Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Each day this week I am blogging at  Volokh Conspiracy about Climatopolis.  This is a great chance for me to present my book's main themes.  Carbon mitigation and climate change adaptation go hand in hand.  They are not substitutes. Liberal bloggers are yelling that adapation and mitigation are not  perfect substitutes (like Coke and Pepsi).  I agree with this and I never say that they are.  Adaptation will occur , it will be less costly to adapt to climate change if we take costly mitigation steps now. Given that we have chosen not to mitigate, we need to have a serious discussion about adaptation and climatopolis seeks to start a rational debate.

 If my book catches on, the fear is that the expectation that we can and will adapt to protect ourselves from climate change will further chill our urge to enact a carbon tax.  I support the carbon tax but national and international efforts to overcome the carbon free rider problem will fail.  You can win a Nobel Prize if you can come up with a mechanism that achieves a credible global deal.

Switching subjects:

I have been waiting for Thomas Friedman's announcement that he will defect to China. Today, he explains what he admires about China in a nuanced piece.   Thomas Friedman Quote

"How can you compete with a country that is run like a company?” an Indian entrepreneur at the forum asked me of China. He then answered his own question: For democracy to be effective and deliver the policies and infrastructure our societies need requires the political center to be focused, united and energized. That means electing candidates who will do what is right for the country not just for their ideological wing or whoever comes with the biggest bag of money. For democracies to address big problems — and that’s all we have these days — requires a lot of people pulling in the same direction, and that is precisely what we’re lacking."

In a diverse society, who is "the country" and what does the phrase "right for the country" actually mean?  If we were all identical this would be easy.  
He appears to support the reasonable goal of maximizing our long run  income (GNP per-capita).
Growth economists have identified policies that help to increase economic growth.  Some of this list he will support but I doubt that he would support others.  This list is not in any order.
1.  Invest in young children to increase the future human capital stock.
2. remove labor market distortions such as the minimum wage, and weaken labor protection rules to
encourage firms to hire workers knowing that they can fire workers.
3.  no more agricultural subsidies?
4. lowering the capital gains tax to zero?
5. lower the labor tax close to zero?
6. investment in basic science research?
7.  investment in public goods infrastructure?
I know he supports  1, 6 and 7 but what about the entire package?
Ken Arrow's Impossibility Theorem may be important here.