I can’t wait till @SeaTimesOpinion rejects the 2018 climate initiative for not being the 2016 climate initiative they opposed at the time. It will be the latest in a long line of bad-faith arguments from the most intellectually dishonest group in Seattle.
— Martin Duke (@MartinDuke2) July 11, 2018
It was predictable that the Seattle Times would oppose the only measure ($) available to Washington voters to address climate change. However, it’s amazing that people that self-identify as journalists could be so intellectually dishonest in their endorsement. Besides simply lying to their readers — which a newspaper really ought not to do — they can’t manage to maintain a consistent argument from beginning to end.
For starters, the Times says we should wait and let someone else take the first steps:
Washington should coordinate its response with other states, to prevent cross-border job losses. It should also seek a national carbon tax.
Others have taken the first steps. 194 countries have signed the 2015 Paris Agreement. Perhaps there might be national action if Democrats gain firm control of the federal government, but the Times editorial board is working hard to prevent that ($). In any case, Washington is coordinating its response with other states and provinces. But the region’s “newspaper of record” chooses to misinform its readers about the world.
The state should also strengthen regulations directly reducing pollution, and continue making strong investments in alternative energy, conservation and clean technologies.
Yes, the state should be funding those investments. This editorial doesn’t suggest where the money could come from. A carbon fee would work!
Now comes I-1631, repackaged as a carbon fee. In one key respect – accountability – it’s the worst of the bunch. It would collect more than $1 billion yearly. An un-elected board appointed by the governor would propose how to spend it. The initiative requires seats for powerful entities, such as labor and tribes, promising them large cuts.
The Legislature has the final say on appropriations. But the carbon board is structured to be a political juggernaut. Legislators might have difficulty mustering political will to change course.
The logic of this excerpt immediately collapses upon inspection. The measure isn’t “accountable” because it’s an “unelected board” that has to — report to the elected legislature. But the legislature won’t have the “political will” because the resulting legislation will be too popular! The Times is ultimately mad because a panel of experts and stakeholders will be able to propose legislation in Olympia.
Global warming is critical. But I-1631 is not do-or-die. Sponsors opposed the 2016 carbon-tax initiative. It aspired to be revenue neutral, by cutting other taxes, and didn’t fund their wish list.
My, that I-732 seems quite reasonable, with no grubby progressive politics or interest group spending! The Times hates taxes and would surely have supported using carbon proceeds for tax cuts!
Reading these two editorials, two years apart, illustrates the total intellectual bankruptcy of right-wing organizations that pretend to be concerned about climate change. Their argument then was that state action was unnecessary because President Hillary Clinton would save us. Changing facts simply lead to different excuses, not a reconsidered position. That equally self-contradictory editorial was concerned both that I-732 might reduce government revenue in a time of austerity, and also that it might be used for government spending instead of tax cuts. (!)
No, “big polluters” won’t bear these costs. Look at any utility or cable bill to see how taxes and fees are passed to consumers.
In the real world, the vast majority of the opposition funding is coming from the petroleum industry. One might wonder why they are so interested in something that won’t affect their profits.
The Editorial Board then finishes with concern trolling about the middle class and rural people. Let’s set aside that this is economically illiterate: when carbon-intensive things get more expensive, people switch to alternatives. Set aside that fuel-efficient options don’t exist in this editorial. If they are so opposed to raising costs on people, why do they plead for a national carbon tax that presumably would have the same effects? Perhaps their interest in national action only exists in a world where that action is impossible?
Inexplicably, in February this same board praised an almost identical bill ($) in the legislature, refuting almost every point they’re making today. The author of that bill is campaigning for I-1631, but one might object to the subtle differences. The Times could have written a narrow objection based on those small changes. But instead, they chose to spin out a litany of contradictory Fox News talking points: current policy is fine, there isn’t a problem, the problem is too big to solve, we shouldn’t do anything until others move first, and Will Someone Please Think of the White Working Class. I wish that February’s editorial board could have a conversation with October’s.
Brent White contributed to this column.