The Carbon Tax

The Deepwater Horizon spill should be a historical inflection point like Three Mile Island. The horror cannot be hidden. The cost to lives, property, livlihoods and the environment is increasingly difficult to hide no matter how hard BP tries because we have this thing called the Internet and it is on computers now. Engineers from all over the world are discussing not just the Deepwater Horizon spill but how we, as humans, have been destroying the oceans in general.

But it’s not just the incredibly lax overview of the deep water oil drilling industry where the Government gleefully hired oil industry lobbyists to fill key roles in oversight and licensing organizations and simply didn’t bother to do any inspections. This is one of many places where the cheap cost of business in the name of “free-enterprise” is passing on horrors to not just us but to everyone on the planet — it’s the agricultural industry and energy and mining and manufacturing where, in exchange for ‘cheapness’ we get a worse world in lax oversight and pollution and horrors. We not only enable these spills but we subsidize them.,

It’s time we, as Americans, start paying for our messes.

If you want cheap ethanol…
If you want to fill your enormous SUV with gas…
If you want expensive foreign wars…
If you want cheap hamburger at the supermarket…

It’s time to pay for it. It’s time to stop hiding the costs of things and bring them scurrying out into the light like hunting for cockroaches.

But because we clearly do not have the political will to enforce and tighten regulations on corporations because they dump money into our electoral system, it’s time to do what we, as Americans, do best: put the screws to regular people. Force the people to pony up for all the cheap things in life. Make gas at the pump cost $5, $6, $7. Only when people have to pay for the costs of “drill, baby, drill” will they make demands for change.

I have precisely three requirements for a carbon tax:

1. It be painful.
2. That it be clear when you are being charged in big bold letters on your food, your energy bills, and at the gas pump.
3. The money collected go only to paying all the subsidizes, to pay for our foreign wars, to pay for the cleanups of all the pollution and hazardous waste that our Fine New American Citizens, the Corporations, have foisted upon us. With, preferably, a website to track it.

I know this will never happen. Our backboneless government will only backdoor the screws to the people so people do not see a clear line between malfeasance from government (no oversight) and corporations and cold, hard cash. But I can wish…

So I come out in favor of a carbon tax. A great big one. A great big fat juicy one. Because only when we hit people in the pocketbook will people even begin to wake up and see the price of these decisions.

And one other thing: if corporations want to be treated like citizens and have the full run of the Constitution, I believe “jury of their peers” is in there, too. It’s time to start charging corporations as a whole with criminal charges. Imagine if a person or small group had destroyed the Gulf of Mexico. Follow that thought.