British Columbia enacted a carbon tax 5 years ago and it worked amazingly

In 2008, British Columbia passed a carbon tax and surprise! it’s working really well. Not only is it reducing pollution, because the tax was designed to be revenue neutral, it’s resulted in a reduction to both business and income taxes.

If the goal was to reduce global warming pollution, then the BC carbon tax totally works. Since its passage, gasoline use in British Columbia has plummeted, declining seven times as much as might be expected from an equivalent rise in the market price of gas, according to a recent study by two researchers at the University of Ottawa. That’s apparently because the tax hasn’t just had an economic effect: It has also helped change the culture of energy use in BC. “I think it really increased the awareness about climate change and the need for carbon reduction, just because it was a daily, weekly thing that you saw,” says Merran Smith, the head of Clean Energy Canada. “It made climate action real to people.”

It also saved many of them a lot of money. Sure, the tax may cost you if you drive your car a great deal, or if you have high home gas heating costs. But it also gives you the opportunity to save a lot of money if you change your habits, for instance by driving less or buying a more fuel-efficient vehicle. That’s because the tax is designed to be “revenue neutral”—the money it raises goes right back to citizens in the form of tax breaks. Overall, the tax has brought in some $5 billion in revenue so far, and more than $3 billion has then been returned in the form of business tax cuts, along with over $1 billion in personal tax breaks, and nearly $1 billion in low-income tax credits (to protect those for whom rising fuel costs could mean the greatest economic hardship). According to the BC Ministry of Finance, for individuals who earn up to $122,000, income tax rates in the province are now Canada’s lowest.

British Columbia enacted a carbon tax 5 years ago and it worked amazingly

“Mistakes were made”

The Wikipedia entry for “Mistakes were made” features a list of 13 instances the phrase has been used in the past when it’s clearly fucking obvious that mistakes were made, but come on, how could anyone be at fault for those mistakes! The use of the passive voice is supposed to remove responsibility for the mistakes. The latest entry: “On January 14, 2014, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, during his State of the State address, said “mistakes were clearly made” in reference to the George Washington Bridge lane closure scandal.”

Via @A_Grossman

“Mistakes were made”

General Irony: The Robert Gates Memoir

You can stop reading Robert Gates’ memoir now, Dave Weigel found the funniest part.

So: It’s the fall of 2010, and Gates is meeting with the president and top brass. “Biden, Mullen, Jones, Donilon, Brennan, and Tony Blinken, the vice president’s national security adviser, were there.” The subject: how to be ready if a conflict between Iran and Israel ignites. Gates worries that the particulars have not thought the scenario through, and advises the president to deploy a second aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf soon, just in case. The meeting ends.

I was put off by the way the president closed the meeting. To his very closest advisers, he said, “For the record, and for those of you writing your memoirs, I am not making any decisions about Israel or Iran. Joe, you be my witness.” I was offended by his suspicion that any of us would ever write about such sensitive matters.

General Irony: The Robert Gates Memoir

Here’s a dumb thing about the beef industry

Cattle ranchers in the US are required to pay $1 per head to the government which then transfers the money to different trade associations intended to promote the beef industry. Most of the money goes to the National Cattleman’s Beef Association, which is mostly an insane lobbying group arguing against commonsense regulations. They’re the group that is fighting against the labeling of beef that would tell you where beef was from – something many ranchers (humane/organic/sustainable ranchers mostly) want. While the NCBA is a trade organization with membership fees, over 90% of it’s revenue comes from that $1 per cattle tax charged to ranchers. Basically, without this “marketing” tax, our food industry in general, and our beef industry specifically would be a lot better off. Washington Monthly wrote about it here. The last couple paragraphs have the most bullshit.

And in the case of the NCBA, the degree of subsidy is particularly extreme. With its membership having shrunk from 40,000 in 1994 to 26,000 today, only 7 percent of the NCBA’s revenue comes from membership dues. That means that most of the cost of its overhead, from the $434,477 it paid its chief executive in 2010 to the cost of keeping the lights on and maintaining its Web site, comes from public money. As such, the comingling of its public money with lobbying activity is inherent and of great value. If the NCBA didn’t have those checkoff funds, says rancher Steve Charter, “they would have a pretty tough time keeping going.” Put another way, without the public money it receives, the NCBA might not even exist, and certainly would not have the lobbying clout it has today.

Here’s a dumb thing about the beef industry

The GOP’s obstruction to Obamacare is based on a really crappy football play

Here’s the play diagrammed on the third page of the GOP’s strategy memo for opposition to Obamacare. Presumably, the Republicans are the offense in this situation, but they only have 10 players. That’s still an advantage over the defense which only has 8 players.

Terrible football play

Jonathan Chait does not think the play will work.

Instead, the play is a naked bootleg to the left, running straight into the defensive back who isn’t guarding anybody. That is to say, imagining they’ll face an outnumbered and horribly misaligned defense, the offense proposes to attack the only part of the field where the defense has an unblockable defender. This is literally the only play I can imagine that could not work against this defense.

The GOP’s obstruction to Obamacare is based on a really crappy football play

Romney voters fear sharks, Obama voters fear snakes.

Public Policy Polling recently released a pet poll with some interesting findings about pet ownership among American voters. 61% of voters own a pet, and 6% spend more than 20 hours a week caring for them. 18% of voters say sharks are the scariest animal, and 56% say a bear would win in a fight between a bear and a shark.

Additionally, Obama voters fear snakes most, while Romney voters fear sharks most.

Romney voters scared of sharks Obama voters snakes

You can download the full report here.

Via @mikenizza

Romney voters fear sharks, Obama voters fear snakes.