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State carbon tax proposal exposes progressives’ cognitive dissonance

A bill sponsored by Sen. Wiley Nickel (D-Wake) would levy a tax on “any carbon-based fuel product sold, used, or entered into the State.” Fortunately, the bill isn’t expected to go anywhere this session.

The “carbon tax” bill is designed to punish the use of greenhouse gas emissions under the guise of protecting the environment. Such a tax would of course make business activity more expensive, serving to either depress worker wages or inflate the price of goods and services purchased by consumers. Either way, low-income workers and households would be hardest hit.

Moreover, a major goal of carbon taxes is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. As the old saying goes, “the more you tax an activity, the less of that activity there will be.”

Which brings us to an interesting point. When it comes to taxing things like greenhouse gas emissions, or cigarettes, or other things considered “social ills” by progressives, they readily acknowledge that raising taxes on those things will likely lower those activities.

If they understand this concept, it makes one wonder why progressives also favor higher taxes on productive work? Or favor what is essentially a tax (the minimum wage) on low-skill labor?

Brian Balfour / Senior Vice President of Research

Brian is Senior Vice President of Research at the John Locke Foundation