The Best Way to Shrink Carbon Footprints is a High Carbon Tax with an Average Dividend
Firstly, this argument is not whether or not carbon should be limited. For the purposes of this debate, that is a given.
To prove that something is not the best, I must show something that is better. Since if all I do is argue that my opponent's proposal sucks, but not provide a better alternative, then I have failed to show that it is not the best. I will merely outline my case this round and allow my opponent to begin the debate (since it would be unfair for me to have the first and last word).
=== Con's Case ===
While the case I present will not be my ideal proposal, I choose it because it has fewer differences from my opponent's so we can focus more energy and attention on the differences, rather than trying to do a debate about a bunch of differences.
- Individual level
1) Same lowering of huge subsidies to oil companies.
2) Institute a carbon tax that is set to increase every year.
3) *KEY DIFFERENCE* there would be no annual dividend back to the people.
4) Anyone with a negative carbon footprint would be given an amount of money equal to what they would pay if it were positive.
5) *KEY DIFFERENCE* income from the individual tax would be split between long term carbon solutions (investments in green energy) and short term carbon solutions (re-forestation, protecting environments, etc).
- Corporate level
*KEY DIFFERENCE* rather than having the corporate option that my opponent has, they would be on the same as the individual, however with different levels to allow it to make sense for the larger quantity.
We can now go into which option would be better at reducing our carbon footprints.
The dividend is key to effecting change in individual behavior and in making the tax politically viable.
Without the dividend, a person who tries hard to lower his/her footprint but still has to drive 30 miles to work every day would pay inordinately large amounts of taxes.
It would cause unemployment in those who must drive. Without the dividend, those people would be put in a dire situation in which the government has essentially taken their job and livelihood.
The dividend is compensation for that hit to the wallet.
Arguably, though, the incentive created by the dividend is more important.
The dividend would create a race to be under the average emissions because it would not only alleviate their tax burden, but also "profit" by having a lower tax bill than the rebate.
Corporations must have limits rather than taxes. With a limited number of permits that go to the highest bidder, corporations would essentially be setting voluntary tax rates at the highest level that doesn't harm them. If a corporation is unwilling to pay, say, $1M for a permit for X tons of CO2, it would not be required to. It would just have to fall back on production making the greener companies more profitable in the long run.
It also means that super-rich companies that fight for the right to pollute would be more likely to bid higher.
Having a limited number of permits also allows for a more controlled amount of carbon emissions.
If scientists tell us we have 10 years to get to 10x less than we are at now, the number of permits issued could be set to dwindle at that rate.
With a tax instead of a limited permit system, they might still emit CO2 above that rate and make the necessity for reform more frantic.
1) Pro argues that the dividend is needed for economic reasons. However, economic effects are outside the scope of this debate. The only thing that matters is which plan is better at shrinking the carbon foot print. As such, this part can be effectively dismissed.
2) Pro argues that the dividend is also needed for the incentive to work, as it will create a "race to be under the average." This is an inaccurate representation of incentives. Since the dividend is an average, that means that it is equal to everyone. Let's compare using actual numbers. Person A (referred to as PA) has a carbon tax of $100 and Person B (referred to as PB) has a carbon tax of $500. If there is a dividend of $300 per person, than PA makes $200 while PB is taxed $200. This is a $400 incentive difference. However, even without the dividend, we see it is still a $400 incentive difference. We can see the dividend does not create, nor alter the incentive, it only makes the tax easier to swallow. But again, it does not alter the incentive.
3) Pro also argues that for corporations must have permits rather than taxes. This is a clear example of how we can see that economic effect cannot be counted in, since with an open bidding process, as my opponent described, the largest companies would bid for all the permits, meaning that small and mid-sized companies would be forced to emit NO carbon at all (meaning they can't even deliver products to customers). The economic collapse from that would likely force a revolution that would publicly kill the green movement for generations. This is why cap and trade is usually used. The small companies have their "permits" to start and may choose to sell them, they don't have to bid against someone they can't beat to get them in the first place.
I will now go into my arguments
=== Con's Case ===
As shown in point 1 in this round. The dividend does not effect the incentive for people to change. However, by taking the tax money and investing in green solutions (both long and short term), it creates jobs and furthers the development in green tech, thus making green tech more affordable faster. That means, that providing the dividend is ultimately, a slower option than taking the tax and investing it.
Pro creates the permits for only large corporations (as explained in point 3 that applying it to all companies would be economic suicide). He clearly says "On the company level: For larger corporations..." and never presents anything for smaller corporations. This means so long as a company stays small or medium, that there are no regulations or requirements. As such, there is no incentive for any of them to change. This actually creates the incentive for large corporations to break apart and become medium companies. Given that the most CO2 emissions are coming from electricity generation and transportation , which are things that all companies do, big and small. A system that effects everyone at a fair rate would create incentive for all, not just the large companies, and would still generate a substantial amount of revenue to apply towards green investments.
This clearly shows that my proposal would shrink our carbon foot prints faster than my opponents and so his proposal is not the fastest. I now pass this on to my opponent as we move into the final round.
The dividend is equal to everyone, but the person using less carbon than average is "rewarded" twice: first in the form of a lower tax bill, second in the form of profit from the dividend.
If that person were to use the average amount, he/she would break even. Above average, he/she would pay more than received. Below average, he/she would have MORE than what he/she started with.
Without that dividend, it's just a tax like the one on cigarettes. The dividend is an extra incentive by distributing the wealth from the above average polluters to the below average polluters.
Even though the dollar amount is the same, I believe giving money for something holds higher power as an incentive than taking money away. It's a classic case of positive reinforcement vs punishment(1). Psychologists have found that the best method for effecting behavioral change is positive reinforcement(2).
I didn't say all corporations should be limited by the permits. I said "For larger corporations, rather than having a tax..."
I was implying smaller ones would just pay the tax like individuals.
"However, by taking the tax money and investing in green solutions (both long and short term), it creates jobs..."
As Con pointed out, the economy is outside the scope of this debate. Creating jobs is irrelevant.
In my scenario, the dividend would allow the market to make green tech more affordable. Demand would increase because those who go beneath carbon average would be coming out on top.
I thank my opponent for engaging me on this topic. It has been fun.
Con makes some very good objections, and they're something to think about but as it stands, I believe my system would be faster at reducing emissions.
- Positive reinforcement -
First, my opponent presented a link on punishment, but not on positive reinforcement, that can be found here . It clearly says, "positive reinforcement involves the addition of a reinforcing stimulus following a behavior that makes it more likely that the behavior will occur again in the future." Because the dividend is equal to every single person, it is not a case of positive reinforcement. Please note that I only bring this up in my final round because my opponent does not once mention positive reinforcement in any previous round.
As so to not argue old points, I highly recommend to all readers to read through the debate at least twice (thankfully, it is a fairly short debate, so that shouldn't take too long) and whenever there is a quote, make sure it is taken in context and keep an eye open for dropped arguments.
I thank my opponent for creating the debate and everyone that has taken the time to read it.
|Agreed with before the debate:||-||-||0 points|
|Agreed with after the debate:||-||-||0 points|
|Who had better conduct:||-||-||1 point|
|Had better spelling and grammar:||-||-||1 point|
|Made more convincing arguments:||-||-||3 points|
|Used the most reliable sources:||-||-||2 points|
|Total points awarded:||0||3|