Perfect killing the good

Ages ago, during my community activist days (at least that’s what I was called by the Everett Herald), I would occasionally rail against what I termed the “stiletto” approach to policy issues. While conservatives seemed to cohere around a simple message (for example, cut taxes), progressives and liberals would divide themselves into a myriad of narrowly defined interests and prescriptions. Conservatives walked around in huge clogs; progressives imprinted the political realm with stilettos.

Comes now Initiative 732, which will be on November’s ballot. In a nutshell, the initiative, should it pass, would impose a tax on carbon consumption in Washington state. The revenues collected would offset a reduction in the state’s sales tax, already among the highest in the country, and business-and-operations taxes. Even those who pushed for the initiative are having second thoughts, debating the revenue-distribution portion. Some environmentalists would prefer that the carbon-tax proceeds be spent on promoting green resources. (This article in Crosscut summarizes the divisions.)

But here’s the thing. Despite the arguments about revenue distribution, the carbon tax would reduce greenhouse gas emissions. And isn’t that the point?