More on Dingell: malign or just crafty?

In an alternative take on Rep. John Dingell’s carbon tax proposal, David Roberts suggests that the congressman’s intentions aren’t as malign as many environmentalists have taken them to be. Roberts sees a lot to like in the specifics of the bill, along with a fairly blunt message to those who have been talking a big game on climate change:

Put up or shut up. If you’re going to push me on this bill, I’ll give you what you want. It’s up to you now to run with it. Good luck.

So if you actually do favor this sort of legislation, now would be a good time to let your representative know.

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  1. Diane - July 18, 2007

    I did! I was writing to him anyway (about wolves, or land use or something), and I had just heard about the Dingell proposal, and I was so annoyed that I put them together. I said “I don\’t know what his intentions are, but I\’m for it!”.

  2. Ernest - July 19, 2007

    We shall see whether the long-term reaction to the Dingell proposal is as outraged as many people assume.
    Conveniently, James Surowiecki (an economic writer) in the July 23, 2007 NEW YORKER, puts the case that even when people personally dislike something, they may wish that government would require it. Even people who reserve the right to buy gas-guzzling SUVs may be perfectly comfortable with higher government taxes on fuel, or CAFE requirements.
    A Nobel Prize economist named Thomas Schelling figured this out in the 1970s by looking at professional hockey players. Individually, not wearing helmets helped them to look fearless and intimidating and have better peripheral vision (though they knew it also led to grievous injuries). In a secret poll, however, they favored a league helmet requirement, and have lived by it happily.
    Surowiecki’s point: if the market doesn’t help people make wise decisions (in this case, to lessen warming that will harm them and everybody else), they may be willing to accept regulations that make EVERYBODY do the right thing. He concludes: “In calling for a law requiring better gas mileage in our cars, then, voters are really saying that they’re unhappy with the collective result of the choices they make as buyers. Sometimes, they know, we need to save ourselves from ourselves.”
    I wish Dingell had put it that way. . . .

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