Semi-Daily Journal Archive

The Blogspot archive of the weblog of J. Bradford DeLong, Professor of Economics and Chair of the PEIS major at U.C. Berkeley, a Research Associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research, and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Those Who Forget History...

Google News reports:

Your search - "Al Gore" 1993 "energy tax" - did not match any documents.

"Al Gore" 1993 "BTU tax" - Google News: Results 1 - 1 of 1...

"Al Gore" 1993 "carbon tax" - Google News: Results 1 - 1...

Brad DeLong's Website: Incentives for the Environment: John Tierney advocates taxes on energy use. However, it somehow slips Tierney's mind to praise Al Gore, who was the driving force behind the Clinton administration's attempt to raise energy taxes back in 1993.

I observed that the New York Times's John Tierney was calling for a carbon tax, yet had neither the honor, the grace, nor the guts to remind his readers that Al Gore--the driving force behind the Clinton administration's attempt to raise energy taxes back in 1993--had been ahead of him for two decades. Nor did Tierney have the independence of mind to remind his readers that back in 1993 Gore's BTU tax had been blocked by a combination of the oil lobby, the Republican congressional leadership, and a few feckless Democratic senators.

As I said last month:

Brad DeLong's Semi-Daily Journal: Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps? (John Tierney Edition): Would it have strained John Tierney's brain to tell his readers that Gore did propose a carbon tax back in 1993, got no backup at all from John Tierney and company, and lost? That the topic is "taboo on Capitol Hill" in large part because John Tierney and company gave Gore no backup when he tangled with the American Petroleum Institute a decade ago?

Indeed, the sweep through Google News above suggests that nobody--certainly nobody in the media--both remembers and wants to remind their readers of the history of this issue.

And this week John Tierney is joined in amnesia by the usually excellent Clive Crook:

WEALTH OF NATIONS: The Politics Of Global Warming (06/02/2006): Facing such huge but distant risks, the crucial thing is to think long term, the very thing that Washington does worst. An initially moderate carbon tax, an initially gentle scheme of mandatory caps on greenhouse-gas emissions, and an honest plan to promote long-term energy efficiency could nudge the economy with minimal disruption on to a path of much lower climate-change risk...

Who is in turn endorsed by Greg Mankiw:

Greg Mankiw's Blog: The Crook piece does a good job of summarizing where, to my knowledge, the majority of the economics profession is on the issue of global warming. Most economists I know would endorse:

  1. Rejecting the Kyoto treaty,
  2. Imposing a modest carbon tax.

I include myself in this consensus (although I do not hold myself up as an expert on the issue)...

How about it guys? A little bit of the history of this issue would greatly raise the level of the debate, wouldn't it?

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