Yes, you read that right. Exxon is joining the ranks of the global warming alarmists in calling for a tax on carbon emissions.
Et tu, Brute?
The chief executive of Exxon Mobil Corp. for the first time called on Congress to enact a tax on greenhouse-gas emissions in order to fight global warming.
In a speech in Washington, Rex Tillerson said that a tax was a “more direct, a more transparent and a more effective approach” to curtailing greenhouse gases than other plans popular in Congress and with the incoming Obama administration.
“My greatest concern is that policy makers will attempt to mandate or ordain solutions that are doomed to fail,” Mr. Tillerson said.
Exxon is finally doing what the gas price conspiracy theorists have always wrongfully accused them of: Attempting to artificially inflate the price of gasoline. Except this time it’s being done in the name of “climate change,” so I guess it’s ok.
So why would the CEO of Exxon, one of the global leaders in the production and distribution of carbon-emitting fuels, be behind a carbon tax? Because it wouldn’t be Exxon that’s paying the tax, and by getting behind it they take some of the heat from the environmentalists off of themselves.
Remember, if a carbon tax passes all Exxon and other oil/fuel producers are going to do is pass that tax off to their customers. In other words, you and me. So by backing this, what does Exxon have to lose? Nothing, really. But by backing it, Exxon (second only to tobacco companies when it comes to being demonized by activists and grandstanding politicians) makes brownie points with the big government types. Perhaps a sound move tactically for Exxon as a company, but in terms of policy for this country the carbon tax is awful.
First, let’s keep in mind that a national carbon tax isn’t unlike those ridiculous taxes local entities levy on things like tobacco to try and get people to stop using it. It’s an excise tax, also known more accurately as a “sin tax.” The sin being your daring to do something the government disapproves of (such as smoking or burning gasoline). Rarely do they actually decrease demand for whatever is being targeted with the tax, and even when they do that means other taxes go up as politicians scramble to replace revenue they’re losing.
Second, it’s never a good idea to use the tax code to try and regulate behavior. Taxes should be for raising revenue for the government, not brow-beating us into leading our lives in some government-approved fashion.
Third, remember that they’re taxing carbon emissions as a pollutant. The same carbon emissions we all emit when we exhale. Can we pause for a moment and appreciate the absurdity in that?
In terms of policy, a carbon tax is marginally less awful than a carbon cap-and-trade system that would have all of us needing to purchase approval from the government before we could produce anything with our businesses, but it’s still a bad idea. The motivation for it is bogus, and all it would result in is more tax burden for America’s economy.
More by the Whistler: Maybe this guy’s tired of paying so much in taxes while so many get off scot free. After all a carbon tax would be imposed on all consumers. Finally poor people will actually begin paying something like their fair share of the federal tax bill.