CSA steering committee member Jonathan Rowe has a new piece in Slate that wonders if Sarah Palin isn’t onto something with her opposition to cap-and-trade climate policy. “Let’s take her advice one step further,” Jon suggests. “Put cap-and-trade aside—and consider another way to curb carbon emissions. The Alaska way.”
We would start by repealing the federal income tax on individuals—most of them, at least. Alaska has no personal income tax at all. We could alter that a bit and keep the tax on, say, the richest 5 percent, for reasons I’ll explain later. We would keep the corporate income tax, however, and at a high rate, as Alaska does.
Second, we would increase federal spending per capita to roughly the level of Alaska, which is the highest in the nation. I haven’t done the math, but this would help pay for universal medical care—whatever plan Congress adopts.
The upside looks pretty good.
This dividend—plus the elimination of the income tax for most of us—would take at least some of the sting out of higher energy taxes. And you’d get the dividend whether or not you used a lot of fossil fuels. The less fuel you burned, in fact, the more you’d gain, because then your dividend check would be pure gravy, rather than just a kind of tax rebate. Drive a hybrid, or walk, or take the train, and the people in the SUVs would in effect be paying you to do so.
The result would be a climate dividend for citizens instead of a cap-and-trade system quickly gamed by Goldman Sachs.
Who knew Sarah Palin was such a visionary?