A carbon tax makes no sense

For every policy initiative proposed by a government we the people have a right to know what is the best estimate of what it will cost us, and what is the best estimate of what it will benefit us. And this applies also to the proposed carbon tax.

I know many people of a green inclination hate Andrew Bolt and Lord Monckton. So the motivation to correct any error in the answer Monckton gave to Bolt on this matter should be quite high.

Bolt: On our own, cutting our emissions by 5 per cent by 2020, what will that lower the world’s temperatures by?

Monckton: So the warming forestalled by cutting Australia’s emissions would be 57% of 4.7 times the logarithm of 0.99997998: that is – wait for it, wait for it – a dizzying 0.00005 Celsius, or around one-twenty-thousandth of a Celsius degree. Your estimate of a thousandth of a degree was a 20-fold exaggeration – not that Flannery was ever going to tell you that, of course.

A cautionary note: the warming forestalled will only be this big if the IPCC’s central estimate of the rate at which adding CO2 to the atmosphere causes warming is correct. However, it’s at least a twofold exaggeration and probably more like fourfold. So divide both the above answers by, say, 3 to get what will still probably be an overestimate of the warming forestalled.

He also does the calculation for the whole world cutting emissions by this amount and concludes that the difference in temperature will be “four one-thousandths of a Celsius degree“.

On the face of it the answer seems better than the one that Tim Flannery gave to the same question asked again by Andrew Bolt in an interview the other day.

Flannery: Look, it will be a very, very small increment.

The extended version of both answers are on Bolts blog. Lord Monckton’s full answer includes the math and reasoning.

http://blogs.news.com.au/heraldsun/andrewbolt/

And the actual recorded interview with Tim Flannery here:-

http://www.mtr1377.com.au/index2.php?option=com_newsmanager&task=view&id=8274

Of course whilst the benefit of a carbon tax is immeasurably small I’ll also concede that the cost of a carbon tax is pretty modest. There are in my view two obvious counter points to the Bolt question and answers.

Counter Point 1 – Bolt is asking the wrong question. We should be interested in what happens by 2100 or some other date further into the future.

Counter Point 2 – This cut to emissions is only the first step. We will innovate in response to the tax or else we will take other measures such as increasing the tax to further reduce emissions.

Both of these counter points are in my view fair enough. However properly framed any such alternative scenarios should also be able to yield numbers regarding estimated cost and benefit. I have difficulty envisaging a CO2 mitigation policy based on a carbon tax that makes much sense. I think the case for any ETS is even worse.

Maybe climate change is one of those problems that should be accommodated not solved. Chris Berg thinks so:-

http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/politics/climate-change-cant-be-stopped-but-we-will-adapt-20110326-1cazx.html

Who to vote for in NSW?

I would not presume that I can tell anybody, let alone a libertarian, who they should vote for. None the less here is my recommendation for the NSW election.

The “Outdoor Recreation Party” is the NSW arm of the “Liberal Democratic Party“, Australia’s only registered libertarian party. The lead candidate for the Legislative Council (upper house) is David Leyonhjelm. David has been involved with the LDP for many years as a member of the federal executive and is a rock sold libertarian. All libertarians should be voting one for the “Outdoor Recreation Party” in the Legislative council.

In the Legislative Assembly (lower house) the options are less compelling. However in Penrith, Ku-ring-gai and Wollondilly there are Outdoor Recreation Party candidates. Please offer them your support if you live in those areas.  If you live in Port Macquarie I’d suggest you vote for the Nationals candidate Leslie Williams. Two reasons. One is that she has put lower taxes for NSW as her number one priority. And secondly unlike the sitting MP she isn’t Rob Oakeshott’s protege.

Please offer tips and suggestions for other seats in comments.

 

Liberalising Immigration

On Sunday I wrote an article exploring immigration and the financing of public infrastructure.  In today’s article I’d like to chart different types of immigration policies and the associated forms of control.

The table below has six regions marked A to F. The vertical axis of the table indicates the degree to which the policy tries to control the number of immigrants. The horizontal axis indicates the degree to which the policy tries to control the type of immigrants.

Types of immigration policy

The policy of a libertarian purist would be represented by the region marked “F” in the table. Under policy “F” there would be no restrictions at all on the number or type of people that could immigrate to Australia.  This policy is sometimes called open immigration. A libertarian purist would want our immigration policy to be reformed to become more like “F”.

Current Australian immigration policy can be regarded as being mostly in the region marked “A”. We have hard limits on the overall number of people that can immigrate to Australia in a given year. We are also selective about the type of person that can come. We are no longer selective on racial criteria like we once were, but we do discriminate on the basis of age, disability, health, technical skills, language ability, family connections etc.

The reform I suggested in my earlier article would move Australian policy from “A” to “E”. Or perhaps to policy “B” but with a strong leaning towards “E”. As such I think it is correct to describe this reform as a “liberalisation” of our immigration policy.  Instead of hard restricting the supply of immigration opportunities we would merely moderate the demand for such opportunities. Instead of being selective we would be more open. Note that this reform is essentially the reform advocated by the LDP immigration policy.

Note that for New Zealand citizens we have an alternate policy setting roughly represented in the table by position “C”. Under policy “C” we are selective, you must be a New Zealander. However we are also unlimited in the sense that we don’t restrict the number of New Zealanders that can immigrate here.

Fibre or wireless

Media reports today are suggesting that Telstras upgrade to a 4G mobile network, with speeds of 20-100Mbit/s may threaten the future of the NBN. I think there will always be a place for fibre optic cable. However I don’t think we need it inserted by decree into nearly every home in the country. Users are going to be increasingly interested in mobile data services. The issue is up for debate but sometimes a picture is worth a 1000 words.