Saturday, 16 August 2008

A step closer to carbon rationing?

'Tuscan' Toynbee gives the game away in her piece in CiF today when she says:
In distribution of wealth, Britain is now back to 1937 levels of inequality, regressing backwards every year: that's what makes any kind of carbon tax or reliance on high prices impossible, the burden falling too unfairly.
That's a damning indictment of Zanu Labour from their star commentator; in 1997 we were at 1997 levels of inequality, but in just ten years Labour have put the clock back 60 years. Sixty years of wasted effort in building One Nation, of increasing opportunities for the poorest, of cross-party consensus on 'fairness', that most defining trait of our nation. Brown's sheer incompetence at the Treasury, his economic illiteracy, his pursuance of a dogma as outdated as his beach suit and tie (lacking only the knotted hankie on the head for 1937 authenticity), his bloody-minded obstinacy and his third-rate intellect have left Labour nowhere to go but backwards.

Nowhere that is except the route that Tuscan Polly advocates; carbon rationing. This is where I usually head to C@W or Sackerson, Stumbling or Tim for an analysis. I've no idea whether the per-capita distribution of carbon 'consumption' is a bell curve or not; intuitively, I'd suspect the distribution has a longish tail, and is fairly flat. Which may mean a gap between median and average consumption. To make sense in Labour terms the base universal ration level would have to be set somewhere below median to (a) achieve an overall reduction and (b) to leave the poorest unaffected. Thus the total 'ration' in circulation would be less than aggregate demand.

Since living in cities is more carbon-efficient than living in the country, it would also mitigate against rural areas, already suffering from Labour's spend skew and high prices. Those at the heavy consumption tail of the distribution would quickly bid-up the price of unused rations on the market and would be OK. The people I suspect who would be hit hardest would be those lying in the +/- 1SD zone. Us. Normal people.

And what this would do to GDP I don't know. But carbon is one area in which Cameron's 'nudge' approach may be a lot less painful than Toynbee's universal State ration approach.


John Page said...

But the whole carbon thing is tripe. Even if we had long-term global warming, there would be hardly any scientific basis for claiming that it was caused by CO2 produced by humanity.

Trev said...

Of course this proposal will be an enormous opportunity for a little free enterprise.

First of all it will have to be managed by a computer system - which may limit opportunities by taking 10 years to implement and subsequently be out of service for most of the time for maintenance and upgrades.

But that apart - an enterprising man with a substantial steel boat could easily weld in some extra tankage to be filled in Holland or Belgium and "shared" with friends - perhaps in return for certain financial - err - adjustments.

The facility with which supposedly high security bank cards are cloned will create even greater opportunities for those with fewer scruples, and the numbers of that group will increase rapidly if this goes through.

I can imagine young men in sharp suits and offensive ties accosting people on street corners:

"ere guv, need a few gallon ov unleaded.
No questions asked.
Knaw wot I mean guv"

DocBud said...

What happens if you use up all your ration before the end of the year and can't afford additional credits? Will the next Dickens be inspired because his dad was in a carbon debtors prison (carbon neutral of course)?

The nudge approach will prove to be no different than state compulsion, those who think they know how the rest should live their lives will not be able to resist ramping up the amount of nudging. Before you know it, people will be nudged by their desire not to be fined or sent to prison.

Yokel said...

Any excuse to impose a Command Economy and to reap a good harvest based on the successful research undertaken by the Soviet Union.


"Since living in cities is more carbon-efficient than living in the country, it would also mitigate against rural areas..."

Dunno about that. Everything has to be brought into and away from the city, including the people it seems (am I glad I don't have to do the 90-minute commute). I bet if the accounts are done right there's an optimum somewhere around the market town in the rural area.

But yeah, really it's another scam, innit?

Thanks for the mention.