Tax the polluters?


Ian Angus, in “Confronting the climate change crisis,” explains why another favorite solution by capitalism to global warming, taxing greenhouse gas emissions, won’t work.

Another “market-driven” approach proposes levying taxes levied on corporate greenhouse gas emissions. But if the “carbon taxes” are too low, they won’t stop emissions — and if they are high enough, corporations will shift their operations to countries that don’t interfere with business-as-usual. In any event, it is very unlikely that capitalist politicians will actually impose taxes that would force their corporate backers to make real changes.

Given the Starbucks often gets tax credits for opening stores in suburban areas, do you think that small municipalities (and large ones as well) won’t change the rules so a polluter can move in on the cheap? The problem, as always here, is that the atomized structure of capitalism makes it difficult to mandate that businesses (literally) clean up their act. Plus, as Angus mentions, in capitalism, politicians serve the corporations that finance them. They aren’t about to bite the hand that feeds them.