September 25, 2003

Peter Camejo Is an Even Bigger Sleazebag Than Tom McClintock

When McClintock said:

Read Recall Debate Transcript: MC CLINTOCK: ...abolish California's car tax. It is a tax on a necessity of life. Not a penny of it goes to fixing the roads... very first act... an executive order to rescind the... [car] tax.... I want to see it abolished...

Peter Camejo said:

Amazing, Tom, but as a Green I agree with you.

As a Green? As the leader of the California Green Party? A party that I had thought was dedicated to environmentalism--to reducing pollution, and to making those who engaged in polluting activities pay to repair the damage their pollution does to the environment?

If high taxes on polluting vehicles and their emissions is not what Peter Camejo and the Green Party stand for, do they stand for anything at all? Surely not.

I now think that Peter Camejo is the biggest sleazebag of all the candidates for California Governor.

Posted by DeLong at September 25, 2003 03:28 PM | TrackBack

Comments

Aha, the Jim Gilmore strategy.

(Many who voted for him actually believed that he had the power to repeal the Virginia car tax instantly upon his inauguration. In some cases, they thought it would happen the morning after Election Day.)

Posted by: Matthew McIrvin on September 25, 2003 04:01 PM

Oh goodness gracious. There are lots of ways to do green taxes. Rejecting one shouldn't consign you to the third circle of Hell.

If pollution, congestion, or consumption of gasoline are the issue, we would want to tax driving, not possession of automobiles. That means taxing fuels, BTUs, or carbon.

If you think production of automobiles should be curbed, then you should hang a sales tax on new autos.

If the car tax is set by the value of the vehicle, it's the little man's wealth tax. If it's the same for all cars, it's like a head tax. Either way, it's an abomination.

Of course, if you want to call for its abolition, you need to replace the money.

Posted by: Max Sawicky on September 25, 2003 04:02 PM

The California car tax is roughly proportional to the value of the total numbers of cars you own.

Why is a wealth tax an abomination unto the sight of The One Who Is? And is it more of an abomination than the eating of shellfish?

Posted by: Brad DeLong on September 25, 2003 04:45 PM

BDL wrote, "Why is a wealth tax an abomination unto the sight of The One Who Is?"

What's that, some kind of B5 reference? If so, Atrios had a great one recently, pointing out that Bush's speech referred to the war between the Vorlons and the Shadows.

Max wasn't implying that a wealth tax is per se evil, but rather wealth taxes on "the little man" *are* evil...

BTW, if Max is the One Who Is, who is the One Who Was, and who is the One Who Will Be?

Posted by: Stephen J Fromm on September 25, 2003 05:14 PM

The car tax was a Pete Wilson idea that Gray Davis wanted to do away with. He still does but he needs to fund the cities. And McClintock's crowd has made sure Davis cannot. So the blame for the car tax goes to the GOP IMO.

But there is a great story on this debate in the LATimes who have fact checked certain assertions. Both ARNOLD and McClintock's spin that the CAL economy has tanked for the past 5 years is rebutted - as is some of their assertions on fiscal matters. Here is the deal. Either these two are really dumb or they are really dishonest. Either way - why would we want either to be governor?

Posted by: Hal McClure on September 25, 2003 05:17 PM

BDL wrote, "Why is a wealth tax an abomination unto the sight of The One Who Is?"

What's that, some kind of B5 reference? If so, Atrios had a great one recently, pointing out that Bush's speech referred to the war between the Vorlons and the Shadows.

Max wasn't implying that a wealth tax is per se evil, but rather wealth taxes on "the little man" *are* evil...

BTW, if Max is the One Who Is, who is the One Who Was, and who is the One Who Will Be?

Posted by: Stephen J Fromm on September 25, 2003 05:19 PM

The "little man" owns no Lexus, and owns no Hummer.

"The One Who Is" is from the Apocalypse of St. John the Theologian, 1:4: "John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from The One Who Is, and Who Was, and Who Is To Be; and from the seven Spirits which are before His throne..."

I've never met anybody who knows who these "seven Spirits" are.

Posted by: Brad DeLong on September 25, 2003 05:48 PM

My Vehicle Licensing Fee (VLF) is $4.

