RE: [OPE] carbon tax

From: Paul Cockshott <>
Date: Thu May 07 2009 - 04:15:00 EDT

The price that carbon rations would sell at will be determined by the labour theory of value as
modified by the law of differential rent.
If the total issue of carbon rations falls by say 2% a year, the rich will not be able to choose an
arbitrarily low price to buy them from the poor. Instead the price of 1kg of carbon production
rights will be equal to the differential between the labour producing the wind energy that 1kg of coal could produce and the labour required to produce the coal.

Carbon ration put everyone in the position of being a landowner to whom the oil and coal companies
have to pay rent. As you admit, a carbon tax is likely to enrich the state bureaucracy and do nothing
directly to redistribute revenue. Rationing is generally the best policy for dealing wiith a scarce resource
in the absence of equal incomes.

From: [] On Behalf Of Anders Ekeland []
Sent: Thursday, May 07, 2009 4:19 AM
To: Outline on Political Economy mailing list
Subject: Re: [OPE] carbon tax

Paul Cockshott:

>Obviously you see this as a minimum programme aim within capitalism.
>But in that case why not have carbon rations issued equally to all
>people in the world via the UN. Place UN inspectors at all oil wells
>and coal mines and only allow an amount out equal to the carbon
>ration cards handed over by the oil company or mine company.
>The ration cards would have to be obtained on the market, and the
>poor who consumed less carbon than the rich could sell their cards.
>This would ensure that the money went to them not to the state.

First - I would wish it was a minimum programme, but it seems to be
more of a maximum programme, given the opposition of the ruling
classes - and of part of the oppressed. The latter because they
correctly fear that any change of status quo would be to their
disadvantage. So we are locked-in on a dangerous trajectory towards
global warming and ecological breakdowns.

If your carbon rationing is more politically realistic I am not
opposed to that solution, but:

The poor - like the proletariat with - must sell to "whatever price
there is", so the rich would then be able - after having given the
poor some pocket money - to go on as before.

The revenue from a tax on the other hand should be directed towards
building social infrastructure, developing and implementing green
technolog in the poor countries. The rich countries should go down
the "green road" because co2 emmisions become gradually more
expensive, but also in these countries there must be a huge transfer.

The main point is that rich should not be able to buy themselves
free, the poor should get a lot of revenue and to decide on the use
collectively = politically. Personal quotas is in my opinion a major
obstacle to collective action.

The poor here is of course a very vague term, what it would mean in
political practice - transfers of large sums of money to the elites
of the poorest countries through the UN system probably. Not an ideal
solution to say the least. Maybe one could attach some democratic
conditionality on these money like "reasonably free elections
supervised by the UN" to be eligible for the money. That might
stimulate democratic popular movements in the poor countries - China
being the biggest problem in that respect. But a problem we have to face.

I am sceptic to market solutions where the rich can use their
superior money power to by emission rights from the poor, that's why
I favour a tax - and political distribution of the revenue.


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