The short answer is “too big”.
I found this report (via Political Irony), from, of all places, the International Monetary Fund, discussing the size of the
gravy train subsidies given to fossil fuel industries. Among its findings:
- Almost $5 trillion is spent in such subsidies. This is about 6.5% of global gross domestic product.
- Coal gets the most subsidies. This finding is new to me. It is also the most disturbing, as coal is one of the worst fossil fuels in terms of pollution and global warming.
- A substantial part of these subsidies are indirect, as in not properly charging for externalities.
- Eliminating these subsidies would have enormous benefits, including increased government revenue, less pollution, and millions of fewer deaths
- Global coordination is not necessary, as a country “going it alone” by eliminating subsidies will still reap benefits.
With the above benefits, it is obviously a great idea to end these subsidies now. Energy companies do not need these subsidies. Indeed, the same way those who are doing just fine don’t need an unpaid cheer squad, those who are doing just fine don’t need coddling from the government either.
I know I’ve been inactive lately, but that is due to a full–time job that leaves less time for blogging. Still, I will try and keep posting.
In the meantime, here’s a link roundup:
- The Texas Attorney General admits to deliberate gerrymandering. At least he’s honest.
- The US might take steps to reduce the over–incarceration caused by the War on (Some Classes of People Who Use Some) Drugs. This is a good idea. The vast majority of people imprisoned in the US to lengthy prison sentences are for non–violent crimes like drug possession. This is a huge drain on public resources, and a huge dump of corporate welfare for the prison industrial complex. Ending it would help public finances, and prevent many young people from becoming a permanent underclass. Treating drug addiction as a medical problem would also improve public health, while reducing drug use, and ending the War on (Some Classes of People Who Use Some) Drugs would also reduce crime and gun violence in the US.
- It does not follow from the above that I necessarily endorse the use of drugs. The primary reason tobacco use causes heart disease is because smoking produces carbon monoxide. Smoking marijuana would produce likewise. (There is still excellent evidence that marijuana has medical uses, however).
- Noah Smith is right. Libertarianism really is just about protecting the liberty of “local bullies.”
I just made these up, but they echo many of the criticisms made against the religion of glibertarianism:
- 10: You get a fetish over the rights of the manager and the entrepreneur.
- 9: You think corporations have rights, but children don’t.
- 8: You believe that if one person is in danger of starving to death, they’ll always make a rational decision and have equal bargaining power, because abuse of power never exists.
- 7: You believe that a ragtag group of mostly untrained people, armed with whatever guns are at hand, could take on a larger group of highly–trained soldiers armed with the most sophisticated weaponry available, and win.
- 6: You think that giving power to something restricted by a constitution (like the government) is evil, but have no problem giving nearly absolute power to things that aren’t restricted by the constitution (like employers and parents).
- 5: You treat Atlas Shrugged and The Road to Serfdom as if they were scripture, while probably having little idea what their authors really thought.
- 4: You think that any government attempt to interfere with the contracts you can make or increase the taxes you pay is too big, but at the same time have no problem voting for a party that wants government so big it snoops in people’s bedrooms.
- 3: You think we live in some perverse zero–sum universe where the only way to prevent the federal government from oppressing you is to let the subdivisions oppress you.
- 2: You claim to believe in both economic and personal freedom, but inevitably only care about the former.
- 1: You get riled up and defensive at the mere suggestion that you care about something other than yourself and your property.