Robert Frank pummels a straw man
In todays NY Times "Economic View" Frank opines:
"At the heart of attempts to curb carbon dioxide emissions are two related proposals: taxation of those emissions and a system of tradable emission permits, also known as cap and trade. Both have been attacked as unacceptable restrictions on individual liberty. The attacks have come from both sides of the political aisle, but have been pressed with particular insistence by conservatives and libertarians."
Yet, throughout the entire article Frank goes on to name exactly zero libertarians who oppose a carbon tax and only one conservative, some guy named Henry Lamb.
Let me go him two better in my debunking here:
Greg Mankiw is a well known conservative (and NY Times columnist) and is famously in favor of a carbon tax. I am small (invisible?) potatoes compared to Mankiw, but I am a quasi-libertarian and I am in favor of a carbon tax as long as it is overall revenue neutral (meaning that the increase in revenues from this tax are offset by decreased revenues from other taxes).
Even though, in principle, a cap and trade program can be designed to have the same anti-pollution effect as a given tax, I think Mankiw and myself both dislike the current cap and trade bill because of how the permits are not going to be auctioned off and generally how stinky something becomes once it emerges from our grand sausage factory.
It's nice to see the shout-out to R. H. Coase in the article, but Frank is attacking a straw man throughout.
All taxes and regulations are obviously infringements on personal liberty in some sense, and there may well be libertarians who think our current levels of taxation represent "unacceptable restrictions", but I am not aware of libertarians who specifically object to a carbon tax.
ps. the article also contains the following sentence:
Climate scientists agree that the cheapest way to combat global warming is to curb carbon dioxide emissions.
Is that true? Is curbing CO2 is the "cheapest" way to combat global warming?