment, depressions, stock market crashes, nationalist rivalry, and armed conflict...."
'Global Reach, the power of the multinational corporation' Richard J Barnet and Ronald E Muller. 1974. Page 107