The Des Moines Register reported that Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, said farmers need a new source of income, and that 90% of farmers don’t make a majority of their income from farming, and that that is a problem. (See link below.)
It is not the government’s job to find new sources of income for farmers. The fact that a large percentage of Iowa‘s farmers have other full-time jobs is not a problem that needs fixing. With the current state of farming mechanization, working a small farm is not a full-time job. We already subsidize farmers by paying 60% of their crop insurance, regardless of size, for doing nothing special or extra. Paying farmers for “carbon sequestration” sounds a lot like paying them for what they already should be doing. What we should do is make good farming practices a requirement in order to receive crop insurance or other subsidies.
In a letter to the Des Moines Register today, 6/24/2015, Jacob Hession advocated for American energy independence and for the renewable energy Production Tax Credit.
We need to be energy independent just like we need to be food independent, clothing independent, pharmaceutical independent, electronics independent… – that is, we don’t need to be independent.
World-wide free market capitalism is a wonderful thing. It gives us a more varied and consistent supply of pretty much everything we need or want. If there is a shortage of anything anywhere around the world, there are people in other parts of the world who will rush to supply what is needed. Shortages mostly occur where trade is restricted and protected.
Any call for for a certain type of “independence” or “security” is usually cover for special interests who will benefit if we protect them from competition or give them special benefits.
What we really need to do is end special protections and subsidies for all forms of energy. Free market capitalism has done more to provide for the security and dependability of the supply all types of products than any scheme devised by government.
LInk to Register article: http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/opinion/readers/2015/06/24/renewable-energy-hession/29196411/
In his essay in The Des Moines Sunday Register (10/5/2014), Richard Doak used the example of British Columbia (BC) as a regional government that has gone out on its own and instituted a carbon tax. He wrote that the carbon tax as been a success. The revenue neutral tax has allowed BC to reduce personal and corporate income taxes to quite low levels. He reported that in BC, “Economic growth is slightly better than the rest of Canada…”
He asked, “Why can’t Iowa be like that?” Throughout the essay, Doak talked about taxing “fossil fuels”. What he did not talk about was that fact that the BC carbon tax applies to ethanol and bio-diesel, because both contain carbon that is released into the atmosphere when burned.
When all aspects of production are considered, there is still a question about which fule, gasoline or ethanol, puts more carbon into the atmosphere. At the time of combustion, ethanol puts about one third less carbon into the atmosphere than gasoline. So, to the extent that there is discussion in Iowa or the U.S. about a carbon tax, the tax on ethanol should be about two-thirds of the tax on gasoline. It should not be zero.
Doak also talks about replacing the gasoline tax with a carbon tax to fund road building and maintenance. He make the point that a tax on coal and natural gas, used to make electricity, will make users of electric cars pay their share for roads. In almost any scenario of the future, electric cars will use a very small fraction of the total electricity output and will not come close to paying their fair share of road use. Most of the cost of a carbon tax on coal and natural gas will be paid by households and businesses. Doak is right that roads should be financed by users, but a carbon tax is not a good solution.
Link to Register article: http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/opinion/columnists/iowa-view/2014/10/04/richard-doax-climate-change/16747421/
It appears that our Earth is warming more quickly and is likely due, in part, to human action. Our climate has always changed and will always continue to change. The key question is: “What is the role of government?” I don’t think it is to try to stop climate change. Government has a proper role in regulating pollution of our common environment. But our air and water have never been perfectly clean. As our society has become more affluent, we have done much to clean up our environment. We still have work to do.
Government’s proper role is to help us adapt to the changes. Increasing the availability and lowering the cost of energy will improve our lives and our health more than government efforts to reduce carbon emissions to try to slow global warming. Taxing energy not only makes it less affordable, but Increasing the flow of money to Washington also has its own negative consequences.
We will be best able to adapt to climate changes if we are economically prosperous. People are more prosperous when energy costs are lower. Energy costs are lower when there is a truly free market in energy. Government policies that force us to be “energy independent” raise energy costs. Government should not prohibit free international trade in energy. We should stop subsidizing all forms of energy – treat them all equally. Government should regulate incrementally to continue to reduce pollution, but not make major changes that dramatically increase the cost of energy or that increase the flow of money to Washington.