This time they don’t even pretend otherwise

I’m usually not a conspiracy type of guy but googling for images to visualize ‘carbon sink’ I came across this story:

…British artist Chris Drury thought his commentary on the connection between the coal industry and dead trees would merely generate some polite on-campus debate in Cheyenne.
(…)
By day three of construction, the mining industry was accusing the university of ingratitude towards one of its main benefactors – in what some have seen as a veiled threat to cut funding.

I usually detest the lame arguments on both sides of the climate debate (“you’re only a skeptic because you’re paid by the oil industry”, “you’re only a warmist to rake in more research money”), but what to think of these statements?

“They get millions of dollars in royalties from oil, gas and coal to run the university, and then they put up a monument attacking me, demonising the industry,” Marion Loomis, the director of the Wyoming Mining Association, told the Casper Star-Tribune. “I understand academic freedom, and we’re very supportive of it, but it’s still disappointing.”

Then two Republican members of the Wyoming state legislature joined in, calling the work an insult to coal. The subject of university funding also came up.

“While I would never tinker with the University of Wyoming budget – I’m a great supporter of the University of Wyoming – every now and then, you have to use these opportunities to educate some of the folks at the University of Wyoming about where their paychecks come from,” Tom Lubnau, one of the state legislators, told the Gillette News-Record.

I love the sculpture, by the way. More of the artist here.

Seeing red about diesel

It’s just unbelievable. VVD (sort-of-libertarian), CDA (christian centrist) and PVV (right-wing populist) just spent weeks haggling over a new budget. Finally the whole thing blew up, we’re getting new elections in September, but in the meantime CDA and VVD managed to agree with a bunch of other parties, including the Green Left (yes, that’s their name) and the sort-of-liberal D66, within 48 hours. Was it really that easy? What have they been doing in those past weeks?

Anyway, part of the deal is a tax increase on so-called ‘red diesel’, i.e. diesel with a lower tax rate than regular diesel. It is only allowed in such machines as tractors, road maintenance equipment – and all non-recreational ships. No wonder Dutch fishers are up in arms. Fuel is one of the major expenses of Dutch bottom trawlers.

I hate to say this, but as an economist I don’t see a reason to exempt any economic sector from a tax, let alone a tax on fossil fuels. If farmers and fishers pay a lower tax rate, why not trucks? Or salesmen? As we’re on it, why not abolish the tax altogether? Oh wait – there’s state coffers to fill and negative externalities to tax. But in any case, I think we should have a level playing field for all, and that includes a similar tax rate for all.