Irwin Stelzer

Irwin Stelzer, Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute

Irwin Stelzer, known to many as Rupert Murdoch’s “right hand,” is a director at the neoconservative Hudson Institute and columnist for both The Sunday Times and The Weekly Standard, specializing in market strategy consulting, pricing and anti-trust issues, and industry regulation for the U.S. and U.K.. Stelzer has served as a managing director of the investment banking firm of Rothschild Asset Management Inc. (USA) part of N. M. Rothschild & Sons.

Prior to joining the Hudson Institute in 1998, Dr. Stelzer was resident scholar and director of regulatory policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute. In his Weekly Standard article “Let’s Tax Carbon”, Stelzer concludes of a carbon tax:

“This presents an opportunity to rid ourselves of the numerous distortions created by the subsidies and regulations that clutter the road to the more rapid economic growth that would propel the rate of development and introduction of newer, less environmentally intrusive equipment. And to reduce the intrusion of government into our daily lives…It would be Panglossian to argue that this can be accomplished all at once by a carbon tax. But the layering of new errors on the policy mistakes of the past several decades surely can be slowed and perhaps prevented if the opposition sets out a principled case for more growth and less government, strengthened market forces, taxes on bad stuff rather than on work and investment.”

In his 2011 book “Carbon Taxes: an Opportunity for Conservatives,” Stelzer chastises Republicans for irrationally dreading the word “tax.” He worries they “are frozen in opposition to policies they should support.” The stakes are very high because embracing carbon taxes really would mean the world to conservatives like Stelzer; a chance “to win so many long cherished items on the conservative wish list.”

Most importantly, Stelzer argues that carbon taxes are justified on foreign policy grounds alone. They “advance national security interests by reducing dependence on oil imports; stem the flow of dollars to the bad guys; lower taxes on jobs; eliminate the rationale for subsidizing uneconomic energy sources; reduce the drive for regulation of the energy economy.” Secondarily, they are good for the domestic economy. “A deal is coming on entitlements,” he warns; “what kind of tax could be less bad?”

Curiously likening the American conservatives to Yasar Arafat, who could be counted upon “never to miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity,” Stelzer perhaps means to imply that conservatives miss their opportunities because they have a distorted understanding of their own freedom and place in the world such that taxation is a zero sum game between the government and market, individuals and the state. The implication is that our misperception equates with a lack of faith in ourselves, a lack of faith in America, and in the power of the collective to effect qualitatively different change, the sovereign people being infinitely greater than the single tax payer.

A conservative look at the question of carbon-based revernue