06 June 2018

Taxes in the Time of Angry Weather

I find myself increasingly struck by how there's a party of lowering taxes, everywhere in the Anglosphere.

There's an angle where you can think of this in terms of race and class, and a lot of people have, and said important and sensible things about the rich generally trying to withdraw from society, but I want to raise a different point.

The half-jest is that the gods of civil engineering are drainage, drainage, and drainage.

Climate change -- the climate is surely changing, even if you cannot face facts about the cause, you're stuck with that, because it's measured -- means the drainage isn't right.  It rains more, it rains less; either way, either all the culverts need increasing or wells have to be drilled deeper and water conservation measures need to be installed.  The canals flood or sink until they can't be used.

Climate change means more, and worse, bad weather; a system with more energy in it has extreme weather events which are more destructive.  There's cleanup, and rebuilding.  There's design changes and new infrastructure.

This is going to go on, and on, and on; there is no time in which we can foresee the weather not being angry.  (Yes, yes, if we stop burning fossil carbon we stop the forcing, but for the next thousand years, we still get angry weather.)  Angry weather means increased taxes; all those culverts, and flood events, and people fleeing drought, and it goes on and on.  For there to be a party of lower taxes in this time claiming to be the party of hardheaded practicality is too bitter for a jest.

(You know what an emergency is?  That's when, no matter how rich you are, you're better off if the problem is addressed collectively.  "Climate emergency" is not a popular phrase, but it's not wrong.  No amount of private wealth suffices to maintain for yourself the benefits of civilization in the climate emergency.)


mark said...

I don't think that such political organisations are restricted to the anglosphere or the current time. They are the ever-present got-mine-screw-others subset of society. A point you previously made about some people rather being the corpse on the top than a living person at the middle (or god forbid, bottom), really stuck with me and I thing it applies here.
Significant infrastructure projects are extremely rarely promoted by the wealthy, and extremely often have to surpass opposition by those same entrenched interests worshiping at the altar of Status Quo. That deity may be dead at the hands of climate change, but its followers refuse to acknowledge that.
We need to change faster and that is becoming increasingly difficult.
In the distant past, the rate of generational change was much faster than the rate of societal change. In recent years, changing of the circumstances happens as fast as the changing of which generation is in charge, if not faster. This trend is only getting worse in the near future. (The distant future needs someone to be there to witness it, something about which I am pessimistic). We can no longer rely on the old guard to die off before their outdated modes of thinking destroy us.

Peter T said...

One frequent comment I see is that, while climate change will screw the poor, the rich will be able to use their wealth to escape (at least for a long while). All this tells me is that most people don't study history seriously. If the social heap gets smaller, the top gets lower. Sure, the poor go first (that's basic biology). But the rich lose everything - for their riches are not something absolute, but positional. In short, when Rome falls, be a blacksmith, not a patrician drawing rents from distant Cappadocia.