7 Jan 2013

Anything but water

  1. Bad incentives I: "Electric-car owners in Washington will be hit with $100 fee" because the state government wants to maintain revenues that are falling due to lower gas consumption.

  2. Bad incentives II: California's carbon auction was a "success" because one company bid for double the available permits.

  3. A good rant/summary of Facebook's continued abuse of "social" (see image at right, setting my posts to "public" instead of "friends" as a default. Oh, and their way of generating money -- selling access to your email box -- falls under the "evil FB" scenario I outlined 30 months ago. I still have a FB account, but its future is doomed.

  4. We are using local SIM cards in Asia. It costs $3-4 to get a phone number and credits for calling and texting. This makes it VERY easy to arrange hotels and taxis while on the go (getting a jump on walk ins). This "just in time" booking system should improve efficiency for travelers and vendors. Oh, and they also make it easier to stay in touch with random people you meet.

  5. Russ does a great interview with an organic (capitalist) farmer.


Jay said...

David, I think your post is misleading. The article you link to also has many misleading statements in it.

For example, electric cars do not necessarily reduce greenhouse gas emissions or the dependence on fossil fuels. (Second to last paragraph. It depends on the source of the electricity whether greenhouse gas emissions are reduced. Currently, natural gas and coal are the two largest sources of electric generation capacity.)

The article does provide a brief description of how convoluted public policy is with both incentives and disincentives for the same behaviors. (Did you you that according to the recent fiscal cliff bill, coal mined on indian reservations is classified as an alternitve energy source? What's that all about? Clearly our political leaders have failed us yet again.)

In many states fuel taxes are dedicated to the construction and maintenance of roads (as one source of funding). Drivers who do not contribute to fuel taxes are not contributing to their fair share to the road system. They are free riders. This is a well understood problem for collective action.

In my state, Minnesota, alternative fuels (ethanol, natural gas, propane, etc.) are taxed on the basis on energy density so that drivers pay a proportional share regardless of the type of fuel they choose. It appears to be a rare case of the government not picking winners. I don't believe electric vehicles have been addressed yet, but they should be addressed - out of fairness - even though the numbers of electric vehicles are too low to have a material effect on the 10!tax collection amounts currently.

David Zetland said...

@Jay -- good comments. I'm all for a carbon tax, which would help with power impacts and road fees (based on weight or miles) to pay for those. But that's not the point to politicians who like to redesign life every few weeks.

Jay said...


I absolutly agree with your comment that politicians like to redesign life every few weeks.

A greenhouse gas tax should be wider than a carbon tax (since gases other than carbon dioxide contribute to the greenhouse effect). In my opinion, any greenhouse gas tax should be a strictly tax and rebate arrangement. Since governments are not the victims of the externality they should not be beneficiaries of taxes collected. Any other scheme seems inefficient and subject to rent seeking and regulatory capture.

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