If you triple it, it will be $12.

That's an extra $8.

Here's a foolish and misleading website discussing the car tax, with averages:

http://republican.assembly.ca.gov/cartax/history.htm

The angle is that there is so much complexity and waste and that the car tax is just another way for them to get your money.

I agree with that very last part, but then again, so what?

To me, this is probably one of the most absurd debates of all time.

Perhaps the only realistic way to get off of our dependance from fossil fuels is to begin taxing the dickens out of gasoline. I've always been in favor of it. We have made a collective decision to have cheap cars - we could have alternately made a collective decision to have cheap transit and dense cities (as in, say, Japan). The one precludes the other, so if one argues that raising gas prices restricts consumer choice, I can argue that cheap automobiles and suburbia restricts my choice as a pedestrian.

Sooner or later we will either ween ourselves off of cheap oil or we will have to find a damn good better solution real quick. I'm guessing we're going to wait for the other shoe to drop.

Posted by: Saam Barrager on September 25, 2003 05:53 PM

Beleiveing the car tax is not the only way to be "green," does not make one a "sleazebag."

Don't you think a carbon tax would be better than a car tax? A car tax charges per car, not how much one uses it, not how much pollution is created.

Camejo is the only candidate that would make california a flat tax rather than a regressive tax state. He as apposed to Tom has a way to pay for his budget.

I think Brad went off the edge on this unwarrented insult.

Posted by: mrkmyr on September 25, 2003 06:17 PM

Look: it's not as though Peter Camejo is going to win the election. He's there to get some TV camera time so that he can educate the public.

He blew a chance to educate the public about pollution and the internal combustion engine.

It's one thing to pander for votes if you are the Lesser Evil and might win. It's quite another thing to pander for votes when pandering is a pointless exercise.

Posted by: Brad DeLong on September 25, 2003 06:35 PM

The Green argument against the vehicle registration tax might be that the tax would slow the retirement of older, more heavily polluting vehicles, while not appreciably affecting people's decision to drive. The exact effects, of course, depend on how the tax is structured. Judging from the Greens' analyses of various ballot initiatives, they are very much about thoughtful, rather than knee-jerk responses. It would have been nice to hear their reason in this debate.

Rather than pandering, the Greens are probably thinking about how they are perceived in the long term, and I'm sure they are particularly careful not to fuel the impression that environmental aims are in conflict with social justice goals. Such perceptions have been a problem for environmentalists. In my home state of Idaho, they are often perceived (or portrayed) as pampered elites who don't care for the livelihood of Logging Joe.

Posted by: Matt on September 25, 2003 07:16 PM

Brad's a little schizo on this car tax. Are we talking about taxing the pollution externality? In that case, we would tax emissions, and older junky cars that many poor people drive would be heavily taxed on a per mile basis (as would some expensive humvees and SUVs), but many pricey newer cars which emit very little emissions would be taxed at a pretty low per mile rate. This would be the most efficient tax in that it would bring externalities closer to the optimum (assuming that the authority can at least somewhat accurately assess the externality cost of emissions on a per unit basis) with a minimum of deadweight loss (because you're focusing on the externality), but may not be very progressive.

But if Brad wants the car tax to act as a wealth tax where the tax gets assessed on the value of the car, then it isn't going to be very effective as a pollution control device, since you'll be taxing a lot of low-emissions vehicles at a lower rate than many high emission vehicles. In fact, you could conceivably increase pollution with this wealth tax approach, as people hold on to their older more polluting cars longer.

But Brad can't have it both ways. His analysis here is pretty flabby. Firm it up, Brad. Do you want a progressive wealth car tax or a pollution-reducing externality tax?

Posted by: Keith on September 25, 2003 09:12 PM

Clearly Brad, like his buddy Krugman, thinks taxes are great and anyone who disagrees is a radical extremist who wants to starve people and destroy the world

Posted by: jp on September 26, 2003 04:57 AM

"If you think production of automobiles should be curbed, then you should hang a sales tax on new autos."

Great. Boost the overall age of the vehicle fleet. *That* will cut down on pollution. ;-)

Posted by: Mark Bahner on September 26, 2003 05:59 AM
Post a comment