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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A "seventh generation" look at bailouts

Tom Friedman has very cogent thoughts on bailouts and the economic stimulus these days.  On the proposed car company bailout:
You want my tax dollars? Then I want to see the precise production plans and timetables for the hybridization of all your cars and trucks within 36 months...because nothing would both improve mileage and emissions more — and also stimulate a whole new 21st-century, job-creating industry: batteries.
For energy policy, hit the supply and demand sides:
It makes no sense to spend money on green infrastructure — or a bailout of Detroit aimed at stimulating production of more fuel-efficient cars — if it is not combined with a tax on carbon that would actually change consumer buying behavior.

Many people will tell Mr. Obama that taxing carbon or gasoline now is a “nonstarter.” Wrong. It is the only starter. It is the game-changer. If you want to know where postponing it has gotten us, visit Detroit. No carbon tax or increased gasoline tax meant that every time the price of gasoline went down to $1 or $2 a gallon, consumers went back to buying gas guzzlers.  [emphasis mine]
Exactly.  If we're intending to shift to renewble energy and reduced carbon emissions permanently, there's no time to do so like the present.

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