Carbon taxes in the NYT

Lots of people are ripping in to Monica Prasad after her op-ed in the NYT on carbon taxes. She says that

Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden have had carbon taxes in place since the 1990s, but the tax has not led to large declines in emissions in most of these countries… [T]he insight they provide is that if reducing emissions is the goal, then a carbon tax is a tax you want to impose but never collect.

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Hard headed truths about pollution

I read recently about the Vélib’ program that Paris is running and what a boon it is for the environment. Apparently Ken Livingstone is keen on making London more bicycle friendly, and cities like Copenhagen are already full of cyclists. The decrease in pollution as a result of the reduction in cars must be quite significant. What is it that prevents New Zealand cities from adopting similar, cyclist-friendly inner city roads?

Perhaps it’s not so much a supply issue as a demand issue. Perhaps fewer people want to commute by bicycle in NZ. A major factor in their decision not to use a bicycle might be the requirement that helmets are worn on the road. Read more

Housing and the value of individuality

The government is introducing ways to reduce the compliance costs associated with building homes. By doing this, the government can increase the amount of house and land packages in perth or increase the supply of properties, lowering the price of houses, and thereby increasing housing affordability.

No doubt this will be an interesting policy to look over, however this is not what I am going to do right now. Instead I am interested in Professor Roy Fleetwood’s (of Victoria University’s Architecture and Design Faculty) dual claims that”the plan risked creating cardboard cut-out houses” and that “the Kiwi dream was to build your own home, but individuality was highly prized”.

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Vonnegut on taxation

In the comments for my post on taxing observable characteristics that are correlated with income, CPW asks what I think about Kurt Vonnegut’s tale of Harrison Bergeron. I don’t plan to venture into literary criticism which I have no expertise in, but I liked the story enough that I can’t resist posting on it! Read more

Avoiding the taxman

Talking to Agnitio today, he mentioned that the result of having a top personal tax rate above the company tax rate is tax avoidance and evasion. The idea being that people with wealth will try to pipe income through businesses to avoid paying the top tax rate. Well, it seems he’s empirically justified in that view (kinda) Read more

Should we dump the tax cuts?

I find it weird when people tell me that we should not cut taxes because a slowdown in the economy means we are going to run a fiscal deficit. Now you might think I’m weird for thinking its weird – after all many people see it as equivalent to this: think of it like a household, when your income falls you should cut back on spending so that you have more to spend in the future.

However, thats the question – has our countries ‘lifetime’ tax take fallen (which would imply that we need higher tax rates to fund current spending), or is this budget deficit just the result of a cyclical movements in our countries income. As it seems like we are moving into a cyclical slowdown, there is no reason to take tax cuts off the table.

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