Just Don’t Call it a Carbon Tax

Author Tomia, original image Polylerus, courtesy Wikipedia

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A new study in Psychological Science [“A dirty word or a dirty world?” pdf] shows that Republicans and Independents would approve a “carbon offset” identical in every way to a “carbon tax” as long as it isn’t called a tax.

Democrats would vote for it either way.

Researchers at Columbia ran an experiment where volunteers—self-identified as Democrats, Republicans, or Independents—read about a program that would increase the cost of carbon-producing activities but whose proceeds would be used to pay for alternative energies or carbon capture and sequestration.

For half the volunteers this surcharge was labeled a “carbon offset.” The other saw it labeled as a “carbon tax.” Details were identical.

The participants then had to choose between purchasing two identical items, like airline tickets, only one cost more because it included the surcharge. Results:

  • If it was called an offset, Democrats, Republicans, and Independents tended to select the more expensive and environmentally-friendly product
  • All parties were also equally likely to support making the surcharge mandatory
  • If it was called a tax, Democrats opted for the costlier item but Republicans and Independents were more likely to choose the cheaper item
  • Republicans and Independents would not support legislation mandating a tax

Wow. Tax really is a four-letter word.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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