Re: [OPE-L] transition measures

From: Paul Cockshott (wpc@DCS.GLA.AC.UK)
Date: Tue Dec 05 2006 - 09:06:17 EST


I think that you may underestimate how high the price of petrol is in Europe. Unleaded petrol currently costs around 0.90 per litre, it is certainly not subsidized it already sells way above its value allowing both 
Monopoly profit to the oil companies, ground rent to the governments owning the land on which the wells are located, and then a high tax on top of that.

I am all in favour of drastically reducing carbon emissions, but I think that rationing is preferable to taxes as the way to do it. I don't understand your objection to rationing in this case?

-----Original Message-----
From: OPE-L [mailto:OPE-L@SUS.CSUCHICO.EDU] On Behalf Of ehrbar
Sent: 04 December 2006 23:04
To: OPE-L@SUS.CSUCHICO.EDU
Subject: Re: [OPE-L] transition measures

Paul,

The main difference between us seems to be that I don't think we have
time to first abolish capitalism and institute socialism, and then we
can fix the environment.  We have only about 10 years to start the
economy on a radically new path.  This has to be done under
capitalism, but a capitalism which is much different than the
free-market capitalism from today.  Monbiot uses the war economy in
the US during WWII as an example.  We do have the strength to see to
it that this capitalism will be penetrated by many more socialist
elements than even the Swedish welfare state model.  In the further
course of events it will become clear that socialism is the only
option forward.  Preserving the environment means to take heed of
thousands or millions of different constraints.  You cannot do this
with an economy which has a one-dimensional guideline (money) but it
needs exactly the kind of computerized planning you are talking about.
I am not worried that we can ever have a genuine capitalism that is
environmentally sound.  But for the extraordinary investments
necessary in the next few decades capitalism will do just fine.

That's why I don't want to raise the minimum wage to a level at which
profits are impossible.  The switch to a carbon-less economy will
create so much demand that capitalism will boom (just as the
capitalist sector in Venezuela is booming right now).  We need those
capitalists.  Enough of them will fall by the wayside to create a
great laboratory and basis for socialism.

About fuel taxes: The absurdity of the present system is that it not
only fails to encourage and subsidize environmentally sound practices,
but it even spends a huge amount of money subsidizing the
environmentally most unsound practices.  This has to stop.  There is
no way around it.  It is simply a no-brainer that gasoline is far too
cheap and its price must be raised, that car owners should pay for the
maintenance of the roads, etc.  I know this is extremely unpopular,
but the discussion must be started somewhere how this can be done.
You have a very good argument in "Towards a New Socialism" that in the
presence of a just income distribution, the subsidies for bread and
rent known from the socialist countries don't make sense.  The same
can be said about the subsidies for gasoline.  If you want the price
system to contain any useful information, you have to rectify the
price of carbon fuel.  We have to make the income distribution more
just, and at the same time move gasoline prices to a real cost basis.
This will encourage clean factories built right next to the homes, so
that people can walk to work, etc.  Perhaps a car sharing system with
electric cars for the inevitable occasional car trip.  But we have to
set a clear signal that the days of the private gasoline-driven car
are numbered.

Hans.


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