The People Fear Climate Change but Economists Don’t Understand People?

June 11, 2010

Here’s a quotation from an op-ed (The Climate Majority) from the NYTimes on June 8.

Large majorities (of those surveyed) opposed taxes on electricity (78 percent) and gasoline (72 percent) to reduce consumption. But 84 percent favored the federal government offering tax breaks to encourage utilities to make more electricity from water, wind and solar power.
So voters don’t want taxes. . . . but they want tax breaks that would have to be funded  . . .  maybe at least partly by taxes.Is it that people don’t understand economics (that a carbon tax would bring lowest cost “efficient” emissions reductions with minimal burden on consumers and taxpayers, and by the way could be entirely remitted back to taxpayers on a per capita basis or via reductions in the payroll tax)?  Or is that economists don’t understand people?  As David Wheeler (an economist and amateur psychologist) notes, people prefer doing something positive and supportive to doing something negative and penalizing. . . .


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