Conflicted on I-732

Published at 01:54 on 7 September 2016

Voices I normally respect a great deal are chiming in against the carbon tax initiative in Washington, I-732, because of race and class justice concerns. This leaves me conflicted, because global warming is clearly the most profound danger we face, thus urgently needs to be addressed, and a carbon tax appears to be one of the most simple and logical steps we can take to this end.

The question to ask, I think, is: How much harm will the proposed law actually do? Note that this is a very different question from asking how far it falls short in addressing race and class issues, even though global warming almost certainly will harm the disadvantaged more.

Addressing the latter really isn’t the purpose of the legislation. Such issues should be addressed, of course, but the proper way to address them is via other, separate actions. On the other hand, if the measure does itself do harm to the disadvantaged, then that is a valid argument against it.

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