Sunday, July 8, 2012

A New Perspective on NYT op-ed regarding BC's Carbon Tax

There has been a lot of activity on the #bcpoli twitter sphere around an article that was published in the New York Times (NYT) regarding BC's Carbon Tax.

The fact the article was published in the New York Times really catches the attention of many. But it also begs the question: Why would the New York Times publish an article on BC's Carbon Tax? Are there journalist at the NYT that follow events in British Columbia? After all we are a world away from New York. Are there economist that have been following the implementation of the BC Carbon Tax with due diligence? Why this attention to the BC Carbon Tax? And the timing of the article is most interesting. Tax increase on July 1st, and article published on July 4th. What is the publication's/article's connection to BC? Perhaps time to dig a little deeper as to what this article is all about and why the article appeared there? It just strikes me as strange that a publication a world away from BC would publish an article holding the BC Carbon tax up as a shiny beacon to the world, at the time of the BC Carbon tax increase is being announced. As they say timing is everything. Something just doesn't seem right.

The article is published in the OPINION PAGES section and is identified as an Op-Ed article. So it is an opinion submitted by the authors under the conditions set by the NYT for opinion articles.  Op-Ed articles are like letters to the editor.  You send your article in and it might get printed.  The co-authors, Yorum Bauman and Shi-Ling Tsu submitted their opinion article with exceptional timing to have the article published only three days after the tax increase.

So who are these authors? Of what relevance is their opinion if any? And what is the BC connection in all this?

Yorum Bauman is "the World's First Stand Up Economist". Kind of like a stand up comedian only ... better. And he "really does have an economics PhD".  He is the co-author of the 1998 book Tax Shift which advocates switching taxation from income and property to resource consumption.  That perspective would add a lot of bias to his opinion I think.  He is an environmental economist and a fellow at Sightline Institute in Seattle, an independent, non-profit organization whose mission is to "make the Northwest a global model of sustainabiltiy".  I have to confess, I'm not feeling a lot of confidence in Mr. Bauman's opinion on the BC Carbon Tax.  It's just that - his opinion.  The fact Mr. Bauman lives in Seattle and his current relationship with Sightline Institute explains why he would be aware of the increase in the BC Carbon Tax.

Shi-Ling Tsu is a law professor in the Faculty of Law at UBC. He will be a law professor at Florida State University effective September 2012.  Now we can see the BC connection finally. Professor Hsu has a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Columbia University, a J.D., from Columbia Law School, and a M.S. in Ecology and Ph.D. in Agricultural and Resource Economics, both from the University of California, Davis. It is his recent publications that draw my attention. It is obvious that Mr. Tsu has had a keen interest in Environmental Taxation since 2008 and Gasoline Taxes (read that BC Carbon Tax) in particular.  Mr. Tsu is the author of "The Case for a Carbon Tax".

Representative Published Works



So where does that leave us. It leaves us with an opinion article that is interesting and well written at best by two proponents of gasonline taxes. The liberal shills on #bcpoli have referred to this article time and time again as if it somehow substantiates the BC Carbon Tax and the Liberal government's decision to impliment it. They have pinned it to their tattered flag to prop up their government's standing, while trying to imply "how insightful the Liberal government is". After all, the Liberal government implemented a tax that is now being suggested as good for all of the United States. And that claim was made in no less than the New York Times. There seems to be an attempt to capitalize on the very existence of an opinion article in the "New York Times" to somehow gives added weight to its statement as if it were fact. When in actual fact it is merely an opinion article co-authored by "the Stand Up Economist" and a law professor from UBC who believes gasoline taxes are the next best thing to sliced bread.

I'm Richard Giroday and that's my musing.















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