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Oil, policy, and politics

May 1, 2011

Kevin Drum argues against a Pigovian tax on oil, based on a recent IMF study that the demand curve is inelastic. Ryan Avent at The Economist points out that makes an oil tax a great basis for revenue. Adam Ozimek takes a closer look at the evidence.

Spinning off Ezra Klein’s description of Obama as a “moderate Republican of the early 1990s,” this article argues that there simply is no connection between Republican policy and Republican politics. But is there anything new here? Richard Nixon figured out how to win election riding the culture wars, turned the south Republican, and spoke rhetoric that was both free market and staunchly anti-Communist. In office, he created the EPA, opened relations with China, and instituted wage and price controls. It seems almost inevitable to me that the more a political party gains its support from doctrinal ideology, the less connection there will be between that and what its politicians do when in power. And that that is better in some ways than the alternative, of doctrinally rigid politicians. Of course, it also generates cynicism. Especially in a case like Nixon, whose ability to straddle policy and politics may have started his descent into deceit and paranoia. But better a Nixon than a Bachmann?

The photo is Arthur Pigou.

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