The Wall Street Journal reports that one of the two economists that dreamed cap-and trade in the 1960s, Thomas Crocker is doubtful about its effectiveness. As the WSJ writes, “But Mr. Crocker and other pioneers of the concept are doubtful about its chances of success. They aren’t abandoning efforts to curb emissions. But they are tiptoeing away from an idea they devised decades ago, doubting it can work on the grand scale now envisioned.”
Cocker says he would prefer an outright tax on emissions because it would be more flexible and easier to enforce. He says there are two main problems with a cap-and-trade system for curbing carbon use. First, carbon is not limited to just the United States, in fact it occurs naturally in the whole world. Crocker told the WSJ, “It is not clear to me how you would enforce a permit system internationally. There are no institutions right now that have that power.” The other problem is that since there is no way of knowing the economic impact of global warming, there is no way to know how tightly to restrict carbon emissions.
An outright tax would not fix these problems either, though Crocker feels it would be more flexible than a cap-and-trade system. “Once a cap is in place," Crocker warns, "it is very difficult to adjust.”
An emission tax might be more flexible, though taxes are usually more flexible in an upward direction than in a downward direction. An emissions tax would certainly be more honest; rather than politicians hiding behind a cap-and-trade scheme, they would have to tell us they are going to tax us and how much.
Both a cap-and-trade system and an emissions tax would be damaging to the economy. Whether you think that damage would be worth it or not, it is important for us to realize how much doubt exists in this subject and that it is suicide to rush into drastic measures that can have devastating effects on the economy and standards of living.
The science about global warming is not settled; the debate about cap-and-trade is not settled. This is too great a cost for us to rush into without all of the information. The Senate needs to start by consulting the Constitution to see if their proposals are even legal, and then consider whether the “solutions” are worse than the possible problems?