Year 4, Month 1, Day 3: Reality Bites.

The Saint-Louis Post Dispatch has a good idea:

If Congress and the president were more rational than political — admittedly, a very big if — they could kill a covey of birds with one stone. They could replace the payroll tax with a carbon tax.

Suddenly Social Security and Medicare funding would be secure, which means the rest of the fiscal crisis would be fixed. Plus, you might save the planet in the process.

Instead of paying combined Social Security and Medicare taxes of 7.65 percent through payroll deduction (assuming the Social Security tax portion of it goes back to 6.2 percent next year), workers would keep that money.

They’d need at least part of it to pay for the carbon taxes on gasoline, natural gas and electricity produced by coal or gas plants. For example, if oil companies were taxed $20 a ton for the carbon dioxide their products created, they’d pass along the cost to consumers. The price of gasoline would go up about 20 cents a gallon.

Fuck reality. December 28:

In a rational world, a rational government wouldn’t sound like such a fantastic proposition, and we would have acted long ago to make a carbon tax a reality. After all, the key to our species’ survival hangs on our ability to reduce a single ratio — the proportion of atmospheric CO2 in parts per million — back to pre-industrial levels.

But American politics is built on make-believe; on the symbolic power of names and labels; on a peculiar form of heavily financed magical thinking in which the solution for any problem is a sufficiently dazzling photo-op, or the invocation of conservatism’s patron saint, our fortieth president. How can rational thinkers operate inside this unreal environment? Here’s an irrational suggestion for Democrats who are (justifiably) concerned about climate change:

To accrue Republican support, a carbon tax must be called a “fee,” and it needs to be conspicuously dedicated to Ronald Reagan.

Warren Senders

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