Beyond the Cusp

July 28, 2010

The Bottom Line Problem With the Carbon Tax

There are a number of things that are simply wrong about the carbon tax. Yesterday we had an article titled Hot Enough For You Yet? giving some overview of general reasons the carbon tax is bad for America. Today we will get into some particular examples where the carbon tax is just plain wrong.

The first example will demonstrate how the carbon tax discriminates against small local companies. For our example, we have two companies that make, what else, widgets. The first company, let’s call it Wally’s Old Style Widgets in central Alabama, makes approximately 25,000 widgets per year using one-hundred year old equipment that make a heavier and longer lasting widget. The other company, we’ll call it Super Modern Widget and Other Gadget Conglomerate of Oregon, makes 100,000 widgets per month along with numerous other products with two-year-old state of the art equipment. Before the carbon tax, both company’s widgets sold for about the same price in central Alabama and though Wally’s Old Style Widgets were a slight bit higher in price, the companies in central Alabama also had older machines that were already set-up to use Wally’s Widgets. So, for them everything was simply fine.

Along comes the carbon tax. Right off the bat, in an honest attempt to comply with the new carbon credit regulations, Wally invested some hundred thousand dollars in scrubbers and other pollution and carbon reducing equipment. This had to be reflected with an increase in the price of his widgets. On top of this, while his competitor across the country in Oregon did not need to modify his equipment one iota and still managed to get paid for his excess carbon credits while Wally had to buy carbon credits or replace every piece of his equipment. Since the latter would have bankrupted his company, he did the best he could with a bad situation. As time passed the price on Wally’s Widgets kept slowly increasing as the government charged more and more over time for carbon credits. Very soon, Wally’s Widgets now cost twice that of his competitor, Super Modern Widget et al even after shipping costs. One by one, all of Wally’s customers had to stop buying the locally made Widgets, as they became cost prohibitive and buy the lighter and more fragile Widgets from Oregon. End of story is the small local business was run out of business simply because he served a local need and was not big enough to not be allowed to fail.

Our next example, we will have two companies who both make millions of widget fasteners. Both companies have modern equipment. The only difference is one company makes their widget fasteners from stainless steel and the other from a rubber and epoxy mixture. The advantage of the stainless steel is longer lifespan and a tighter fit while the rubber and epoxy fastener makes less noise and needs less lubrication though not lasting as long or making as firm a connection. For many uses of widget fasteners, the difference is not significant. But in high stress applications the stainless steel fasteners outlast the rubber and epoxy by almost a two to one difference thus even though the stainless steel cost 25% more, they are the better more cost efficient fastener.

Along comes the carbon tax. Needless to point out that the rubber and epoxy mix fasteners do not require smelting and are made from simple high-pressure injection molding and a 12-hour curing time. The stainless steel require smelting the steel, mixing in the custom combinations for each type of steel, then pouring the molds and curing. The steel requires, by comparison, a carbon intensive procedure and thus is hit harder by carbon credits. Eventually, either the price of items requiring the stainless steel fasteners are going to get far more expensive, or everyone will need to settle for an inferior product where due to cost the stainless steel product has been priced out of consideration.

The last examples are two identical companies who do yard care. This example requires we look at the situation without carbon tax and with the carbon tax. First without the tax. The first three years these two lawn care companies compete, they each increase their business by 12% per year. After three years, one of the companies decides to double their advertising dollars and as a result, they now grow at 20% per year while the other drops to only 9% profit. The company advertising gets the increase of their investment and the other company takes a hit for not keeping up.

Now add in carbon tax. Once again, the two companies both go with 12% gains for three years. The government computes their allotted carbon ration to reflect exactly that 12% annual increase. Now when the one company increases their advertising dollars and realized a 20% yearly increase the government penalizes them for going over their carbon allotment. Meanwhile, the company that only increased at 9% will receive money for their unused carbon credits. The basic result is some of the monies made with the increase in advertising from the more aggressive company will be taken by the government and given to his competitor who was less aggressive. To me, that is just plain wrong.

Beyond the Cusp

July 26, 2010

Hot Enough For You Yet?

We sure have had some hot weather of late. That just might be because it is summer once again. Sort of funny how that works. According to a Paul Krugman article, this year’s record setting temperatures everywhere he looks is proof that we were remiss in not passing President Obama’s Cap and Trade Bill. My favorite part of his, and many other proponents of a Carbon Tax, argument that any plan would be intelligently applied slowly over sufficient period of time so as not to over burden the economy. Well, it would only be a burden to those evil carbon based companies that deal in oil and coal. In reality, this simple statement of limited affect is extremely misleading.

When they tell us that only the energy companies who are dependent upon carbon-based fuels will be measurably affected, they are hiding the truth. This little fact they try to avoid at all costs is that there exist many companies that depend on carbon-based fuels or their derivatives to an extensive extent. Examples are pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, petroleum based fabrics such as nylons, plastics, cleaning products, solvents and adhesives, roofing tars and shingles, asphalt roads, lubricants, paints and dyes, and on, and on, and on. Another major hidden cost that will affect every single product you buy will be the massive increase in delivery costs whether the transport uses train, truck, boat, or air delivery systems. To put it succinctly, a carbon tax will have an effect very similar to a VAT (Value Added Tax) as it will place an additional charge for the raw materials, manufacture, transportation, and even simply running the store itself where you purchase the items. Absolutely nothing will escape a carbon tax.

Next time somebody tells you that a carbon tax won’t be a big deal, ask them to name one item that will not cost more under their carbon tax, or the new name, putting a price on carbon. No matter how flashy and intricate the dance, the song is the same; you will pay dearly once the carbon tax is in place. The best way to reduce carbon “pollution” is to have people as customers buy intelligently from companies who are really making an effort to produce a green, eco-friendly product. Let we the people place an informed and purposeful demand that all industries do their part. This way we will reward the best with our support and our monies when we buy from companies that have proven to take all the steps they could to be Earth-friendly. Giving money to the government will not do half as much as what the people can get accomplished through intelligent consumerism.

Beyond the Cusp

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