Mark Thoma is an ideological economist. Most are; economists in general come to economics with their politics fixed, looking to rationalise what they already believe (harsh call). But Prof Thoma is up there with econ-shrieker Krugman, and occasional over-the-topper Brad DeLong.
Thoma approvingly quotes another economist, Robert H Frank, writing in the NY Times about imposing carbon taxes and tariffs on imports from countries without them [my emphasis]:
“In short, global warming has a fairly simple and cheap technical solution.”
I didn’t do a very good job of highlighting Robert Frank’s point that we shouldn’t:
“expect to hear much about climate change at the Republican and Democratic conventions…Many climate scientists … are now pointing to evidence linking rising global temperatures to the extreme weather we’re seeing around the planet…Extreme weather is already creating enormous human suffering…If the recent meteorological chaos drives home the threat of climate change and prompts action, it may ultimately be a blessing in disguise.
Set aside the climate claim, and focus on the welcome for suffering.
The ease with which moralisers embrace human pain in order to further their humanity-saving schemes is just stunning. These people teach our children, yet themselves have learnt nothing from the same errors made by utopian idealists in the 20th Century.
Remember eliminating the kulaks and the bourgeoisie? Elections with one candidate? The gulag? All sacrifices necessary for the sake of future human freedoms and happiness, of course.
Sad that we have to rework this argument every generation. The compassionate are always willing to break human eggs to make a utopian omelette.